Mindfulness in the Classroom – Mindful Facial Massages

 

DesignThe development of mindfulness has, at its heart, the reduction of stress hormone levels. Teaching children a number of Mindfulness strategies allows children to find the ones that best meets their needs and successfully reduces their stress and anxiety.

Massage and the power of touch is naturally relaxing and is a way to reduce these stress hormones. Maria Hernandez-Reid is a researcher at the Touch Research Institute. She says that the lowering of stress hormones not only reduces the feelings of anxiety but also supports a healthier immune system.

Here are some simple personal facial massages that children and adults can do to support their own mindfulness.

Before you begin:

– Ensure that hands have been washed well.
– Play gentle meditation music in the background.
– Sit or lay down comfortably.
– Take some deep mindful breaths to kick start the relaxation

Chin Massage
– Use your index and middle finger of each hand.
– Begin at the top of your jaw near your ears on both sides at the same time and move in a small circular motion five times.
– Move your fingers down the jaw line and move then in a circular motion five times.
– Repeat the motions as you move down the jaw bone towards the chin.
– At the point of the chin, use one set of fingers and repeat the circular motion five times.
– Repeat the sequence as many times as desired.

Eyebrow Massage
– Use your thumb and index finger on each hand.
– Begin at the area between your eyebrows and softly pinch for a count of five.
– Move your fingers outwards over your eyebrows and, again, softly pinch for a count of fives.
– Repeat the motions as you move towards the temples.
– Repeat the sequence as many times as desired.

Ear Massage
– Use your entire hand and cup the top of each of your ears and gently squeeze for a count of five.
– Move down the ears, continuing to gently squeeze for a count of five.
– Finish by placing your thumbs in the dent behind the bottom of your ear lobe (where it joins your face) and apply gentle pressure for a count of five.
– Repeat the sequence as many times as desired.

Cat’s Whiskers Massage
– Use your three middle fingers of each hand and make a W.
– Place the fingers on either side of your mouth, applying gentle pressure.
– Gently sweep your fingers across the face with gentle pressure as if you were drawing cat’s whiskers.
– Repeat the sequence as many times as desired.

You can use one massage or a combination of massages. Try out a variety of ways to find what best fits you and your class.
Top tip: Encourage deep, even mindful breathing during all of the massages and have them focus on the feel of their fingers against their skin.

If you like this, try Mindful Head Massage.

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!

Mindfulness In the Classroom- Mindful Handwriting

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The key to Mindfulness in the Classroom is that it really does become part and parcel of the class itself. It is not an add-on that takes extra time; but part of the everyday life and mindful learning. So, consideration needs to be made when we consider the curriculum we are bound to deliver and the life skill of mindfulness. This consideration makes you a good role model for your children as they can see that mindfulness can be part of adult life.

The practice of handwriting can be a very mindful activity as long as we take appropriate consideration to the task at hand. The rhythmic motion and repetition required for handwriting, particularly for joined-up/cursive handwriting, can lead to true focus on the present moment.

In addition, research by Indiana University has shown that the brain activity from freehand drawing action was stronger, firing off in three different areas, while the tracing and typing motions barely stimulated the brain at all.

So, Mindful Handwriting can truly develop the mindfulness development of the brain while also stimulating other areas that support academic development.

How to do Mindful Handwriting:

  • Play a selection of meditation music for the length of time you want the children practicing their handwriting.
  • Before picking up the pen/pencil, have the children sit up tall (as if they are a puppet with a string at the top of their head that is pulling them up straight)  with their hands in their laps or on the table/desk they are to take three deep belly breaths, having them focus only on their breathing.
  • Then, they are to begin writing. During the time, gently remind them to focus on the movement of the pen/pencil and the marks they are making. Encourage them to recognise the feel of the movement and the vibrations created as the pen/pencil causes friction with the paper. Encourage the same rhythmic breathing as the writing flows.
  • When the music ends, have the children put down their pen/pencil, put their hands in their laps/table/desk and take three deep belly breaths.

