Creating an Interactive Mindful Space

 As a mental health therapist, it is important to create an environment conducive to mindfulness.

My name is Katie Mac Jurado. I am a School Based Mental Health Therapist with an amazing nonprofit agency, Headway Emotional Health Services. I operate a practice within a school building and prioritize creating mindful spaces for my clients. Here are my Top 5 Tips to Creating an Interactive Mindful Space!  

Connect with Nature

Nature has a positive impact on our biology.  After 40 seconds of being exposed to images of trees and nature there is a biological and calming response that occurs.  Children take a paper leaf with them as a tangible conclusion to our session. I sat with a group of young girls who had been struggling with friendship issues. One girl looked around the room and said, “You know, Katie Mac, your room here is like a little oasis in the middle of the school.”

Incorporate of All 5 Senses

The more we integrate a child’s brain, the more effective they are at learning, re regulating after hard emotions, building healthy relationships, and understanding their own patterns of thinking and behaving.  We have the power to support this process through the environment that we provide. An interactive and mindful space should include processes that target each of the 5 senses: Sight, Touch, Smell, Sound and Taste.

Sight: Use images of trees and nature, and intentionally incorporating colors like blues, greens and natural tones will elicit this same biological response and support a mindful space!

Hearing: Almost constantly, there is mindful music of some sort playing within this space.  At times I will play nature sounds, or classical music, drums or other rhythmic options. (Check out one of my favorites on Nature365)

Touch: Different sensations offer new ways to experience the space. My space includes a leather couch, cotton pillows, soft carpets. I also have available 8 different kinds of sand and 5 different kinds of putty.

Smell: Essential oils, can be used to increase calming, focus, reduce anxiety, and lower someone’s heart rate. Try Wild Orange

Taste : I will often offer a small snack or treat at the end of a designated time or may lead a mindful eating activity with a most delicious piece of chocolate (definitely a favorite for many children).

Comfortable, Casual, and Flexible Seating

My first day in my office I was greeted with a large metal teacher desk, a circular table and some chairs. I removed all the hard chairs and tables and replaced them with soft casual seating (couch, pillows, a wobble chair, a tall spinning chair, a soft bowl chair, and a variety of yoga mats).  I purchased a small rug with a river and nature scene to incorporate nature as well! Flexible seating supports sensory needs, movement, self-direction and autonomy.

Provide Opportunities for Move Mindfully®

Children learn through movement. Students love the Hoberman Sphere and the movements described in the Move Mindfully Poster Strips and the Move Mindfully Card Deck.

Create Safety and Structure

Children need an environment of safety and structure. Starting with breathing, going into regulating movement and ending wtih rest is the cycle of each session. We first calm and focus our minds and bodies (often with a chime, the Hoberman Sphere, pulse counting, or belly breathing), then increase movement and activity. Each session is concluded with a final resting pose and mindfulness practice. This way, children are practicing skills and prepared to emerge into new expectations as they leave the space.

How do you create a mindful environment? Which of these tips are you going to try?  Leave a comment!

Contact Katie at Kathryn.Jurado@headway.org

Fear into Courage

How can you turn fear to courage?

As we transition back to school, there are many unknowns, because this is our first time starting a school year in the midst of a global pandemic. Many of us are experiencing feelings of fear and uncertainty. Questions like, how is this all going to work? How long will this “new normal” last? Whether our role is as an educator, therapist, parent, caregiver, adolescent/child – or a combination of these, all of us can benefit from a few simple strategies to help us better manage our fear of the unknown and find our courage.

