“Mindfulness is the act of being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling at every moment – without interpretation or judgment.”
Things to know...
Why Mindfulness and
Don't Always Go Together
Sam Himelstein is a clinical psychologist, trainer and author who has spent most of his career working with incarcerated youth. He has a lot of empathy for the young people he works with because he was an angry kid. It was in a group home that a skilled mentor put him in a leadership position and sparked a desire in Himelstein to do counseling.
Mindfulness has become a helpful tool for educators and students, but when it comes to practicing mindfulness, how it’s done can make things worse.
Himelstein has worked with teachers who get upset when students don’t want to engage in mindfulness a certain way -- perhaps they don’t want to close their eyes or won’t sit the recommended way. But none of those things are truly about mindfulness, Himelstein said. Forcing students to engage with the practice in prescribed ways may do more harm than good, especially if the student has experienced trauma.
“Calming down is great and it is a skill that youth can get better at. But if we’re talking about mindfulness, at its core, we are just talking about being present with whatever it is.”
“You never want to force people to close their eyes,” says Sam Himelstein. That alone can cause trauma for some kids. “The goal is not to turn people into meditation monks. It’s just about learning to turn inwards and practice self-awareness.”
Himelstein also offers these guidelines for teachers using mindfulness:
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Simple exercise for refocusing students or reducing anxiety.
"Focus on the world around you. At this moment, what are:
5 things you see...
4 things you hear...
3 things you can touch...
2 things you can smell...
1 thing you can taste."
Mindfulness in a hurry... 30 seconds
Download card for printing
Card front, business card size, 10 per sheet
Card back, business card size, 10 per sheet
View video for explanation on how the 3x3 method works.
Mindfulness explained to adults in 2-1/2 minutes.
Lots of apps out there, it's a matter of finding the one you like. I like the Ausie voice on Headspace. Let me know if you find one to add to the list.
Has sleep stories; 16 free meditations.
Calm School Initiative
Free for educators
Buffet; no set meditations; most popular free app. 15-20 minutes.
3 minute mindful breathing; simple good for beginners; stress, anxiety, depression. Includes gratitude journal.
Adult and app for kids for computer or phone. 5 themes: Calm, focus, kindness, sleep, wake up. 3, 5 & 10 minute meditations. First 10 free (but can keep replaying)
Mindfulness for Children
Breathing, visualization for anxiety, audio exercises; good beginning activities.
Mindfulness Books for Kids
Puppy Mind, by Andrew Jordan Nance
Lower Elementary; 3 minute; teaches breathing to calm mind
Mindfulness Books for Adults
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