Friday, June 14, 2019

Mindful Speech: What Type of Conversation Do You Want?

Photo by Alexis Chloe on Unsplash

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.)

Friday, May 31, 2019

Four More Ways to Focus on the Five Senses

Image by Виктория Бородинова from Pixabay

by Catharine Hannay

Focus on one or more of the five senses can be a wonderful way to tap into present-moment experience. Here are some more fun activities you can try yourself or with your students. 

As always, please: 
  • try any activities yourself first before sharing them with other people, and 
  • make whatever adaptations are appropriate for your particular context.

Baby Touch

One of my friends had a baby who was just starting to crawl. They had a great time exploring the floor together because he was so excited by the different textures. Wood, carpet. Smooth, rough. Wow! 

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Count the Ways to Count the Breath

Photo by Eli DeFaria on Unsplash

by Catharine Hannay

Breath-based meditation is simple, but not easy. 

If you've never tried it before, you may be surprised at how challenging it is to keep focusing on nothing but your breath.

And if you've only tried one meditation class or app, you may also be surprised by the many different types of breath-based meditation.

 Here are a few different ways you can focus on your breath as a way to keep bringing your attention back to the present moment. 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Feeling Stressed and Out of Time: Ending A School Year ⎼ Or Anything

Photo from Pexels

guest post by Ira Rabois

For many years, when I was a teacher and the month of May rolled around, the end of the school year would feel like a surprise. What once seemed like a tremendous length of time was now only a few weeks long. Earlier in the year, I had to plan extensively to fill each class period. Now, there was too much to do and not enough time to do it. The once lengthy year was over too quickly.

I remember vacations I did not want to ever end, or conversations, concerts, a sunset over the Caldera in Santorini, Greece.  I felt this moment might never come again and I wanted to hold on tightly. Or I felt I had missed something, or I preferred where I was to where I was going next.

Understanding the passage of time and ending anything, whether it be the school or a calendar year, a project, a vacation, or a job can be difficult, painful ⎼ or exciting. Just saying the word ‘ending’ can sound dramatic and consequential.

We might like what we are doing and not want to let it go.  We might resist what is new because it is threatening or scary or maybe something from the past is still calling us. Or it might be difficult to accept the end because we never fully grasped or embraced the beginning. To begin something new we need to let go of something old.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Three Different Approaches to LovingKindness Practice

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

by Catharine Hannay

I've heard different opinions over the years about whether lovingkindness meditation should be considered part of mindfulness teaching or a complementary practice. I've sometimes even seen it dismissed as "just a 'feel-good' practice." 

In my opinion, lovingkindness or compassion is the reason to practice mindfulness.  I want to pay attention to my thoughts, words, and deeds so I can avoid harming myself or others.

Sometimes compassion can arise naturally during mindfulness meditation. Other times it's beneficial to intentionally focus on sending good wishes to ourselves and other people.