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.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Gift of Your Presence

Photo by from Pexels

by Catharine Hannay

The most important part of ‘mindful speech’ might actually be knowing when not to talk. Being a good listener is much rarer than you might think, especially now that everyone’s so distracted by what’s happening on their phones.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Mindful Speech: What Type of Conversation Do You Want?

Photo by Alexis Chloe on Unsplash

by Catharine Hannay

Have you ever tried to confide in someone and ended up feeling worse? Or has someone 'helpfully' given you a lot of unsolicited advice? Or perhaps you keep getting into arguments about the same issues over and over again?

It can be really frustrating if you just need to let off steam, but the other person keeps telling you what to do.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Three Ways to Practice Gratitude Every Day

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

by Catharine Hannay

Weekly Gratitude Journal 

At the end of each day this week, write down a few things that you appreciate. This could be actual things, like your favorite sneakers. Or it could be something that happened, or a place where you felt comfortable, or someone who was nice to you.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Video Playlist: Building Community Through the Arts

by Catharine Hannay

Here's the latest in the popular series of video playlists for teachers and teacher trainers. This time, the focus is on how the visual and performing arts can be used to help us empathize with other people and join together to serve our communities. 

As always, I've included a variety of perspectives; use your own best judgment about what's appropriate for your students and context. And scroll to the end of the post for suggested questions you could use as prompts for discussion or reflective writing.

Through explaining about her own work, Hilary Cox Codron shows how an artist can benefit her community.

Marquese McFerguson (who's taught middle school, high school, and university students) explains how poetry and storytelling can help us to see through each other's "sunglasses". He worked with a group of young Asian American men to tell their stories through poetry and film.

Friday, June 7, 2019

A Very Brief Introduction to Mindfulness

Photo by Feliphe Schiarolli on Unsplash

by Catharine Hannay

It seems like the word ‘mindful’ is everywhere these days: magazine covers, fitness centers, and even snacks at the grocery store. Your students have probably seen or heard the word ‘mindfulness’ but might not be clear what it means, or may have heard inaccurate information.

First of all, it's important for them to know that you don’t have to look a certain way or buy any products in order to practice mindfulness. I recently saw a display of ‘mindful’ snacks at the supermarket, which were advertised using a photo of a thin, tanned White woman in a trendy yoga outfit. 

My husband looked at the expression on my face, looked at the advertisement, looked back at me, and said, “Oh, no, I can see a blog post coming on!”

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

A Very Brief Introduction to Mindfulness Research

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

by Catharine Hannay

As I mentioned in a post on Challenging Questions about the Benefits of Mindfulness

One issue with the research is trying to compare results when there are there are so many different understandings of what is being measured and how. 

Sunday, June 2, 2019

A Very Brief Introduction to the Brain

Image by Raman Oza from Pixabay 

by Catharine Hannay

In a post on Three Challenging Questions about the Benefits of Mindfulness, I mentioned a growing concern in the mindfulness field over how teachers talk about the brain. A lot of teachers don't realize that the majority of cognitive scientists have long rejected 'right-brained vs. left-brained' and the Triune Brain/lizard brain theory. 

The truth is, there are a lot of different parts of the brain, and they interact with each other in complex ways. Here's an overview of some of the major areas and systems, which I'll describe to the best of my ability. (I'm very open to correction if there's anything I haven't explained clearly.)