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.

Creating a Rest Nest

Creating a Rest Nest

Teachers: A rest nest is a safe space that you create in the classroom for students to unwind in. The rest nest is designated only for taking time to oneself, and should be comfortable and inviting. Spaces like a rest nest can serve as an important sanctuary to students who are having a bad day or feeling overwhelmed. Students could also use the rest nest during free time if they would like to practice mindfulness activities learned in class.

4612522613_352b904abd_bMaterials Needed: A rest nest should be cozy and comforting to the student when resting in it. The space can be created with a soft rug and various pillows for the children to sit on. Consider adding lighting to the space to improve the ambiance, and give it even more of a warm feel. If you do not have a rug to lay out, perhaps consider using a blanket-or just work with what you have. Consider leaving a CD player with soothing music and headphones for the student to put on in the nest.

Students: A rest nest can serve as a very important space for you. It gives you a space where you can close your eyes, take a deep breath, and relax knowing that you are safe. You may think about making a rest nest for yourself at home. Ask your parents before making your rest nest to make sure it is okay. Also let them know that when you are in your nest, it is because you need to take a personal time-out. You can also use the rest nest to practice mindfulness activities that you learn at school.

Materials Needed: If you have an extra pillow or blanket to fold up, you can put this in the rest nest to sit on. A blanket or rug on the floor might be nice if the floors at home are not carpet. Think about things in your room that make you really calm. You can bring these into your rest nest with you, or even make your rest nest their new home. If you have an iPod or CD player, you can play calming music while you rest too. Just make sure to keep the volume low. You can visit your rest nest whenever you are feeling upset, overwhelmed or sad to take time for yourself and rest. This is your safe space.