Mindful Minute – Counting Your Breath

Click here for the latest mindful minute video!

My students and I start nearly every class period with a mindful minute. I love that they have taken to it so well. I even got a note from a substitute when I was out one day that told me that the students asked if they could do the mindful minute even though I was not there. That made my day!

In this exercise, I have my students practice noticing their breath. I have tell them to pay attention to the inhale and the exhale. I then have the count how many complete breaths that they take in a minute. This exercise helps in two ways. One, it helps them to focus on their breathing which is an anchor for some. Second, it helps them to know approximately how many breaths they take in a minute so that they can sit down and do it wherever they are. This way they do not need a timer or an app to do this relaxing exercise. Over time, I have the students do this again to see if they have been able to calm their breathing as we work to practice daily.

Click here to do your own mindful minute. Take some time today to do something for yourself. Find a little peace!

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4 Square Breathing

Many of us are feeling the stress of this current situation. It is hard not to when you turn on the television and have statistics running along the side of every channel. I have been hearing from some of my students and hearing about how they are a little anxious as well. My own children, especially my youngest, is having a really hard time. She misses playing with friends, misses her teacher tremendously and just would love life to go back to the way that it was.

One breathing exercise that has been so helpful in times of high stress or anxiety is one called 4 square breathing. This breathing technique helps to calm the nervous system.

Here is how it works…inhale for the count of four….hold for the count of four…exhale for the count of four….hold for the count of four. Doing this 4-8 times will help to reset your mood, calm the amygdala, and help you to relax.

Check out my video where I practice this technique with my daughter!

Free Mindfulness Resources

Hello! Well, it has been nearly a full week of quarantine. I hope that you all of you reading this are staying healthy and taking care of yourselves. Being on a mission to find whatever good that I can coming from this pandemic, I have begun to take advantage of the many free resources that wonderful companies are sharing. Here is a list of some more that I have found:

Calm – The Calm app has a blog that has a page of free resources built just for this time. It is an amazing resource!!

Ten Percent Happier – The people from this app have created a a resource called the Corona Sanity Guide with some meditations, articles and more.

Headspace – This app is giving a free trial and also has the great page with guided meditations for worry and anxiety to deal with the times we are in.

Stop, Breathe, Think Blog – This page is geared mostly toward teachers and students, but has great tools for just about anyone.

In addition to these resources, check out my earlier post with great apps to use for your own mindfulness practice. Don’t forget to stop by here at My Mindful Mission regularly as I will be updating my blog daily with new videos and mindfulness activities! Stay healthy!!!

Gratitude

This morning when I woke up it was pretty rainy and windy. I got up very early because I am much more of a morning person than anyone in my house. It is so nice to have some quiet time to do whatever I want!

One of the things that I have been really trying to do each morning is to write in my gratitude journal. I know that right now there are many people struggling, but I have said that there is something so positive about this time as well. I am so grateful for this time to do things a bit differently with my students. Due to the fact that we are doing virtual learning, it is giving me more of a chance to try out things that I probably would not have in the classroom. It seems like we are having a bit more fun interacting in a new way. For my family it has been great as well because we are spending more quality time together. Even though there have been meltdowns and times of tears, we are doing things together that this typically busy time of year would not allow.

So take the time to jot down at least 5 things that you are grateful today. Get a fancy journal or just write it on a pad of paper. If you are creative, then draw sketches of the things that make you happy. However you decide to do, take some time to live in the positive. I guarantee that you will start your day on much more positive note!

Click here to see my latest mindful moment video! (I apologize for the sound issues! Still trying to work out the kinks!)

Sending Loving Kindness

Today I woke up and for a split second had forgotten what was really going on in the world. However, within that split second it all hit me again. If you are like me, this all seems surreal. It is hard to be stuck in a house without the ability to help others. I commend so much the work of the first responders, the doctors and nurses that are on the front lines, the people working at grocery stores to ensure everyone has what they need, the people making and distributing lunches to the many school kids who are stuck at home, and so many other selfless people out there. So, this became my inspiration for today’s mindful minute.

I decided to record a loving kindness mindful minute for my students today. I miss them and I know that there must be many of them who are struggling with this time away. I know that my own children are starting to break a bit. They miss the connection with their friends. I miss the connection with my friends, students and coworkers.

I hope that this exercise helps to ease some of what you may be feeling and also helps to fill the world with some positive vibes. Enjoy!! Click here for the latest video!

Virtual Yoga Classes

If you are like me, I am really missing my yoga class!! Good News!! My AMAZING Yoga instructor and friend Mari from Soul Candy Project will be teaching virtually through the ZOOM app. All of the information for her upcoming classes can be found on her website and blog!! Please consider taking a class. She is amazingly calming and I promise that it will be the best yoga class you will ever take!!

Mindful Minute – Listening

Click HERE for mindful minute video

Each day, each class period, I start with a mindful minute with my students. We do this to settle in and take a brain break. It is also the time that we use to focus on being in the moment so that we can do our best in class. Each time we do this activity, I try to give the students different ways to complete the task as each are different. I teach 6th grade, so sitting still and listening to your breathe is not easy or calming for some. We have discussed what anchors each of us. For some it is sound. Those tend to the be the people that love to sleep with a fan on even in the middle of winter just for the sound. Others like the anchor of breathing, while others like the idea of feeling.

Today, I started with sound. In the video that I posted for my students, I was outside. It is not warm here in NY, but it is sunny and the birds are singing!! My goal is to encourage everyone to get outside a bit, but to also have students learn to stop and listen.

I use an app called Insight Timer for my mindful minute routine. The app is free and allows you to set a timer with a beginning and end sound for your exercises. It is an excellent tool, especially so that you can participate along with your students. Click HERE to see the exercise for today! (Disclaimer: I am not a professional producer! These videos are VERY homemade!! I apologize for the goofy faces!!)

