Archives for June 2016

Mindful Welcome of the Seasons: Summer

Mindful Welcome of the Seasons: Summer

This week’s practice is a Mindful Welcome to the new season: summer! This practice is about using your Mindfulness skills to notice and welcome the transition from spring to summer. When seasons change, there are usually some changes that we can notice more easily than others. What do you think some of the easier changes to notice are from spring to summer?

(Give pause for answers)

You might have said something like: No school! It’s hot! Or it stays light out longer! There are also some changes in the summer that we might not notice as easily at first thought. These include some changes that happen because of the bigger differences you noticed, like the different foods we eat in the summer, the kinds of sports we play, the friends or family we get to see, and maybe even trips we go on.

Summer is normally seen as a time full of opportunity, warmth, and relaxation. Today we’re going to meditate on the new season and give it a nice warm welcome!

Begin by closing your eyes and noticing your body and your breath. See if you can feel your feet root down on the ground and your head reach up to the sky. Maybe imagine that your feet are touching warm summer sand on a beach, or warm dirt in a garden, and that your head is reaching up into the sunny summer sky. Begin to slow your breath down and imagine that with each in-breath, the sun shines a little brighter on your skin, and on the out-breath you let it’s warmth wash over you. Breathe in through your nose to take in the sunshine, breathe out through your nose to spread the sunshine all through your body.

Take another ten breaths like this. When you’re ready, gently open your eyes.

Welcome, summer!

Maintaining a Mindful Outer Landscape: Emotional Environment

Maintaining a Mindful Outer Landscape: Emotional Environment

Last week we learned about Maintaining a Mindful Outer Landscape through our Physical Environment. This week we’re going to learn about how to Maintain a Mindful Outer Landscape through our Emotional Environment.

So what is an Emotional Environment anyhow? An Emotional Environment has to do with how you feel in the place that you’re in. We learned about our Physical Environment first, because that helps us set up our Emotional Environment too! But it isn’t just the physical things around us that affect our Emotional Environment, it’s the people and sounds too!

Close your eyes for a moment here and think about the people you’re around most of the time. Maybe they are friends or family. Think about how you usually feel around these people. Maybe also notice why you feel that way. If you feel happy, maybe it’s because you know you’re loved or cared for. If you feel sad, maybe you don’t feel like you’re getting very much attention directed your way. Just notice this, without judging any of it!

Gently blink your eyes open and reflect on what you just pictured. Our goal is to Maintain our Mindful Outer Landscape through our Emotional Environment. If our Emotional Environment doesn’t feel very good, what can we do to help if feel better?

Here are some tools we’ve learned in the past through our Mindfulness practices:

  • Mindful Communication Series:7632203602_1549d758cd_b
    • Mindful Listening
    • Mindful Words
    • Mindful Body Language
  • The Mindful Body Series:
    • Mindful Eating Habits
    • Mindful Movement Habits
    • Mindful Rest Habits

The main idea is that what you take in affects what you put out. So we want to make sure our Mindful Inner and Outer Landscapes are doing the best they can so that we can help others have Mindful Inner and Outer Landscapes too. What you take in includes conversations with other people, music, TV, food, everything! You don’t have to worry too much about this all at once, just notice what your choices look like now and see if you can take some small steps, one at a time, to make your Outer Landscape a little more Mindful.

Maintaining a Mindful Outer Landscape: Your Physical Environment

Maintaining a Mindful Outer Landscape: Your Physical Environment

Materials Needed:

  • Mindful Outer Landscape drawing from last week (or small piece of paper)
  • Colored pencils, crayons, or other writing utensils

Last week we got to dream up our Mindful Outer Landscapes. This week we’re going to start learning to how maintain them!

As we learned before, what is around you becomes a part of you. This means people, places, and things. Today we are going to focus on WHAT is around us, from the things perspective. These things make up our Physical Environment, or the space around us. We can pick them up with our hands and move them around to make our Mindful Outer Landscape even more supportive and reflective of our Mindful Inner Landscape.

For starters. Close your eyes and imagine what your room looks like. Your room is a very special place because it is the first thing you see in when you wake up in the morning, and the last thing you see when you go to bed at night. Notice what you might see in your room right now: is it clean, messy, bright, dark? Think about this, and create a picture of what your room is like right now.

Then think about whether your room as it is now helps to Maintain your Mindful Outer Landscape, or if it might not be helping so much. Odds are, there may be something that might not be helping to Maintain our Mindful Outer Landscapes in our Physical Environment. Notice what that might be, and think if there is something simple you can do to change that.

  • If your room is dark: is there a was to get more light in?
  • If it is REALLY messy: is there a way to organize it a little better so you know where things are?
  • If it isn’t super cozy: can you make a Rest Nest with some pillows and a blanket (with parent permission) to practice Mindfulness or relax in?
  • If there’s no space to be creative: can you make a crafts or coloring corner? Maybe it can be your Rest Nest too!
  • If you share a room, maybe you can team up with your room mate to see what you can do together!

When you’re ready, slowly open your eyes, and write or draw an idea on the back of your Mindful Outer Landscape drawing from last week for how you can your Physical Environment better Maintain your Mindful Outer Landscape. If you don’t have your drawing still, any piece of paper will do. Your challenge for the week is to talk to your parents or guardians about trying it out!

Stay tuned for more tips to Maintain your Mindful Outer Landscape next week!

Creating a Mindful Outer Landscape

Creating a Mindful Outer Landscape

Materials Needed:

  • Paper
  • Writing Utensil (Colored Pencils, Crayons, Markers)

The first step toward creating a Mindful Outer Landscape is something we’ve already been working on: Creating and Maintaining a Mindful Inner Landscape. The more your Mindful Inner Landscape is taken care of and Maintained, the more it will help your Mindful Outer Landscape grow peaceful and strong too!

  1. Remember some of the practices we mentioned last time to Maintain your Mindful Inner Landscape? Continuing to practice those, and other similar Mindfulness activities is step one of Creating a Mindful Outer Landscape. Have you ever heard someone say that “It’s what’s inside that counts?” Well, that is how we make it count on the outside, through practice.
  2. Step two is taking a look at what is going on around you. What does your room look like? What are your friends like? What kind of music do you listen to? How do you get along with your family?
    1. These are just a few examples of things that are part of our Outer Landscape.

Today’s practice is to take inventory of our Outer Landscape, so that we have an idea of how to make it more Mindful.

  1. First think about what your Outer Landscape looks like now. You can use the examples I gave you of your room, friends, music, and family to get started if that helps.
  2. Next imagine what your Mindful Outer Landscape would look like. Think about the practices we’ve been learning, and what they promote. Most of them talk about self-care, eating healthy, treating your mind and body well, and treating others well too. Does your Outer Landscape look like this now? It’s okay if it doesn’t, because that is our practice today!
  3. Now go ahead and either draw or write down what your Mindful Outer Landscape would look like.

Now that you’ve created your beautiful Mindful Outer Landscape, we are ready to learn how to Maintain it! Stay tuned for tips next week!

  1. Double-alaskan-rainbow