Turn fear into courage

One of the easiest ways to change how we feel during the day is to slow down our breathing. When we are fearful or anxious, our breathing is quick and shallow. Slower breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system and moves us out of our flight, fight, freeze (stress) response. Take a moment to notice if you are starting your day feeling fearful or uncertain. Acknowledge that feeling and thank it for working to keep you safe and alerting you to the unknowns of the day ahead. Then, try taking five breaths using pursed-lip breathing to transform fear into courage. Breathe in through the nose and slowly breathe out through the mouth with pursed lips (like you are blowing out a candle or spinning a pinwheel – no candle or pinwheel required!). Notice how these slow, pursed lip breaths can change feelings of fear into feelings of courage. If you need to, come back to pursed lip breathing during the day to draw on your courage.

Move into courage

We can harness the power of our mind-body connection by identifying  a “brave move” to help us move from fear to courage. When we feel afraid our body tends to cave inward with hunched shoulders, crossed arms, almost like we are trying to hide. Try moving from fear into courage by standing up tall and turning your hands open. Feel how that brings your shoulders back and down. As you stand in Mountain, think of how mountains can withstand all kinds of weather and still stay standing. As you find your strength and courage in Mountain, you might think or say to yourself, “I am ready.” Also try posting the affirmations, revisiting them throughout the day to see if that brings you courage.

@lifewithmrswasik

Even the courageous need to rest

Build time into your day to reset by taking rest breaks. When we are fearful, our mind and body are on high alert. Taking  short rest breaks during the day can buffer our nervous system’s tolerance for stress. Identify simple practices that allow you to rest and reset. Try listening to calm music; reading, listening to, or watching something inspirational (like nature365.tv); or just sitting quietly to be fully present as you enjoy a drink or a snack. Rest breaks can build your reserve to handle the day as it unfolds.

Managing our own stress is important during times of change and uncertainty. Try to integrate these breathe, move, rest  practices to build in simple ways to decrease stress this Fall.

Let us know what works for you and how you are integrating self-care into your day!

Chrissy Mignogna

Self Compassion

We all hear a lot about the importance of self-care.

It seems like everyone is talking about self-care. So much so that we might choose to stop listening. Self-care can feel like one more thing to do, or it can feel overly-indulgent, or it can feel inaccessible. Who has the time/money/energy for self-care when we are just trying to make it through our to-do list as it is? Compassion is different.

Kristin Neff, a leader in self-compassion research, makes a distinction between self-compassion and self-care. Self-compassion is based on the word compassion – which means “to suffer with” or to show concern for another person’s suffering. Self compassion means extending the same concern to ourselves that we easily give to others.

As Neff explains. “Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring your pain with a “stiff upper lip” mentality, you stop to tell yourself “this is really difficult right now,” how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?”

Neff breaks self-compassion down into three elements:

  • Self-Kindness vs Self-Judgement
  • Common Humanity vs Isolation
  • Mindfulness vs Over-Identificaiton

The importance of self-compassion is simple. How can we take care of others if we don’t first take care of ourselves? We are less able to take care of others when we are depleted. Unmitigated stress can cause us to miss important cues about what students/youth are feeling, showing and telling us through their behavior and therefore lose important opportunities for connection and corregulation. 

Self-compassion is a gift we can give ourselves when our own depletion causes us to snap at loved ones or lose patience with the students or youth we work with in our educational and therapeutic environments. Practicing self-compassion is critical if we want to co-regulate with dysregulated youth.

Try these three simple practices based on Neff’s three elements for self-compassion:

1. Speak to yourself as you would a friend.

If your friend was struggling with the same stress, anxiety or self-doubt you are feeling, how would you encourage them? Imagine talking a friend through the challenges you face in this moment and gift yourself that same pep talk.

2. You are not alone

When things are difficult, try pausing and acknowledging that this moment is hard but you are not the only one facing challenges. So many people do hard things everyday. Try to feel less alone with this simple Loving Kindness visualization.

Get comfortable and breathe slowly. Take a moment to picture someone you love very much (or someone who loves you very much) and send them three wishes – May you be healthy, May you be happy, May you be peaceful. Next, still breathing slowly, picture yourself and send yourself these same three wishes – May I be healthy, May I be happy, May I be peaceful. Finally, breathing slowly, imagine extending these same three wishes to everyone you can imagine in the whole world – May they be healthy, May they be happy, May they be peaceful. Still breathing slowly, notice how you feel after this simple practice? More connected to the world around you? More supported? Always remember, you are not alone.

