Sunday, January 12, 2020

Teaching Mindfulness and Compassion Through Seasonal Moments

Image by 西坂 真秀美 from Pixabay

guest post by Ira Rabois

To understand the season, winter, spring, summer or fall, what must we do? What is a season? Understanding the seasons is not just a matter of looking at a calendar or being aware of what the weather was yesterday, and the week or month before that, or today. 

It is not simply exploring the basic science: The earth rotates, causing day and night. And it is tilted on an axis, as it follows a path around the sun. In summer one half of the earth faces the sun more directly so it gets the light from the sun more intensely and for a longer period of the day. The other half experiences winter, as it is turned away from the sun.

To understand what the seasons mean to us, we utilize memories of past years, and past moments. We become aware of how everything is constantly changing. That life itself is change. One minute is different than the last. 

And we must be aware how we, also, change. Not just our moods, sensations and thoughts, but how we feel as the earth changes.  We and the earth change together, although maybe not in the same way or at the same pace. Because the earth moves around the sun and is tilted at a certain angle, we experience sensations of cold or warmth. We become aware of what it feels like to be alive on this earth in this particular moment.* We become aware that to understand the seasons we must understand the being who is doing the studying, namely ourselves. 

And one way to generate compassion for other humans is to imagine how people throughout history have tried to live a seasonal moment similar to this one. Here are two seasonal mindfulness practices. As with any guided meditation or visualization, please try these practices yourself before sharing them with your students. Make adjustments to fit their needs and history.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

What Does It Really Mean to Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask First?

Photo by Calle Macarone on Unsplash

I doubt this is the first time you’ve heard that you should “put on your own oxygen mask first.” In fact, you’ve likely heard this advice so many times it doesn’t really sink in anymore. That’s unfortunate, because it’s such a powerful metaphor.

On a flight, the first person to put on an oxygen mask is the pilot. There’s nothing selfish about this. If the pilot loses consciousness, the plane will crash.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

3 Ways Mindfulness Can Benefit Gifted Girls

by Catharine Hannay

Did you know that many gifted girls struggle with depression, anxiety, emotional reactivity, perfectionism, and low self-esteem? 

This week at the Prufrock Press blog, I explained three ways practicing mindfulness can be particularly beneficial to gifted girls.
  • Redirecting Attention; 
  • Nonjudgmental Awareness; and 
  • Emotional Regulation.

You can read the full post at

You may also be interested in my author Q+A at

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Video Playlist: Practicing and Teaching Gratitude

posted by Catharine Hannay

Two of the most popular types of posts here at are video playlists and gratitude practices. So this week I decided to do a 'two-fer' with the best videos I could find about practicing and teaching gratitude.

While I was putting the list together, I found a few songs for young kids that didn't seem like a good fit, so I added them to the Great Children's Songs about Mindfulness, Self-Acceptance, and Gratitude. Scroll to the end of the post for links to many more gratitude songs and activities.

Finding Reasons to be Grateful

Kid President explains that "Some days are tough, but we've got a lot to be thankful for." So he shares his List of Awesome Things to Be Thankful for, including clouds that look like stuff and no-reason-at-all cake. (3 minutes)

A man can barely contain his excitement at all of his amazing gifts. I can't really explain without spoilers, so I'll just say that it's both funny and thought-provoking.  
(1-1/2 minutes)

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Conferences and Retreats in 2020

Mindfulness, SEL, and Contemplative Education

last updated December 21, 2019

photo credit: Christina Morelo for Pexels

posted by Catharine Hannay

Retreats and conferences can be a wonderful way to meet like-minded colleagues and learn about best practices in the field. 

Here's a selection of events in 2020 focused on teacher wellness, mindfulness in education, SEL, yoga in schools, and contemplative higher education. 

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Sign Language (ASL) Song Playlist on Mindfulness, Compassion, and SEL

posted by Catharine Hannay

Here are a variety of songs on mindfulness, compassion, and self-acceptance, with American Sign Language interpretation.

I've tried to include something for everyone, from upbeat tunes for young children to thought-provoking perspectives on empathy and compassion. As always, use your own best judgment about what's most appropriate for your particular context.

