Mindfulness in the Classroom – Blue Sky & Ocean Mindfulness

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The feel of sand beneath your feet, the sound of waves crashing on the beach, the smell of sea water in the air and the sight of the sun rising and setting in the blue sky. What more could you want from a place to relax and recharge?

In research published by Health & Place , subjects living along the coastal regions reported better health and well-being.

Richard Shuster, PsyD, clinical psychologist says, “The color blue has been found by an overwhelming amount of people to be associated with feelings of calm and peace. Staring at the ocean actually changes our brain waves’ frequency and puts us into a mild meditative state.”

He goes on to say that the rhythmic sound of the crashing waves kind of de-stimulates our brains. The noises combined with the visuals, activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is, as Shuster says in his podcast on The Daily Helping , “responsible for slowing us down and allowing us to relax and feel more engaged.”

In addition, the simple act of touching the sand makes you feel happy and relaxed. “The physical sensation of putting your feet in warm sand causes people to relax,” says Shuster.

This is great if you live by the sea and if you have time to get to the seaside. But, most of us have very busy lives that don’t allow for this and, if you are a teacher, you know that seaside visits are few and far between for your children with some never actually getting to a beach unless it is a school trip.

So, how can we use mindfulness to virtually get us to the seaside?

Top Tips for a Virtual Seaside Visit

1- Visual Meditations: play videos of beaches and waves crashing on the shore.
Focus children on the rhythm of the waves, the sound of the sea and the sky around it. Reminding them to take long Mindful breaths and allowing all worries to drift along like a cloud.

For a few moments, instruct them to close their eyes and imagine they are on that beach, with their toes in the sand and a warm breeze on their face.

Here are some ocean Meditations that would be good for children and adults:
Morning Meditation Ocean Sunrise – https://youtu.be/UpXMeZuWWR0
Misty Beach Ocean Waves – https://youtu.be/E7qRkUYu580
Nice Ocean Waves – https://youtu.be/V-_O7nl0Ii0
One Moment Ocean Meditation – https://youtu.be/RlOZ02HgAnE
Meditation on the Beach – https://youtu.be/jJkEiw6Gh0U
2- Blue Sky Meditation– display pictures of the blue sky like these:

Play quiet meditation music or nature sounds as you guide the children to focus on the photo and take deep mindful breaths.
Photo examples:

Or use these lovely Blue Sky Meditations:
Blue Sky & Cloud Meditation – https://youtu.be/tOf2VRZA-Rc
Blue Sky Meditation (Children’s visualisation) – https://youtu.be/5qoU_XBkm3g
White Clouds on Blue Sky Meditation – https://youtu.be/TWaQwDqERqE
Floating on a Cloud – https://youtu.be/kyQAKcWYtsk

Or, take the children outside on a nice day have them sit or lay back and focus on the clouds as you guide them through deep breathing. (Remind them not to look directly at the sun.)

3- Sand Play– Many Early Years classrooms and units have sand trays for children to play in and that is good. But, in addition, they need trays and larger areas with sand where you encourage children to take off their shoes and wiggle their toes in the soft, shifting sand. Allow children to use various body parts to explore the feeling of sand and get them to focus on the feel, warmth or coldness of the sand against their skin.

I have been compiling useful videos for the Blue Sky & Ocean Mindfulness on YouTube HERE.

By mindfully understanding and enjoy the gifts of nature, we can allow ourselves to relax and be in the present moment.

Find more mindfulness strategies for children and adults here: www.educationsvoice.wordpress.com or for more ideas for teachers, 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness In The Classroom published by Bloomsbury. More information can be found here.

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Mindfulness in the Classroom- Spring Mindfulness

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The different seasons allow us to explore mindfulness with children in different ways. Spring allows our senses to come alive and examine our senses in a way like no other season.

Celebrate that Spring has sprung with these mindfulness activities.

Flower Breathing

Each day we take about 20,000 breaths. This automatic bodily response keeps us alive and helps to regulate our emotions. When we bring attention to our breathing, we take control of our emotions and reactions through mindful purpose.

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First, get children decorate their own five petaled flower for meditation. For older children, have them add their own positive mantras that they want focus on.

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Once complete, have the children place it near where they work. They trace the flower and Inhale, hold at the point and focus on the positive mantra (if added), exhale and keep going until you’ve gone around the whole flower. Then touch the centre, breathe deeply and close their eyes for a moment.

Cloud Meditation

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Children have a natural mindfulness, particularly when it comes to nature. Now that Spring has begun to peak out from behind the greyness of Winter, the cloud meditation taps into this natural inquisitiveness.

