Archives for July 2015

Mindful Body Language

The third part of our Mindful Communication series is on Mindful Body Language. Body language is the way that our body communicates to others. This communication can happen through the way we stand, the way we move our hands when we talk, the expression on our face, and even where our eyes are looking when we talk to someone. Having Mindful Body language means that we are thinking about how our body language makes other people feel, and choosing how we want to present ourselves tCommon_Squirrelo others. Being mindful about our body language helps us become aware of the way that we affect other people, as well as the way they affect us. When practicing mindful body language, you might begin to notice how other people’s body language makes you feel too.

When you talk to someone, your body talks to that person through your posture, gestures and facial expressions. Some very simple ways to show mindful body language are to: turn to face your conversation partner, sit or stand up tall, and be aware of your facial expressions. In order to be mindful in our body language, we must begin to notice how we naturally talk to other people. You might notice that you are already very mindful with your body language, or you might also notice that there is some room for improvement. Think about the last time you had a conversation with someone when you were:

  1. Happy
  2. Angry
  3. Sad

In each of these situations, think about how you were talking to them with your body. If you can’t remember a conversation, just imagine yourself in each of those situations right now.

Now write down what you imagined your posture, gestures, and facial expressions were:

Do you think your body language was mindful in each situation? If not, think about how you could improve each part to show that you are engaged in the conversation.

Eye contact is another important part of mindful body language. You can think of it as part of a facial expression, but you can also think about it on its own too. Eye contact can make a huge difference when you are talking to someone. Meeting someone’s gaze can show someone that you are really engaged in the conversation you are having, and expresses to them that this is important to you. While you don’t have to make eye contact with your conversation partner every second that you speak, it is good to make it a habit throughout the conversation.

Think about your happy, angry and sad conversations (or imaginary ones). Do you think you made eye contact during those conversations? If you did, how often? If not, why do you think you didn’t?

Teacher’s Tip: Teachers, see if you can remind students to practice mindful body language in their conversations. If you notice something they could improve on, give them a gentle reminder. This can be particularly

Student’s Tip: See if you can remember to practice mindful body language in your conversations. Notice your posture, gestures and facial expressions and see if you can make them more mindful if they aren’t already.

Mindful Communication Part II: Mindful Words

This week’s Mindful Communication activity is a practice using Mindful Words. When we are communicating mindfully, it is important to think about the words we are using. The way we say something can have a big effect on the person we are saying it to. This makes it important to think before we say things, especially if those things have thFiery_throated_Hummingbird_JCB2e potential to either make someone very happy or very sad.

An example of when you can use Mindful Words is when you are angry about something. Imagine that your friend did something that made you very upset, and all you feel like doing is yelling at them about how bad of a friend they are. How do you think that will make your friend feel?

Your friend will most likely become upset because they feel like they are being attacked, and they will probably respond to you by being angry too. Now you both are angry, and you might even be more upset that before.

Lets look at the same situation using Mindful Words. Imagine that you are approaching the same friend with a different perspective. Before you say something that could upset your friend, think of how you could explain how you’re feeling with Mindful Words rather than expressing it by yelling. When tell your friends how things they did made you feel, they can understand your emotions better and have an idea of how to avoid doing that in the future because they know it hurt you. This way of showing your emotions keeps both of you relaxed and open to Mindful Listening.

Think about a situation when you could have used Mindful Words. It will probably be a time when you felt an intense emotion and did not think before letting the person who made you feel that way know how you feel. Write down a short description of the situations and then answer the following questions:

  • How did the person respond to you?
  • How did you want them to respond to you?
  • How do you think it made them feel?
  • How did you want them to feel?

Now think of how you could have used Mindful Words in this situation to better communicate how you were feeling. What words could you have chosen to let that person know how they made you feel and what they did to cause you to feel that way? Base your Mindful Words off of the questions above.

  • How do you think they would respond to you?
  • How do you think it would make them feel?

Mindful Words gives you the power to transform a situation that might have ended in a different way otherwise. They help you communicate your thoughts and feelings to others in a way that makes everyone involved feel understood.

Teacher’s Tip: It can be particularly helpful to remind students to use Mindful Words during conflict resolution between peers.

Student’s Tip: You can practice using Mindful Words in any conversation, as it is an important part of Mindful Communication. Try practicing Mindful Words as often as possible, and pair it with Mindful Listening.

Student’s Tip: You can practice using Mindful Wffords in any conversation, as it is an important part of Mindful Communication. Try practicing Mindful Words as often as possible, and pair it with Mindful Listening.