3. Use your breathing and movement to change how you feel.

Even when you are feeling discomfort in this moment, you don’t have to be stuck in it. Give yourself permission to feel discomfort in this moment knowing that this discomfort will pass. Ease discomfort when you need to by reminding yourself that you can change how you feel at any time by slowing down your breathing as you trace your hand; by stretching your body to energize or calm or by taking a walk.

Instead of feeling like we have just one more thing to add to our to-list, create a tool kit of simple breathing, mindfulness and movement strategies to practice as self-compassion first aid whenever you need it throughout the day.

Written By,

Chrissy Mignogna

Creating Connection during COVID

How can we create connections during a pandemic?

As part of our Move Mindfully® curriculum, we talk a lot about how connection is the basis of all of our mind-body work – in our lives, in our educational settings and in our therapeutic environments. Connection between ourselves and others, as well as our connection between our own mind and body are strengthened when we take time to practice breathing, regulating movement and rest strategies.

During COVID, the importance of connection has become even more apparent. Spending time with my family or simply walking through my own neighborhood, I realized how significant a shared smile, a wave or a kind word is for combatting the feelings of isolation.

For years we have known that a child’s school success (and ultimately their likelihood to graduate from high school) is directly impacted by how connected they are to a support network.

How can we as the adults that work with and care for youth foster this connection in the midst of a global pandemic? 

Take time to foster vital connections for yourself first:

Identify your pathways to connection and create healthy habits. Try to fill your personal need for connection before you show up to work.

  • Does walking in your neighborhood and seeing neighbors provide connection?
  • What about frequenting local businesses (online, curbside pick up or takeout) to offer support during the pandemic?
  • Do you have a Zoom yoga class or workout you commit to weekly?
  • A friend you have a coffee or tea with outdoors each month?
  • Do you have a pet that you can connect with after a stressful day?

Build community connection with co-workers:

Foster healthy connections at work.

  • Feeling overwhelmed by the impact of systemic racism that erupted this summer? Form a book group and invite fellow socially-justice minded co-workers to read and discuss books like White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, How to be an Antiracist by Ibrahim X. Kendi, or my Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem.
  • Feeling isolated and out of control about the Fall and navigating the return to school during the pandemic? Create a casual support group for co-workers to meet virtually or outdoors. Start by sharing how everyone is managing feelings around preparing for the transition back-to-school.
  • Consider creating a walking/running group (outside while the whether is good) this Fall where you can come together and strengthen your own mind body connection and manage stress in community with your co-workers.

With Students/Clients:

Encourage youth to share about how socially distancing, masking, and distance learning has affected their friendships. Journal/brainstorm as a pre-assignment and then share with the group – either in-person or online.

  • Collect all the ways they come up with that make them feel more connected and engaged. Take these ideas and create a group project to display them as a reminder of healthy ways to stay connected. You can assemble everyone’s ideas via an online collage or an in-person art installation.
  • When meeting with youth, always model how simple breathing techniques can be used to co-regulate for group activities. Calming breaths can be used for a “good beginning” to group time (both virtually and in-person).
  • Encourage students/clients to pick calming music, peaceful images or nature videos that can be shared at the end sessions/classes for a final way to connect as a group – to create a “good ending”. Ask students/youth to record short videos or take pictures of ways they find peace and calm. Then, youth can share them with the group.

What other ideas can you think of to proactively foster connection right now? Leave a comment!

Chrissy Mignogna

Mindfulness and Technology

It’s a love/hate relationship with technology.

During distance learning, as time online is increased, here are some tips on how to build in some helpful balance:

On the one hand, we want our kids to learn, connect, create, and participate fully in 21st century life with technology. On the other hand, we worry. We have power struggles. We reminisce about the good old days.