How to do Cloud Meditation:

– Have children sit or lie down with a good view of the clouds.
– Begin by having them take five deep mindful breaths.
– Ask them to stare at the clouds while you ask them these questions to guide the meditation.
Are the clouds fluffy or thin?
Are they moving?
Are they making shapes of things you know?
Are they all the same colour?
What does the sky look like behind the clouds?
– Give them some silent time to just gaze and mindfully explore the clouds.
– Complete the meditation by discussing what they noticed and what emotions were felt.

Sensory Meditation

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Spring brings rebirth to our senses as flowers begin to make their way towards the warm rays of the sun, animals come out of hibernation and the world comes alive once again. Spring allows us to mindfully explore our five senses: sight, taste, Smell, touch and hearing.

Dedicate a week to the senses; appoint each day to a different sense.

– At the beginning of the day, identify the sense to focus on and discuss what they are already noticing. Then, decide to notice that on a given signal. (This could be the ringing of a bell, code word, etc.)
– Have children take a minute to notice.
– Guide them by asking them questions:
-Have you noticed something or someone you have never noticed before?
-How many different things are you noticing? (I always surprise myself when I   buy a new car and all of a sudden you notice that car EVERYWHERE!)
– Have the children make a mental note about this #mindfulmoment and congratulate themselves for being in the present and proceed with their learning/work.

Mindful Healthy Eating

Spring brings a burst of fresh fruits and vegetables. Explore mindful healthy eating by trying a variety of new foods. Find the instructions to facilitating mindful eating here: https://educationsvoice.wordpress.com/2016/02/27/mindfulness-in-the-classroom-mindful-eating/

Easter Yoga

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Spark the imagination through the use of these amazing Easter Yoga Poses and Easter Egg Hunt: https://www.kidsyogastories.com/easter-yoga-poses-game/

Happy Spring Everyone!

Mindfulness in the Classroom – Guest Blog: Empowering Question Meditation by Gill Hancock

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About the Author: Gill Hancock is a KS1 practitioner, working in an International school. With 20 years experience of KS1, KS2 and KS3 students, Gill firmly believes in the practice of mindfulness to empower students to think about the present moment in the ever increasing pace of modern life.

Gill tried out Empowering Question Meditation with her class with these results.

Asking questions can help to ground and focus our minds to support our development of emotional intelligence. I asked a year 1 class what they really liked about themselves and why brought some very interesting responses.

“I am brave because it makes me feel good to stand up for my friends.”

“I am kind because I can help people.”

“I am a risk taker with my learning and this helps my brain.”

“I like that I can focus to learn new things.”

“I am an exerciser and this makes my body healthy.”

“I am strong so I can help my mum and dad with jobs.”

“I am a super swimmer so I can soon swim without water wings.”

Follow Gill on Twitter @GillHanock

Find out about how to use Empowering Question Meditation or other mindfulness ideas at www.educationsvoice.wordpress.com or in the book by Tammie Prince, 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness in the Classroom published by Bloomsbury.

Tops Tips- Mindfulness & Tinnitus

This was originally posted a year ago for Tinnitus Awareness Week. This week we continue to raise awareness with an updated post. Tinnitus is a hidden and sometimes embarrassing problem for many. Here is my story and how I cope.

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Design.png(I thank my regular blog followers for allowing me to go slightly off message for a worthy cause. Next week is Tinnitus Awareness Week in the UK and USA. Information can be found here: https://www.tinnitus.org.uk/Pages/Category/tinnitusweek

I can’t remember exactly when I started hearing the continuous ringing in my ears. I do remember the exact moment I realised that I had some hearing loss. At the time, it was upsetting but not life altering. I realised that, in one ear, I could not hear high tones. I think back now and realise that was the last time I actually couldn’t “hear” anything all the time! The constant ringing began shortly after that. First, in only one ear, and then in the other. I was in my 20’s. I coped, I believe, during those early years because the noise was low in volume. Then while pregnant in my 30’s, the volume kicked…

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FREE ONLINE Preschool Mindfulness Summit

Mindfulness for children is starting to become something people want to know more about. Giving our children life long strategies that supports positive mental health develops positive habits that allows them to cope with stresses that are a normal (and sometimes not normal) part of life.

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This year Helen Maffini has put together over 25 experts for the FREE ONLINE Preschool Mindfulness Summit (https://www.preschoolmindfulnesssummit.com/signup ) that begins on January 22nd – 26th 2018. Interviews start at 9am EST (New York) each day and will be posted for 24 hours.

I am honoured and humbled to be part of the panel featured in this mindfulness summit.

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Each day is packed with talk after talk that will keep you glued to the screen and finish with lots of strategies that is being used around the world.

Here is the schedule:

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So, this is one not to be missed! Sign up today!

