Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Practicing Gratitude During a Very Sad Thanksgiving


Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

by Catharine Hannay

It's two days before Thanksgiving, and like many of you, my husband and I are following COVID guidelines and not gathering with friends and family. 

This would be a very hard week for me even without the pandemic. I can't bake a pumpkin pie with my mom, since she died of brain cancer a few years ago. And I can't sit and chat with my aunt, who died suddenly last summer. 

While your circumstances are different from mine, I'm sure this is a challenging week for you, too. So I'd like to share some thoughts on practicing gratitude in challenging times.

This is adapted from a post I published in May. Remember May? Back when we thought we were nearly done with quarantine, and school would be back to normal in the fall?  (Is there a hybrid emoji that shows someone hysterically laughing or crying, but you're not sure which?)

Practicing Gratitude in Challenging Times

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Real-Life Good Samaritan Stories

 photo on Unsplash by Aar√≥n Blanco Tejedor

by Catharine Hannay

As an antidote to the very disturbing stories we're seeing in the news, I'd like to share a few examples of people reaching across divides to help each other.

I'll start with the stories themselves, then get into some background and reflection on what it means to be a Good Samaritan.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Just a Quick Reminder to Keep Practicing Mindfulness and Compassion

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

by Catharine Hannay 

I post on Tuesdays, so here I am. But I confess that I'm flummoxed. It's a week after election day, and it seems like the U.S. is living in separate realities. In one reality, a new president has been legally elected. In the other reality, there has been (as-yet-unproven) widespread voter fraud.

MindfulTeachers.org is a politically neutral space, so I will just say that I find this situation very upsetting. 

I'm usually good about not checking the news right before bed. Unfortunately, I broke my own rule a couple of times this past week. The first night, I couldn't sleep at all. The second night, I tossed and turned for hours, then dreamed about political ads!

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Quiz: How Mindful Am I Online?


Photo by Maxim Ilyahov on Unsplash

posted by Catharine Hannay

After each statement about cell phone and social media use, choose True (I’ve done this) or False (I haven’t done this).

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

5 Mindfulness Practices for Challenging Times

Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

by Catharine Hannay

I don't have to tell you this is the most exhausting, stressful, and confusing school year in living memory. 

An hour a day of meditation or yoga is probably unrealistic right now. But there are plenty of other ways you can integrate mindfulness into your daily life.

Here are five ways you can practice mindfulness on even the busiest and most stressful day. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Multilingual Song Playlist on Unity, Diversity, Peace and Tolerance

updated November 14, 2020

posted by Catharine Hannay

I've been feeling discouraged by the news and decided to cheer myself up by looking for songs about peace, tolerance, and doing our part to change the world.

This is part of a popular series of Song Playlists for Teachers on topics like mindfulness, compassion, gratitude, and forgiveness. I always include a wide variety of music styles, but this is the first time I've done a multilingual playlist. I hope you find some favorite new songs!

Asalamo Aalekom (Peace Be Upon You), Shadia Mansour
audioArabic Lyrics with English Translation
"Peace be upon you. I want peace from me to you. Hear me. Bring the boys and the girls. Raise your voices, lets break the glass... No difference between me and you."

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

4 Quick Self-Care Tips for Frazzled Teachers and Students

Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash

by Catharine Hannay

First off, I want to make something clear: I understand that self-care will only take you so far. Teachers aren't stressed because they don't know how to take care of themselves. Teachers are stressed because they're getting hit from all sides with unrealistic expectations. 

That was true even before the pandemic, but it's reached ludicrous proportions these days during the shifts back and forth from in-person to online instruction. (Bonus points if you're doing both simultaneously!) 

That said, there are a few ways to make it a bit easier on yourself.

Tip 1) Don't Throw Good Time After Bad.

Trust me, I'm on your side. I understand about that annoying* thing that happened this week. It was totally unfair you had to deal with it on top of everything else.

