Sunday, March 19, 2017

Mindfulness in Schools: Research-Based Support for Teacher Training

photo courtesy Autumn Theodore Photography

The following is a guest post by Brandi Lust of Learning Lab Consulting.

Looking to bring mindfulness to your school? In today’s data-based world, the research used to support the practice is your best tool and ally. As a mindfulness teacher who frequently works in the field of education, I rely on the most up-to-date research to educate school systems with whom I work and to advocate for the importance of what I do.

Unlike many other “strategies,” the process of classroom implementation is very much about teaching with your being. This is not a quick fix. When the adult in the room is transformed, the classroom climate changes, too. This is the ultimate goal: not to introduce mindfulness as a strategy-based intervention, but instead to change the overall climate, tone, and quality of interaction so that it is more conducive to the health and wholeness of teacher and student.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Teacher-Recommended Mindfulness Books

I feature as many resources as I can about mindfulness and complementary practices, as well as a mindful approach to teaching and to working with youth.  There's such an overwhelming number of books being published these days that I can't possibly keep up, so I decided to reach out to friends and colleagues and ask for recommendations.  Many thanks to everyone who shared your favorites! 

The following books are all 'mindful teacher-tested' by educators and counselors who've used them personally or with their students and clients.  

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Jungle Yoga Adventure for Kids

Double Cobra pose
photo courtesy Sara Weis

The following is a guest post by Sara Weis, adapted from her book Go Go Yoga for Kids.

Introducing kids to yoga doesn’t have to be a crazy and wild adventure. By following these fun jungle-related yoga poses and games, kids will have a great time exploring the jungle while they also get fit, flexible and focused.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Go Go Yoga for Kids (recommended book)

If you're interested in yoga and mindful movement for children and teens, check out Go Go Yoga For Kids by Sara J. Weis, an elementary school teacher and certified yoga instructor. 

The activities are kid-tested for fun and safety, and there's also advice on how to professionally teach yoga to children, as well as tips for parents and classroom teachers on incorporating mindfulness and yoga into kids' daily routines.   

Go Go Yoga For Kids clearly explains how to teach different ages of kids (3-6; 7-11; and tweens and teens):

Sunday, February 19, 2017

What is Mindfulness? Quotations for Reflection and Discussion

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What do we mean by 'mindfulness'?  Here are a variety of perspectives on mindfulness meditation, informal mindfulness practice, and nonjudgmental awareness.

Scroll to the bottom of the post for questions that can be used for personal reflection or as prompts for discussion and writing.

The Meaning of Mindfulness

Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are:
“Paying attention, in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”

Pema Chodron, Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change
“Meditation is one form of mindfulness, but mindfulness is called by many names: attentiveness, nowness, and presence are just a few. Essentially, mindfulness means wakefulness—fully present wakefulness... paying attention to all the details of your life... The object or focus of mindfulness can be anything that brings us back to right where we are. If we’re out walking, the object of meditation could be the motion of our legs and feet. If we’re washing dishes, it could be our hands. We can bring mindfulness to anything—opening a door, washing our hair, making the bed.”

Sunday, February 12, 2017

What is Love? Songs about Romantic Relationships (part 2 of 2)

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This is the latest in the popular series of song playlists for values-based teaching, including compassion and gratitude.

Following up on last week's songs about love for family and friends, here are a variety of songs about love and about healthy or unhealthy romantic relationships. Some of the songs could apply to friends and family or to romantic relationships, so it's worth checking out both lists. 

Teachers, some of the lyrics and images may not be appropriate for children or for more conservative contexts.  Be sure to preview the full lyrics and video before deciding whether a particular song is appropriate to share with your class.  And scroll to the bottom of the post for questions to prompt reflection and discussion about the meaning of love.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

What is Love? Songs about Friends and Family (part 1 of 2)

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Here's the latest in the popular series of song playlists for values-based teaching, including compassion and gratitude.  This time, the focus is on love and on healthy vs. unhealthy relationships.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Creative Ways to Make a Difference: Videos for Reflection and Discussion

Stuart Miles for
Are you looking for some positive content to share with your class or your family?  Or perhaps you're feeling overwhelmed by all the problems in the world and wondering what you can do to help?  This video playlist shows people with unique abilities and inclinations supporting the community in creative and unusual ways.

Scroll to the end of the post for questions that can be used for discussion or individual contemplation, as well as for links to more posts about serving the world.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Mindfulness, Creativity, and the Five Senses (interview)

photo courtesy Sarah Lessire

Sarah Lessire is a singer, songwriter, composer, voice teacher, and music producer, as well as the author of The Scent of Dreams, an illustrated book for children and adults.

Your goal with The Scent of Dreams is to encourage “trust in one’s own journey” and “ease a lot of the angst that both kids and grownups feel around the idea of following their passion.” Some people worry that it's selfish to follow their dreams. How do you integrate your personal passion for your work with compassion for others and contributing to the world?

I believe that how we “serve” can be expressed in a lot of different ways. Yes, activists and volunteers serve in a very direct way, but to me, contributing to the world also means treating everyone I meet with kindness and respect, having a heart open to bounty and eyes open to beauty. And I am not of any service to anyone when I bypass what makes me come alive; when I don’t write, sing or compose, I become a bad friend and a cranky wife!

But when I take care of my inner fire and let myself answer my inner callings, I become someone who is more present to others outside of my work, and I am
better able to take life in and give back. I find myself to be more kind, thoughtful and willing to help. I see my passion as the center of my life, from which everything else grows.

In your opinion, why is it important to encourage creativity in young people?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

8 Principles of Trauma-Informed Yoga and Mindfulness Teaching

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The following is a guest post by Robyn Hussa Farrell, MFA, E-RYT. 

These principles are excerpted from an online course for educators who wish to learn how to teach mindfulness in the classroom setting. For details or more information, please feel free to email the author at rfarrell[at]mentalfitnessinc[dot]org.

Because of recent research like The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, creating a trauma-aware environment is becoming more the norm in the education community. It’s particularly important when teaching yoga and mindfulness, as there are many potential triggers when students are meditating or when they’re engaged in certain physical postures and movements.

Here are eight strategies for safely implementing yoga and mindfulness exercises from a trauma-aware perspective.