Hand Tracing Breathing

Have you wondered, where is the best place to start when teaching mindfulness?

Breathing is the best place to begin a mindfulness practice. For children, especially in a school setting, we recommend hand tracing as an excellent option for an introductory breath. Many school settings use “Show Me 5” as an attention signal, so we find this strategy fits in easily to existing school cultures and routines.

Start by placing your dominant pointer finger at the bottom of the opposite thumb. Continue by drawing around the perimeter of the hand, inhaling on the way up the finger and exhaling on the way down. This is a quick and easy way to get in five breaths and activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Better yet, switch hands and use your non-dominant hand as the tracer for an additional five breaths.

Hand tracing is incredibly effective for addressing anxiety.  This strategy allows students to get “out of their head” and into their body and the somatic input creates a calming influence. We sometimes even offer the affirmation, “I am right here” or “I feel my pointer finger press against my hand”.

It is empowering for students to know that this technique is always accessible. When the situation doesn’t allow you to lie down, close your eyes or use a tool, your hands are always available. Model discreetly hand tracing under a desk to demonstrate that five breaths can be taken anywhere at anytime. Find Hand Tracing Breathing featured on our Move Mindfully® Permission to Pause Posters.

 

 

We like to show the variation of tracing your hand on a table as well. This is especially useful during transitions when students need to arrive at a new space and is effective when combined with head on desk. At home, try before dinner or homework time.

 

 

 


 

 

Also, hand tracing on someone else’s back can be a great variation of back drawing or back breathing. Paraprofessionals love using this during high tension situations, like assemblies or tests. Also, try this strategy at home on your child or loved one before bedtime.

 

 

 

Hand tracing is the perfect entry point for mindfulness. Coworkers, parents and students  can start using this highly effective breathing strategy for self-regulation right away.

Have you tried hand tracing? When might you use this strategy? Leave a comment!

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly

 

 

North Dakota Human Services

People working in family services, counseling, foster care, and education are learning mindfulness practices all week at a conference at the Ramkota Inn.

School social worker Kathy Flaminio is teaching these professionals how they can overcome trauma.

Flaminio used props to illustrate how to clear your mind and control your thoughts, like how the sparkles of a glitter ball mimic thoughts in our brain.

“What happens when we just stop and slow down? You can see the sparkles are settling. Mindfulness isn’t about getting rid of all of that, it’s learning how to notice it and not get all involved in it,” said Kathy Flaminio, Founder of 1000 Petals LLC.

Flaminio says her big message at this conference is you can’t choose the circumstances you’re put in, but you can choose how to respond to them.

By Cynthia McLaughlin
July 24, 2018

See Original Article West Dakota Fox

Kathy Flaminio Glitter Ball

Trauma Informed and Move Mindfully®

Mindfulness practices meet the needs of every body. Our trauma informed approach is rooted in choice.

People sometimes ask: Is mindfulness suited for all children? What about children who have experienced trauma or have mental health needs?

Here is how the dictionary defines mindfulness:

Mindfulness: a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Our Move Mindfully®  sessions allow present moment awareness to create a place where restoration and rest is possible.

Here is how mindfulness, and choice, are woven into each stage of a Move Mindfully session:

1. Breathing

breath work with move mindfully®

We always begin with simple breathwork, most commonly  belly breathing, to prepare to heart, mind and body.  Students act as leaders and choose number of breaths, usually between 5-10. Instructors can also offer releasing breathing techniques like pinwheel breathing. Bringing attention to breath is the best way to foster present moment awareness.

2. Movement

Movement for all bodiesOur instructors use the Move Mindfully® Card Deck to guide students through a variety of body positions. Introducing accessible movements first, like starting in a chair or seated is a great way to encourage all ability levels to join. Next, movements like forward folds and balancing positions help regulate the body and foster a sense of safety and stability. Offering variations for more challenging movements builds in the element of choice. For example, Eagle can be accessed on the floor (pictured), in a chair or using just arms. Through this process we are deliberately activating the parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and digest functions, and preparing the body for the final relaxation/integration.  

 

3. Rest

After moving the body, relaxation integrates physical, emotional and cognitive experiences. However, this can be the hardest component of the practice. Stillness and quiet can be challenging, especially for students dealing with trauma. A relaxed state can look different for every body. We use sensory cues, such as hearing the sounds in the room or feeling the ground, to make being still and quite a bit more comfortable. Students can choose to leave eyes open, which may feel safer, and take in the visual stimuli.

We often start with progressive relaxation, tensing one part of the body at a time and then releasing it. This helps students experience relaxation while still feeling a sense of control and staying present. Also, offering different body positions (pictured) or various activities such as mindful eating, walking, music, art or storytelling can make the experience comfortable for everyone.

