#MindfulFocusChallenge – Day 1: Leaf Meditation

(You will need a leaf. It can be any kind of leaf; a fallen leaf, one still on the tree or from a plant.)

Find a space where you can have five uninterrupted minutes. Maybe it is in your back garden, in a local park, or a walk through some woodlands. It may even be that you collect a leaf while out and about and complete the meditation within the comfort of your home. It really doesn’t matter as long as you have your leaf.

– Pick up the leaf and lay it in your hands.

– Notice the colours, the different in shades of colours and fading of one colour to another colour.

– Notice the veins in the leaf, the main stem, the edges of the leaf.

– Feel the leaf. Run your fingers over the top and bottom; along the edges. Notice the differences. Rub it against your face or over the top of your hand. Use nerve endings that normally are not used to feel objects. Notice the difference.

– Smell the leaf. Note the scent. Inhale deeply and notice the memories it may bring up.

Close your eyes and take a minute to breathe deeply and allow yourself to be in awe and wonder of the moment you have had with the leaf.

Proceed with a new found calmness and appreciation.

Respond in the comments below, tweet us @Ed_Tmprince or respond on our Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ with #MindfulFocusChallege and let us know how you found this strategy.

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Mindful Focus Challenge

Life can be an ever ending cycle of chaos; a plague of distractions that pull on our time and demand moments of our lives. emails, news, messages, work, family and more cry out for our attention and we feel we must always give that attention to be successful.

As the holiday season gets closer, it seems that this pull on our time and attention becomes even greater.

It is during these times that we need to step back, take a deep breath and find our mindful focus. It will:

You would like to:

• Give us a greater sense of focus in your life.

• Support us in being more effective in your work and life.

• Help us to achieve a sense of peace and calm.

For 14 days, we will spend some time stopping the chaos, breathing and using a variety of mindfulness strategies to bring mindful focus to our day.

The #MindfulFocusChallenge begins on Sunday 18th November.

Don’t worry if you don’t start on that day because all 14 days will be posted each day below on this blog for you to do on your own timescale.

Share with others and let’s do this together! Don’t forget the hashtag #MindfulFocusChallenge.

#MindfulMayChallenge – Week 5 Mindful Taste

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Week 5: 28th- 3rd June 2018
Mindful Taste–
Take time each day to notice the taste of foods and drinks.

This is the last week for #MindfulMayChallenge and we are focusing on Mindful Taste. In order to mindfully taste, you must eat mindfully.

The key to mindfulness is focusing on the present moment calmly and accepting the feelings and thoughts and bodily sensations. It is our way to taking control of ourselves even when things around us are happening without our control.

In a child’s life, there is little that they have control over. When they get up, what they wear, what they eat, what they watch, etc. controlled or semi-controlled. Then, add the actions and reactions of other children to situations and there is a perfect storm. Our job is to help them realise there are things they can control and giving them strategies be aware and mindful of their minds and bodies; learning how to live in a chaotic world.

Even as adults, we sometimes do not feel like we are in control. Few of us are not accountable to someone. Our jobs, our families, our lives in general demand our attention and demands are put upon us wether we want to or not. So, we even need to develop mindfulness strategies as well.

Mindful eating is one way that allows a child and an adult to become aware of the positive and nurturing foods we eat by using our senses. By using all of our senses in choosing to eat food that supports our bodies growth and development, we are acknowledging the foods we like or dislike without making a fuss about the taste. Additionally, they become aware of signals the body gives us to lets us know we are hungry or we are full. So, in addition to the mindfulness with the eating of foods, we also start to see food in a different way; as nourishment.

As an adult, you may choose to eat an entire meal in a mindful way. However, for children, the process could be very tedious, particularly in the beginning.

Mindful Eating Exercise for the classroom:
(The teacher needs to verbally guide the children through the exercise.)
You can use a raisin, a slice of apple or orange, pomegranate seed, dried fruit or any food you wish. (Be sure your children have no allergies or the food is a chocking hazard.)
1- Have the children LOOK at the food they will be eating. Silent,they are to observe what it looks like? What do you notice?
What colour is it?
Is it small or large?
2- Have the children smell the food.
Does it have a smell?
What does it smell like?
3- Have the children direct their attention to how it feels.
Can You squeeze it?
Is it firm or soft?
Is it smooth, sticky or rough?
Warm or cold?
Does it make any sounds?
4- Have the children, very slowly, put the piece of food in their mouth but not chew it! Leave it on the tongue.
How does it feel on the tongue?
Can you taste anything?
Does it smell differently in your mouth?
5- Have the children begin to chew slowly; one mindful chew at a time.
Does the taste change?
How does it feel in the mouth?
6- Try to get them notice when they swallow, and see how far you can feel the food into your body.
7- Finally, orally discuss what they felt during the activity or turn on some meditation music and allow them to write about their experience.
Try this with a number of different foods either in one sitting or over a period of time.
In addition, encourage them to mindfully eat their first bite of lunch each day. It is lovely to see the children mindfully eating their food.

