Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Mindfully Meditative Christian Practices

Photo by Eduardo Braga from Pexels

by Irene Kraegel, PsyD

Contemplative practices related to present-moment awareness have been nurtured by Christians throughout the centuries as avenues for connection with God. Recently, a number of these practices have become particularly common – while not identical to traditional, formal mindfulness practice, they have significant overlap with the practice of mindfulness meditation. 

To learn more about some of these specific meditation practices of Christian devotion, and to explore more traditional mindfulness meditation practices through the lens of Christian faith, I invite you to pick up my new book, The Mindful Christian: Cultivating a Life of Intentionality, Openness, and Faith, released today! 

Here is a related excerpt exploring four of these practices: Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina, Listening Prayer, and Taizé Worship. With or without accompanying mindfulness training, such practices can usher the Christian practitioner into a contemplative experience of God’s presence in the moment.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Resources for Practicing and Teaching Kindness and Compassion

Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

by Catharine Hannay

Here are a variety of resources on lovingkindness, including guided meditation, songs, videos, and recommended books.

I've started with teaching tips, so if you're looking for resources for your own personal practice, you might want to skip that part and scroll down to the Lovingkindness Meditation subheading.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Poems, Quotes, and Proverbs About Mindfulness and Compassion

Image by Thought Catalog from Pixabay

by Catharine Hannay

Here's a selection of poems, quotes, and proverbs for mindfulness teachers, as well as K-12 teachers interested in Integrating Academics with Mindfulness and SEL

Friday, February 7, 2020

Integrating Academics with Mindfulness and SEL

Image by AkshayaPatra Foundation from Pixabay 

by Catharine Hannay

“SEL is not one more thing on the plate. It is the plate.” 
Lisa Xagas, Naperville 203 School District, Illinois

One of my main goals here at MindfulTeachers.org is to make it easier for educators to find quality resources on mindfulness and values-based teaching. With that in mind, I've been updating the Mindfulness Resources page so you can quickly scan for breath-based practicesfive senses activities, gratitude practicesteaching teens, teaching young children, and so on.

Today I'd like to focus on how K-12 teachers can integrate academic content with mindfulness and social-emotional learning.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Upstander and Anti-Bullying Resources

image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

by Catharine Hannay

Here are a collection of resources to help parents, teachers, and school leaders thoughtfully and effectively respond to bullying.

Teaching Resources

The research on effective and ineffective programs shows that it isn't enough to just do a one-day anti-bullying program. Depending on the age of your students, the following activities could be useful as part of a thoughtfully-considered overall SEL/kindness/anti-bullying approach: 

Friday, January 31, 2020

Four Ways to Help Teens Cope with Strong Emotions (guest post)

photo source: pexels.com

by Catharine Hannay, guest post at the Center for Adolescent Studies blog:

It’s common for adults to tell youth to “stop overreacting.” That’s usually not very helpful, especially if the adult is yelling at them to calm down! It’s much more effective to be a good role model of skillfully responding, and to teach them what’s going on in their brains and how they can self-regulate when they feel overwhelmed. 
Here are four different ways you can help your students or clients (and yourself) learn to skillfully respond to strong emotions.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Resources for Practicing and Teaching Gratitude

photo by Kiy Turk on Unsplash

by Catharine Hannay

“I would maintain that 
thanks are the highest form of thought, 
and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

G.K. Chesterton

Here are a variety of resources to help adults and kids learn about and practice gratitude, including:

  • teaching tips;
  • research links;
  • songs and videos; and
  • several different types of activities.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Songs About Mindfulness and Compassion

posted by Catharine Hannay

Continuing the popular series of Song Playlists for Teachers, here are more than two dozen songs carefully selected for their compelling lyrics and/or videos.

As always, I've included a wide range of musical styles and variety of perspectives, from heart-warming to thought-provoking. Please watch the full video before sharing it with your class, to make sure it's appropriate for your particular context. 

Appreciating the Present Moment/Awareness of Time Passing

As the Moon Starts to Rise, The Milk Carton Kids
lyricsvideo (audio + album cover)
"Picking berries off the vine. This one's yours this one's mine. Remember in the winter time it looked like they were dying... You look so much bigger now. Time goes by so fast somehow. Another summer's come and gone. Soon the days won't last so long."

Enjoy Every Second, Michael Franti and Spearhead
lyrics; video of live recording; alternate version feat. A Goddess
"I'm giving thanks for every second of this life that I've been given. Every mountain that I've climbed and every pitfall that I fell into... So many ups and downs.
But we turn the frowns around."

Monday, The Bottle Rockets 
lyrics; video of live performance

"Another week. It's time to say hello. Well, is it over yet? Probably so... It's always half past now awhile ago."

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Religious and Spiritual Perspectives on Mindfulness

Photo by Flickr from Pexels

by Catharine Hannay

Over the past few years, I've been fascinated and disturbed by the false assumptions made by many people of faith and many secular mindfulness teachers. 

To give just a couple of examples:

  • a secular teacher was quite dismissive about Christian parents objecting to their kids saying 'Namaste' at the end of yoga practice (update: a day after posting this, I saw an interesting perspective on cultural appropriation of 'namaste');
  • a Christian blogger got very upset that "Breathe" by Jonny Diaz was referred to as a mindfulness song. She insisted that it can't really be a mindfulness song because it's Christian. (It's a lovely song, by the way. I included it on the All About the Breath playlist and the Sign Language playlist.)

The truth is, some people practice mindfulness (and complementary practice like yoga) in an entirely secular way. Others have a faith-based approach to mindfulness. And many people derive the same benefits from prayer and traditional religious practices.

Whenever tensions are running high, it might be useful to let go of the term mindfulness and focus on contemplative practices, instead. I think we can all agree that contemplation is possible in either a secular or religious context.

The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society created this wonderful Tree of Contemplative Practices to show the many different ways we can tap into our inner wisdom.

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.