Mindful Communication Part I: Mindful Listening

Over the next few weeks we are going to learn about Mindful communication. Communication happens any time we say something to someone else through our words or actions, or anytime someone says something to us through their words or actions. Mindful Communication means that we are communicating with others while paying all of our attention with our bodies and our minds.

Mindful Listening is an important tool in Mindful Communication because it helps us connect with the people we are communicating with by giving them our full attention with our ears.

Mindful Listening is the first practice we will learn in Mindful Communication. It is one of the steps we can use to give people we are communicating with alOryctolagus_cuniculus_Tasmania_2l of our attention. It is easy to forget to be mindful when we listen because there are always so many distractions all around us. How many of you have cell phones? Think about how many times you have checked your phone or texted someone while someone else was talking to you in person. This is not Mindful Listening because you are paying attention to something else instead of the person you are with.

Today’s practice may seem very simple: your teacher will assign you to a partner, and you will ask them about their weekend. If it is almost the weekend again, you can ask them what their plans are. Your goal here is to listen to what they are saying with all of your attention. It may sound easier than it is.

Your teacher will time this activity to go for three minutes. While you are having this conversation, see if you can notice when your mind starts to wander off. If it does, just bring your attention back to the person who is talking to you. Keep doing this each time your mind wanders.

After the two minutes is up, you can write down what you learned about your partner or make a drawing to show this. Take two minutes to complete this reflection. Then take a minute to tell your partner what your learned from your conversation today.

Your partner will now ask you about your weekend and listen mindfully to you.

Take a few minutes to reflect on this activity once both partners are done.

  1. How did it feel to know that you had your partner’s attention while they listened to you?
  2. How did it feel to give your partner your attention while you listened to them?
  3. If your mind wandered off, where did it go (e.g. What were you thinking about?)?

Teacher’s tip: you can give this activity to students any time you’d like to see them improve their listening skills.

Student’s tip: you can practice Mindful Listening every time you talk to someone. You don’t have to write down what you learned, or always reflect back to your partner, just see how well you can give them your full attention.

Mindful Steps Activity

Mindful Steps Activity

164647732_8c9b3183d7_oToday’s activity is a practice in taking mindful steps. This is a practice that can be done any time you are walking somewhere. It is an activity that lets us pay extra attention to the journey we make from one place to another.

We will begin by standing up tall and finding our mountain pose. If you are comfortable closing your eyes, you can close them for the next few moments. Grow your roots into the ground and become strong and tall like a mountain, reaching your head up to the sky like the tippy top of a mountain’s peak. Turn your palms to face forward and inhale as you roll your shoulders up by your ears, then exhale to let them role down your back. Do this three more times on your own, moving with your breath.

Now that we are strong and grounded, we can be even more mindful in the way that we walk. Being present means that we are paying extra attention to what we are doing so we can get the most out of every moment. Mindful walking is walking while paying extra attention to the way we are moving, the place we are walking in, and how we feel while walking. It takes our minds off of where we are going to end up, and lets us have fun getting there. Have you ever driven somewhere with your parents and kept wondering when you’d get there? Mindful walking is like you are driving, but you are noticing everything around you so much that you don’t even think about how much time you have left to drive.

We can practice this activity by walking through the garden. Begin walking on the garden path. Notice how fast you are walking and see if you can slow down your pace. Pretend like you are walking in slow motion, and then imagine that this is the way that you walk all the time.

Begin to notice your feet lifting off of the ground and landing back down with each step you take. Notice the way that your arms move when you walk. How is your posture? Are you standing up straight or hunched over? If you are hunched, reach up through the crown of your head to make your spine long and tall again.

Now move your attention to the way you are breathing as you walk. See if you can begin to make your breath deeper. Maybe you time your inhale as you lift a foot to step, and exhale as you place it down. Continue to try this breath and movement combination and choose to stick with it if you enjoy it, or let it go if you do not.

Continue slowly walking down the path until you arrive where you started. Find your mountain pose here once more. Standing up tall with your feet planting down into the ground and your head reaching high to the sky. Turn your palms to face forward and roll your shoulders down your back. Find your breath filling up the belly as you breathe in and emptying the belly as you breathe out.

Slowly open your eyes when you are ready. How did that feel?

Teacher Tips: This is a great activity for a pleasant day when you have time to get the kids out into the garden. It is a wonderful way to tame high levels of physical energy, since the activity involves both physical movement and mental concentration. Engage the students in reflection at the end of the activity.

Student Tips: This is a great activity to practice absolutely anytime you are walking somewhere. You can make any trip relaxing, whether it is walking to the park to meet up with friends or walking to your classroom. See if you can use mindful steps to make going somewhere you might not like a mindfulness activity.