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!

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Maintaining a Mindful Inner Landscape

Maintaining a Mindful Inner Landscape

Materials needed:

  • Inner garden drawing
  • Writing utensil

Last time we talked about how what a Mindful Inner Landscape is, and how it is created through what we take in. You all got to imagine what the inner garden of your Mindful Inner Landscape looks like, and we’re sure it was absolutely beautiful!

Now that you have a vision of what you’d like your inner garden to look like, its time to learn how to keep it healthy so it can grow into your Mindful Inner Landscape. Since the things you take in add to your inner garden, what kinds of things do you think would be good nourishment, or food for it?

We have already learned about many of these things in past mindfulness practices. You might remember some or all of them, but here are some examGreen watering can pouring waterples:

  • Mindful Eating
  • The Practice Acts of Kindness series
  • The Mindful Mornings series
  • The Mindful Body series

You have been building up a toolbox of Mindfulness practices, and now you get to choose some that you’d like to practice to Maintain a Mindful Inner Landscape.

If you still have your inner garden drawing, you can turn it over to write down three Mindfulness practices that you think would be good nourishment, or food, for your inner garden. These can be a reminder of what to practice to Maintain your Mindful Inner Landscape, and that when you practice, you are helping your inner garden stay healthy.


Creating A Mindful Inner Landscape

Creating A Mindful Inner Landscape

Materials Needed:

  • Paper
  • Coloring utensils (pencils, crayons, markers)

A landscape is what a space that you’re in looks like. Imagine you’re sitting at a park looking around. There may be trees, a playground, flowers… these are all part of the landscape. This landscape has many different parts that make it so nice to be part of. Places can also have parts what make it not so nice to be a part of.

Today we’re going to talk about our Inner Landscape, and how we can work to make it a Mindful Inner Landscape that feels good to be a part of us. What you take in becomes part of you, and part of being mindful is noticing what we take in. This means what we take in to our bodies and our minds through our eyes, our breath, our ears, and our foods. There are so many ways we can make our Inner Landscape more Mindful, so we will just cover a few for examples. They will be short practices of awareness, or noticing, and challenges to try noticing more often throughout your week.flowers-clouds-grass-nature-peaceful-sky-wind

You can think of this Inner Landscape like a garden, with each practice planting seeds for beautiful things to grow. The more you practice what you learn, the more you water the sees and help them become part of your garden. This garden is what makes up your Mindful Inner Landscape because you are helping to grow what you want yourself to look like on the inside!

Today’s practice to get started is to draw your inner garden. Start by imagining a place you feel safe, calm, relaxed, and happy. It can be real or imaginary. Draw you Mindful Inner Landscape based on this place that you imagine, and maybe even add words to the drawing that say what you’d like to be part of you. Some examples might be kindness, love, happiness, peacefulness… the sky is the limit! This Mindful Inner Landscape can be your inspiration for the practices to come.

Practice Acts of Kindness: Yourself

Practice Acts of Kindness: Yourself

There are many ways to Practice Acts of Kindness to Your Self. But before we get started, you might ask, why do I need to practice it myself anyhow? Just like any mindfulness practice, the MOST important thing to remember is that we must practice ourselves so that we can share it. If you want to be in a space to share Acts of Kindness with others, you must first be kind to your self.

Now, lets talk about some simple ways to Practice Acts of Kindness to Your Self. Some of them are very similar to ones we practiced with other5712669523_383115ff9d_os, and they are listed here:

  1. Write yourself a kind post-it note and put it on a mirror you see in the mornings.
    1. Read the post it note out loud to your self as a bonus!
    2. An extra bonus: smile at yourself in the mirror while you say it.
  2. Give yourself a huge hug first thing when you wake up. Just because you’re so awesome!

Student’s Tip: Feel free to journal about how Practicing Acts of Kindness to Your Self made you feel. These are great practices to do every single day!

Teacher’s Tip: You may want to hold space for in-class sharing or writing reflection on the practice the following day to deepen student reflection!

Practice Acts of Kindness: Parents and Family

Practice Acts of Kindness: Parents and Family

You don’t need anything to practice this activity other than your big kind heart!