Navigating this is getting beyond the “lock down” or “hands off” approach and parenting towards digital citizenship. While it is easy to name all of the things we do NOT want kids to be doing in digital spaces, it can also be helpful to be clear about what we do want.

A couple of recent studies point to two important places to start:

LOOKING IN

“I just feel exhausted” a 9th grader told me after a talk a couple of months ago. “There are always things to be doing, updated, responding to. I mean don’t get me wrong I love it…Most of the time. But it is exhausting.”

Children and youth today are consuming and responding to streams of information at unprecedented rates. Some young people are starting to articulate just how tiring it can be to be “always on, always connected.”

Many of us think that we are either paying attention or we aren’t. Research over the last ten years, however, has revealed that we have two different attention systems: a “looking out” system and a “looking in” system. Looking Out we use when we play video games or read a text from a friend. Looking In we use when we reflect, remember, feel social emotions, or daydream. The challenge for us humans is that we can’t use both attention systems at once. Instead, we toggle back and forth between them.

It turns out that “looking in” is important for our social emotional health. For example, the more often we reflectively pause when confronted with an emotional story, the better we are at abstracting the emotions and morals from one specific event and applying them to others. The challenge today is that in a media rich world, our looking in attention is increasingly pulled to looking out at sound bites, snippets, and clicks.

The takeaway from this research is that media and technology are not inherently bad. Instead, balancing this time with introspection and rest is what is important. Try some of 1000 Petals Rest Activities.

LOOKING UP

We’ve known for a long time that little children need live social interactions to learn effectively. Dr. Marjorie Hogan, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, reminds us “that need doesn’t go away” as children grow up.

Indeed, we’ve written before about the late Clifford Nass’ research with heavy media multitaskers. He found that face-to-face time counterbalanced negative social and emotional impacts of heavy media use among tween girls. Our kids might be born into this world hardwired for empathy and connection, but research shows that they need a lot of in-person interactions with peers to fully develop these skills.

Researchers with the Children’s Media Center at Los Angeles likewise found that pre-teens who spent five days at an overnight nature camp without access to technology showed significant improvement over that time in recognizing nonverbal emotion cues compared to the control group that retained normal media habits. Time in the natural world, an experience known to have cognitive benefits, may have laid a productive stage for more meaningful interactions but this factor alone doesn’t explain improvements in emotional communication.

The takeaway from this research is that spending time with peers in positive social interactions can help balance out time spent with screens. Try some of 1000 Petals Social Emotional Gamesto build community.

The digital world in which our children are growing up is complex and changing quickly. As adults, we need to advocate and model balance. How do you bring this balance to your students or your own children? How have you addressed these concerns. Leave a comment!

Written By,

Erin Walsh, M.A.
Mind Positive Parenting Speaker

Erin cares about parenting and teaching for courage and connection in the digital age. She combines brain-science-made-simple, storytelling, and practical strategies to help families, schools, and kids build on their strengths. She has addressed a wide range of audiences throughout North America and has consulted on issues related to digital media, children, youth.

sparkandstitchinstitute.com

Eye Yoga

Technology use can take a toll on our eyes. Practicing “Eye Yoga” can help.

It’s clear across settings — we’re living in, “The Digital Age.” With iPads, iPhones, Androids, Chromebooks, and desktops (not archaic to us all), there is no shortage of devices from which to choose. People are learning, working, communicating, and entertaining themselves using technology now, more than ever before.

Whether doing digital homework, playing video games, reading on a Kindle, or shopping on Instacart, using devices takes a toll on our eyes. Screen time adds up quickly, and let’s not forget about television and the big screen. With increasing reliance on technology, most of us, adults and children alike, are getting much more than our recommended daily amount.