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https://www.preschoolmindfulnesssummit.com/signup

Mindful Reflection – A 2018 Mindful New Year’s Resolution

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I will admit, I am not a fan of New Year Resolutions. Honestly, I don’t think most people are fans. However, year in and year out we make resolutions, break resolutions and then make them again.

What is a resolution? It is something which a person resolves to change- an undesired trait or behaviour-to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.

Last year I decided to look at resolutions differently and make some that allowed me to develop more deeply my mindful practice, thus improving my life. You can read last year’s resolutions here. If you read yesterday’s 2017 reflection here, than you know those simple resolutions have now become my new Mindful Precepts, rules to live by.

I have another confession, my 2018 resolution was decided over a month ago by a kind and thoughtful person whom gave me an amazingly appropriate gift. She gave me a little book called A Sentence a Day Journal. The blurb for the book says, “Put pen to paper everyday to capture unique insights into your life.”

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Wow! Amazing right? This is a gift of Mindful Reflection. To take a moment each day to mindfully reflect on one single aspect of your day and allow yourself to be in that moment and allow yourself to solidify it in a few words allows you to take ownership of that moment,the epitome of Mindfulness. When you are reflective, you create a space for yourself that allows you to begin to notice your own internal experiences. It allows you to stay connected to your own passions in life.

My book has 366 different questions which I will use daily for 3 years allowing myself to Mindfully Reflect on my day. But, you don’t need a book or questions to make your own 2018 Mindful Reflection Book.

How to Create Your Mindful Reflection Book:

You will need:
– A small notebook that can hold at least 365/6 sentences!
– A pen
– 2- 5 minutes of time daily

At the end of each day, take a few minutes to mindfully reflect on one or two GOOD things that have happened to you that day. Some days will be easier than others. But, the key is pressing yourself to reflect on the good in each day and OWNING it by writing it down.

Allow yourself to waddle in the gratitude of that moment that has occurred, that it has enhanced your life that day. The more you identify the positives in life, the more positives occur. An attitude of positivity grows positivity (in the same way an attitude of negativity grows negativity).

Write down at least one sentence to celebrate that GOOD moment of your day (date it as well). Then, at least once a month, go back and read all the good things that have happened in your life. Allow yourself to appreciate those times.

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By allowing ourselves to Mindfully Reflect daily on positive aspects in our lives, we can begin to improve the quality of our thoughts, reactions and intentions.

#MindfulReflection

Note: You can begin Mindful Reflection at any time of the year. The key is to do it over a long period of time to develop a habit of positivity and gratitude that can improve your quality of life.

Mindful Precepts

That week between Christmas and New Year seems to be a bit of a black hole in time that gives us time to reflect on the past year. At times it can be the sense of melancholy, considering the things lost or changed in the last year. But, then again, those losses and changes gives opportunities to new adventures, friendships and ideas.

So, I now look back on my last year and revisit what my Mindful New Year Resolutions were and how successful I was in achieving what I set out to do.

My 2017 Mindful New Year’s Resolutions were: (You can find the post here.)

To BREATHE: ACHIEVED! Breathing became my anchor as I put myself out there; taking the steps away from the comfort of the known to the excitement of new challenges and experiences that, honestly at times, took my breath away!
To Be Present: ACHIEVED! Finding the “Rose” of each day is what got me through the most difficult ones and enhanced the most joyful ones.
To Let Go: ACHIEVED! Sometimes, things just don’t work out in the way you envisioned and letting go of that has been a challenge for me. But, each day the grip gets less and my new future gets brighter.
To Be Grateful: ACHIEVED! Gratitude filled my life this year in so many ways and from some of the most unexpected places.
To Be Positive: ACHIEVED! Positivity has been a big theme of the year. I have found myself being the model of positivity, the cheerleader of positivity and the receiver of positivity. Positivity can change a life.
To Believe In Myself: ACHIEVED! At times, this has been difficult. Humans are so critical of themselves. The diversity in our abilities, thoughts and actions can make us question our own ability and compare ourselves to others who are oranges and you are an apple. But, mindful perseverance helped me to have greater faith in myself.

So, a successful year of Mindful Resolutions all in all! It was rough at times. But, that is life isn’t it.

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The one thing I have come to realise that these these resolutions shouldn’t be resolutions. These should be something we strive for everyday of every year! These need to be our Mindful Precepts, rules to live by.

If we live by the precepts, we can enjoy our lives, our jobs, ourselves… We can also help others to enjoy their lives, their jobs and theirselves. If we can do that, we add our bit to making this a better world.

What are your Mindful Precepts? What have you learned are Rules to Live By?
#MindfulPrecept

Read about my 2018 New Year’s Resolution here- Mindful Reflections.