#MindfulFocusChallenge – Day 1: Leaf Meditation

(You will need a leaf. It can be any kind of leaf; a fallen leaf, one still on the tree or from a plant.)

Find a space where you can have five uninterrupted minutes. Maybe it is in your back garden, in a local park, or a walk through some woodlands. It may even be that you collect a leaf while out and about and complete the meditation within the comfort of your home. It really doesn’t matter as long as you have your leaf.

– Pick up the leaf and lay it in your hands.

– Notice the colours, the different in shades of colours and fading of one colour to another colour.

– Notice the veins in the leaf, the main stem, the edges of the leaf.

– Feel the leaf. Run your fingers over the top and bottom; along the edges. Notice the differences. Rub it against your face or over the top of your hand. Use nerve endings that normally are not used to feel objects. Notice the difference.

– Smell the leaf. Note the scent. Inhale deeply and notice the memories it may bring up.

Close your eyes and take a minute to breathe deeply and allow yourself to be in awe and wonder of the moment you have had with the leaf.

Proceed with a new found calmness and appreciation.

Respond in the comments below, tweet us @Ed_Tmprince or respond on our Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ with #MindfulFocusChallege and let us know how you found this strategy.

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Mindful Focus Challenge

Life can be an ever ending cycle of chaos; a plague of distractions that pull on our time and demand moments of our lives. emails, news, messages, work, family and more cry out for our attention and we feel we must always give that attention to be successful.

As the holiday season gets closer, it seems that this pull on our time and attention becomes even greater.

It is during these times that we need to step back, take a deep breath and find our mindful focus. It will:

You would like to:

• Give us a greater sense of focus in your life.

• Support us in being more effective in your work and life.

• Help us to achieve a sense of peace and calm.

For 14 days, we will spend some time stopping the chaos, breathing and using a variety of mindfulness strategies to bring mindful focus to our day.

The #MindfulFocusChallenge begins on Sunday 18th November.

Don’t worry if you don’t start on that day because all 14 days will be posted each day below on this blog for you to do on your own timescale.

Share with others and let’s do this together! Don’t forget the hashtag #MindfulFocusChallenge.

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.

#MindfulMayChallenge – Week 5 Mindful Taste

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

This is the last week for #MindfulMayChallenge and we are focusing on Mindful Taste. In order to mindfully taste, you must eat mindfully.

The key to mindfulness is focusing on the present moment calmly and accepting the feelings and thoughts and bodily sensations. It is our way to taking control of ourselves even when things around us are happening without our control.

In a child’s life, there is little that they have control over. When they get up, what they wear, what they eat, what they watch, etc. controlled or semi-controlled. Then, add the actions and reactions of other children to situations and there is a perfect storm. Our job is to help them realise there are things they can control and giving them strategies be aware and mindful of their minds and bodies; learning how to live in a chaotic world.

Even as adults, we sometimes do not feel like we are in control. Few of us are not accountable to someone. Our jobs, our families, our lives in general demand our attention and demands are put upon us wether we want to or not. So, we even need to develop mindfulness strategies as well.

Mindful eating is one way that allows a child and an adult to become aware of the positive and nurturing foods we eat by using our senses. By using all of our senses in choosing to eat food that supports our bodies growth and development, we are acknowledging the foods we like or dislike without making a fuss about the taste. Additionally, they become aware of signals the body gives us to lets us know we are hungry or we are full. So, in addition to the mindfulness with the eating of foods, we also start to see food in a different way; as nourishment.

As an adult, you may choose to eat an entire meal in a mindful way. However, for children, the process could be very tedious, particularly in the beginning.

Mindful Eating Exercise for the classroom:
(The teacher needs to verbally guide the children through the exercise.)
You can use a raisin, a slice of apple or orange, pomegranate seed, dried fruit or any food you wish. (Be sure your children have no allergies or the food is a chocking hazard.)
1- Have the children LOOK at the food they will be eating. Silent,they are to observe what it looks like? What do you notice?
What colour is it?
Is it small or large?
2- Have the children smell the food.
Does it have a smell?
What does it smell like?
3- Have the children direct their attention to how it feels.
Can You squeeze it?
Is it firm or soft?
Is it smooth, sticky or rough?
Warm or cold?
Does it make any sounds?
4- Have the children, very slowly, put the piece of food in their mouth but not chew it! Leave it on the tongue.
How does it feel on the tongue?
Can you taste anything?
Does it smell differently in your mouth?
5- Have the children begin to chew slowly; one mindful chew at a time.
Does the taste change?
How does it feel in the mouth?
6- Try to get them notice when they swallow, and see how far you can feel the food into your body.
7- Finally, orally discuss what they felt during the activity or turn on some meditation music and allow them to write about their experience.
Try this with a number of different foods either in one sitting or over a period of time.
In addition, encourage them to mindfully eat their first bite of lunch each day. It is lovely to see the children mindfully eating their food.

Additional 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 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!