It’s time we open our eyes, literally and figuratively! There are things we can do to relieve and strengthen our played-out peepers. Start teaching your students and children some of the following practices. Plan and encourage breaks from screen time, and don’t forget to practice what you preach. You’ve got to preserve your vision, since we both know that you don’t really have another set of eyes in the back of your head!

“The Eyes Have (Had) It!”

To relieve eye strain and strengthen eye muscles, practice the following:

1) Palming (“Friction Addiction”) – Rub your hands together for 10-15 seconds, heating them up with friction. Gently place your warm palms over your closed eyes. Rest fingertips on forehead and balls of hands on cheeks. Don’t push on your eyes. Just allow them to enjoy the warm darkness. Breathe deeply.

palming eye yoga

2) Eye Rolling (That’s right!) – Sit upright. Soften your gaze and relax your face. Without moving your head, direct your gaze up toward the ceiling. Rotate your eyes around as if they are touching each number on a clock that is on your face. Do this in one direction. Then, repeat in the opposite direction. (2-3 times clockwise and counter-clockwise)

eye rolling eye yoga

3) Holding Focus (“Cross Eyes”) – Hold one arm straight out in front of you, thumb up. Focus your eyes on your thumb. Bring it slowly toward your nose until your eyes can no longer clearly focus on it. Pause and breathe. Slowly reach your arm back out, keeping your gaze focused on your thumb. Repeat up to 10 times.

focus shifting eye yoga

4) Distance Gazing (“Eye Spy”) – Hold one arm straight out in front of you, thumb up. Focus your eyes on your thumb. Now, shift your gaze from your thumb to an object in the distance. It can be out a window if you are inside. Focus your gaze on the object as clearly as you can. Keep your eyes and face relaxed. Breathe deeply. Then, shift your gaze back to your thumb. Repeat this until you have “spied” several different objects in the distance.

distance gazing eye yoga

‘Eye’ hope this helps! Which strategy do you think you will try? Leave a comment!

Written By,

Jenny Wood

Jenny Wood has been an elementary school teacher near Athens, Georgia for the past 18 years. She is passionate about promoting mindful life strategies and practices with children and gets plenty of practice with her own two boys.

jenny wood

 

Online Learning Tips

It’s the first day of online school… 

Now what? If you are like the thousands of teachers across the world trying to translate curriculum and instruction into an online format, and you are feeling overwhelmed, know that you are not alone. Weaving in simple breathing, movement and rest strategies can help both adults and youth manage the big emotions that come with this transition.

Since school is currently online until at least May 4th, we are allowing educators to share Move Mindfully® practices in their online learning sessions. This means, you may use your Move Mindfully Card Decks and Permission to Pause Posters in your own videos for your own students. This is a special allowance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you use our content, include the following statement. “More information and resources for Move Mindfully® products and practices can be found at 1000-petals.com.”

“More information and resources for Move Mindfully® products and practices can be found at 1000-petals.com.”

None of the live online learning sessions or recordings showing Move Mindfully products can be used outside of your virtual classroom without permission.

Begin with a Breath

Starting each session with breath work can be a nice way to connect. If you are streaming live with your students, take a few breaths together to unify the group and create focus. In a recorded video, encourage the students to breathe as they watch the recording. When providing slides with written content, remind students to take some slow breaths before beginning. Here are three simple breathing techniques you could use to start your online learning day.

  • Hand Tracing
    • Holding up one hand like a stop sign, use your pointer finger to slowly trace up your thumb as you breathe in, and slowly trace down your thumb as you breathe out. Continue to trace up and down each finger with your breath, until you have completed 5 breaths.
  • Fingertip Breathing (Belly Breathing)
    • Pretend as if you are holding a ball. Press your fingertips together. Breathing in, feel your belly expand and pull your fingers apart. Breathing out, feel your belly draw in as you push your  fingertips together.
  • Pinwheel Breathing
    • Take a breath in and then slowly blow out to make the pinwheel spin. Use controlled breathing to move the pinwheel slowly. You can pretend you are blowing out a candle with your pointer finger if you don’t have a pinwheel.

