In this short guided breathing practice, John teaches you how to use the simple action of a sigh on an exhalation to create a deeper state of ease and relaxation.
For those working in schools, or with youth, this can be an exciting and anxious time of year as many are or have already returned back to school. Back to School can bring with it an amazing sense of new beginnings, and there can also be worry about reconnecting with peers, academics, extracurriculars, sports, and all of the other stressors of school. I think we can all remember what is was like for us when we were younger! Maybe it is even like that for us now, but with our work-life balance! The reinitiation of all of these activities can be ungrounding for youth and their caregivers. The heightened stress will definitely show up in our helping relationships with them.
Therefore, there is an inherent need to ground ourselves, to practice mindfulness with an intention of staying centered. By learning how to settle into the present moment, with equanimity, and heartfulness (which is another word for “mindfulness”), we can offer this loving presence of ourselves to youth or to anyone else in our life.
The great meditation teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, says “The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
I don’t know how that quotes touches you, but for me I think that it is a most sacred wish for those I love and care about- for them to “bloom like flowers.”
It turns out that it does not have to take too much time to get grounded. I also know that many of you likely spend quite a bit of time at work either at the desk or sitting in a chair. Therefore, this month we will be transforming the desk chair into our yoga mat with a simple chair yoga practice. I put together a video to support you in your practice.
Check out the video! Enjoy!
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Practice adapted from:
Le Page, J. & Le Page, L. (2005). Yoga Teachers’ Toolbox
SEATED CAT / COW
EAR TO SHOULDER / EAR AWAY FROM SHOULDER
SHOULDERS UP AND DOWN
LATERAL BEND, SEATED SIDE STRETCH
FRONTAL PLANE HEAD CIRCLES
SHOULDER ROTATING FORWARD, LOOK PAST FORWARD SHOULDER
SEATED FORWARD FOLD
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This handout can be used to guide your practice of attending to the five senses. Ideally this practice is done somewhere in nature. At Stanford, we take this worksheet to our beautiful cactus garden
near the psychiatry building. The directions are simple, use the corresponding bubbles to jot down what you notice regarding your sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. At the cactus garden, it is hard to notice taste, so you may use the “flavor” of the air as the cue for this sense. A fun activity following the completion of the worksheet is to try to turn your observations into a poem about the experience.
A thumbnail of the practice is visible to the right.
You can download the worksheet with the link below:
Enjoy the practice!
This week our practice focus is simplicity. There is so much joy that can be connected to by simply taking a moment out of the day and pausing, breathing, sensing this wakeful presence that is right here, right now and allowing all of this moment in. So please take a few moments right now to do that while you gave upon this beautiful image below:
Hello Mindful Readers! This week’s focus is the Five Senses of Fall. Last week was the Fall Equinox- the first sign that days won’t be quite as long as summer time, and that the season has changed.
This week’s practice will be a reflection on Fall, and what that means to you using our Five Senses.
1. Sight- What do you see that lets you know it is Fall?
2. Sound- What kinds of sounds might you hear during Fall?
3. Taste- What kinds of tastes make you think of Fall?
4. Smell- What kinds of smells remind you of Fall?
5. Touch- What might you touch, or stomp on in the Fall?
Student tip: If you’re feeling creative, make a collage with magazine pictures, or photos you print off the computer (with your parent or guardian’s permission). A drawing is also a great idea. You can even ask if it’s okay to take your own photos of what reminds you of fall for each sense and make a collage with those photos. The sky is the limit. Use your awesome creative skills!
Teacher’s tip: Engage the students to perhaps imagine they are actually working through each experience with their five senses. Ex. Tell me what you see outside that reminds you of Fall. Tell me what a pumpkin pie is like that reminds you of Fall flavors. For more creative students, you might support them in making a collage, or figuring out what to take photos of that best represents their Five Senses of Fall.