Neuroscience For the New Year

Happy New Year! We are busy preparing for our upcoming conference on teaching neuroscience to children. Sound like too complex a topic to be introducing to children as young as four? Well, we know the brain is a highly sophisticated organ, but we believe it is so important to have a basic knowledge of what it does that we make it a cornerstone of our work with children. Not only is mindfulness based on brain science, conflict resolution becomes a much easier task when children understand what’s going on in their brains. How do we know this? Because we’ve seen it in action, over and over, during the past decade of working with our students during Peace Class!

For our first-ever mini-conference, we’ve decided to focus on this topic in order to help other educators and parents bring this information to the children they care about. Not only will we hear from a local neuroscientist on the latest research in the field, we will also have breakout sessions for learning more about  HOW we teach this complex subject matter to elementary-aged children. For the New Year, resolve to bring this important information to your students. Reserve your spot today at Eventbrite! 

Thank you to our generous sponsors:

December’s Monthly Mindful Moment: The Web of Gratitude

During December, our focus on Gratitude continues with a new mindfulness practice called the Web of Gratitude. In Peace Class we’ve been teaching our students to think about people or things they are grateful for.  Gratitude practice has been shown to be a powerful practice for personal happiness, and an important way to balance our tendency to focus on what could be better, instead of what is good in the present moment. So go ahead and give it a try yourself:

You can imagine that the little hearts are like picture frames and we are putting pictures of those for whom we are grateful in the heart frames.

Let’s start out by thinking about someone at home that you are thankful, or grateful for.  Someone who helps you and is kind to you. Imagine that they are in one of the little hearts in your web of gratitude.  Let’s send some thanks for that person. As you breathe in think “Thank you”. And as you breathe out think, “Thank you”.

Next let’s think about another kid at school.  A friend or classmate who is kind to you. Imagine that they are in one of the little hearts in your web of gratitude.  Let’s send some thanks that person. As you breathe in think “Thank you”. And as you breathe out think, “Thank you”.

Now let’s think about a grown up at school.  Someone who is kind to you and helps you. Someone you are grateful to have in your life. Imagine that they are in one of the little hearts in your web of gratitude.  Let’s send some thanks to that person. As you breathe in think “Thank you”. And as you breathe out think, “Thank you”.

Maybe there is a special animal in your life.  Maybe a pet or a stuffed animal or an animal in the wild.  Imagine that special animal in your web of gratitude. As you breathe in think “Thank you”. And as you breathe out think, “Thank you”.

Now let’s think about something in nature that you are grateful for.  Maybe there is a special tree that you love or a flower or the ocean or the moon or snow…  Choose something from nature to put into your web of gratitude. As you breathe in think “Thank you”. And as you breathe out think, “Thank you”.

Now this time you can think about anyone or anything that you are feeling grateful to have in your life.  Imagine adding that person or thing to your web of gratitude. As you breathe in think “Thank you”. And as you breathe out think, “Thank you”.

Take a moment to soak in this feeling of gratitude.  Notice what it feels like in your body to be grateful and to say thank you. Remember that you can do this practice on your own anytime.

-Linda & the Peace of Mind Team

November’s Monthly Mindful Moment

This is the time of year the days start flying by: time changes, darkness comes quickly, and pre-holiday madness is already swelling. When life feels hectic and busy, that’s the perfect time to Take Five! This simple mindfulness practice involves one hand and your five fingers. Using belly breaths (aka Flower Breaths), use the index finger of one hand to trace the outline of the other hand. Starting at the base of the thumb, breathe in as you trace your finger up, and breathe out as you trace down the other side. Repeating this for each finger leads to five slow, deep breaths. When we teach kids to Take Five, they have an always-accessible tool to remind them of one way to calm down. Kids love to “do it by myself,” and this practice helps them have a little independence in trying to self-calm. Give it a try yourself, and you might find you feel a little less stressed and in control of your day, too. Taking Five is a great practice for all of us!

Jillian & the Peace of Mind Team 

Have you heard about Peace of Mind’s first ever Mini-Conference on Budding Brains? Tickets and more information can be found here!

Your Monthly Mindful Moment

Happy October! The first week of the month is when we will always feature a new mindfulness practice (if you missed last month’s Heartfulness practice, check it out here!)

We started out this month in an exciting way –  with Linda featured on today’s WUSA 9’s morning show, Great Day Washington! She spoke about the benefits of teaching mindfulness to children and the big impact this can have on school climate and culture. Linda appeared along with Harriet Sanders, President and CEO of the National Education Association Foundation (NEAF). On Friday, Linda will be opening the NEAF symposium Keeping the Promise of Public Education with a short talk on mindfulness. She’ll be joined by other speakers such as noted author  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Kind Bar founder Daniel Lubetzky. You can tune in to this exciting event by signing up for the livestream here. 

Today’s mindful moment practice conveys the most basic acts of mindfulness meditation – deep belly breathing. To teach this skill to children, we call it taking “Flower Breaths.” First, we use our finger as an imaginary flower. Inhaling deeply, we “smell the flower” for several seconds. Once our bellies are full, we exhale by gently “blowing the petals” on our flower for as long as possible. Then we do it again! Children can easily grasp the basic actions of belly breathing – in through the nose, out through the mouth – with Flower Breaths.

 You might try putting your hands on your belly while you breathe in, and notice how it fills with air. As you breathe out, the belly becomes soft again. Try it with your own child and see how easy it is to have a mindful moment with Flower Breaths.  We hope this simple practice brings you and your children peace – and a little fun, too!

.Jillian & the Peace of Mind Team – Follow us on Twitter @peaceofmindorg

A Pint of Peace: Heartfulness

Welcome to our new blog for the school year. This brief format will feature mindfulness practices, short anecdotes from our own teaching practices, updates on our new venture, Kaleidoscope Kids Club, and answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Peace of Mind. 

The first week of the month we will always feature a simple mindfulness practice. This week we are introducing the practice of Heartfulness (#2 in our series of the new poster.) Why start with number 2, you might ask? Why indeed – TODAY is the day our new storybook about Heartfulness was officially released: Henry is Kind by Linda Ryden. It’s an adorable story about the power of Heartfulness. We will share more about that soon, but for today let’s just take a moment to make the world a little better and to send some kind thoughts. Heartfulness is one of the many mindfulness practices taught through the Peace of Mind curriculum. 

Heartfulness means thinking about a person and thinking kind thoughts for them. Start by thinking about someone who makes you happy. It could be a friend, a teacher, someone in your family, or even a pet. Put your hand over your heart and say these words while you think about your person:

 “May you be happy.”

“May you be healthy.”

“May you be peaceful.”

Take a moment to notice how you feel. Any way you feel is fine, even if you feel nothing. You can repeat this practice while thinking about other special people, yourself, or everyone in the world. If you’d like, you can follow along with Linda in the video below:

Thanks for reading/watching/practicing with us! May YOU be happy, may YOU be healthy and strong, and may YOU be peaceful. We hope you have a wonderful week!

-Jillian  & the Peace of Mind Team