Embed  Movement

Within academic content, offer suggested movements during online instruction. Moving the body will create readiness for learning by soothing the nervous system and activating the prefrontal cortex. We recommend choosing a few  simple movements and repeating them throughout the week. In addition, if you are streaming live, you can use movement in the middle of the lesson as a brain break to get the body up and moving. Here are three movements that you can try.

  • Tree
    • Press your foot into the floor. Standing on one leg, prop your other foot up or place it below or above your knee. Rest your hands at your hips or reach them up like branches. Focus your eyes on one spot. (Stand in Mountain and repeat on the other side).

  • Plank
    • Lying on your stomach, push your hands and feet into the floor to lift your body up. Keep your body straight (you can also bring knees to the ground). Follow Plank with Child’s (kneeling, upper body folded over knees with head supported by stacked hands) or lying on your belly.

  • Down Dog
    • Press your hands and feet into the floor making an upside down V. Follow Down Dog with a Forward Fold or Child’s.

End with a Rest

In the current reality of COVID-19, many of us are trying to navigate how to feel safe when everything is so different. Allocating a few minutes at the end of your lesson for rest can help students integrate the learning, soothe the nervous system and reestablish a sense of routine and safety. As you take breaks to rest throughout the day, you will have better sleep patterns at night. You can simply play soft music and prompt slow breathing while students rest and reset for whatever comes next. Here are three different ways students can choose to rest.

  • Head on Desk
    • Sit up tall with your feet on the floor. Breathe in and reach up high. Breathe out and fold forward. Rest your head on stacked hands to get your mind ready.
  • Legs up the Wall (or Chair)
    • Lie on your back with your legs on a chair or resting against the wall.
  • Prone Breathing
    • Lie on your stomach. Feel your belly press into the floor when you breathe in, and pull away from the floor when you breathe out. Notice your back rise when you breathe in and fall when you breath out.

Want to see these practices in action? Join us daily for short breathing, movement and rest demos on Facebook Live at 4 Central. Also, if you want to learn more, check Move Mindfully® Online Services to design routines for online learning. Move Mindfully combines movement and mindfulness practices to allow youth to self-regulate and attune to their physical, social/emotional and cognitive needs.

Share your photos with our online community using #PauseMoveLearn

How have you used Breathing, Movement and Rest in your online instruction? Leave a comment!

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly and the Move Mindfully Team

Class Parties and Special Events

To the nervous system, excitement and fear feel the same.

Classroom parties. Decorations, change in schedule, novel activities… what provides excitement and anticipation for some students, may be experienced as fear and anxiety for others. When you create exciting (out of the norm) classroom opportunities, it is important to be aware of reactions such as fear, anxiety and other big emotions. You may be thinking, “It’s a simple Valentine’s Day party… what is there to be afraid of?” 

When a body feels excitement, it experiences physical symptoms.  This may look like an increased heart rate, faster breathing and a boost of energy caused by the release of glucose. Surprisingly, these are the same effects collectively known as Somatic Response or “fight, flight and freeze”. It makes sense why people would watch a scary movie or ride a roller coaster. Sometimes fear can feel exciting.


While we are not advocating for discontinuing special classroom events (those are the moments that make learning special!), we do recommend following these tips so all students can feel included and safe.

Prepare

While surprises may feel exciting for some students, a trauma-responsive approach provides adequate warning and preparation. The week before your party, show your students the decorations. Take time to explain the art project and preview the playlist. All of these details create a predictable picture that allows students to feel safe. If there is a change in schedule, review the changes and display it visually. The novelty of the day can be a large component of the fear.

