Mindfulness in the Classroom – Blue Sky & Ocean Mindfulness

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The feel of sand beneath your feet, the sound of waves crashing on the beach, the smell of sea water in the air and the sight of the sun rising and setting in the blue sky. What more could you want from a place to relax and recharge?

In research published by Health & Place , subjects living along the coastal regions reported better health and well-being.

Richard Shuster, PsyD, clinical psychologist says, “The color blue has been found by an overwhelming amount of people to be associated with feelings of calm and peace. Staring at the ocean actually changes our brain waves’ frequency and puts us into a mild meditative state.”

He goes on to say that the rhythmic sound of the crashing waves kind of de-stimulates our brains. The noises combined with the visuals, activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is, as Shuster says in his podcast on The Daily Helping , “responsible for slowing us down and allowing us to relax and feel more engaged.”

In addition, the simple act of touching the sand makes you feel happy and relaxed. “The physical sensation of putting your feet in warm sand causes people to relax,” says Shuster.

This is great if you live by the sea and if you have time to get to the seaside. But, most of us have very busy lives that don’t allow for this and, if you are a teacher, you know that seaside visits are few and far between for your children with some never actually getting to a beach unless it is a school trip.

So, how can we use mindfulness to virtually get us to the seaside?

Top Tips for a Virtual Seaside Visit

1- Visual Meditations: play videos of beaches and waves crashing on the shore.
Focus children on the rhythm of the waves, the sound of the sea and the sky around it. Reminding them to take long Mindful breaths and allowing all worries to drift along like a cloud.

For a few moments, instruct them to close their eyes and imagine they are on that beach, with their toes in the sand and a warm breeze on their face.

Here are some ocean Meditations that would be good for children and adults:
Morning Meditation Ocean Sunrise – https://youtu.be/UpXMeZuWWR0
Misty Beach Ocean Waves – https://youtu.be/E7qRkUYu580
Nice Ocean Waves – https://youtu.be/V-_O7nl0Ii0
One Moment Ocean Meditation – https://youtu.be/RlOZ02HgAnE
Meditation on the Beach – https://youtu.be/jJkEiw6Gh0U
2- Blue Sky Meditation– display pictures of the blue sky like these:

Play quiet meditation music or nature sounds as you guide the children to focus on the photo and take deep mindful breaths.
Photo examples:

Or use these lovely Blue Sky Meditations:
Blue Sky & Cloud Meditation – https://youtu.be/tOf2VRZA-Rc
Blue Sky Meditation (Children’s visualisation) – https://youtu.be/5qoU_XBkm3g
White Clouds on Blue Sky Meditation – https://youtu.be/TWaQwDqERqE
Floating on a Cloud – https://youtu.be/kyQAKcWYtsk

Or, take the children outside on a nice day have them sit or lay back and focus on the clouds as you guide them through deep breathing. (Remind them not to look directly at the sun.)

3- Sand Play– Many Early Years classrooms and units have sand trays for children to play in and that is good. But, in addition, they need trays and larger areas with sand where you encourage children to take off their shoes and wiggle their toes in the soft, shifting sand. Allow children to use various body parts to explore the feeling of sand and get them to focus on the feel, warmth or coldness of the sand against their skin.

I have been compiling useful videos for the Blue Sky & Ocean Mindfulness on YouTube HERE.

By mindfully understanding and enjoy the gifts of nature, we can allow ourselves to relax and be in the present moment.

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.

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Mindfulness- Finding Positivity at the End of the Day

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For humans, language is a powerful tool. It can evoke positive, neutral and negative emotions. We also can direct these emotions in others by the words we say and the syntax of those few words.

As a Headteacher/Principal for more than 10 years, there is a similar conversation I have with parents and teachers repeatedly.

Usually, the scenario of the child moaning and complaining about something that has happened as soon as the child walks out the school doors that leads to upset in the family for the evening. This conversation repeats day after day, upsetting the parent and feeding a negative loop of emotions to the point of a child telling their parents nothing good about the school day. When the parents tell the teacher, he/she is baffled as the child has not complained and, in fact, has had an extremely positive days filled with lots of success and praise.

So, what is going on here?

According to Professor Nass, co-authored, “The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships” (Penguin 2010),
“The brain handles positive and negative information in different hemispheres,” Generally, negative emotions involve more thinking, and the information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones, he said. Thus, we tend to ruminate more about unpleasant events — and use stronger words to describe them — than happy ones.

Roy F. Baumeister, a professor of social psychology at Florida State University, highlights in an article he co-authored in 2001, “Bad Is Stronger Than Good,” which appeared in The Review of General Psychology, “Bad emotions, bad parents and bad feedback have more impact than good ones. Bad impressions and bad stereotypes are quicker to form and more resistant to disconfirmation than good ones.”

Basically, at a very young age, we realise that when we tell our parents the more negative experiences that have happened in our day, no matter how small, our parents give us more emotional feedback than when we tell them our positive experiences.

So, how can we as both teachers and parents use mindfulness to change how we see the day that will lead to mentally healthier experiences and reactions and to a more peaceful school and home environment?

Teachers

End each day with a positive thought– Have each child tell the class what is one thing they have learned that day or what was the best part of their day in school before they leave for the day. As a class, celebrate the successes; clap, cheer, smile and congratulate the positives. These positive thoughts and emotions follow the children out the door and home.

This gives you, as a teacher, a sense of accomplishment and positive mindful reflection on the day. It allows you to enjoy the success of the day instead of only considering the things that didn’t go well. It gives the day balance.

For children, it begins to refocus the day and allows children to bask in the glow of positivity. It helps them to give the day balance.

Parents

When you see your child at the end of the school day be specific in your questions:
– What was the BEST thing about today?
– What is the BEST thing you saw today?
– What is the KINDEST thing you did or said today?

The key is to focus on the positive and explore and discuss this positive. Allow the conversation to grow about this positive experience. Ask for details (Who was with you when this happened?) , explore the emotions (How did you feel? Did you smile?) and encourage gratitude (Did you say thank you? How do you think they felt?).

If your child tries to divert to a negative, let them know you will listen to them about it but first you are going to enjoy the positives and discuss the positives.

Before bedtime, bring up these positives again. Allow the child to repeat and allow the positive emotions to be the last emotions they have as they go to sleep. One falls asleep and has a better sleep when they have positive thoughts to drift off to.

This gives both of you time to enjoy each other’s company and reinforce a mindful sense of gratitude that can lead to a more harmonious family life.

Does this mean a child should never tell a parent what did not go well? Not at all! What we are wanting to do is to help children to find a mindful balance in life and find happiness in being happy.

Please note:
Just asking your child, “How was your day?” Is a neutral statement and doesn’t drive a positive mindset. Emphasis needs to be positive language.

Eventually, as the habit of positivity develops, even a neutral question will have a child first reflecting on the positive. However, this does take time.

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.

#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!

#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!