Additional Suggested Activities
1- Keep a photo record of mindful moments each day.
– create a weekly collage
– Share daily photos or collage with others (don’t forget to add #MindfulMayChallenge)
2- Create a display (classroom, staffroom, workroom) and add your Mindful Moments using pictures, post-it notes, drawings, etc and watch mindfulness literally grow.
3- Use the #MindfulMayChallenge flower sheets to journal each day with a few words or drawings to document the month. (found below)
4- Get families involved by encouraging them to take part at home either before or after school to support greater development of mindfulness for all that are a part of our lives.
Engage with Education’s Voice through each week’s blog post

(www.educationsvoice.wordpress.com), Twitter (@Ed_Tmprince) or Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ ) by sharing where the challenge has taken you that week (at home, at school or work place).

Ensure you use #MindfulMayChallenge in your posts!

#MindfulMayChallenge: Week 4 – Mindful Touch

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Week 4: 21st-27th May 2018
Mindful Touch–
Take time each day to notice how everyday objects feel

The sense of touch is an integral part of our everyday life. We use it to evaluate and make decisions about all we do in life, from choosing items we want to buy to showing love and care for the ones we love. We use the sense of touch to bring us comfort and to give comfort.

The mindful context of touch changes emotional attachment to the environment around us.

This week we bring focus to our sense of touch. We will take the time to explore the sensations and feelings that objects hold when we take the time to mindfully touch them.

1. Take a few deep, mindful breaths before you begin.
2. Choose any object that encourages the use of touch to explore; examples would be seashells, faux fur, slime, Play Dough, tree bark, textured material, etc.
3. Close your eyes and allow your hands to explore the object, running your fingers softly over the ridges and indentions. Allow time for the object to sit in your hands and notice the weight and the pressure it exerts.
4. Don’t do anything except notice the thing you are feeling; relax into watching for as long as your concentration allows.
4. Really take the time to feel the object.
5. Allow yourself to mindfully touch every detail and allow yourself to be waddle in its presence. Use different body parts like top of your hand, your cheeks, nose, arms, etc.
6. Allow yourself to connect with the object.
7. Make a note of this mindful moment by one of these activities below or one of your own.
8. If this is being done with a class, allow a few minutes to discuss what was noticed and how we can use this strategy to bring calm into our lives.

Taking It Further
Positive Mindful Touch is important for our well-being. Showing care for ourselves helps us show Loving Kindness to a very important person in our lives, YOU!

These two mindful strategies helps to begin to show ourselves the importance of mindful touch.

Mindful Face Massage : https://educationsvoice.wordpress.com/2017/04/01/mindfulness-in-the-classroom-mindful-facial-massages/

Mindful Hand Massage: https://educationsvoice.wordpress.com/2016/10/25/mindfulness-in-the-classroom-mindful-hand-massage/

Suggested Activities
1- Keep a photo record of mindful moments each day.
– create a weekly collage
– Share daily photos or collage with others (don’t forget to add #MindfulMayChallenge)
2- Create a display (classroom, staffroom, workroom) and add your Mindful Moments using pictures, post-it notes, drawings, etc and watch mindfulness literally grow.
3- Use the #MindfulMayChallenge flower sheets to journal each day with a few words or drawings to document the month. (found below)
4- Get families involved by encouraging them to take part at home either before or after school to support greater development of mindfulness for all that are a part of our lives.
Engage with Education’s Voice through each week’s blog post (www.educationsvoice.wordpress.com), Twitter (@Ed_Tmprince) or Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ ) by sharing where the challenge has taken you that week (at home, at school or work place). Ensure you use #MindfulMayChallenge in your postcs!

Mindful Refocus

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There can sometimes be a misconception about mindfulness. Some people believe that mindfulness is a way of escaping from stress or a way of keeping stress away from you. This is untrue.

Mindfulness will not become some magical shield from stress in your life. No matter how little stress we may have in our lives, our brains will always perceive the most stressful event, no matter how small, as being extremely stressful. Mindfulness gives you the tools to deal with the stress of life.

The key to mindfulness is not getting rid of stress, it is learning how to react to stress.

Even with the best will in the world, our lives get taken over by life. We begin the morning with good intentions; we meditate, we take mindful moments while we brush our teeth and make our tea. But, as our day gets into full swing, our old habits set in and our reptilian brains take over. We react without thought or purpose. Our cortisol levels rise and rise until we are an exhausted heap of human mess.

So, what can you do about that?

Mindful Refocus

Mindful Refocus allows you to return your awareness to the present moment. In order to give myself a frequent reminder, I choose a mindful object.

Once you are dressed for the day, choose an object you are wearing to be your mindful object. It can be a ring, your id badge, necklace, tie, shoes, your watch, a button on your shirt, etc. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it is something you will see several times.

During the day, at any point you notice your mindful object, touch it, and complete a Mindful Refocus.

This simple meditation takes only seconds. But, it gives mindful focus for those few seconds and calms the mind so that you can be the best person possible.

Mindful Refocus Activities:

1- Deep Breathing– Take three, deep mindful breaths paying attention to the air flowing in and out your body.

2- Sound Meditation– Close your eyes for a moment, stop and listen to the sounds around you. Focus on the pitch, vibration through your body or distance of the sound.

3- Colour Meditation– Choose a colour that you will decide to notice. Take a deep breath and notice five things with that colour.

4- Shoulder Relaxation– Breath deeply and, on the exhale, allow your shoulders to drop towards the floor as if someone is pressing them downward. Repeat a few times, noticing how your body feels as your shoulders relax.

5- Count Backwards– Take a deep breath and count backwards from 60. Concentrate just on the counting, allowing your body to relax more with each number.

Always remember that mindfulness is not about getting rid stress but how we react to the stress.

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.