Practices of 2017 based on MindUp Curriculum

Feb. 5, 2017: Learning about the Brain

Our first practice started with 8 kids and the MindUP curriculum.

Feb. 12, 2017: Mindful & Unmindful Actions

Onward with the MindUP Curriculum.  We differentiated mindful vs. unmindful actions.  Learned about the likely consequences of unmindful action. We ended the session with a 6 min. guided mediation leading to calm minds.

Feb. 26, 2017: Reactive vs. Reflective

Today we talked about being reactive vs. reflective.  We learned to do deep belly breathing while using dominos to watch our belly go up in our in-breath and down on our out-breath.  The group was encouraged to use Journal writing this week focusing on how mindful we were or could have been at an incident in our life.

March 12, 2017: Non-Violent Communication - Feelings Cards

Today we talked about our feelings and mindfulness.  We shared our journals and used Grok kids (NVC) cards to separate difficult feelings (anger) from easy feelings (happy) and some in-between feelings (bored).

March 26, 2017: Mindful Listening (session 4) 

Our brain focuses on listening to what we tell it is important.  Reticular Activating System you tube video.

We practiced The Listening Walk and a Sitting Meditation in the tree house.

April 2, 2017: Mindful Listening again

We focused again on Mindful Listening, Session 4, as it is one of the most important senses in mindful communication that directly impacts relationships.

 

We read the book The Three Questions that emphasized the idea of listening to and doing what is present in the here and now.

April 9, 2017: Mindful Seeing

We moved to Mindful Seeing, Session 5.  We used the "Just Breathe" refresher on breathing, the amygdala and the PFC (Pre-frontal Cortex).  Our Mindful Seeing exercises consisted of focusing in outside settings and also within interior spaces while noticing colors.

April 30, 2017: Power of our Brain

Today we practiced with the Children's group at Jade Buddhist Temple in West Houston.  

 

We began with a walking and sitting meditation and then moved on to learning about the body senses including the power of our brain and cultivating our thoughts for mindful living in the present moment.

May 14, 2017: Being Happy & Healthy

Today we practiced with the Children's group at Jade Buddhist Temple in West Houston.  

Ven. Hung 1 shared some thoughts with the children, including: 

  • Be Happy

  • Smile, it helps others lighten themselves also

  • Eat Healthy foods good for your body

  • Exercise to be strong

May 21, 2017: Mindful Seeing

Today we practiced Mindful Seeing!  Erica led us in a mindfulness practice of exercising our brain to mindfully see into images.  Mindful seeing allows our brain the capacity to focus

May 28, 2017: Mindful Smelling

Today we practiced Mindful Smelling!  We did a smelling walk, inspired by the book The Listening Walk.  The group focused on smelling nature, including trees and vegetables.

We also learned about the memory center and the hippocampus and the smell center in the brain are close to each other.  A whiff of a familiar smell can trigger memories, and experiencing positive memories releases dopamine.

June 4, 2017: Pebble Meditation & Mindful Tasting

Sarah led us through making felt bags for the pebbles.  The children picked 4 pebbles each representing: Mountain, Flower, Water and Space.  After the Pebble Meditation the children mindfully (and ever so slowly) felt and tasted one grape and one marshmallow.

June 11, 2017: Mindful Movements I

Erica led us through a mindful movements session.  The kids enjoyed reading Giraffes Can't Dance, and learning we each have our own way of being.  We also read Down by the Cool or the Pool.  And we ended the session with Sport Yoga and Kinza & Aliza led poses. 

August 13, 2017:  Perspective Taking

We learned about perspective and how our own view may be very different from those of others.  The ability to see things from others' perspective can help turn our reactions to reflections as the Pre-Frontal Cortex (wise leader) is engaged rather than the Amygdala (security guard).

September 10, 2017:  Choose Optimism

This session was with some new friends to the MindUp Curriculum, so we had a quick review of the function of our Brain (security guard and wise leader), Mindfulness (to be aware), and then went on to our practice of Hope (choosing optimism).  We learned about Neuroplasticity and the ability of our brain to rewire  as we learn a new skill, for example going from negative (pessimistic) thinking to hopeful (optimistic) thinking.  Optimistic thinkers are happier, healthier and more successful.  Optimistic thinking helps us solve problems where as pessimistic thinking shuts down our higher level thinking and limits our problem solving ability. 

September 24, 2017:  Choose Optimism II

Strategies to boost positive self-talk, good feelings and optimistic thoughts: 

  • Perspective taking (see things from another viewpoint) 

  • Replace negative thought with positive. 

  • Examine the negative thought with the evidence from the past or current reality. 

  • Distract the negative feelings by doing something that makes you feel good (for example, playing music, singing, dancing, joke telling, etc.) 

  • Know that worry is a feeling that will pass 

  • Do some deep mindful breathing 

Videos: Viewed you tube - How to Defeat Negative Thoughts and Neuroplasticity 

Books Read: Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend; Yesterday I Had the Blues;  Rosie Revere, Engineer 

 

All participants agreed they would prefer to be around optimistic thinkers instead of pessimistic thinkers and would so try to be optimistic thinkers themselves!

October 15, 2017:  Appreciating Happy Experiences

Erica led the group in learning of the value of recalling happy experiences from the past to help our present moment.  Reflecting on our favorite happy memories releases the feel-good hormone, dopamine.  Our body responds in much the same way if we having a happy experience in the present moment or we are recalling one from memory.  “The strategy of recalling favorite memories can help with goals such as:

  • Cultivating optimism

  • Alleviating negativity

  • Priming brain for learning new material

  • Generating ideas from past experiences

  • Boosting our physical health

Children can learn to appreciate happy memories to help overcome specific negative feelings, such as sadness or insecurity. “ (pg. 118)

October 29: Expressing Gratitude 

We started the circle with passing around a gratitude stone.  Each participant mentioned one experience that gave them a sense of gratitude.  We also engaged memory recall about when/ where we expressed gratitude to someone. 

 

Brain Connection: We learned gratitude is a way of thinking and feeling.  It can be an expression of our thanks.  It triggers calming branch of the automatic nervous system.  Being in the state of gratitude releases dopamine, the feel good chemical in our body, which also enables the pre-frontal cortex thinking.   

 

YouTube support: We saw short clips of Moving Art about feeling gratitude everyday, the Science of Gratitude and Gratitude is Good For You

 

Craft: Building a gratitude tree.  When we focus on the people, places and things we are grateful for, our happiness increases.  Picked two people kids were grateful for and came up with ideas of how to express their gratitude. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books: The Thankful Book, Feeling Thankful, I'm Thankful Each Day & The Important Book. 

 

Ideas to exercise the gratitude muscle:  

Create a gratitude album 

Have a gratitude journal 

Gratitude walk: write or draw what you're grateful for 

Express Gratitude: doing a tree for someone else or creating a tree for self or family 

Write and deliver thank you cards 

Post it: spread message around home, friends, school and teachers 

Create gratitude jars through the year 

Play "The Best Thing about … is..." Game (follow The Important Book) 

Read books on thankfulness 

Lesson 14: Kindness Counts (Nov. 12, 2017) 

We began with our working knowledge of kindness and acts of kindness.  It is part of our living working knowledge.  The session introduced the notion of IQ and EQ.  Emotional intelligence is about understanding feelings of others and caring about other people's welfare (compassion).    Practicing empathy and compassion (kindness) has an emotional impact on others.   Practicing kindness strengthens our ability to understand other people's emotions, which is important for group play and later group work. 

 

Brain Connection: Our brain releases the feel good chemical, dopamine, when we are engaged in helping others (performing acts of kindness).  Our brain likes it when we are nice to others. 

 

We worked on examples of what self care, kindness actions towards ourselves, may look like.   

 

We built a Kindness Counts web with internal reflection on self care and then external care, acts of kindness towards others including some of our challenging friendships or relationships. 

 

Craft: Kindness Tree and Kindness Web. 

Book: Cara's Kindness

 

Action choices: for performing Acts of Kindness 

  • Pick 2 people to do acts of kindness for that are easy and close to you;  

  • pick 1 challenging relation to do an act of kindness for; and  

  • pick 1 unknown/ random individual (elderly neighbor, other) or organization that helps others you don't know.   

  • Practice smiling more today and notice what happens.  Write a poem, song, or story about the power of a smile. 

  • Journal page about Kindness Counts 

  • Create a Kindness jar for acts throughout the year 

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