Our Practice Acts of Kindness today will be to give a nice big hug of kindness to your mom, dad, or other close family member. If you already hug one of your parents or family members a lot, try giving a hug to someone in your family nearby that you normally wouldn’t hug, like your brother or sister, cousin, aunts or uncles, or maybe your grandparents. If you know the person really doesn’t want a hug, think of someone else to give your hug of kindness to. The only other rule with the hug of kindness is to give it with a nice big smile!

A bonus option when giving this person a hug of kindness is to say something nice about them, just like we have been practicing with notes at school. This can be as simple as “I love you mom or dad!” or “your make the best cookies!” If you do this, take a Free hugsmoment to think about one thing that you really like about the person you are hugging.

Teacher’s tip: If certain students have concerns about giving hugs (for any family reasons) then suggest they just say something nice about the person (to the person)!

Student’s tip: Maybe you can practice giving one hug of kindness to a new family member each day. You could even give hugs of kindness to many family members every day. Saying something nice about the person is always an bonus option too! If you love giving hugs of kindness, you can start giving them to your friends too! Just make sure you know the person before giving a hug!

Mindful Mandala Coloring

For this practice, you’ll need:

Last week we practiced Mindful Free Expression Coloring. Mindful Mandala Coloring takes some of the tools you learned in Mindful Free Expression Coloring and uses them in a little bit of a different way. You might remember that as you colored last time, you were asked to let go of worries about how your coloring looked, and even to let go of any goals for what your coloring might end up looking like. Mindful Mandala Coloring uses those same guidelines, but this time in the shape of a Mindful Mandala.

A Mindful Mandala is a pattern that you can color or draw to train your mind to be more still and focused. It is also a great way to express whatever is going on inside your mind or feelings through the colors and shapes of the Mindful Mandala.

Mindful Mandala Coloring is a very simple practice. All you have to do is pick out a few colors (or your teacher will give them to you) and give all of your attention to coloring the Mindful Mandala in front of you. If you notice your mind wandering to something else, just bring your attention back to the Mindful Mandala that you are Mandala_monte_verita-1coloring.

While you color: notice how it feels to color; notice how your colored pencil or crayon moves along the paper; notice how the Mindful Mandala changes with your coloring and attention.

Teacher: allow 5-10 minutes to color the Mindful Mandala. Let students know when they have 2 minutes left.

At the end of the practice, ask students to write a sentence about their experience with Mindful Mandala Coloring. After students are done writing, ask a handful to share with the class. If students aren’t at a writing level, then they can just share out loud.

Teacher’s tip: it is optional to play some quiet and relaxing music in the background.

Student’s tip: you can practice Mindful Mandala Coloring any time you’d like. All you need is a paper, pencil and a Mindful Mandala Coloring page. If you don’t have access to a printer at home, ask your teacher if you can print one at the library. Otherwise hang tight until next week, when we will learn about Creating your own Mindful Mandalas.



Mindful Free Expression Coloring

Mindful Free Expression Coloring

For this practice, you’ll need:

  • Colored pencils or crayons
  • A piece of paper for each student

Mindful Free Expression Coloring is a way for you to express yourself without judgment, and without having to plan what to color. All you have to do in this practice is move the colored pencil or crayon in whichever way seems right to you in the moment, without worrying about creating any kind of shape or design. Mindful Free Expression Coloring is a practice to release whatever is going on in your mind or feelings through the movement of your hand and the pencil or crayon on paper. Let it flow as naturally as possible- whatever you create is perfect!watercolor-795163_960_720

The practice will last for 5 minutes, and we will listen to music as we color. Try to let your colored pencil and crayon move across the paper in a natural, flowing way, without any pattern or shape in mind (Teacher demonstrate on board or paper). Begin.

[Teacher play relaxing music]

At 1.5-2 minutes in, remind students to let their hands move without any plan. To give their brain a break and create whatever naturally comes out in their Mindful Free Expression Coloring practice. Remember, whatever you create is the perfect Expression of you in this moment!

At the end of the 5 minutes, lower the volume of the music or turn it off and ask a handful of students to reflect on the experience with the class. If students are shy, they can write a reflection sentence on the back of their paper to share with you.

Teacher’s tip: If students love this practice, you can definitely spend longer than 5 minutes.

Student’s tip: If you love this practice, you can definitely practice at home too. Mindful Free Expression Coloring is a great way to unwind if you have a lot going on in your head or feelings.