2017 Education’s Voice – Top 10 Mindfulness Posts

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It is at this time of the year that we can sit back and reflect on the year gone. For me, there have been many highs and a few lows. However, the one constant in my life has been this blog. Sharing mindfulness with others is always one that gives me peace and joy. This year I wrote 30 new posts. So, with excitement, I have looked over the data and can happily reveal the Top 10 Blog Posts of 2017.

#10100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness in the Classroom (the book): This Post is a bucket list ticker for me. It is about my book published by Bloomsbury, where it can be bought and a definite high point of 2017.

#9Mindfulness in the Classroom- Using Play Dough Part 1: Play Dough has been known for its therapeutic properties. The squishing and pounding, pinching and moulding provides a Kinesthetic/ kinaesthetic learning opportunity that can be used to enhance the development of mindfulness. This post gives you a simple recipe, how to do a Play Dough Meditation and how to make a mandala with Play Dough.

#8Teacher and Leader Mindfulness – Christmas Mindfulness: Christmas is a stressful time of the year for most people. Add 30+ Christmas happy children, several Christmas performances and Christmas parties on top of the normal day to day life of a teacher, and the Christmas time stress doubles. This post outlines four weekly challenges for Christmas to help calm the anxiety and stress of the season.

#7Teacher and Leader Mindfulness- A Mindful Ofsted- Top 5 Tips: This Post outlines how we can prepare before hand for a more mindful way that allows us to show our schools at their best.

#6Mindfulness in the Classroom- Colour Meditation: Refocusing without judgement is a positive mindful activity that allows children to take a breather, allow a moment to step back from the work and then continue in a mindful way that allows for maximum progress. This simple Colour Meditation allows for quick refocusing in the Classroom.

#5Mindfulness in the Classroom- Mindful Assemblies: when developing mindfulness in a school, it is important that it becomes part and parcel of school life, this includes Assemblies. This post is filled with whole school mindfulness strategies to keep a school mindful.

#4Teacher and Leader Mindfulness – Holiday Mindfulness To Do List: Holidays/Vacations are important times (and much needed) for educators. There is no debate regarding the stress caused by working in schools. So, Taking holidays seriously as a time to recover and refresh is important. This To Do List helps get us back on the right track.

#3Mindfulness in the Classroom – Top Test Taking Tips: National testing is a part of education systems across the world. Every year, millions of children (and adults) sit down for timed, standardised tests. The anxiety levels hit an all time high. For some people, this adrenaline rush helps them. However, for many more, this stress doesn’t allow them to be at their best. These mindful tips can help make a difference and allow children to shine.

#2Mindfulness in the Classroom-Using Play Dough Part 2: who doesn’t like Play Dough? You can mash it, hit it, squish it and roll it. In this post, we look at how to use it as part of mindfulness development by making worry stones, finger labyrinths and stone towers.

#1Top Tips – Mindfulness and Tinnitus: This Post hit a need beyond just those in education. Tinnitus is a scared and annoying condition. There is no cure. Thus, those that suffer from Tinnitus have to learn to live with it and mindfulness is one way.

This is a fantastic and diverse list that I am proud of.

A special thanks go to family, friends and followers for indulging me and allowing me to share. I wish you and yours an amazing and mindful 2018!

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Teacher and Leader Mindfulness – Christmas Mindfulness

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Christmas is a stressful time of the year for most people. Add 30+ Christmas happy children, several Christmas performances and Christmas parties on top of the normal day to day life of a teacher, and the Christmas time stress doubles.

This Christmas give yourself an early Christmas gift and develop some mindfulness strategies. Each week for the next four weeks, there will be a new strategy to undertake for the week. Practice it often and remember you are not alone!

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4 

Have a Merry Mindful Christmas from Education’s Voice!

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.

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.