Sunday, September 15, 2019

Can Christians Practice Mindfulness? (That's the Wrong Question.)

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

by Catharine Hannay

A couple of years ago I attended a webinar on teaching mindfulness to kids, and the instructor kept telling us: 

Why not? 

"Christians will object."

I found this quite frustrating, since I know Christian mindfulness teachers who do all of those things. 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Five Ways to Begin the School Year with Mindfulness and Compassion

Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi from Pexels

guest post by Ira Rabois

For every teacher I know, the end of summer vacation means rising nervous energy, anxiety and excitement. It means getting ready to begin a new experience, with new students and sometimes a new curriculum.
To start the school year, or anything new, it is obvious that we must make plans. We need to determine where we want to go, and what we want to accomplish, in order to fulfill those objectives. But we often ignore the emotional side of getting ourselves ready.

1. Meet Each Moment Mindfully
Take a moment to feel what you feel and notice your thoughts. Only if you notice your thoughts and feelings can you choose how and whether to act on them. Start with understanding what beginning the school year means to you and what you need. Then you can better understand what your students need.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

5 Tips for Successfully Implementing a Mindfulness Program at Your School

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

guest post by Keith Horan, MSc in Mindfulness-Based Approaches

I spent 13 years teaching Science and Geography in a Secondary school in Galway, in the West of Ireland.  Alongside my school teaching ran a love of practicing and teaching Mindfulness.  Over the years, I found ways of teaching Mindfulness to as many students as possible in the school.

Along the way, I took a career break from teaching and spent two years travelling to different schools in the region delivering Mindfulness programs.  While I was doing this, I noticed that all the Mindfulness work I had done in my own school collapsed!  

This experience led me think about how a Mindfulness program could have a long-term, sustainable impact on a school community.   Trying to answer that question led to a research project as part of my MSc in Mindfulness-Based Approaches. 

There are a number of excellent Mindfulness programs that have been developed for schools.  Examples include the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP), MindUp, Learning to BREATHE, Mindful Schools, and Stressed Teens.  My research aimed to figure out the best way to implement these programs. 

I interviewed ten teachers who were involved in delivering Mindfulness programs in Irish Secondary schools.  Based on their responses, here are five tips for successfully implementing a Mindfulness program at your school.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Renewing Your Love for Teaching: The Moment That Is Summer

photo courtesy Ira Rabois

guest post by Ira Rabois

Did you grow up with a longing for summer? Summer can remind us what it was like to be a child ⎼ celebrating the end of the school year, of warm weather, and vacations. And if we don’t teach summer school or don't have to work a second job (or maybe even if we do), we can have free time once again.

The longing for summer is, for me, a longing for renewal.  This morning, I woke up early and went outside. Our home is in a small clearing surrounded by trees, flowering bushes and flowers. Two crows were screaming as they flew past. The shade from the trees was vibrant, cool and fresh, the colors sharp and clear. The light was so alive it wrapped the moment in a mysterious intensity. Time slowed so deeply that once the crows quieted, the songs of the other birds and the sounds of the breeze just added to the silence.

This is what I look forward to. Even now that I’m retired, I so enjoy summer. It doesn’t matter to me if it gets too hot and humid or if it rains (or if it doesn’t rain). This is it. I can actually hear my own life speaking to me.

Techniques for Renewal and Re-energizing

Friday, July 12, 2019

10 Questions About Self-Care Only You Can Answer

photo by andibreit for Pixabay 

by Catharine Hannay

There's no score for this quiz and no one correct answer to any of the questions. The purpose is to figure out what works for You.

1. What does 'self-care' mean to me?

  • Does it feel selfish, self-empowering, or self-nurturing?

2. How might taking better care of myself benefit others (especially my family and students or clients)?
  • How do I get what I want/need without negatively impacting someone else?

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

5 Strategies for Building Resilience in Children and Youth

peer leaders and students participating in the
Flourish summer camp session in 2019

photo courtesy Mental Fitness, Inc.

Guest post by Robyn Hussa Farrell, Mental Fitness, Inc. 

For the last 14 years, Mental Fitness, Inc. (a national nonprofit agency) has connected with researchers from multiple disciplines to deliver evidence-based programs that build resilience in youth.  With one in three adolescents struggling with depression, and with suicide being the second leading cause of death among youth aged 10 to 19, there is an urgent and critical need to build the shared protective factors against substance use, mental health disorders and suicide.

By using a trauma-informed framework, we can be sure to reach children and youth from a wide range of socio-economic and demographic backgrounds. Here are five strategies that we've found particularly effective.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Video Playlists for Teachers and Teacher Trainers

Photo by from Pexels

by Catharine Hannay

Some of the most popular posts here at are the video playlists for practicing and teaching mindfulness and compassion. To make it easier to find everything, I've gathered all the playlists here. 

I hope you find a lot of videos that are appropriate for your context, whether you're looking for resources to enhance your  own personal practice or to teach others (kids or adults). 

Be sure to check back periodically, as I continue to add new videos and new playlists.

Videos about Mindfulness and Meditation

The Benefits of Mindfulness and Meditation for Kids
Thought-Provoking Videos About Mindfulness and Meditation
Using the Arts to Teach Mindfulness

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Self-Care Videos: Chair-Based Yoga and Stretching Routines

by Catharine Hannay

An important theme here at is realistic self-care for educators and other helping professionals. One key aspect of self-care is to take a break in the midst of a busy workweek to breathe, stretch, and get some mindful movement.

This playlist is intended for those of you who:
  • have limited mobility;
  • would like to try some gentle stretches at your desk; or
  • would benefit from using a chair as an extra-tall yoga block (which is something I frequently do myself).

Seated Routines Without Lower-Body Movement

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Video Playlist: The Benefits of Mindfulness and Meditation for Kids

by Catharine Hannay

Here are several brief (5-15 minute) videos about school-based mindfulness and meditation programs and kids' perspectives on the benefits of mindfulness.

Please keep in mind that there are many factors that contribute to an effective mindfulness program, including:
  • trained instructors with their own long-term mindfulness practice; 
  • a trauma-informed, culturally-sensitive approach; and
  • support from administrators, classroom teachers, and parents.

TED Talk by teen mindfulness educator Adam Avin, founder of Wuf Shanti.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Two Powerful Empathy Practices to Awaken Compassion

Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

By Catharine Hannay

"Imagination... is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared... Unlike any other creature on the planet, human beings can learn and understand without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people's places."
J.K. Rowling, Harvard graduation speech

Empathy means 'feeling with,' truly understanding how someone else is feeling. I like to think of it as the first step toward compassion and kindness. It’s a lot easier to be kind when we understand someone else’s point of view and how they might be experiencing the world.