Have you ever...
... eaten a whole meal or driven to a destination, and you realize you did not taste the food, or you remember nothing about the journey to your destination?
Paying attention is a skill that we can be taught and practiced.
What are we practicing paying attention to?
Our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and the enviroment around us.
When we get frustrated because our children are not paying attention to what we are saying at home or school, we need to understand that there's something that may be pulling their attention hard to distract them and they are not even aware that it's happening.
Is this something scary, frustrating, confusing, joyful, peaceful, endearing…?
PAYING ATTENTION is essential; we need it for everything we do! The challenge? So much to pay attention to!
With Mindfulness, lots of PRACTICING paying attention.
We strengthen the muscle of attention by intentionally directing and maintaining our focus on a target.
Developing stronger SELF-AWARENESS by noticing when and why our attention has drifted away (which is expected) and kindly bringing it back to our focus of attention. Being ok with whatever shows up in our practice.
Aware of the power to SELF-REGULATE when the mind drifts in our day to day life is SELF-EMPOWERING.
Refined concentration skills significant for performance, learning, self-care, and develop better relationships.
RIGHT NOW, this present moment
is the one we seem to avoid the most!
46.9% of our waking hours, we are doing one thing
and thinking of something else.
This mind wandering leads to unhappiness.
- Harvard Gazette
Young and old our mind likes to spend lots of time in
the past and the future! Certain thoughts can trigger emotions in us that sometimes makes us do
or say things that we later regret.
"Bad behavior" is a lack of self-regulation.
Self-regulation is a skill that can be taught
Cultivating the ability to be more present,
bringing it into our day to day,
we become more effective,
make better decisions,
get along with others,
and focus on what's essential in life.
Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom."
The ability to recognize the moment of impulse
is very useful and empowering.
Have you ever...
...said something to your parent, child, student, friend, co-worker loved one that you wish you could immediately take back? Has you student, child ever said something or did something that left you with your mouth wide open?
Bringing enough space between the stimulus and reaction, we can make a more nourishing choice, a calmer choice, a choice with a better outcome.
Mindfulness supports us to be fully present in our life.
We may never be able to stop ourselves or others from being impulsive all the time, that's normal. This is where the opportunity comes in to practice the heart's qualities, like compassion, forgiveness, love, patience for ourselves and others.
“Friendship with oneself is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.”
- Eleanor Roosevelt
Have you ever...
been stuck in traffic or waiting in line that’s taking forever to move along and think to yourself:
“why is this happening to me”, “this is so horrible”,
“what’s wrong with …”
Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.
Caught up in this whirlwind of thought, criticism and expectation, suffering occurs in the heart, mind and body in that moment and possibly even afterwards.
Approaching the same experience with curiosity and kindness, students and adults
develop the capacity to navigate through
the best and the most challenging times
with more peace in our heart, mind and body.
By changing how we look at things,
we are transforming how we see, feel and think,
being kinder to ourselves and others.
"that's interesting, ...", "I wonder what is happening...",
“oh wow, my shoulders are really stiff right now…”
"what am i thinking right now..."
“I will take this moment for 3 mindful breaths” ,"
"Interesting I'm judging again..."
Will likely make the same moment be less stressful.
CURIOSITY and KINDNESS, seeing with new eyes.
We have ideas and opinions about everything!
Calculating the advantages and disadvantages of every choice we or others make at high speed.
Practicing mindfulness, we know some experiences are pleasant and some are unpleasant but on an emotional level, we don’t react, we don’t judge, we don’t try to hold on to a sensation or push away another. And when we do judge, we try not to judge ourselves for judging.
“The real journey of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in seeing with new eyes.” - Marcel Proust
Being present with an attitude of curiosity and kindness
offers students and adults an opportunity
to think about things differently.
Not numbing or not suppressing, but developing the ability to step away from habitual, often unconscious emotional and physiological reactions to life.
Mindfulness helps explore inner resources
to maximize resilience and help navigate every gift and struggle that life presents.
"All our knowledge has its origin in our perceptions.”
– Leonardo da Vinci
Formal and Informal Practice
Formal practice is intentionally setting aside a specific period to practice mindfulness. We are bringing our present moment awareness to our practice with an attitude of curiosity and kindness.
Formal mindfulness practices include:
- Mindfulness and the five senses
- Mindful eating
- Body scan mindfulness practice
- Sitting mindfulness practice
- Mindful walking practice
- Heartfulness mindfulness practice
In our formal practice, we have an object of attention, which we call our anchor. Like a boat, our anchor brings our mind back when it has drifted away from our practice.
When thoughts arise, as they inevitably will, we don’t need to judge them or try to push them away. Instead, we become aware and gently return our attention to our object of attention.
Formal practice can become an informal practice by bringing our moment to moment awareness and attitude of curiosity and kindness to any activity we are doing while doing it in everyday situations.
- A mindful meal can become a mindful bite.
- A mindful walking practice can become walking to class from their locker.
- A sitting practice can become three mindful breaths.
- A body scan mindfulness practice can become feeling the sensations of toes in shoes.
- Brushing teeth, washing hands...
Students learn to bring mindful attention to all interests they are involved in (hobbies, dance, music, sports, activities and, so on).
"Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
— Anne Lamott
Mindfulness & SEL
The more consistent we are in dedicating a little time every day to practicing mindfulness, the more we are cultivating the skills of regulating our attention,
self-awareness, emotional regulation and compassion.
“It starts with me.”
Mindfulness creates the conditions to get more familiar and comfortable with what is happening inside of us, so we are better equipped to manage what is happening to and around us.
“SEL uses an outside-in approach with a focus on building skills; Mindfulness works from the inside-out, building on everyone’s innate capacities for relationship building, such as empathy and kindness”
– Lantieri & Zakrezewski, 2015
Strengthening one’s self-regulation skill creates
the space to choose more skillfully whether we act on an impulse or choose a strategy from the social and emotional learning program.
Mindfulness and SEL support each other.
When we practice bringing an attitude of curiosity and kindness to our self, it is the opportunity to slow down to explore our relationship with ourselves which is connected to exploring
our relationship to the world around us.
With mindfulness, students and adults spend time focusing on the moment BEFORE making the decision to act, developing the skill to self-regulate emotions, impulses, and attention.
A little History
"Mindfulness is not a concept; it’s a practice."
"It is not that mindfulness is
the “answer” to all life’s problems. Rather, it is that all life’s problems
can be seen more clearly through
the lens of a clear mind."
"Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience."
"You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf."
“Just watch this moment, without trying to change it at all. What is happening? What do you feel? What do you see? What do you hear?”
Today, mindfulness has become an important influence in medicine, psychology, corporations, military and education.
Mindfulness techniques can be found in many ancient contemplative, philosophical and religious traditions worldwide practiced for thousands years including Hinduism, Buddhism, Stoicism, and indigenous traditions in Africa and the Americas.
World-renowned scientist, mindfulness teacher, and writer,
Dr. Jon Kabat Zinn, is attributed to bringing mindfulness mainstream in medicine in 1979.
Adapted to our Western lifestyle in a secular way allows for inclusivity, diversity, equity, welcoming everyone to explore and discovering the practice's gifts.
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