Beginnings and Endings

It is important to include a mindful beginning to classroom parties. We recommend belly breathing and intention setting. Creating an event with a class intention can be incredibly powerful. It can also serve as a check in and a place for students to voice concerns or ask questions. In addition, an ending to the event is also very important. So often the timing can go over and students are pushed out the door without getting the opportunity for closure. When students aren’t regulated before they get on the bus and return home, the transition becomes very difficult. Set a timer to make sure that you have 5 minutes at the end to regroup with a slow or releasing breath. 

Releasing Activities Throughout

Depending on the length of the classroom party, students may need an opportunity to release throughout the event. In between high energy, offer a releasing breath or movement. We love our Move Mindfully® Permission to Pause poster, featuring Plank and Down Dog, as a great releasing option. Then, reset with a short rest, like Head on Desk.


Provide a Calm Corner

Even with all of our best planning, students will still get overstimulated. Offer a Be Station, or a place where students can reduce visual and audio input. It could be another classroom with dim lighting, soft music and areas to hide. Or, it could be a space in the classroom with noise cancelling headphones and sensory objects. During your check in at the beginning, offer and describe choices that will empower students to self regulate and normalize over-stimulation

Monitor and Offer Choice

If students are unable to self regulate, it is helpful to be prepared with alternative options. Not into the dance party? Offer students a place to color. The competitive nature of bingo stressing you out? Provide a beading activity. The most successful classroom parties offer choices.

Classroom parties are important. It is important to celebrate, create community and be playful together. However, approaching planning with a trauma-responsive lens will allow all students to feel successful and included.

What have you done to create inclusive classroom parties? Leave a comment!

Donors Choose for Funding

Donors Choose can fund your professional development.

I was thrilled to see a flyer for the collaborative workshop, Moving into the Zone: Implementing Move Mindfully® and The Zones of Regulation®. As an occupational therapist and a mindfulness and movement advocate, I knew I needed register for this professional development opportunity! However, working in public schools, I knew my funds were limited.

I decided to write a request on Donors Choose. They not only fund classroom resources, but also professional development. I knew that this unique offering would be of interest to many donors. I wrote up the course description and hit submit. I was shocked a week later when I received an email that my project had been fully funded! I was very fortunate to post at a time when donations were matched 50%. Donors Choose is the perfect way to fund your Move Mindfully® Workshop!

Move Mindfully® Workshop

Can I use Donors Choose?

To post a project on Donorschoose.org, a teacher must be employed full-time by a public school district or or the Office of Head Start and be a front line educator working with students at least 75% of the time. Front line educators include classroom teachers, therapists, librarians, guidance counselors and school nurses.

Once you determine your position is eligible for Donorschoose.org you may register for an account. Before posting your first project, I suggest reviewing the Rules & Responsibilities regarding posting a project and accepting a funded project. As a project receives funding, the educator is required to post a quick, online Thank You note to the donor. Once project items are received, the educator is required to upload photos of the project in use and create Thank You cards for each donor. Donorschoose.org offers clear instructions for each step of the project process.

Donors Choose project process

Tips for Your Project

  • Use the search engine to find projects similar to the one you are posting. Reading other projects might be inspirational when you sit down to write your request.
 Search “mindfulness” or “yoga” to see what else has been funded.
  • Review current Promotions & Funding Opportunities BEFORE beginning your project. Often companies offer to match funds if a project meets certain criteria (i.e. Technology, Early Childhood, Literacy, etc.).
  • Start small. In my experience, projects with needs in the $400-500 range (or less) seem to get funded within the 6 month timeline.
 Maybe start for a smaller ask of mindfulness and movement products from the 1000 Petals store.
  • Share your project with Family & Friends via social media.

Donorschoose.org offers a unique opportunity for educators to request supplies and professional development that pertains directly to our work with youth. I am truly grateful for the Donors Choose organization and all of the generous donors that support educators.

Have you had a mindfulness and movement project funded on Donors Choose? Leave a comment!

Written By, Amanda Block

My name is Amanda and I am a pediatric occupational therapist. I have worked in school settings in Minnesota and Wisconsin for almost 21 years. I have had several projects funded through Donorschoose.org over the last ten years.