An Explanation of Mindfulness to Help with this Stressful Time

Each day during the week, I will be posting mindfulness activities for my students. We typically start each class period with a mindful minute. When I am not there, they have asked the substitutes if they can still do them. When I mentioned to them that there was a chance that we may be out of school for a while when I saw them last, they actually requested that I send them mindfulness activities. I will post the videos that I make for them here for you as well. Feel free to use them for yourself, your family or your students. Enjoy!! Click Here to see the video!

The Good

I am one of the lucky ones. I am a mom and a teacher. I get to work from home and be with my children. I know that right now it is hard for some people to find the good in what is happening, but from the minute we started to shut down and hear more and more of the bad news, I began to see the good things that were happening. Let me preface this with the fact that I don’t always see the good in everything. I strive for it, but am not always good at it.

However, here is what I have seen…I have seen more families out for walks. I have heard more people saying hello to one another rather than just putting on headphones and putting their heads down. I have seen people stop and talk (from a safe distance) in the grocery store. I have seen my colleagues come together to create great lessons for kids. I have seen companies come out of the woodwork to provide kids, parents, and teachers free and fun resources. I have seen social media posts with amazing stories of how people are getting together to sing, workout (from a distance) and get through all of this together. While these are scary times, I truly feel as though so much good is going to come from this time of struggle.

As a mom, I am looking forward to making this break a time of recharge. As a family we have already started to reconnect and have more fun together. This is typically a VERY busy time for my family where we seem to be like ships passing in the night. This time together is actually such a blessing (ok I know what you thinking…it is day three…so please check back on day 5 and see if I am saying the same thing!! hehe). I look forward to teaching my children new things and spending quality time with them. I feel like I have been gifted with the time that I always wish for to get life back together.

As a teacher, I am looking forward to planning some fun for my students. I know that they are stressed out. I know that some of them are taking on the roles of care givers in their own homes. I plan to give them resources that will help them to continue their learning, but I am not planning to stress them out and give them crazy amounts of work. My plans include giving them a mindfulness activity each day to help to reduce the stress and anxiety they are feeling. I hope that they will share this with other members of their family. I hope to give them fun. I hope to give them peace of mind. I know that so many teachers out there are trying to cram curriculum into new formats. It is daunting work. However, let’s remember that there is no replacement for what we do every day when we are face to face with our students. We need to find new ways to connect with them and let them know that we are still thinking about them and still care. That should be the focus.

I know that not everyone is seeing the silver lining in all of this. Again, I know that I am blessed to be sitting in my position. There are many nurses and doctors, grocery store workers, first responders, and many others who are working more and with their families less. To you I say, THANK YOU!!!! We are thinking of you and praying for you!! We will all get through this together!!

Staring later today, I will begin posting a different mindfulness activity for my students (and anyone looking for a brain break!) Stop back!! I have also provided a list of mindfulness resources in my last post. Stay safe and healthy!!! Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!!!

Mindfulness Apps to help with stressful times

As a teacher and a mom, I am preparing to teach from home. I am thinking about the lessons that I may need to provide to my students via e-learning as well as what I will do with my own three children to keep everyone happy and healthy. I know that I am not the only one thinking about this extended time home. While many are looking at this time with dread, I have to be honest, I am actually looking at it in such a positive way. Now, don’t get me wrong, these are unsettling times. I am worried about everyone’s health and well being. I worry about my parents and grandmother. I also realize that I am EXTREMELY lucky to be in a situation, that if school does get closed here in NY, I will be able to be home with my kids because I am a teacher. Not everyone is in the same situation. For those feeling overwhelmed about either providing lessons for students or finding things for your own children to do, my goal is to provide some resources to make this time a bit less stressful. If you read my blog, you know that I am a BIG believer in mindfulness and what a better time to try it out? As mentioned in my blog post yesterday, I will be providing daily mindful activities for my own students who have requested that we continue our mindful minute even if we are not together. I will post them here for you to use with your own students or children. I have collected a list of great apps that I have used that are either completely free or at least of great free aspects that can be helpful for you and your families. Here they are: (P.S. – I do not get any kickbacks from these companies!) *All can be found in the app store!

*10 Percent Happier – This app has just been release for FREE due to the pandemic. This is a great resource for you to use as an individual to start your own mindfulness practice or to pass along to older students.

*Calm – This app is my favorite go to. However, there are only some aspects that are free. However, it is the perfect place to start if you are looking for a resource!

*Insight Timer – I use this app in my classroom and love it.

*Headspace – this app is free for teachers! A great resource for kids and teachers!

*Stop, Breathe, Think – I really love this app as it helps you identify the perfect meditation based on what you are currently feeling.

*Buddhify

*Smiling Mind

*Dreamykid

As I mentioned, these are great apps to use either for personal use or with students. I cannot think of a better time to incorporate mindfulness with your own children if you happen to be home with them for this extended time. Instead of watching the news 24/7, incorporate a minute or more of mindfulness as a family. The way that I look at it, this time is scary, but really could be such a wonderful time to build connection and new traditions between our families.

As a teacher, I totally understand the stress that many are feeling. The idea of teaching virtually can be daunting. Thinking about the lessons to send while being mindful of the situation that our students may be in has me really thinking. I don’t want to over burden them especially since I know that some of my students will be the babysitters in their households. Other students who receive special education services will not be getting the help that they need. Also, the stress of all of this for a child can be more than they can handle. That is why giving them a tool to be mindful and take a meaningful break may be so important.

If you are a teacher and would like a list of other FREE resources to help with lesson planning or activities for children, follow me on facebook where I have posted many of the free online resources that I have found.