Songs About Appreciating the Present Moment

Here Right Now, Rhea Makiaris
official video, with interpration by Lisa Herbert

Breathe, Jonny Diaz
interpreted by Renca Dunn for Deaf Missions

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Self-Care Playlist: Gentle Standing Yoga and Stretching Videos

posted by Catharine Hannay

Continuing the popular series of self-care playlists, here are short (5-minute to 14-minute) videos that you can do:

  • without any special equipment;
  • without getting on the floor; and 
  • without changing out of your work clothes (although you might want to take your shoes off). 

All of these routines should be appropriate for nearly everyone. Please make whatever modifications are appropriate for your own body and your own level of flexibility and fitness. (For example, you might need to hold onto a study chair for balance in some of the poses, and/or you might not be able to bend as far as the instructors.)

Sunday, November 10, 2019

5 Improvisational Mindfulness Activities for Academic Classes

Photo by mostafa meraji on Unsplash

Guest post by Ira Rabois

One way to increase student engagement and decrease anxiety in the classroom is to combine mindfulness and improvisational theatre exercises to teach subject matter. Improvisation develops a sense of trust in self and others, as well as whole-body thinking and awareness. It is also fun. 

Improvisational mindfulness activities can be used in most academic subjects. Personally, I have used them in English, Social Studies and Social Science classes. My colleagues have used them to teach foreign languages. They can also be used by teacher trainers to show how to present material in a lively way, relate compassionately with students, and face challenging situations with empathy and clarity.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Conscious Stories Teach Mindfulness and Connection

Andrew Newman is the author of an award-winning series of Conscious Stories for children, including The Elephant Who Tried to Tiptoe, The Boy Who Searched for Silence and The Hug Who Got Stuck. A native of South Africa, Andrew now lives and works in the United States, where he regularly visits schools and libraries to share his stories with children aged 4-10.

In this interview, Andrew shares his thoughts on mindfulness, positive self-talk, and spirituality with Catharine Hannay, editor and publisher of

Catharine: In your TED Talk, you explain how a frightening nighttime experience as a five-year-old eventually led to your work helping parents and children use the last twenty minutes of the day to foster a feeling of safety, love, and belonging. Why is this type of bedtime ritual so important, and how is it connected to mindfulness?

Andrew: Think of that moment that the kids leave your classroom for break and you lift your head for the first time in an hour, sigh deeply, and say something to yourself like “that went better than expected” or “Wow, that class did not go well.” This is your reflective moment of integration. It is a chance to reconnect to self, reset and review. 

The last 20 minutes of the day is like this for kids. It’s a time the body relaxes and the mind naturally reviews the day.

How you feel when you go to sleep is how you feel when you wake up. Kids need help to integrate the experiences of their day and ‘make sense’ of their world.  

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Mindfulness, SEL, and Teacher Self-Care

Season Mussey, EdD. is the founder of Kaya Teacher Project, which focuses on supporting educators through professional development and personal wellness. She is the author of Mindfulness in the Classroom: Mindful Principles for Social and Emotional Learning.

In this interview, Season shares her thoughts on mindfulness, SEL, and teacher self-care with Catharine Hannay, editor and publisher of

Catharine: The breath is a common anchor, or point of focus, of many mindfulness practices. As a yoga teacher and former biology teacher, could you explain the physiological benefits of consciously focusing on our breathing?

Season: Absolutely. Conscious breathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The PNS is known as the “rest and digest” part of our nervous system. The results include heart rate slowing, muscles relaxing, and more blood-flow and oxygen available to vital organs. 

Activation of the PNS through slow, deep, rhythmic breathing initiates a response that is the direct opposite of the body’s response to stress (increased heart rate, tense muscles, constricted blood vessels, and less oxygen to some organs). 

And, let’s face it, who doesn’t need LESS stress? Right?

Catharine: I'm sure every teacher reading this would like less stress

Realistic self-care is one of the core themes here at Mindful Teachers, so I was interested to see that you offer a class on “Finding the ‘Perfect’ Life/Work Balance.” Of course, it’s never really going to be perfect, but what does optimal life/work balance look like to you?