#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!

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#MindfulMayChallenge: Week 3 – Mindful Body

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Week 3: 14th May-20th May 2018
Mindful Body
– Take time each day to notice how different parts of your body feel.

As much as our minds may wander into the past or into the future, our bodies always remain firmly in the present. However, we seldom spend time noticing what they are feeling right now; good and bad.

This week we will bring focus to our bodies; one part at a time.

What needs to be clear about this type of meditation is that you need to be focusing on the sensations your body is feeling and not about how your body looks. You will be concentrating on the actual physical sensations.

1. Take a few deep, mindful breaths before you begin; allowing your body to relax.
2. Close your eyes and focus on the body part of choice for the day; arm, hand, leg, foot, shoulders (my favourite), neck, head, face stomach, etc.
3. Begin to take deep Belly Breathes, focusing on that one body part. Continue to take several deep breaths focusing only on that body part and the sensations you feel (tingling, itching, aching, cold, warm, hot, etc) without comment or judgement. There are no good or bad sensations. There are just sensations.
4. Make a note of this mindful moment by one of these activities below or one of your own.
5. 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: FULL BODY SCAN

If the week has been successful, on the last day do a full body scan. This will take about 5-10 minutes to complete. But, allows full notice of your entire body that is a good tool to have in your Mental Health Toolkit.

Details on how to do a Body Scan Meditation can be found here: https://educationsvoice.wordpress.com/2016/05/07/mindfulness-in-the-classroom-body-scan/

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 2 – Mindful Smell

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Week 2: 7th May-13th May 2018
Mindful Smell- Take time each day to notice a specific smell in your surroundings.

Our sense of smell has its origins in our reflective need to protect ourselves from danger. However, smell also has the ability to bring to the surface deep emotion.

Have you ever had a moment where you catch a scent and it transports you to another time, another memory from your childhood?

In the article, MINDFULNESS MONDAYS-DEVELOPING AWARENESS THROUGH MINDFUL SMELLING BY ANIA MASSAT, it outlines what happens when we smell. ( http://ascendyoursoul.com/mindfulness-mondays-developing-awareness-mindful-smelling-ania-massat/ )

“When the fragrance is inhaled, the molecules travel to the Limbic System where specific impulses are being send to other brain parts that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels, hormone balance. Researches show that sense of smell impacts us on all levels on everyday basis – if we realize it or not… From our dreams, through our emotions, pain, memories, love and affections. It is very important to “train” and develop our smell sensitivity.”

With this in mind, developing our sense of smell mindfully can provide support in our growing mindfulness.

This week, each day we will take time to notice specific smells around us. We will take the time to note the subtle scents in our environment. We will spend a Mindful Moment enjoying the scent and allowing positive, calm memories to be attached to the scent.

1. Take a few deep, mindful breaths before you begin; allowing your body to relax. Focus on letting your shoulders relax.
2. Close your eyes and focus on the immediate environment for a moment.
3. Begin to take deep Belly Breathes, focusing on one scent that you smell. Continue to take several deep breaths focusing only on the smell without comment or judgement. There are no good or bad scents. There are just scents.
4. Make a note of this mindful moment by one of these activities below or one of your own.
5. 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.

Top Tip:
If you are doing this with a class, you may want to choose some stronger scents to introduce in the environment. Good scents to use are orange, peppermint, lavender, all spice, Rosemary and vanilla.

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.

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 1-Mindful Object

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Week 1: 30th April-6th May 2018
Mindful Object
– Take time each day to notice something specific about an everyday object.

Before you begin:
This is the first week of the #MindfulMayChallenge. If you are doing this as a whole class or school, take a few minutes to explain what the challenge is about: Developing mindfulness through noticing and observing the world around you in a way that allows you to find calmness in being present.
Explain or remind the children that mindfulness is a life skill that allows us to take control of our emotions rather than our emotions taking control of us.

Now we can get started!

This week, each day we will observe the details of the objects around us; man made and natural environment. We will take the time to note the smaller details of objects. We will spend a Mindful Moment enjoying the awe of the little things that make up the bigger picture.

