Sunday, March 16, 2014

SOLSC #16 More on mindfulness

I am posting every day during March as part of the annual "Slice of LifeChallenge for Two Writing Teachers.  Check out their website for lots more reflections on teaching.


The weekend conference about Mindfulness in Education is over and now all I have to do is write a blogpost before midnight! ;-)

Somehow, rushing to do this, seems the very contradiction of all the wonderful things I experienced this weekend.

"When you are running out of time, slow down."
(Mirabai Bush, Center for Contemplative Mind)

I'll just make it a rambling post, and we will see what results.

Mindfulness is 
paying attention
in a particular way
on purpose
in the present moment
(Kabat-Zinn, 1990)

I don't want to forget the presentation by Andres Gonzalez, Atman Smith, and Ali Smith, regarding their Holistic Life Foundation. These three men exuded so much energy, love, and idealism. They are successfully bringing yoga and mindfulness to urban youth in Baltimore.

Hold a sacred space for each other.

These ideas were heard at a roundtable by elementary school teachers, sharing mindfulness ideas and techniques that they use in their classrooms:
  • picture book - Moody Cow Meditates
  • visualization idea for whole group: eyes closed, imagine yourself at the top of a mountain [or other location, such as river, in a hot air balloon, in the woods], and you see the most amazing thing you've ever seen. Share and then dramatically re-enact what they saw.
  • breathing exercises; ex., "taco" breathing for "hot-headed kids" - curl your tongue, inhale deep, swallow your breath, exhale through nose
  • appreciation circles, appreciation jars - how someone else helped you
  • drawing, moving to instrumental music
  • painting mancala stones
  • chime - "hands up as you hear the bell, hands down when you know longer hear it"
  • yoga deck cards 

"No printed word, nor spoken plea
can teach young minds what they should be.
Not all the books on all the shelves - 
but what the teachers are themselves."
-Rudyard Kipling

Thoughts and questions:

How do we give teachers the time and space to be mindful?

How to build health and well-being in teachers?

Imagine schools where "discipline" means quiet, meditative, contemplative practice.

This is our life,
the ordinary way, and
we take it with us night and day.

(A daily share by preschoolers in their own words)
A Story Collage by Jasmine

     Once upon a time, Faith said “Jasmine, we need to go inside right now!” And then a little flower gets up and she said, “Oh, wow, now I got my whoops e doop, now I don’t have my whoops e doop.” It’s a boy and his name is Toto. The bunny says “oh no I’m getting late for home! I better hurry now.” And then the little boy said “Ah ha! I’m going to catch a butterfly tonight!” And then a little pig “Oink, I’m going to stare at the moon, I’m going to stare at the moon!” And the little girl said, “I’m stricky and I’m not supposed to talk.” And then the owl says “whoo, whoo, whoo, whoo, whoo, whooo!” 
The End 


  1. Thanks for sharing what you learned! Now to try it out!

  2. Thanks for sharing these wonderful parts, Maureen. I've already shared with one colleague! The conference sounds wonderful-not surprised!

  3. I would definitely love to figure out how to incorporate more mindfulness in the classroom. We've been doing lots of breathing and using a calm down jar. It's been doing a lot of cool stuff for us. And I'm not sure what an appreciation circle is. But after a community meeting on how we can communicate better, I had my students each take turns approaching one student and finishing the sentence "I like how you..." It was absolutely wonderful, warm, and affirming. I want to learn how to put more of this in our days.

    I also like your question about how teachers can find the space for this. I think that what we need the most and what we give ourselves the least is time and space for breathing, thinking, digesting, being. Thanks for sharing!