A Teacher’s Mindfulness- Colour Meditation

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On my drive to or from work, I can find myself drifting off to the dealings of the day or the things I will need tomorrow. I replay conversations or have conversations that may happen in the future. Before you know it, I can’t remember the drive at all! Not only can this be dangerous, it can make me feel upset and unsettled intensifying the stress you are under.

Has this happened to you? More than likely, yes!

The key to mindfulness is not being in the present every moment of the day. That is not possible and not appropriate for a successful life; you do need some time to reflect in order to improve and prepare for the future. The key is being able to refocus yourself in the present at your will and not at the will of your meandering thoughts.

Refocusing without judgement is a positive mindful activity.

One way to remain focused on your drive is to give yourself a mindful task that allows you to be in the moment of driving home. (This can also be done even if you take the train, bus or even walk to work.)

The Colour Meditation is one way to keep focused.

Colour Meditation

– Choose a colour and decide to notice that colour during your travel time. Take the time to notice the objects and people wearing that colour. (I like to choose colours that I think will be more difficult to come across as it does make me really stay focused in the moment.)

– 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!)

Make a mental note about this #mindfulmoment and congratulate yourself for being in the present.

With this mindful task, you may find that the world becomes more colourful.

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Mindfulness in The Classroom – Mindful Singing

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Mindfulness is about allowing yourself to be in the moment. It is allowing yourself to accept this moment without judgement and wallow in the present.

When we are teaching children the important life skill of mindfulness, we should endeavour to show children that mindful moments are all around them and that, with a little consideration, can help them to relax and joy life more fully.

Something that we know brings joy to many people is the act of singing and, with it part of the curriculum, this is another way to bring mindfulness to the forefront in an integrated way.

Singing is made up of deep breaths and long exhales which is natural calming strategy. We also know that music itself can have meditative properties. Thus, with just a little tweaking, we can also develop a mindful technique that can calm and relax children while also bringing joy. Many people sing when they are happy. With the right songs, they can make you happy when you are sad.

How to do Mindful Singing:

– Begin by having children sit up comfortably with their hands in their laps. Then have them take three deep belly breaths bringing their attention to their breath.

– Explain to children that while they are singing to ensure nice, deep breaths are taken and focus on how the sound vibrates through their bodies as they sing. How does the sound feel in your mouth? Against your tongue? In your throat? In your chest? How does singing make you feel emotionally?

The key is to bring awareness to the moment of signing and bask in the joy of the sound without judgement.

Some mindful songs for children that reinforces mindfulness can be found here, http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL76Tcrfnqwv4br4i_TG6Z9LlEp0L545tr , or here:

Sing as if no one is watching!

A Teacher’s Mindfulness- A New Year Begins Part 5 Meditation

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There are three fundamental processes required for mindfulness to occur: forming intention, paying attention and adjusting your attitude (Shapiro, Carltion, Astin & Freedman, 2006). Mindfulness is a purposeful act and, the process of becoming mindful, can seem to be selfish in today’s society that deems multi-tasking to be what successful people do to be successful. This is particularly true for educators in as we juggling children, parents, other teachers and leaders and government expectations. Thus, we have people who can not calm their mind and recognise individual thoughts and feelings which leads to fight or flight reactions that are hard wired into our natural reflexes.

Daily meditations that are about 10 minutes in length on a morning can start a day in a calm, mindful mood that can support the day’s work.

How to set yourself up for a successful meditation?

– Find a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted for 15 minutes. I like using headsets to listen to meditations as it helps me block out other noises.
– Sit or lay down in a comfortable position.
– take a couple of deep, mindful breaths to begin to relax your mind and body.

