Holiday Healthy Mind Space Challenge
Gift Yourself 3 Minutes a Day in December
Feeling stressed as we welcome December? Me too! A bustling holiday season is upon us. Our professional lives are ramped up as we tie up loose ends of 2018. And the energy of our kiddos is certainly heightened with the anticipation of holiday celebrations, gift exchange and family time.
So, how can we keep our emotions, attention and presence in check?
What if we tried 3 things, totaling just 3 minutes every day for 31 days...and we keep it simple? Would you be up for saving your sanity alongside me?
Your 3 Gifts…
AM Gift of Gratitude: Start each morning by writing 5 things you are grateful for. Don’t judge what you write, just write what comes to mind. Maybe it’s the laughter of your children or maybe it’s the coffee dripping into the pot. Whatever it is, welcome it and accept it. It came to your mind for a reason…;-)
Midday Gift of Peace: Gift yourself 1 whole minute (or more!) of mindful breathing or mindful listening midday. For instance, each day when you sit down for lunch, take a deep breath, close your eyes and just feel your breath. Feel it in your chest. Feel it in your belly. Feel it in your nose. Or tune into the sounds around you. Gift yourself that one minute opportunity to “reset” and recharge.
PM Gift of Love: End each day with an embrace with one you love-even if that is yourself. Share at least one reason why you love and appreciate the loved one. It sounds crazy, but so often we are too busy planning, looking ahead or looking behind that we miss what is right in front of us. Be intentional with the words in the moment. It may just help your body and mind rest a little more soundly.
That’s it! Three minutes to a Holiday Healthy Mind Space over the 31 Beautiful Days of December. Share your experiences with the hashtag #holidayhms
AM: Gratitude List
Midday: Just Sit
PM: Intentional Love
We all make them. Excuses. Especially when it comes to something for ourselves. This is written to my peeps. Yup, I said “peeps.” My tribe. My colleagues in the education industry. My - I’m just swimming enough to keep my head above water - fellow parents of young children.
Things are not easy right now. The daily grind is chaotic. Work is busy. Families are full of energy-because if your weather is anything like the weather here in Western NY, it’s been chilly and rainy for what feels like weeks, which means we are all a bit stir crazy!
BUT this is when we need to tune into ourselves the most. This is when we often have emotional reactions to things that are said to us. In the classroom, if students are short with us or are giving us attitudes, we may find ourselves mirroring a snarky response. When the kids are running in circles whining, “Mama, I want juice!” or “Daddy, I need my crayons!” and we are wondering where our sweet, well-mannered children have disappeared to, the simple tone of our response escalates out of pure annoyance. Or with our partners when they don’t get to unloading the dishes or changing over the laundry like you had asked help with, it’s flipping annoying. But, is the emotional reaction really worth the argument or hurt feelings that would likely follow? This is where the power of restraint - the power of mindful restraint - shines.
How do you cultivate the superpower of recognizing when it’s time to pause, observe, restrain, breathe and respond? Just sit. Everyday. Start with 3 minutes, then treat yourself to 4...5...10 minutes a day. There is no wrong way to give yourself the power of a sit. Focus on your breath, or the sounds around you. Repeat a mantra to calm your mind. Over time, research has proven that your brain will begin physically changing for the better to help you see the big picture more clearly and with more empathy. (For more information on how this is possible, check out this article from Psychology Today)
And before you creatively respond with something along the lines of, “I just don’t have the time right now. The kids have basketball everynight, it's conference and report card time, the holidays are coming...” Pause and think about that response. Is that an emotional reaction to the idea-an anxious reaction? I might have to say so... So, let's regain power. Take emotion out of the excuse and picture yourself sitting in a quiet space. Can you see it? If so, you can do it. Commit to yourself. Commit to your “peeps.” It’s a win for all involved!
“There’s no waaaaay that I could ever be silent for an hour, let alone a day or three.” This was not only my response to the challenge presented by Mindful Schools, but the response of any one of my friends when briefing them of what I got myself into. As I embarked on this new adventure, my 6 day retreat in the Catskill Mountains to kick off the yearlong Mindful Schools Educator Certification Program, I did so with emotions all over the spectrum. Honestly, I thought the most difficult part would be driving five hours by myself (cars & sleep are like mac & cheese for me), but I found that to be surprisingly liberating.
Day 1 was welcoming, peaceful and HOT. The just accept the sweat and embrace the drip kind of hot. Day 2 we invited silence into our world. Silence in this particular environment meant no speaking, reading, writing, eye contact, body language or even holding doors. You are to be one with you, to explore within and your connection to nature. Basically, you are to ignore the 80 other adventurers around you, with the exception of the retreat guides who we had the pleasure to listen to from time to time.
As much as I could go on and on with details of inquisitiveness, boredom, humor, insights and self-love that occurred over the consecutive days of silence, I’ll keep it simple and hopefully meaningful for others. Silence is completely misunderstood. It is underrated in my opinion. I have ALWAYS been a do-er. If I wasn’t doing something, then I wasn’t making the most of my life. Or so I once thought. I bet many feel the same way! Up until recently, if I wasn’t producing something after a string of moments, I felt I was wasting the time that I was barely scraping together. But really, what I learned is that I have actually been missing out on important moments that can so quickly pass by. And catching the lessons in the moments that we are privy to.
From the grazing of leaves along the labyrinth, to the embracing shelter of 20 foot bamboo plants, swirling the most incredible locally grown produce in the mouth or listening with the heart to a powerful thunderstorm rock the mediation hall, insights were flowing. Was it a bit lonely at times? Of course. However, as electrifying as it was to come out of silence and connect with our tribe (the energy level was insane!), I found myself searching for a slice of silence within the first few hours. I yearned to create space in my mind; to create the intoxicating freedom that develops within silence. There is nothing like this addiction.
P.S. Are you wondering if most of us were prepared for the silent experience? Nope, not so much! The best way I can summarize the experience to anyone is by comparing it to running. It was as though my daily 10 minutes of meditation compared to running a 5K and the silent retreat a marathon. For this experience, I was trained for a 5K, but ran a marathon...just barely crossing the finish line. But as with racing events, the community vibes get you through. We found the same at this retreat and because of such powerful connections, would we do it again? 100%.
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I'm obsessed. This is fabulous. LOVE that you are doing this. The new way of being a student forces us to think outside the box and approach how we teach more dynamically.
~Derek, Father of 2 and Elementary School Principal
Just a girl with a dream to collectively build a healthy mind space for children, while creating a healthier mind space for ourselves.
Copyright Healthy Mind Space 2019