In the beginning, you may want to have the children discuss how they were feeling during the handwriting session.

This mindfulness strategy can easily be integrated into the handwriting expectations of your class or school with no additional time required during the normal day.

#21DaysOfSummerMindfulness Challenge- Day 21 – Developing Mindfulness in Children

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Congratulations! You have made it to the last day of the #21DaysOfSummerMindfulness Challenge! Today we will end on a positive note and show gratitude!

We are a world of moaners. Whinging and moaning about everything from the weather to government is a favourite pastime of the young and old alike. We focus on the bad and are surprised by the good. This leads to a vicious cycle of negativity which then becomes the focus of our attention and anything positive is seen as just a fluke or fleeting moment.

By taking the time to be grateful and lingering in the grateful moment, we start to be mindful of the good things in the world. We start to see more positive things; positivity breeds positivity. We start to see the good in people, we crave it and, when we see it, we want to repeat even more good.

This MUST be modeled to children so that they can see the positive effects that gratitude can have on their personal lives.

Today, the challenge is a FAMILY challenge. I declare today, #RandomActsOfKindness Day!

We get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life; mindlessly moving through the day without a real thought to what is happening to others around you. Today, our mindfulness practice with our children will focus on others. We will do this through random acts of kindness.

During the day, have the family randomly do some form of kindness for another person. It does not require any money, only your own free act of kindness.

If you are finding it hard to come up with some ideas, here are some to get you started.

  • Make a Thank You card for someone thanking them for their love, caring, help or any other thing that person has done for you.
  • Do a chore for a sibling or parent without asking.
  • Smile at a stranger that is looking sad.
  • Tweet or Facebook message a genuine compliment to three people right now.
  • While you’re out, compliment a parent on how well-behaved their child is.
  • When everyone around you is gossiping about someone, be the one to butt in with something nice.
  • Write a positive note and leave it in a random place to be discovered by one or more people.
  • Email or write to a person who has made a difference in your life.
  • Let someone into your lane on your way to or from work.
  • Give someone an unexpected hug!

Have each family member try to do at least three RAKs during the day.

I hope that these past 21 days have given you and your child and opportunity to develop mindful practices that are having a positive effect on your lives.

Please let me know how you are getting on over time.

You can continue to follow via:

Blog: Education’s Voice https://educationsvoice.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @Ed_Tmprince

Facebook: Education’s Voice- Mindfulness https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/

 

#21DaysOfSummerMindfulness Challenge- Day 20 – Developing Mindfulness in Children

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Hands-on and creative mindful activities that involve both tangible objects and nature allows for a playful and fun activity that encourages mindfulness. Thich Nhat Hanh developed this specific meditation, Pebble Meditation,  for children that engages the mind, develops gratitude, relieves stress, increases concentration and helps children deal with emotions.

How to do a Pebble Meditation:

    1. Have your child collect four pebbles, rocks or shells before the meditation. (This could be part of a Mindful Walk.) Ensure that have something to store their pebbles in so that the meditation can be redone as often as desired.
    2. They are to sit up straight and relax; placing the four pebbles in front of them.
    3. The child picks up the first pebble and says, “Breathing in, I see myself as a flower. Breathing out, I feel fresh. Flower, fresh “(3 breaths). The words “flower, fresh” are repeated quietly for three in and out breaths. Repeat with the three other pebbles.
    4. Breathing in I see myself as a mountain, breathing out, I feel solid.” Mountain, solid. (3 breaths)
    5. Breathing in I see myself as still, clear water, breathing out, I reflect things as they really are.” Clear water, reflecting. (3 breaths)
    6. Breathing in I see myself as space, breathing out, I feel free.” Space, free. (3 breaths)

 

Top Tips:

  • You can start and end the meditation with the ringing of a bell or chime.
  • As your child learns the meditation, they can lead the others in the meditation.