Some meditations that get my day off to a good start:

Being Present- Day 1 of a 7 day series: https://youtu.be/bi1uioesDdo
For Gratitude- Day 2 of a 7 day series: https://youtu.be/S5BR75ySQOo
For Peace and Contentment- Day 3 of a 7 dauy series: https://youtu.be/eDQxQ8dhfug
Self-Acceptance- Day 4 of a 57 day series: https://youtu.be/g-BjFvbsYqs
Letting Go- Day 5 of a 7 day series: https://youtu.be/f97-gZncxGU
To End the Day- Day 6 of a 7 day series: https://youtu.be/tZAmfVKPBCA (NOT a morning meditation.)
For Inner strength – Day 7 of a 7 day series: https://youtu.be/78MPESZn-V4
Ocean Escape: https://youtu.be/ar_W4jSzOlM (Mini Vacation)

Still find 10 minutes hard?

Why not try these 2 minute meditations. No need to close your eyes. Just breathe deeply and watch the screen.

One Moment: https://youtu.be/RlOZ02HgAnE
Ocean Sunrise Meditation: https://youtu.be/bRjJYh_7ZzI

* Note: It is likely other thoughts will invade your meditation. Do not become upset with this. The very act of recognising you are having invading thoughts is an act of mindfulness. Accept that you have had the thought and allow that thought to float away. Do not dwell on the thought and allow it to control you. You control the thought. I assure you if it is an important thought, it will come again at a time more appropriate time.

A Teacher’s Mindfulness- A New Year Beginning Part 4 STOP Meditation

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Developing mindfulness has a lot to do with shifting of perspectives. We have some deeply laid neuropathways that allow us to fall into a habit of reactions. We don’t even realise we are reacting; we just do it. Those automatic responses more deeply ingrain responses; many which are negative or destructive to our own health and well-being.

when we are working with children, we can get easily caught up in their emotions, upset, anxiety and frustrations. A vicious cycle can put you on edge and creates reactions devoid of all mindfulness.

You need to focus on changing that perspective and challenging your response

So, if the day is starting to get on top of you, try this quick and easy strategy.

10 Second Mindfulness- STOP

This is a simple but effective strategy to refocus our attention.

S– Stop what you are doing.
T– Take a deep breathe. Breathe in for a count of 5, hold for a count of one and exhale for a count of 8.
O– Observe what is happening around you at this moment.
P– Proceed with what you were doing.

Do this as often as you need during the day. Those few mindful moments can change your reaction to what is happening around you leading to a better positive response that changes the course of events.

You may want to make a few copies of the photo with the acronym and put it in key places as a gentle reminder for giving yourself a mindful moment.

A Teacher’s Mindfulness- A New Year Begins Part 3 Morning Mindfulness

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Getting your day off to a great, mindful start is important for a mindfully successful day.

Many times when I speak to people about practicing mindfulness, they say they “just don’t have time”. Actually, people who practice mindfulness express that they actually gain time over the day the more mindful they are during the day. The reduction of stress, the reduction of energy and time spent on the past/future thoughts and increased periods of calmness allows for more effective time management.

We need to consider how we can bring mindfulness into our morning routines that don’t require extra time or divert us from our normal routines.

Top Morning Mindfulness Tips:

Brushing Teeth

It is simple really. It is about being in the present moment from the preparation of your toothbrush to rinsing your mouth. Here are some prompts to be mindful of while you are going about this everyday task.

– How does your tooth brush feel in your hand? How does it weigh in your hand? Is the grip smooth or rough?
– How does the balance change when you put the toothpaste on the brush?
– Smell the toothpaste. What does it smell like?
– Begin brushing your teeth. How do the bristles feel against your teeth? Your tongue? Your cheek and gums?
– Notice the foaming of the toothpaste in our mouth and how it feels.
– Once finished, how does your tongue feel against your freshly brushed teeth? Can you still smell or taste the toothpaste? How you you feel now that your teeth are brushed?

Shower Meditation

Many people spend their time in the shower thinking about the day ahead. Instead, use this as a mindful time to become present in the moment.

Enter the shower with mindful intention.

-Take a few deep, mindful breaths as the steam begins to rise around your body.

