We are approaching a new school year. This often brings about new goals and dreams - for yourself and your students. What if you considered picking up a consistent mindfulness practice for yourself? Like REALLY doing it, not just here and there when you can? Consider this...
Mindfulness is a practice-just like learning a new instrument, picking up cooking, or trying out a new sport. It doesn't just happen. It takes time. It takes practice. It is always evolving. And you know what, it is not easy to do everyday.
Let's say you just turned 40 (like myself) and you decided to set a goal to run a half marathon (I just may have done this). If I was to sign up to run 13.1 miles on a whim and tried to do it with little or no training, I would be in a lot of pain. And quite frankly, I'd feel like a miserable failure.
This is such a parallel story to many people's first experiences with mindfulness and meditation. "Ugh...I tried it but I can't sit still for 5 minutes - and certainly not 20 like they recommend." I hear this at least three times a week.
Okay, then don't. Don't do it for 20 minutes. Don't do even do it for 5 minutes. Try it for one minute. And then build up your endurance. Just like I can do with the half marathon training. I'm sure you wouldn't recommend running 12 miles on day one. I'm pretty sure I'd hear to start with a mile - and then two - back to one - up to three...and so on.
Just like my heart and quads immersed in running, I need to give them time to build up. But with more practice and training, the stronger they become and the more enjoyable running is. The same goes with our brains. Our brains are plastic - that is, they can reorganize and form new connections with repetition and new learning. If we are more deliberate in what we choose to focus on, we can ultimately have more control over our response to experiences, impacting not only our own and happiness and well-being, but our relationships and the well-being of others. But in order to do this, start small. Start realistic. Start with sitting in peace for just a minute or two and slowly build up. Your brain will start to reap the benefits, as will your entire body. And remember, it's a practice. There will be some easy days and some tough ones. Just keep going.
You've got this,
Wondering how the brain can actually change? Check out this 4 minute video from Professor Richard Davidson from the Center for Healthy Minds.
Summer is freedom.
Summer is exploration.
Summer is playful.
Summer is family.
Summer is connecting.
AND soccer, t-ball, swimming, vacations, birthday parties, picnics...the list goes on. For those of us with summers off from school, we find ourselves inadvertently cramming in as much as possible into our “summer of fun.” This can often become even more stressful than the other ten months of the year. Crazy! With that said, here are a few mindfulness based “de-stressing” tips for you - and for your kiddos…
Enjoy soaking in the sunshine!!
P.S. If you are looking for a summer challenge, consider getting up 15 minutes earlier and engaging in a 15 minute sit for two weeks straight. Reflect on Day one’s stress level and the stress level on Day 14.
“The mind is just like a muscle - the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets and the more it can expand.” -Idowu Koyenikan
60 Seconds a Day for 60 Days...
What: Mindfulness Challenge
When: 60 seconds of mindfulness practice a day for 60 consecutive days
Our elementary school set out this year to develop our understanding and practice of mindfulness. We are discovering the power of mindfulness and we want to spread the love for it. Join us in ONE MINDFUL QUEST.
As a New York State public school, our state assessments begin on April 2. What if we could potentially strengthen the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain associated with higher order brain functions like awareness, concentration and decision-making and shrink the area (the amygdala) associated with fear and emotion and initiating the body’s response to stress? We have the potential to do this for ourselves and our students by committing to a minimum of 60 seconds a day, for 60 days. Research shows how the brain matter can physically change - that rewiring can occur - with 8 weeks of consistent mindfulness practice. Is more than a minute of mindfulness practice welcome, absolutely. But in an attempt to set a reasonable, attainable goal for groups, we are starting with a goal of 60 seconds. School, athletic teams, families...join us as we use our mind to change our brain, ultimately circling back to benefit the mind creating an infinite path of change. Our school is starting February 1, 2019 and wrapping up the challenge on April 1, 2019. You can join us, or start your own 60 day challenge!
Focus your attention on one thing, such as a sense or the breath. Keep it simple. We aren’t talking about full lessons on mindfulness but rather mindful minutes. Be strategic when incorporating the practice. Try not to make it one more thing to do but consider it as a way to arrive to a particular lesson or activity. For example, “let’s take a minute and tune into any one sound that is around us. Whatever sound your mind gravitates to, keep your attention on that specific sound. This could be a fan, the clock, a timer, a chime or bell...
Wonderful, now we are ready to begin learning about ratios.”
*Check out the 60 Seconds of Mindfulness Toolbox of Ideas on the Resource Page.
As you participate, notice how you feel before, during and after the intentional mindful minutes. How are you feeling as you go through your day, week, month? Share moments and/or feelings on social media using the hashtag #onemindfulquest and be sure to tag us on FB/IG @ahealthymindspace or Twitter @christylynnHMS.
Let’s do this, 60 seconds at a time!
© Healthy Mind Space and contributors 2019
the blog Space
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