But do you really want to spend your whole weekend ruminating about it?

*Note that I said 'annoying' not abusive or discriminatory. There are times when it's best to just let things go. There are also times when you may need to advocate for yourself or others.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Present Moment Awareness: Quotations for Reflection and Discussion

Photo by Joshua Woroniecki on Unsplash

posted by Catharine Hannay

Here are a variety of perspectives on mindfulness, meditation, paying attention, stillness, and the present moment. You may want to use them for personal reflection or for teaching adults or youth. 

Note on links: I don't have an affiliate account, so other than royalties for my own book, I don't get any kind of fee if you buy books through links from this site. I just like to include information about the sources of the quotes so you know where they really come from. (The internet is full of quotations of dubious provenance—I recently saw something attributed to the Dalai Lama that's actually from a Henry James novel.)

The Meaning of Mindfulness and Meditation

“Meditation. Training in coming back to being right here with gentleness and precision.”

“Be far away, far away from the world of chaos and uncertainty, live in it untouched... The meditative mind is unrelated to the past and to the future and yet is sanely capable of living with clarity and reason.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Children's Authors Discuss Mindfulness, Compassion, and SEL

posted by Catharine Hannay

Over the past few years, I've had the pleasure of discussing mindfulness, compassion, and SEL with many children's authors and author/illustrators. 

I thought it would be useful to gather all of these interviews in one place. That way, you can:
  • learn about best practices in teaching mindfulness to kids;
  • find out how these authors practice mindfulness themselves; and
  • discover new books for your students or your own children to enjoy. 

"It’s easy to forget to be grateful for the good things that happen during a day marred by one or two tough moments. It’s just as easy to avoid acknowledging the tough parts of a day. [...] Mindfulness and social-emotional learning is not going to make tough days go away. We want to develop the ability to face them honestly and squarely and to have the skills to move on in a healthy manner."
Interview with Noah Teitelbaum, author of Munchy and Jumpy Tales, illustrated stories teaching gratitude, diversity, inclusion, and equity. 

"Mindfulness really is inseparable from ethics, because we can’t reduce suffering (of ourselves or others) unless we look at everything and everybody as interconnected. Collective suffering is our own suffering—-but so is collective healing."
Interview with Jade Bryan, author/illustrator oDragon Girl, a children's book based on the Lotus Sutra and traditional Buddhist cave paintings.

"The more I practice mindfulness, the more I can engage with people who are different from me, who maybe in the past I would have ignored or gotten carried away by their influence. Now I am surer of who I am and therefore more willing to listen with equanimity, whoever they are. "
Interview with Chelo Manchego, author/illustrator of The Want Monsters and How They Stopped Ruling My World and Little Royal: A Fish Tale.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Songs About Hope, Resilience, and Compassion

updated October 17, 2020

posted by Catharine Hannay

Here's the latest in the popular series of song playlists for teachers. Since so many people are having such a hard time of it these days, I decided to focus on hope, resilience, and supporting each other.

As always, please read the full lyrics and watch the full video before deciding what's appropriate to share with others. If you work with very young children, you might prefer the  Children's Songs playlist, which has several tunes about feelings and facing challenges, including a couple of songs about going back to school during COVID. (I also have a separate song and video playlist specifically about COVID.)

Broken and Beautiful, Kelly Clarkson
lyrics; official video; video of live performance; video of dance performance by JoJo Gomez Choreography
"Can someone just hold me? Don't fix me, don't try to change a thing. Can someone just know me? 'Cause underneath, I'm broken and it's beautiful."

The Climb, Miley Cyrus
"Every step I'm taking, every move I make feels lost with no direction. My faith is shaking, but I gotta keep trying. Gotta keep my head held high."

Don't Stop, Fleetwood Mac

"If you wake up and don't want to smile. If it takes just a little while. Open your eyes and look at the day. You'll see things in a different way... Don't stop thinking about tomorrow. Don't stop, it'll soon be here."