End of the Year Behaviors

The end is near. And we’re losing it.

As we enter the last few weeks of school, feelings of intensity, excitement and fear are common among staff and students. For many staff it can be a time of exhaustion where we just want and need to push through. In times like these we can turn to our mindfulness practice for support, reminding us to get curious, to notice and most importantly to stay present and lean inThe end of the school year is a perfect time to “use the stress,” and as one my teachers Jennifer Clifden states, “To burn into the work, rather than burn out. To use the stress as our practice.”

head on desk

For many youth, school is their safety net. It is a place that is predictable, providing shelter, food and friends. To know in two weeks this safety net will not be there anymore may be scary if not terrifying, leaving them feeling out of control. So, in order to feel more in control, we often begin to see “the push” including students pushing limits and pushing against other students and/or peers (both physically and emotionally).

In my work in the schools and treatment settings I’ve found a lot of predictability in the unpredictability. I’ve found students who were struggling experiencing even more intense struggling. There was a sense that “I am going to control the good-bye by pushing you away because it is too painful for me to have you push me away or say goodbye.” So as educators, this is our opportunity to counter “the push” by leaning in, moving towards students and holding space for them.

Here are some tips for staying present and leaning in.

Breathe

Now more than ever, a daily structure of breathing together is important. The daily Belly Breathing* routine is a great foundation for calming breaths. However, an opportunity for releasing breaths is equally important, especially this time of year. Lion’s Breath, Wood Chopper*, Explosive Volcano*, and Conductor Breath can all be incredibly effective. Make sure you follow releasing breaths with a calming breath, like Hand Tracing, or a forward fold to pull the group back together.

Hoberman Sphere

Move

Big, gross motor movements work well to get release of big feelings and high energy. Our purple Permission to Pause poster features Down Dog, Plank and Child’s Pose. Try our After Recess Routine for a longer sequence. Want to make it a game? Students love Plank Challenge. How long can you plank?

Permission to Pause

Gratitude

Taking a few minutes to focus on gratitude can create an immediate classroom energy shift. Try our Chair Routine and layer in the social emotional language of thankfulness into each movement. This activity is great for adults at staff meetings too and offer a simple way to wrap up the year on a positive note.

Staff Gratitude Activity

High Expectations

Hold a firm boundary with love. Don’t have “behavior/trauma” be an excuse for not holding boundaries. We need students to understand they can’t hurt things or others but when and if they do, we can repair.

Try hosting a healing circle where staff and students come together. Share about how hard this time of year is and brainstorm ways to help each other out until the end of the year. When we can name the emotions that are MOVING through us we can tame the emotions by giving them voice. For example, we might ask, “Is anxiety and fear moving through you? What breath work or movement do we know of that can help these feelings move through?” It can also be powerful to explain the brain and that sometimes going into the unknown of summer can activate the stress response in our amygdala.

Class Meeting

Self Care

Finally and most importantly, remember to take time for self care. Keep nourishing yourself with adequate sleep and food and continue to keep your body open, stretching and breathing throughout the day. Try starting your day with a seated backbend. Check in with a coworker while doing partner poses during your breaks. As very personal as this feels when students push us away or fall apart after making so much progress please remember: it is not about you! In fact, I am going to be bold and say it is because of you and all of the amazing work you have done to connect to your students this year and create a space for learning and that is too painful for them to loose. Hence, the “PUSH.”

Partner Tree

We at 1000 Petals want to thank you for all the work you have done to teach and love your students. Trust that you have done your best. We close this year in deep gratitude for the opportunity to co-create a loving learning environment for all students to thrive. Remember, stay present and lean in.

What do you implement at the end of the year to end on a high note? What has worked well? Leave a comment!

Written By,

Kathy Flaminio, Founder 1000 Petals LLC

Kathy Flaminio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Yoga Calm® Activities