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).
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:
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
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:
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.
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