The October parent support group meeting featured a presentation on mindfulness. These are the notes from that meeting.
The CAP Team works out of the Black Gold School Division. (CAP stands for Community Attachment Purpose). Two members of CAP came to the parent support meeting to talk about mindfulness: SAM Boss-Bischoff and Meghan Parry.
Mindfulness is being in the moment, paying attention to where we are, at each moment. When playing, just play. When working, just work. Work on paying attention to what we are doing and who we are with.
They pointed us to various resources:
- We watched the Just Breathe video. It’s awesome and under 4 minutes long. Watch it with your kids!
- SAM read us a great book: Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda. It’s available at EPL.
- Another great video to share with younger children is Cookie Monster singing “Me want it (but me wait).”
- They spoke about the MindUP program, a curriculum program developed in part by Goldie Hawn. We watched about 10 minutes of a TEDMED talk that Hawn gave with researcher Dan Spiegel. The curriculum books are published by Scholastic and are available on Amazon for $20 to $30 each: Grades PreK-2; Grades 3-5; and Grades 6-8.
- Another video they thought worthwhile was Jon Kabat-Zinn speaking about mindfulness in education.
A key point made was that stress blocks learning.
Our prefrontal cortex is like a wise owl. Just behind it is our amygdala, which is like a guard dog. Once our guard dog is activated, we can become stuck and our bodies process information using fight, flight (run), or freeze. This is sometimes what happens with exam stress, where you lose access to all that you know or studied. The amygdala doesn’t know the difference between a spelling test or a bear chasing us! We need to breathe and calm the dog down.
Happy and engaged kids have more dopamine (a needed neurotransmitter).
Glitter in a jar is a good metaphor for a busy, stressed mind. Our speakers brought several jars; they use different colours for different kinds of worries. Kids or adults can shake it up: then breathe as you watch it settle. You can use different amounts of glue in the jar to make the glitter settle more or less quickly. Here are some instructions.
Our speakers gave an important tip: be sure to use a plastic bottle as they don’t break. (It’s a nasty mess to clean up.) They used warm water, clear craft glue, glitter glue, and different colours of Glitter.
Mindful breathing. 10 mindful breaths is a good number.
- Hoberman Sphere. See one on the Amazon site.
- Beanie Baby Breathing: sit the stuffie on your stomach. Take it for a ride, on a wave. This breathing buddy helps smooth out your breathing. At the end, turn on your side and curl around the Beanie Baby while taking calming, deep breaths.
- Blooming hands. Opening hands from yoga pinch to wide-spread fingers, in time with breathing in. Then close them again when you breathe out. (This image shows the “yoga pinch.”)
- Tracing hands. Breathe in as you go up one finger and then out as you trace down.
Use a “singing bowl” to practice mindful listening. Hit a metal bowl with a wooden spoon. Have your child open his or her eyes when the sound is finished. This is a good grounding exercise.
5,4,3,2,1 Exercise. Name 5 things you can see. Then 4 things you can hear. 3 things you can feel. 2 things you can taste. 1 thing you can smell.
Mindfulness exercise: Eating one raisin (http://hfhc.ext.wvu.edu/r/download/114469).
Mindfulness Summit: Free for the month of October 2015.
You could ground yourself each time you look at the clock or a watch/phone. Say a mantra at those mindful times. “Honest but kind,” for instance. Breathing is the best way to ground yourself. A good way to mindfulness.
You might want to look for the book, 10 Mindful Minutes, by Goldie Hawn with Wendy Holden.
One participant noted that the film, Kung Fu Panda, has some good ideas to open the discussion with your kids.
The CAP Team is willing to come out to make their presentation to parent councils.
SAM’s contact information is:
Tel: 780-955-6111 (Nisku, AB)
SAM is a Registered School Psychologist working in Black Gold Regional Schools. She is also the Project Coordinator for The CAP Team, one of 38 Mental Health Capacity Building Teams in the province of Alberta.