 

Further resources to go with the Pebble Meditation can be found here:

 

  • After they become confident in this meditation, encourage your child to come up with their own meditation for the four pebbles, ie loving kindness, gratitude, friends, etc.

#21DaysOfSummerMindfulness Challenge- Day 19 – Developing Mindfulness in Children

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Studies have shown that progressive muscle relaxation helps a person to relax and become more calm and in control. The results revealed that there was a reduction in the levels of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress.

High cortisol decreases immunity,  increases abdominal fat deposition, breaks down muscle, bone, and connective tissue and inhibits thyroid hormone activation.

Squish and Relax Meditation is a progressive muscle relaxation method that teaches children how to relax your muscles through a two-step process; tension (squish) and then relaxing particular muscle groups. The exercise helps children to lower their overall stress levels and relax.

  1. Have the children either sit comfortably with their hands in their lap or lie down with their arms to their sides.
  2. Play soft, gentle music in the background.
  3. Have them take a deep breath; breathe in for 5 counts, hold for one count and exhale for 8 counts.
  4. Direct them to become aware of their body in a gentle voice.
  5. Instruct them to slowly move their awareness noticing the different sensations from their:
    1. Face and Nose- Scrunch up tightly.
    2. Jaw- Bite down hard.
    3. Arms and Hands- Squeeze tightly like you are trying to pick up a heavy weight.
    4. Arms and Shoulders- Squeeze tightly like you are holding a heavy load.
    5. Stomach- Tighten your tummy like you are trying to get your belly button to touch your spine.
    6. Legs and Feet- Squeeze tightly like you are trying to hold a ball between your knees.
    7. Whole Body- Squish your entire body as tightly as you can and on release allow your body to go limp.
  6. Have children hold all poses for a count of five and release completely.
  7. Have the children remain at rest for a few more deep breaths, being aware of your body breathing.
  8. Discuss with the children how their bodies felt during and after. What did they notice? How could this help them when they are angry, upset or anxious?

Top Tip:

  • Want a script? Use an internet search engine and look for “Progressive Muscle Relaxation script for children” or search on YouTube for “Progressive Muscle Relaxation for Children”.

Don’t forget to share your child’s #mindfulmoment and successes in the comments, on Twitter @Ed_Tmprince or on Facebook at Education’s Voice – Mindfulness ( https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ ).

#21DaysOfSummerMindfulness Challenge – Day 18 – Developing Mindfulness in Children

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When we are mindful, we are being in the moment. We are not racing ahead and planning the future nor are we rehashing what has happened in the past. Children, for the most part , are naturally mindful; immersing themselves in the moment is very empowering and relaxing.

Today’s challenge is to support children in the immersion of nature, to see nature’s beauty and to create works of art that emphasises that beauty that can be seen in shape, structure, texture and colour.

Nature Mandalas

(If, for religious reasons you find mandalas inappropriate, choose whatever shape you desire.)

1- Get a feel for where the child wants to create their mandala. Do they want it in the grass, on a table, in the sand, etc ?

2- They are to spend time searching the area for the materials they want to use. Encourage the exploration, taking time to really look at the colours and shapes and really feeling the textures. Encourage a variety while also encouraging them to tell you about what they see, feel, smell and hear.

3- Once they feel they have enough materials collected, have them begin to create their mandala. Each mandala reveals itself gradually through the process of creation.

4- Once the mandala is complete, encourage them to explain what they have done and why. Ask them how the process made them feel and how do they feel when they look at the creation. Spend some time just admiring the creation and enjoying the art of nature.

5- Have your child take a picture or draw their creation as a reminder of being mindful and in the moment.

Don’t forget to share your child’s #mindfulmoment and successes in the comments, on Twitter @Ed_Tmprince or on Facebook at Education’s Voice – Mindfulness ( https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ ).