Archives for August 2015

The Mindful Body Part II: Mindful Movement Habits

The Mindful Body Part II: Mindful Movement Habits

This week’s Mindful Body lesson is on Mindful Movement Habits. Remember that word: habit? We learned about habits in last week’s introduction to the Mindful Body series. In case you need a refresher, habits are something that becomes automatic for us to do after we spend lots of time practicing it. This means that we practice it so much, we do that thing without even having to think twice about it. Creating healthy habits will help you all throughout your life, because they will keep your mind and your body strong for all of the things you want to do!

Mindful Movement is any kind of movement that we do with the intention of keeping our bodies and minds healthy (remember our Setting an Intention practice?). Mindful Movement can be challenging and make you sweat, or it can be really slow and make you super calm. The best part is that there are SO many ways to practice Mindful Movement. One of the easiest ways to do this is to go for a walk outside (with a parent or older sibling) or in a garden! You can practice Mindful Movement Habits with the activities we’ve learned so far, like Mindful Steps WCommon_dolphin_noaaalking Nature Meditation, or simply paying extra attention to whereyou are and how you move through your walk.

Another wonderful Mindful Movement practice is postures like Tree Pose, or Mountain Pose, Balloon Breathing, or other yoga poses that you might learn at school or in future blog exercises. If you like to swim or play other sports, those also count as Mindful Movement, so long as you are paying extra attention to your body and mind while you do those activities.

What kind of Mindful Movement Habits do you have?

What kind of Mindful Movement Habits would you like to try?

Think of some times and places that you can practice these Mindful Movements. Maybe you can even challenge yourself to practice them at least two times this week.

Student Tip: See if you can find other peers who have the same Mindful Movement interests as you and play with them during recess or outside of school (with your parent’s permission). Mindful Movement Habits are a great thing to practice with your friends and a great way to make even more friends.

Teachers Tip: Try practicing Mindful Movement with your students during class time. If you have a garden, a garden walk would be a great way to practice Mindful Movement. Earlier posts are also available to support you with Mindful Movement ideas.

The Mindful Body Part I: Mindful Eating Habits

The Mindful Body Part I: Mindful Eating Habits

The first step to a Mindful Body is a lesson on Mindful Eating Habits. We eat to give our body energy to do all of the things we want to do. The food we eat, and the way we eat it, changes the way that our body works, including the way we think. Our body works together, so foods that are good for one part of the body will also help other parts of our body too. This is why it is important to have a balanced diet, because a balanced diet makes a balanced and Mindful Body. The Mindful Body runs best on healthy energy so that it can work its very best to help us do all the thingbackground-2277_640s we want to do.

What kinds of foods do you think give you healthy energy? How often do you eat these foods? Take a minute to think about this. You can write down your answers, or share with the class if asked by your teacher.

What kinds of foods probably don’t give you health energy? How often do you eat these foods? Take a minute to think about this. Your teacher might ask you to write your answers down or share with the class if you

A lot of the time, we think that healthy foods all taste gross, so we don’t want to eat them. There are a lot of ways to eat healthy in a way that tastes good too. Do you have any healthy recipes or foods that you really like?

Our activity today is to draw our favorite healthy food and write out how to make it (or where to get it) so we can share it with the class.

If there is enough time in class, your teacher might let everyone share their favorite healthy snacks and recipes out loud with the class. But remember, everyone likes different things, and it is okay for people to like foods that you might not like very much. The important part of this activity is to be respectful of everyone’s favorite healthy foods. You never know, you might actually like them if you try them!

Lastly, even though certain foods are very healthy on their own, they also have to work together with other healthy foods to make our Mindful Body. This is just like the body’s different parts have to work together all the time. This means eating fruits, veggies, grains, protein, and dairy (if you aren’t allergic) or something that gives you similar nutrients.

Student’s Tip: Try making one of the recipes you learned about today with your parents at home! One of the best ways to remember what you learned is to teach it to someone else.

Teacher’s Tip: Teachers might consider making a booklet of the recipes shared for the kids to take home. Teachers might also want to provide resources for learning about a balanced, healthy diet. A sample resource is choosemyplate.gov.

The Mindful Body: A Three Part Series

The Mindful Body: A Three Part Series

These next few posts are going to be a series on The Mindful Body. We go through each day with our bodies, and we are now learning to train them
to be mindful. How does the body become mindful? You might ask. Well, the body becomes mindful, just like the mind does: through practice. Practice, when practiced enough, will eventually turn into a habit. A habit is something we naturally do. While we want our practices to become like habits, so that we don’t even have to think of them as work to do, we always want to remember that practicing is the most important part of being mindful. We practice for the same kinds of reasons we practice other things, like sports, a musical instrument, or art. If we don’t practice, we get “rusty,” and our Mindful Body becomes less strong. But if we do practice, then our Mindful Body will get stronger and stronger, and the practices will become so easy to do!

Lets begin by thinking of all the things that our bodies help us do. What does your body help you do? Are there any sports you like to play, places you like to go, or activities you really like? It is harder to do all of the things we really love when our body isn’t happy and healthy. These next few lessons give us three simple ways to help make our bodies healthy.

Setting an Intention

Setting an Intention

Today’s mindfulness practice is Setting an Intention. To complete this activity, you will need a few pieces of colored paper, a marker, a glue stick and a Popsicle stick. We will start by learning what an intention is. An intention is something that you would really like to make happen- kind of like a wish, but you are actually taking steps to make your own wish come true. Setting an intention is different than making a wish, because an intention is like a promise to yourself to work toward what you want to happen.

4204261438_230c0c2ab5_oIs there anything you can think of setting an intention for? It can be for an event coming up, a personal goal, a desire to work better with others… anything that you would like to put your energy toward making happen. Intentions can be big or small, the important thing is that you will help it grow.

Our activity today is to think of an intention and to make a plant or flower with our supplies that we can either set up in the classroom or bring home (depending on what your teacher says) so that we have a constant reminder of the intention we are growing. Just like a real plant or flower, your intention will need regular of attention, but instead of watering it you will think about your intention and maybe begin to take steps toward making it happen. Some intentions take longer than others, and sometimes intentions change along the way. Be patient with yourself and your intention, and know that it is okay if it is different.

Lets begin by finding a comfortable seat, closing our eyes, and beginning to notice our breath. Follow the path of your breath as it fills up your body going in, and leaves your body going out. Once you have tuned into your breath, let your mind turn toward creating an intention. What pops up in your head when you think of something you’d like to grow or work toward? Sit with these thoughts for a moment, and when you have found your intention, you can slowly come back to the room, opening your eyes.

Now go ahead and make a flower or plant to hold your intention. Anything that seems right to you is perfect. Once you are done, write your intention somewhere on the flower or plant and your intention planting is complete!

Teacher’s Tip: Teachers can cue students to plant their intentions at school or at home (if there is not a space for it). Have students revisit these intentions regularly if at school, or check in every week/other week if they took them home. If you don’t have Popsicle sticks, you can have students make their plants on sturdy paper and hang it up somewhere that way by stringing yarn through a hole punch at the top.

Student’s Tip: Remember to visit your intention often. That is the way it will start to grow. Don’t forget that your intention is your wish that you make come true. You have the power to work toward that intention- and it is okay if your intention changes as you grow. If your intention is at home, make sure it is somewhere you can see it everyday.

Restorative Rest Time

Restorative Rest Time

This week’s mindfulness practice is geared toward helping to find deep relaxation at the end of a busy day or week. We will all need to find a place where we can lie down on the floor. Bring the bottoms of your feet together to touch, and let your knees fall open like butterfly wings. Your head will rest down on the ground, or on a pillow that you can make with a sweater or nearby padding.7108632527_4e9d6a9c67_o

Gently close your eyes, placing one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Does this sound familiar? If you remember our lesson on Belly Breath, we placed our hands this way too. Just begin to notice the way your hands feel on your body. Are they heavy or light? Do they feel comforting here? Begin to activate your belly breathing. Notice your inhale travel through your nose, down your throat and into your belly, filling it up. Notice your exhale pull your belly down, pressing into the ground, and emptying out of your throat and then your nose. Continue with your belly breathing, making your belly fill up more and more as you breathe in, and empty out more and more as you breathe out.

Then begin to notice the way your whole body feels. Do your hips feel tight from your knees falling open? If so, see if you can move your breath into that tight space and open up the tightness with your breathing. Move to another part of your body that feels tight and do the same thing. Keep doing this until you breathe out all of your tension. Let it all release into the ground beneath you.

We will begin to redirect the breath back to our belly, engaging our Belly Breath once more. Notice how much air you can take in and out with each breath. Feel each breath wash away anything you are holding on to that doesn’t feel good. Take ten more deep, feeling breaths in and out of the belly, then find your natural breath once more.

Slowly reach for the outside of your knees with your hands, and bring them to stand upright. They pull your knees into your belly to give yourself a big hug, keeping your eyes closed. When you are ready, roll over to your right hand side and pause. Place one hand on the ground, and think of one nice thing to say to your self. Then say that inside your head. When you are ready we will push up to a seat and gently open our eyes.

How did that feel?

Teacher’s Tip: This is a great end-of-the week practice to help kids unwind from the school week. You can practice this with them, or on your own at the end of every week, and even the end of every school day. You can facilitate discussion, or simply have this be an exiting activity for the school day, allowing the kids to trickle out after or simply sit for a few more moments as it feels right to them.

Student’s Tip: You can practice this on your own at home, and it is also a great practice to do with your parents when they get home from work. Feel free to talk to your teacher if you have any questions or comments about how the practice made you feel.

Mindful Communication Part IV: Putting it all Together

Mindful Communication Part IV: Putting it all Together

I Mindful Words

II Mindful Listening

III Mindful Body Language

Thinking about past experiences can be a good way to figure out how to improve future experience. Don’t get too caught up in reflecting though, because we can always change what happens in the future if we are not happy with past actMore_Beach_Sunflowers_(5652859929)ions. Mindful Communication takes a lot of work, because it takes us out of autopilot and into the present moment… sometimes even the past or future. When we choose to mindfully communicate, we are choosing to show we care about the person we are speaking with by giving them our full attention and energy. We are also putting our attention and energy toward using our most mindful words, listening skills and body language. This means that we think about each of these parts of Mindful Communication and act in a way that we would like others to act towards us too.

Mindful Communication is especially important in this age of technology and insta-everything, because it allows us to make personal connections with the person we are talking to, rather than seeing them as a message bubble on our phone. By being mindful in our communication, we acknowledge the value in each person we talk to.

The three parts of Mindful Communication are very important and all affect each other. They don’t necessarily come in any order, because you use each one in each part of Mindful Communication. We broke them down into three lessons here so that we could put all our focus into each one as we learned them. Now that we’ve learned the parts of Mindful Communication, the next practice is to put them back together!

The last step of this activity is to imagine a conversation you would really like to have with someone. Think about what you would like them to get out of the conversation, and then think about the words you would choose to speak with to support that. What would your posture, gestures and facial expressions look like to show how you are feeling? Lastly, how would you listen to your partner when they speak?

You can write this down and draw an illustration to respond, or discuss this out loud in class if your teacher gives the option to participate in this way. Just make sure to practice Mindful Listening as you raise your hand and wait your turn.

Teacher’s tip: students can practice Mindful Communication every day. You can recommend that they are particularly aware of it at school, and that they practice it at home with their families. Each component can be revisited as needed too.

Student’s tip: you can practice Mindful Communication any time you speak with someone in person. If you don’t speak with others in person a lot, you might try having more face-to-face conversations and practicing your new skills. Notice how it makes you feel to connect with others in this way.