#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!

 

 

#MindfulMayChallenge

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Developing mindful practice is a life time endeavour. Even as it becomes part of our daily habit, we need to take a moment to consider our mindfulness, how we use it and how it makes us feel.

The more mindful we become and how that mindfulness supports our positive mental health and well-being, the deeper our mindfulness becomes.

This is true for both our children as well as ourselves as adults. With this in mind, we have set up the #MindfulMayChallenge.

Each of the five weeks in May will have a new Mindful Focus along with both adult and child friendly strategies. You, your family, your class and your school can take part and develop mindfulness together.

How to take part?

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1- Pledge to take part in #MindfulMayChallenge. Let us know by reply to any of our social media sites and post this badge on your social media, website or school/work display.

2- Read the Overview for each week so you are aware what is coming up. Below is a list of suggested general activities you can be prepared to use, especially if you are using this in your classroom or work place.

3- Each new week will begin on a Monday. Thus, the first week will actually begin on Monday 30th April in order to give 5 full week’s. On the Saturday before the week begins, a new post on www.educationsvoice.wordpress.com will be posted to support the challenge.

4- 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!

5- If you have any questions, please feel free to ask by emailing me at evmindfulness@outlook.com .

#MindfulMayChallenge Weekly Overview

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Week 4: 21st-27th May 2018
Mindful Touch– Take time each day to notice how everyday objects feel.

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Week 5: 28th- 3rd June 2018
Mindful Taste– Take time each day to notice the taste of foods and drinks.

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- Set a specific time each day for your mindful moment so that it becomes a habit. You only need a minute or two once you explain what the #MindfulMayChallenge is all about.

5- Remember to check each Saturday for the next week’s challenge post.

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.

 

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!

Mindful Refocus

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There can sometimes be a misconception about mindfulness. Some people believe that mindfulness is a way of escaping from stress or a way of keeping stress away from you. This is untrue.

Mindfulness will not become some magical shield from stress in your life. No matter how little stress we may have in our lives, our brains will always perceive the most stressful event, no matter how small, as being extremely stressful. Mindfulness gives you the tools to deal with the stress of life.

The key to mindfulness is not getting rid of stress, it is learning how to react to stress.

Even with the best will in the world, our lives get taken over by life. We begin the morning with good intentions; we meditate, we take mindful moments while we brush our teeth and make our tea. But, as our day gets into full swing, our old habits set in and our reptilian brains take over. We react without thought or purpose. Our cortisol levels rise and rise until we are an exhausted heap of human mess.

So, what can you do about that?

Mindful Refocus

Mindful Refocus allows you to return your awareness to the present moment. In order to give myself a frequent reminder, I choose a mindful object.

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, and complete a Mindful Refocus.

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

Mindful Refocus Activities:

1- Deep Breathing– Take three, deep mindful breaths paying attention to the air flowing in and out your body.

2- Sound Meditation– Close your eyes for a moment, stop and listen to the sounds around you. Focus on the pitch, vibration through your body or distance of the sound.

3- Colour Meditation– Choose a colour that you will decide to notice. Take a deep breath and notice five things with that colour.

4- Shoulder Relaxation– Breath deeply and, on the exhale, allow your shoulders to drop towards the floor as if someone is pressing them downward. Repeat a few times, noticing how your body feels as your shoulders relax.

5- Count Backwards– Take a deep breath and count backwards from 60. Concentrate just on the counting, allowing your body to relax more with each number.

Always remember that mindfulness is not about getting rid stress but how we react to the stress.

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.