Choice in final rest

Transforming Trauma

Part of teaching through a trauma-informed lens means that instructors must be constantly watching/observing  how each student is responding to the practice. Mindfulness simply anchors us to the here and now. Youth can move out of past depression and the anxieties of the future. We help students find ways to connect these strategies outside of class and into their everyday lives. Learn more and go deeper with Kathy Flaminio and Lynea Gillen’s Transforming Childhood Trauma Online Course.

When working with youth that have experienced trauma, we emphasize that while we don’t always have control over what is happening around us, we do have choice in how we respond. This is why mindfulness instruction is important for all students. Choosing our response is where our freedom resides.

Have you had a positive experience with mindfulness and trauma informed practices? Leave a comment!

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly and the 1000 Petals Team

Sleep Routine

“How many of you have problems with sleep?”

It is not surprising to see almost all hands slowly rise when posed this question. Sleep is such an important component to overall health and well being. Addressing these concerns should be a priority for all youth workers. Sleep is where everything happens for the heart, mind and body. Learning is integrated. Muscles are healed. Emotions are reset.

The promise of a restful night sleep is a motivating factor for students to bring this work out of the classroom and into their home. From infants to teenagers, our Sleep Routine works for everyone. It is crucial that children establish sleep hygiene habits at a young age. We have developed a series of positions from our Move Mindfully® Card Deck that are scientifically proven to get the body and mind ready for quality sleep.

Not only is this recommended for youth, but also adults! The quality of your sleep is more important than the quantity. Instead of rushing off to bed, taking 15 minutes with our Sleep Routine will pay off with high quality sleep to follow.

Here are the five easy steps to a great night sleep!

Child’s Pose

 

This is a great position to ready the body. It tunes out visual stimulation and allows focus on breath. We recommend staying here for 5-10 deep breaths. If you are using this pose with a child, the adult can place hands on back for back breathing.

 

 

 

Knees Hug In

 

 

 

Gently rocking side to side in this position to allow a decompression of the lumbar spine. It also massages the organs and soothes adrenals.

 

 

 

Legs Up the Wall

 

 

This inversion modification allows the legs to be above the heart, lowering heart rate and blood pressure. You can try this position on a chair or the bed if up the wall is not accessible.

 

 

 

 

 

Floor Twists

Keeping shoulders on the floor and twisting side to side not only readjusts the spine, but also has a detoxifying affect on the digestive system. After twists, it may feel good to do another Knees Hug In.

 

 

 

Final Relaxation

Even if you are a side or tummy sleeper, we recommend you spend the first 5-10 minutes on your back. Let all muscles release and focus on deep, restful breathing.

These positions should be taught and implemented throughout the day. Allowing 1-3 minute breaks trains the mind and body how to shut down. Also, keeping cortisol levels low throughout the day will have an impact at bedtime.

Have you tried a sleep routine with your children or yourself? How do you see yourself using these positions in your work? Leave a comment!

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly

Block Creek

Are you looking for a fun, team building activity to take outside?

Block Creek  from the Yoga Calm® Curriculum is the perfect game for an informal setting (after-school class, club, family) or an intentional team building exercise (morning meeting, ice breakers etc.) It is an activity all ages and abilities can enjoy. In the classroom or studio, we recommend using yoga blocks on top of yoga mats. The blocks are staged about about 1 foot apart to create the “creek”, while the mat serves as a visual for the “water”. The object of the game is to stay on the blocks and not fall into the “water”.

To start, Block Creek is an activity that taps into physical balance. Using core strength and proprioception, this activity helps create a present moment awareness and appreciation. Besides the benefits for the body, this activity also fosters mental strength, concentration and focus.

students play block creek

There are different variations or challenges that increase focus. For example, have students look straight ahead and not at the blocks. Is it harder to focus without the visual input? What does this mean for your learning? Then, you could try to have students walk on the blocks with various distractors, such as loud music, noises or other visual input. Looking for more of a challenge? Try using the Move Mindfully® Card Deck and cuing Tree on the block!

Partner and Team Work

Girl lead in block creek

Once students are comfortable with the game, to bring in the social/emotional aspect, we offer the opportunity for partners. Students take turns as the leader and lead a blindfolded (or eyes shut) partner across the blocks. What did it feel like to be the follower? Did you enjoy being the leader? What skills were necessary for the leader and follower? This is a safe and fun way to explore the various roles needed for cooperative learning in social groups.

To bring the game outside, simply let nature be your guide! Look for rocks, tree stumps or other obstacles that could serve as a tool to practice balance, focus and trust.

 

block creek outside

Have you tried Block Creek? Leave a comment!

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly