The 4 Components of Mindfulness (SOAP)

An excerpt from The 4 Components of Mindfulness (SOAP) by Ellis Edmunds

Mindfulness has become a popular word these days and everyone seems to have a different idea of what it means.

Some people think it means to get rid of your thoughts, to have an empty mind, to feel nothing, or to be peaceful at all times.

However, to me, mindfulness is not about any of those.

To explain my definition, I will break mindfulness down to four parts.

An easy way to remember these four parts is the acronym SOAP.

Separation from Thoughts

How easily do we get tangled up and caught in our thoughts? One thought leads to the next, leads to the next. Before long we are in a full-on dramatic story about something in our head that seems real. Some thoughts, especially negative, judgmental, or painful thoughts can be particularly hard to separate from.

With mindfulness, we take a step back and see thoughts as just thoughts. If you notice your mind coming up with stories, or problem solving to no end, you can say, “Thank you mind for that thought.” If you watch your thoughts for long enough, it becomes fairly obvious that most thoughts have little truth to them and are often not very helpful.

Observing Yourself

So often we can create an identity of ourselves from our thoughts, emotions, or body. We think that our anger, depression, or anxiety IS who we are. We can be convinced that the thought “I am no good” is just what we are. Or that our body defines us as a person.

With mindfulness, we can gain some perspective on all of this. We step into a space of just observing ourselves. We can just sit and watch our thoughts, emotions, and body sensations play out, without identifying with any of it. Think of just watching waves come and go in the ocean.

Acceptance of Emotions

Do you ever wonder why you continue to struggle with a particular emotion? Often, it’s because by fighting with it, you are giving it more energy. As Carl Jung said, “What you resist, persists.”

Acceptance means to give up this struggle and allow your emotions to be as they are. It means allowing them to play out within you as they do naturally. I see acceptance as a courageous act of self-love. You are telling your emotions: “I see you and accept you just the way you are.”

Present Moment

Often our mind wanders into the past or into the future and has a difficult time staying present. That is just what minds do. They anticipate the future, and can obsess over the past to make sure we learned how to avoid the pain of the past.

Mindfulness means to bring our attention back to the here and now. An easy way to do this is focus on our 5 senses. What do you hear? See? Taste? Touch? Smell? Our 5 senses bring us back into the present moment. Focusing on your breathing does this as well. Our body can be a good anchor for coming back to the present moment.

Full Article:


The 4 Components of Mindfulness (SOAP)


 BY Ellis Edmunds


Edmunds, Ellis. “The 4 Components of Mindfulness (SOAP).” Mindful Therapy for Anxiety, 20 Oct. 2018, drellisedmunds.com/2017/07/10/1458/.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

Mindfulness as a concept can be very overwhelming. There is a lot more to it than just sitting still and turning off your brain. When you are able to do the research it can be an incredible tool, so having an acronym to help navigate mindfulness is incredibly helpful.

How Does Stress Affect a Child’s Development and Academic Potential?

Understanding cognitive development and stress in children can add context to systems of education.

Pamela Cantor, M.D. practiced child psychiatry for nearly two decades, specializing in trauma. She founded Turnaround for Children after co-authoring a study on the impact of the 9/11 attacks on New York City school children. She is a Visiting Scholar in Education at Harvard University and a leader of the Science of Learning and Development Alliance.

Cantor, Pamela. “How Does Stress Affect a Child's Development and Academic Potential?” Big Think, 26 Dec. 2020, bigthink.com/yes-every-kid/how-does-stress-affect-a-childs-development-and-academic-potential.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

I chose this video because I think it is important to note the stress that kids, even infants face every day, what it can lead to, and how we can manage it.

5 Mental Health Issues Students May Face this Summer

An excerpt from 5 mental health issues students may face this summer by Suzi Godson

The past year and a half have shown that school is about much more than academic achievement. Remote learning taught us all that school provides routine, structure and exposure to positive social norms.

When schools close their doors – whether due to Covid-19 or just school holidays – the one in six young people with mental health issues are hardest hit.

At MeeToo – a peer support app where young people can share their worries – we see an escalation in posts around five issues every single summer.

Here we highlight the major areas to watch out for, and what teachers can do in the final weeks of term to prepare their pupils for the long break ahead.

Children's mental health: Issues that can affect pupils over the summer holiday

Loneliness
In school, young people are surrounded by people to talk to, but that is not a given in the holidays. Social media snaps of classmates together can exacerbate feelings of isolation.

What can teachers do now?
Before the holidays, reiterate the importance of inclusivity, kindness and reaching out to each other over the summer. Get students to research local events, activities and meet-ups over the summer and add them to the school calendar, encouraging them to socialize.


Lack of routine
Routines can completely fall apart in the holidays. Downtime is helpful, but spending days aimlessly scrolling social media is not.

What can teachers do now?
Explain how structure supports mental health, and help them set weekly goals to combat boredom and depression. Get students to pick a skill that they want to master or improve over the summer and encourage them to keep a video journal to log their progression over the holidays that they can present in September.

Use school email or social media accounts to suggest optional learning activities at regular intervals throughout the holidays – but use free scheduling tools so you can plan now, and have a well-deserved rest over the holidays.


Self-harm
Young people who self-harm avoid asking for help, in case their coping mechanism is taken away. Without friends and teachers around, such harmful behaviour is easier to hide.

What can teachers do now?
Our data shows that disclosing self-harm anonymously within a supportive peer community gives young people the confidence to open up to someone in real life. Signpost online support resources on the school website.


Disordered eating
MeeToo has seen a 263 per cent increase in posts about weight, body image and diet amongst 14- to 16-year-olds during lockdown. Research shows that social support is critical for people with eating disorders, but those with working parents can be alone for most of the day during holidays.

What can teachers do now?
Encourage students to check in with each other over the summer and signpost anyone you are worried about to resources like Beat’s website, which runs scheduled chat rooms, or the MeeToo app, which features recovery stories from young people.


Anxiety
Our data show that anxiety levels spike at the beginning of every new term. This may seem to suggest that school makes young people anxious, but digging into the data reveals underlying issues, like changes in friendships over the holidays and worries about next term.

What can teachers do now?
Make time for children to share their worries about next year before the holidays start. Whether it’s seating arrangements, uniform worries or losing friendships, sharing concerns with their peers in a safe space like tutor time could stop anxieties spiraling over the summer, and will open up a conversation about checking in with each other.

Full Article:


5 Mental Health Issues Students May Face this Summer


 BY Suzi Godson


Godson, Suzi. “5 Mental Health Issues Students May Face This Summer.” Tes, 22 June 2021, www.tes.com/news/five-children-mental-health-issues-pupils-schools-students-may-face-summer.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

For a lot of children, summer is the best time of the year. Home with family and friends instead of at school, but for the kids who rely on school as a safe-haven, summer vacation can be a lot more stressful. With the traumatic aftermath of the pandemic, a lot more students will be facing the struggles that come with summer vacation, so it is important that we give them the tools to navigate it. 

5 Fun Mindfulness Activities for Kids

An excerpt from How Mindfulness Benefits a Growth Mindset by Alexandra Eidens

Practicing mindfulness techniques can help children change their mindset from a FIXED mindset to a GROWTH mindset.

First, mindfulness can help children feel empowered, so they can learn to try new things and take more risks.

Second, using mindfulness techniques like deep breathing and tensing and relaxing the muscles can help children overcome anxiety when they make mistakes.

Third, by promoting self-love and self-compassion, mindfulness activities can help children overcome negative self-talk.


Here are five simple mindfulness activities for kids to help them live in the present and focus on the positive using mindfulness.

Everyday acts can be turned into mindfulness exercises for kids. You and your child can be engaged in mindfulness in the midst of any ordinary activity, which, in essence, really makes it an extraordinary activity.

From walking outside and going on a safari, to shaking a glitter jar or tensing and relaxing muscles, there is no limit when it comes to practicing mindfulness.

You can even encourage your child to eat mindfully or read a book mindfully because any activity can be done with a mindful awareness.

The most important thing about mindfulness is being in the here and now — living your life and taking the time to enjoy the world around you.

Full Article:


5 Fun Mindfulness Activities for Kids

 

BY Alexandra Eidens


Eidens, Alexandra. “5 Fun Mindfulness Activities for Kids.” Big Life Journal, 2021, biglifejournal.com/blogs/blog/5-fun-mindfulness-activities-children-breathing-exercises.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

Kids are high energy, so it can be difficult to give them calming activities. By making mindfulness into a fun game, kids can learn that being in the moment can be fun and enjoyable. It also gives kids a helpful tool for when they feel negative emotions, such as frustration.

How Mindfulness Helps

An excerpt from Benefits of Mindfulness for Kids and Teens by Sherri Gordon

The practice of being mindful allows children and teens to cope with frustration when they are faced with something difficult in their lives. It can also be used when they need to focus their attention on something specific and not allow distractions to derail them. The more kids and teens practice being mindful, the better they get at it.

Plus, it really works. In fact, research shows that practicing mindfulness can improve attention spans for just about anyone—including young people with ADHD who often have trouble paying attention. Overall, people who learn to practice mindfulness are able to pay attention better and are less distractible. Mindfulness also helps individuals stay calm under stress, avoid getting too upset, get along better with others, and be more patient. It can even impact learning, help kids and teens become better listeners, and help them feel happier overall.

Childhood and adolescence are important stages in the developmental process for young people. What happens during these phases of their lives will lay the foundation for their their future mental health.

Mindfulness helps students learn how to pause in all types of situations and respond in a thoughtful way rather than just reacting. This skill is especially helpful when they are faced with challenges or encounter kids who engage in bullying.

Not surprisingly, practicing mindfulness can help kids and teens learn how to manage stress, regulate their emotions, focus on the task at hand, and develop a positive outlook on life.

Kids and teens who use mindfulness also develop a better understanding of how their brains work. They may even develop a sense of curiosity about how their minds work and why they feel the way they feel, which in the end may lead to a deeper understanding of who they are as a person. Research has shown that when mindfulness is used in schools it can provide a range of cognitive, emotional, and social benefits.

Cognitive Benefits

Research has shown that teaching kids mindfulness can impact their cognitive skills, particularly the executive functions performed by the brain. Executive functions are responsible for a person's ability to pay attention, switch focus, organize information, remember details, and engage in planning.

In fact, one study of third-grade students over a period of eight weeks found that when a mindfulness program was implemented in the school, the students showed improvements in regulating their behaviors and focusing on the task at hand when compared to a control group that did not participate in a mindfulness program.

Meanwhile, another study found that students participating in a 24-week mindfulness program scored better on attention-based activities than other students in their elementary school. Likewise, a study of preschoolers found that students with a mindfulness curriculum scored better on academic performance tests. They also showed greater improvement in areas that predict future academic success.

Emotional Benefits

Emotional health, or a positive sense of well-being, is an important component of every child's life. Not only is it the basis for mental health, but it also can help deter mental health issues like:
Anxiety
Stress
Depression
Self-esteem issues
Improved social interactions
Overall, being mindful or participating in mindfulness activities can not only help students manage stress but also increase their sense of well-being. For instance, one study found that after participating in a mindfulness program students were more likely to report feeling optimistic. Meanwhile, another study found that preteens reported feeling calmer, getting better sleep, and having an enhanced sense of well-being after participating in a five-week mindfulness and stress-reduction program.

Social Benefits

Difficulty interacting and communicating with others can lead to problems with learning, understanding, and school climate. But mindfulness programs have been shown to improve these skills and lead to positive results within the school.

For instance, a five-week mindfulness program in an elementary school led to better participation in classroom activities. Meanwhile, a mindfulness program in a high school helped nurture mutual respect and care among students and improve school climate.

Full Article:


Benefits of Mindfulness for Kids and Teens


 BY Sherri Gordon


Gordon, Sherri. “How Kids and Teens Can Benefit From Mindfulness.” Verywell Family, 17 Sept. 2020, www.verywellfamily.com/benefits-of-mindfulness-for-kids-4769017.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

As adults, it is easy to overlook the stressors that kids go through. Giving them a healthy outlet such as mindfulness can help lead them to a better path and be able to regulate the strong emotions that come along with navigating the world. 

ABC of Mindfulness

An excerpt from Medium.com by Ravi Lekkala

Have you ever tried to pull a door when it actually says push, or tripped over not minding your step? You are not alone. And these are only less complicated situations in life.


I’m grateful to my yoga teacher at my primary school who introduced me to the world of meditation. I’ve been practicing meditation for over three decades and interacted with several other practitioners, learning and sharing different approaches. When it comes to mindfulness, three key elements are crucial.


I would like to throw light upon those 3 basic elements of mindfulness. I believe they are fundamental and indispensable in anybody’s mindfulness journey.

A — Awareness

Awareness is the core aspect of mindfulness.

It is a device to observe and acknowledge the present reality dispassionately, moment by moment.


How to practice:

Start your meditation with focus on your breathing and slowly expand your awareness to the extent possible of the five basic senses. If you notice your mind wandering, you acknowledge the deviation and refocus on your breathing and awareness. Then, you further expand your awareness to your thoughts. You try not to control your thoughts but just observe and acknowledge them without judgement.


How it helps:

Not surprisingly, this state of awareness starts reflecting in your day to day life. You notice improvement in your focus and concentration. You are more often attentive and seldom absent-minded.

Please note this is only a by-product of your practice and not an expectation to start with.



B — Being with experience

Being with experience complements and enhances awareness.


How to practice:

You try to observe your thoughts and feelings by fully being with your experience of the current moment. You try not to resist uncomfortable thoughts or encourage comfortable ones. You try to avoid digging past associations or building future aspirations. You just try to know and cherish being with your present experience.


How it helps:

You start to comprehend situations of life with increasing clarity, and start accepting the reality. And this makes you better equipped to be unaffected by the feelings of anxiety and even pleasure.

Please note the reality itself doesn’t change, but your reaction to it does.



C — Choice

Awareness and being with experience leads to a conscious choice.


Once you have a lucid awareness of the present reality and accept the same by being with the experience, you are in a better position to make a clear choice of doing or not doing something. That is in a more free manner without being subject to pressure or prejudice. You will start seeing that the decisions you make and the actions you perform seem like a matter of common sense, and more appropriate.



Like everything else, it takes some practice to become comfortable with meditation. I believe the framework of these 3 basic elements advances your journey of mindfulness and helps you avoid tripping over your next steps of life. Namaste!

Full Article:


ABC of Mindfulness


 BY Ravi Lekkala


Plotkin, Robert. “3 Components of Mindfulness & How They Impact Our Mood.” Technology for Mindfulness, 6 Nov. 2019, technologyformindfulness.com/3-components-of-mindfulness-how-they-impact-our-mood/.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

Having simple steps to Mindfulness can make a concept that seems so overwhelming and difficult a little more comprehensive in a time in which you really need it. Sometimes being in the moment may feel like the last thing you want to do, but when you approach your current situation with attention, you can more easily overcome it.

Good Stress vs. Bad Stress for Kids

An excerpt from Good Stress vs. Bad Stress for Kids by Jerome Schultz, PhD

At a Glance

      • Not all stress is bad. There’s good stress, too.

      • Ongoing challenges and fears can create stress in kids.

      • Remembering past successes can help your child feel more  confident and in control.


When someone says they’re stressed, it’s usually not a positive thing. But stress isn’t always bad. There’s good stress, too. And it can help kids rise to challenges, resolve problems, and build confidence.


Learn about the difference between good and bad stress, and how each can impact your child.


Types of Stress: Good, Tolerable, and Bad

Nature gave us the ability to spot danger and respond to it. When faced with dangerous situations, our bodies and brains kick into fight-or-flight mode. But we don’t like to stay in that state for long. We like to deal with danger quickly so we can feel safe again.

Our body’s ability to deal with stress helps us do just that. Our stress response system gets our brain and body ready to solve problems and tackle challenges. And when we overcome the problem, our brain “feels good” and remembers our successes.


Good stress happens when we confront a situation we believe we can manage or control. Here’s an example:


A child is coasting down a hill on a bike with just one hand on the handlebars. When she sees a pothole up ahead, she feels stress and instinctively puts her other hand on the bars.


In less than a second, her brain goes in to survival mode. It tells her heart to pump blood to her legs, her vision gets a little better because her pupils open to take in more light, and she’s ready for evasive action. She guides herself around the hole and continues safely down the slope.


In this case, she quickly handled the danger without a problem. It was good stress that helped her meet the challenge, because she believed she could do it.


The brain loves success and will store the memory of this event. The next time this child faces such a dangerous situation, this positive memory will help her deal with it. Good stress makes us stronger, ready to take on new challenges.


Soon, however, she’s faced with a new danger. It suddenly starts raining hard, and big puddles form on the bike path. She grips the handlebars tightly. This time she’s feeling a greater level of stress because the danger has increased and is lasting longer. Still, she believes she’ll make it home safely.


Why is that? She’s been in situations like this before and succeeded. She knows she has the skill to do it again, and that gives her confidence. She’s experiencing tolerable stress. And the next time she faces such a challenge, it’s more likely she’ll be ready for it.


But now, the situation changes again—for the worse. The rain is coming down harder now. Lightning is flashing, she’s having trouble seeing, and she takes a wrong turn.


She’s never ridden in such terrible conditions, so she’s never had the experience of getting through them. She doesn’t feel capable, and she doesn’t feel safe. In fact, she’s overwhelmed by fear.


This is bad stress—and it’s toxic. It happens when we’re in a threatening situation that goes on and on, and we don’t feel like we’re able to get through it.

Bad stress erodes confidence and makes us question our ability. At this point, the girl lets the bike drop in the mud and she runs, as fast as she can, toward her home.

Full Article:


Good Stress vs. Bad Stress for Kids


 BY Jerome Schultz, PhD


Schultz, Jerome. “Good Stress vs. Bad Stress for Kids.” Understood, Understood, 22 Oct. 2020, www.understood.org/en/friends-feelings/managing-feelings/stress-anxiety/good-stress-vs-bad-stress-in-kids.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

Stress is often seen as a negative emotion, but it is important to realize that stress can also be a good thing that pushes us forward, depending on the kind of stress and what we do with it. Realizing this gives us more control in our own lives. 

Teen Stress has been Heightened by a Year of Pandemic. Here’s How to Help Them

An excerpt from Teen Stress has been Heightened by a Year of Pandemic. Here’s How to Help Them by John Duffy

(CNN)--I started working with Shannon, a high school junior, at the beginning of lockdown. Shannon has asthma, and she's afraid of getting Covid-19 herself. She's also afraid of making a family member or someone else sick. And she fears the pandemic will never be over, that things will never again feel normal.

I also work with Tim, a high school senior. I started therapy with Tim about two years ago. He is a handsome, popular, athletic guy. But he's stressed about being able to afford the upper-middle-class life his parents have given him. He can't picture being successful, and he is painfully anxious about it. Especially during the pandemic, possible failure is on his mind nearly constantly.

Do you remember worrying about your adult life when you were a teenager? Neither do I. Kids just think differently now. Like Shannon and Tim (not their real names), they have this broad scope and range of experience and knowledge, based in large part on what is available to them on screens, and from their friends.


The pandemic has made things so much worse. Many teens I work with deal with a nearly crippling social anxiety, either from a lack of practice after a year with precious little time with friends, or because of overall social insecurity. As a result, they experience the fear of missing out regularly, and they think their friends are enjoying themselves on TikTok and Snapchat, adding to their levels of stress.


Some also feel a sense of desperation, depression and anxiety they have never experienced before, always having considered themselves positive, upbeat people. Several of my clients are now taking medication to balance their moods.

How to Recognize Stress in your Teens

Sometimes, our kids actually tell us they are stressed, which is amazing. If they do, you are lucky. Skip down to the "what parents can do to help" section right now.

More likely, they won't. In my experience, kids are rarely forthcoming about these things, assuming parents either won't get it or may limit their freedom to keep an eye on them at home in a misguided attempt to help.

Sometimes, our kids actually tell us they are stressed, which is amazing. If they do, you are lucky. Skip down to the "what parents can do to help" section right now.

More likely, they won't. In my experience, kids are rarely forthcoming about these things, assuming parents either won't get it or may limit their freedom to keep an eye on them at home in a misguided attempt to help.

I encourage parents to look for any marked change in their child's mood or behavior due to anxiety and worry. Stressed kids can present as irritable, avoidant, even withdrawn. And/or their stress might manifest in physical symptoms, including fatigue, muscle pain, headaches, stomach issues and difficulty sleeping.

They may also regulate their emotions more poorly, become short-tempered, angry and overly emotional. Your formerly compliant child may now seem suddenly rude, talking back, yelling and disrupting the household. Before doling out discipline or a consequence, sit with her, talk, and listen, about not only her levels of stress, but her emotional life overall.

If it's stress, get to what's causing it. I find parents are often wrong about why their kids feel stressed. Parents might think, for instance, that their kids are worried about their grades when they actually are concerned about being left out socially.

Know that what's stressing you out about your kid is likely different than what's burdening them. So, hear her out. Be curious. But give your child space and time to process. Set your judgment and ego aside, and really listen, acknowledge, and don't overreact.


Sometimes just listening and acknowledging can solve the problem. But if not, talk about what you might be able to do together to help.


What Parents can do to Help

Guide your child to calm her mind and problem-solve. A moment of meditation or a few deep breaths can bring quick relief to your stressed child. And once she is calm, break down the stressor into digestible chunks.

Maybe he can reach out to his teacher for an extension on a project. Or she can text an apology to her friend for slighting her. Often it's just a matter of looking at the stressful situation in a different way. Thoughtful problem-solving under stress is an invaluable lifelong skill.
And finally, model healthy coping. Don't forget you are an enormous influence on your child. Kids are forever paying attention to the way you manage your stress.

Full Article:


Teen Stress has been Heightened by a Year of Pandemic. Here’s How to Help Them


 BY John Duffy


Duffy, Analysis by John. “Teen Stress Has Been Heightened by a Year of Pandemic. How to Help.” CNN, Cable News Network, 4 May 2021, www.cnn.com/2021/05/04/health/how-to-help-teen-stress-wellness/index.html?utm_source=fbCNN&utm_term=link&utm_content=2021-05-04T18%3A01%3A18&utm_medium=social&fbclid=IwAR1se7Cv4O2Nptva1-6fVl4-XCmlWY2mBjO-uVECO92d8M2adiUk0fCuQVY.

Director of Strategic Communications

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[nekiesha]

this article touched on the types of stress and anxiety teenagers may be facing during the pandemic. I found it really compelling because as parents, we often focus on the behavior in our children, instead of first considering the cause.

How to Use Mindfulness in Times of Crisis and Challenge

An excerpt from How to Use Mindfulness in Times of Crisis and Challenge by Mellissa O'Brien

There have been five main ways that mindfulness has helped me and the family during this time. I’d like to share these in case these may be helpful to those out there who find themselves in a similarly difficult time. May these bring peace and presence into the darkest of days.

Present-Moment Attention

This was the strongest predictor of increased positive emotions in the students who were more aware in the present moment indicated that they felt happier and better overall. Why might this be? When you allow your attention to wander it shifts to things like anticipation of future events or regrets about the past.

When you notice your mind wandering, try focusing on your breath or something in your current surroundings.

1. The Breath Hug

The 3-breath hug has been the most beautiful way to ground ourselves and reconnect with each other and our moment-to-moment experience. Kristen Race shared this simple practice on Day 23 of The Mindfulness Summit as a practice for mindful parenting, but we’re finding it invaluable right now to bond as a family.

When one of us (or all of us) becomes very distressed, we have been coming together for a 3-breath hug. Imagine this situation – we had a very emotional family meeting with a doctor (telling us that Gary will never be the same due to massive brain damage) which ended with another family member in the room having a seizure and another one nearly passing out. We then had alarms going off and nurses rushing in to help. Very stressful, very difficult. We gathered outside the room right after that meeting, put our arms around each other and had a 3-breath hug to ground ourselves and give each other love and support. What a gift!

The kids especially love it when they’re stressed and it’s a way that the adults can wrap them up in love and support in the middle of it all.

2. A Mindful Mantra 'This Too'

When life presents us with the unpleasant and the unwanted there is a strong tendency of the mind to resist what is happening. Resistance to pain, though, just creates more suffering. It’s futile. So here we are in this extremely stressful situation. A loved one in bed fighting for his life, probably not going to make it out of that bed alive. That’s very unpleasant. Feelings of fear, grief and loss naturally arise, and if I let them come and go without suppression, that is healthy and natural.

But if I begin to get into mental resistance patterns like ‘why is this happening to me?’ or ‘it’s not fair’ or ‘this shouldn’t be happening’ or ‘I want this to stop/ change/ go my way’ then I start fighting with reality. I start fighting with the present moment – and that, I know, is completely futile and just creates more layers of suffering. I will also lose touch with myself and the present moment if I get into resistance.

But the tendency to resist is strong when there is a lot of unpleasantness. That’s why I have been using my mantra that I always use in difficult times ‘This too.’

‘This too’ is my abbreviation for saying ‘I accept unconditionally the unfolding of this present moment in whatever form it takes – this too is allowed and accepted.’

‘This too’ reminds me to soften my resistance. It reminds me to stay grounded in presence (as best I can) and connects me to background of ease and peace even in the middle of this pain. I often repeat it mentally, sometimes out loud.

3. One Conscious Breath

We spoke at the summit, about the power of just taking a few deep, slow, conscious breaths – especially when you’re stressed. Breathing just a couple of breaths this way whenever we have felt overwhelmed has been so soothing for us all.

I’ve also been using my time in the ICU waiting room to do these mini-breath meditations, taking this time to step out of the mind and reconnect with my body and being-ness. It’s so simple, but has been profoundly nourishing.

I might just close my eyes and take one long slow breath, or maybe ten, if I have a minute free. One conscious breath brings me back to my self – reminds me that the world is still turning, birds are still singing and the sun is still shining through the window. There is more to this moment than just the pain, it’s all alive and it’s a miracle.

4. Creativity to Connect

As I mentioned, there is a lot of waiting around so we were looking for ways to be mindful while we waited. It’s all too easy to become caught up in the stressful energy of the ICU ward and all too easy for the mind to start running ‘what if’ scenarios while you wait.

At the summit, Danny Penman spoke about mindfulness and creativity and we also did a DMC (Daily Mindfulness Challenge) of colouring in. It was a fun and grounded practice and one we’ve brought into the waiting room. We’ve got a whole bunch of mindful colouring in books and so we have all been engrossed in mindful coloring in between visiting Gary by his bedside. Check out some of our creations! We ended up with a lovely board of pictures to put by his bedside.

5. Keep Up a Daily Practice and do Things that Nourish You

It’s common that we tend to abandon our daily practice on the darkest of days – when we’re sick, tired or stressed – but that’s exactly when we need it the most. I’ve found my daily meditation an incredible gift during this time. It’s been a time of cultivating self-compassion and gentleness. It’s been a way of opening up to the wholeness of life and reconnecting to what really matters.

We’ve also made sure that we are doing things that nourish us like eating well, going for swims in the ocean and getting some exercise. This is a way of self-nourishing at a time when I think many of us feel like drowning our sorrows in junk food, booze and unhealthy habits. It’s an act of kindness to ourselves in a time of uncertainty and pain. Also, reach out to get support from your loved ones. You don’t have to do it alone.

If you’ve faced your own challenges and can share some tips with us, please do in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you.

I hope this blog post may help anyone going through similar challenges to what we face right now. The main thing is to just take it all one step and one breath at a time.

Full Article:


How to Use Mindfulness in Times of Crisis and Challenge


 BY MELLIssa O'BRIEN


O'Brien, Mellissaon May. “How To Use Mindfulness In Times Of Crisis and Challenge.” Mrs. Mindfulness, 3 Apr. 2019, mrsmindfulness.com/how-to-use-mindfulness-in-times-of-crisis-challenge/.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

When facing times of crisis, it is easy to succumb to those serious emotions. It can be so overwhelming that it leaves you feeling powerless. Personally, I believe that having these steps to turn to can help you regain control in a time where you have none. 

Top 10 Benefits of Mindfulness for Teachers

An excerpt from Top 10 Benefits of Mindfulness for Teachers by Jill Manly

Improve Your Sleep

If I had a poor night’s sleep before a teaching day, I knew I was headed for trouble. I’d slap a smile on my face, chug a coffee, and try my best to lead the class. Yet, my patience was always thinner, my smile strained. Worst of all, my students would see right through me.

Teaching requires peak energy levels and patience. Yet, it’s easy for teachers to lose sleep. They often lie awake, ruminating over a child who has been bullied or reviewing how to lead a lesson more effectively.

Reduce Your Stress

Teaching is one of the most stressful professions, no question. An analysis by the National Foundation for Educational Research revealed that “one in five teachers (20 percent) feel tense about their job most or all of the time, compared to 13 percent of similar professionals.” Even more, The American Federation of Teachers found that “78% of teachers reported feeling physically and emotionally exhausted at the end of the day.”

The antidote? Mindfulness. A Harvard study compared the stress levels of people who went on vacation with those who began a meditation practice. While both groups initially showed improvements in stress, the meditators still showed improvements 10 months later while the vacationers’ stress levels had returned to baseline. Remember that mindcation idea? Well, it turns out that using mindfulness to take a mindcation has longer lasting effects on stress than an actual vacation.

Increase Your Focus

Teaching demands a high level of focus while multitasking. You might find yourself simultaneously teaching a math lesson, soothing an overwhelmed student, and redirecting off-task students. Data from busyteacher.org estimates that “teachers make about 1,500 educational decisions a day or about four decisions per minute based on 6 hours of instruction.”

Unfortunately, multitasking diminishes one’s ability to focus. Research shows that “productivity can be reduced by as much as 40% by the mental blocks created when people switch tasks.”

Teachers, all is not lost. Multitasking comes with the job, but you can practice mindfulness to increase your focus. Mindfulness meditation training improves executive attention and cognitive flexibility.

Maintain Healthier Relationships

While teachers love supporting their students, it’s easy to feel drained. Imagine you’re comforting the fifth child who has come to you in tears that day. Before you know it, you feel overwhelmed and impatient. The well of compassion you started your day with dwindles with each new upset.

Lucky for you, mindfulness increases one’s emotional-regulation skills. When you can regulate your own emotions, you can better support the emotions of others. Even more, mindfulness promotes forgiveness during conflicts due to a decrease in rumination and an increase in perspective-taking.

Gain Strong Communication Skills

Effective teacher communication plays a critical role in the wellness of teachers, students, and parents.


Teachers, here’s how you can bring mindfulness into your conversations:


- Be fully present

- Listen actively

- Slow down to process what’s said

- Reflect – what feelings exist behind the person’s words? What emotions come up for you as the listener?

- Ponder how to thoughtfully respond, rather than impulsively react

Practice the mindfulness skill of nonjudgmental acceptance to be responsive to students instead of reactive. This helps you focus on how someone is, instead of how you want or expect them to be.


You might expect your students to be perfectly respectful and focused on your lesson. The reality? Not so much. Often, negative emotions arise when something or someone does not meet our expectations. We judge the situation and therefore make it worse for ourselves.


By practicing nonjudgmental acceptance, we take the emotional reaction out of the situation. We simply notice what is and thoughtfully choose our response.


Increase Your Productivity

Does this sound familiar? You spend your recess breaks scarfing down a snack, fleeing to the bathroom, or talking with a student. You spend lunch prepping materials for the upcoming science lesson. You cram the overflow of work into breaks, evenings, and weekends. I felt this way, too. Let me tell you, it wasn’t sustainable. When I discovered mindfulness, I learned how to increase my productivity by working smarter, not harder.

A study on mindfulness intervention and workplace productivity showed that mindfulness produced “greater reductions in burnout and perceived stress, improvements in well-being, and increases in team and organizational climate and personal performance.”

Achieve Greater Happiness

Teachers support their students through all of life’s challenges; they are often the first-responders to students’ pain. While being there for children is a true privilege, it can take a toll on teachers’ happiness. Research shows that “educators and other school-based staff can experience the stress of compassion fatigue and/or vicarious traumatization.”

Enhance Your Memory

Teachers, you are experts in the subjects you teach. You want your memory to be in tip-top shape, right?

Mindfulness meditation can boost one’s memory. It also enhances episodic memory, or memory of a previous experience. Mindfulness training increases attention on a moment-to-moment basis, so people practicing mindfulness experience greater task engagement which makes experiences more memorable. Mindfulness training can even decrease mind-wandering and improve GRE test scores.

Boost Your Immunity

Every teacher knows the threat of germs well. Now, add on to that a global pandemic. Yikes.

Fortunately, a study proved that “a short program in mindfulness meditation produces significant effects on immune function.”

Wear a mask? Check. Meditate? Check!

Optimize Your Brain

A teacher’s brain not only houses in-depth knowledge, but it responds to frequent emotional stressors. How do you keep your brain in peak condition to master these demands? Mindfulness, of course.

One study had individuals facing high levels of stress participate in 8 weeks of a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program. MRI scans showed a decrease in gray matter density within the right amygdala of participants (the part of the brain associated with fear).

Another study found that meditators had thicker prefrontal cortexes, the part of the brain associated with decision-making, situational awareness, and focus.

Full Article:


Top 10 Benefits of Mindfulness for Teachers


 BY JILL MANLY


Manly, Jill. “Top 10 Benefits of Mindfulness for Teachers.” JabuMind, 24 Mar. 2021, jabumind.com/top-10-benefits-of-mindfulness-for-teachers/.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

With this week being Teacher Appreciation Week, we have been reminded of all of the hard work that teachers do. With an occupation that requires you to give up so much of yourself to help others, it is important to take time for self care and self reflection.  

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