– Allow the warm water to fall against your skin, paying attention to how the water feels on each part of your body, similar to a body scan.

– Then lather up your cloth, sponge or body scrubber and pay attention to the smell of the soap and the feel of the bubbles.

– Take time to notice the feel of the soap against your skin as you slowly clean your body.

– Finally, pay attention to the feel of water and soap you rinse off, paying attention to the sense of well being and warmth of the moment.

Washing Hands Meditation

When we wash our hands in warm water, it opens the blood vessels and tricks your brain out of a stressful state.

– When you go to wash your hands, be mindful of the sensation of the water and soap as your rub your palms, between your fingers and on top of your hands. Breath deeply allowing your breathing enhance the feel of water and soap.
– How does this moment feel?
– How is it making the rest of your body feel?

Water Meditation

– Pour yourself a glass of plain water. (It can have ice.)

– Sit down with your water and allow yourself to be aware of drinking the water.

– Take a sip. Allow the sip to linger in the mouth. Notice the temperature of the liquid against your tongue, cheeks, gums and palate. What can you taste? Is there a sweetness, bitterness, acidic or even slightly salty taste?

– Notice the sensations of the water being swallowed and flowing down your throat and into your stomach.

– Continue to be mindful of each sip; allowing yourself to be in the very present moment of drinking your water.

Drink at least three glasses of water like this today.

 

A Teacher’s Mindfulness- A New Year Begins Part 2 Mindful Object Meditation

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Our work days seem to be filled with thoughts flitting between lamenting what has happened in the past to what may happen in the future. Only 10% of our stress is due to what happens. 90% is due to what we think might happen. Mindfulness is returning your attention to the present.

However, as teachers, we get so caught up in the needs of our children, we forget about our own needs. We remind our children to be mindful and practice mindfulness strategies. However, we forget to practice mindfulness ourselves.

We need to give ourselves a reminder and can do this through the Mindful Object Meditation.

Mindful Object Meditation

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, take 3 *deep mindful breaths paying attention to the air flowing in and out your body.

*Deep Mindful Breath- Inhale for a count of 5, hold for a count of 1 and exhale for a count of 8.

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

A Teacher’s Mindfulness- A New Year Begins Part 1 Shoulder Relaxation

imageEducation has an odd calendar.  When we talk about a “new year”, champagne, confetti and the lingering sounds of “Auld Lang Syne” are not echoing through the corridors. Instead, a “new year” means a classroom of new faces, coffee and the smell of dry erase markers. It is also a time of excitement and hope with additional stress and anxiety.

With only days left of the summer holidays instead of weeks, the signs  are already appearing.  Teachers waking up earlier, planning spread out across the dinning room table and worried looks appearing across faces.

But, this year will be different! Developing your own mindfulness will be good for your health and well-being and will support the health and well-being of your children.

Over the next few weeks, I will share some simple mindfulness strategies YOU can use in order to get your new year off to a mindful start.

Mindfulness is an integrative, mind-body based approach that helps people change the way they think and feel about their experiences, especially stressful experiences.

Many of us hold stress in our shoulders. As the day becomes more stressful, our shoulders become more tense and creep up towards our ears. It is like a primitive form of contracting our muscles to spring into the fight or flight mode. During the day, take a moment, without judgement, to relax your shoulders and accept the feeling of restfulness that accompanies the moment.

Shoulder Relaxation

– Breath deeply and, on the exhale, allow your shoulders to drop towards the floor as if someone is pressing them downward.

– Continue to breathe deeply for five breaths, allowing your shoulders to slightly rise on the inhale and then completely drop on the exhale.

– Recognise how the muscles feel in the shoulder and neck. Remember, do not judge the tension. Just recognise it is there and release the tension.

Do this at least five times during the day.

This is particularly useful technique to use when having to deal with situations that are escalating into an argument or emotional situation. I also encourage shoulder relaxation in basic deep breathing as part of the everyday practice.