1. Take a few deep, mindful breaths before you begin.
2. Choose any object from within your immediate environment and focus on it for a minute or two.
3. Don’t do anything except notice the thing you are looking at; relax into watching for as long as your concentration allows.
4. Really take the time to see the object.
5. Allow yourself to visually explore every detail and allow yourself to be waddle in its presence.
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: Mindful Object Meditation 

Using objects as the focus of mindful meditations allow us to root ourselves in the present moment.

If the week has been successful, on the last day try the Mindful Object Meditation. This will take not take any more time, but will be spread out often through the day . Details on how to do a Mindful Object Meditation can be be found here: https://educationsvoice.wordpress.com/2016/08/27/a-teachers-mindfulness-a-new-year-begins-part-2-mindful-object-meditation/

NOTE: This May be difficult for children younger than 8-9 years old.

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!

 

 

Why Mindfulness in the Classroom?

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Over the last two weeks, I have had the pleasure to work with Collaboroo ( https://www.collaboroo.com ) and presenting two free online workshops, Mindfulness for Teachers ( https://youtu.be/geshpfZyApQ ) and Mindfulness in the Classroom ( https://youtu.be/L9s3xT8wuP0 ).

Mindfulness is a life-long skill that is important for ourselves and our children for good mental-health and well-being. This is not a strategy that is for a specific group of children in this modern high pressure education system. All people who partake in mindfulness are rewarded with a way of better dealing with the stresses of life.

However, for our most vulnerable children, mindfulness can become a life-line.
I believe that J.G. Larochette from Growing Mindfulness In Education ( https://www.facebook.com/groups/290873981368847/?fref=ts ), sums up the importance of Mindfulness for Teachers and Mindfulness in the Classroom.

As we are naturally wired for survival, we have mirror neurons that are wired to reflect what we see. This while very important for real survival moments is very destructive in many other situations. Take being a classroom teacher as an example. If you have students who have a lot of trauma or chronic stress they are more likely to not feel safe in their own bodies and their behaviors will follow that. If a teachers mirror neurons start to become default mode he or she will begin to mirror stress, chaos, and be in fight, flight, freeze mode as a defense mechanism. This will then cause the whole classroom environment to be chaotic and escalate trauma and stress. However if the teacher is able to stay self-aware, present, regulated, connected, and keep activity in the prefrontal cortex, over time students will begin to mirror that. In other words, educators can actually be a mindful mirror that will change the classroom learning environment. This isn’t easy at all but it is beyond needed especially in schools where students have deep trauma. #BeaMindfulMirror”

Where to begin? Why not start with the two recorded workshops by Collaboroo:
Mindfulness for Teachers ( https://youtu.be/geshpfZyApQ ) and Mindfulness in the Classroom ( https://youtu.be/L9s3xT8wuP0 ).

Have a read across this blog ( www.educationsvoice.wordpress.com ) for a number of strategies for both teachers and children and start trying a few.

You can also find more than 100 Ideas for Mindfulness In The Classroom in my book, 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness In The Classroom, that can be found on Bloomsbury here: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/100-ideas-for-primary-teachers-mindfulness-in-the-classroom-9781472944955/ or on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/100-Ideas-Primary-Teachers-Mindfulness/dp/147294495X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1522490100&sr=1-1&keywords=tammie+prince

Let Mindfulness begin with you!

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!

Book Review by Sharon Stephenson – 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness In The Classroom


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Note: Sharon Stephenson is a primary teacher and Assistant Headteacher At Eldon Grove Academy in Hartlepool. She can be followed on Twitter @shazzasteph.

I purchased this book after developing an interest in encouraging mindfulness in the classroom with my class of year 2 children.

The book is very easy to use with ideas grouped into sections. Each idea has a teaching point and takeaway idea. This makes it an easily accessible toolkit to pick and choose which area to focus on with specific groups of children without having to read the whole book and follow in a particular sequence.

My pupils particularly enjoy starting with a yoga pose to focus on breathing. Their favourite mindfulness activity so far has been the gratitude jar (which has encouraged them to focus on something positive from the day). The pupils took the idea and developed it into a book to reflect on their own personal positive experiences which they will share with their families when they are ready.

As the ideas are explained with key points they are easy to prepare. It has also been useful to read the quotes to see how the techniques have been tried and tested.

I will continue to develop this further within school.

100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness in the Classroom is written by Tammie Prince and published by Bloomsbury. You can find more information on the book and where you can order the book here.