#ignitepotential

Take TWO Minutes

Eric Jensen writes, “Some of the smartest things teachers can do are the simplest.” In a culture where we tend to over complicate, this is a fabulous reminder.

When I am working with teachers, staff, and administrators the statement I hear over and over again is, “there is not enough time.” And I get it!  Planning, learning standards, constant additions of a new curriculum, new apps, new resources, preparing students for testing and all while managing the diversity of students and balancing demands of personal and professional life. There is a lot going on. 

So I understand when I am introducing the benefits of breath, movement, and mindfulness that the first response is often, “and how am I going to fit that into my day?” And my answer is, “taking 2 to 5 minutes at the beginning of any lesson plan to breathe and move, prepares students for learning, increases student focus, and decreases behavior challenges that arise during teaching time.”

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Two Meditations to Cultivate Compassion

Loving Kindness Meditation

In the Loving Kindness meditation we practice sending love out into the world.  It is a practice that helps us cultivate compassion.  This meditation is non-judgmental, we send out kindness, love, and good thoughts without concern of whether or not someone deserves or has earned the kindness and love.  We just give, unconditionally. You can simplify the words, the length of practice, and practice this meditation even with very young children.  If you are teaching this meditation to your class, you could have the students design their own Metta (loving-kindness)  phrases to repeat at each stage – what kindness, what good would they like to send out to those around them?  Come to a comfortable seat and relax your hands down into your lap, right handover left with thumbs touching, palms face down on your thighs or back of hands-on thighs first finger and thumb touching.

Imagine a person you love very much, feel your love in heart, in your body and send these words  to them:

May you be safe and protected
May you be free from harm
May you be healthy and strong
May you be physically healthy and free from pain
May you be truly content
May you be deeply peaceful
May you live with ease
May you have acceptance of self and others
May you have abundance in love

Simplified version:
May you be safe
May you be well
May you be happy
May you live with ease


Continue in this manner and imagine:
Friends and Family
Community/Neighborhood
Country/Area of the world
A person you are challenged by, in conflict with, holding anger toward

Bring your hands over heart if they are not there and send love to YOURSELF and send the words to yourself.

Stay here in meditation for as long as you need following your breath and feeling peaceful and at ease.

Tonglen Meditation

This is a practice that helps us to cultivate compassion and empathy for those around us who may be suffering, experiencing sorrow or feeling pain. Tonglen is a visualization practice that means “giving and taking.”  We breathe in, taking the suffering, sorrow, or pain in with our breath, and we breathe out compassion and understanding. I use this practice personally and would suggest practicing with students 7th grade and older.

Come to a comfortable seat and begin to connect to your breath. Bring your hands to your heart and say to yourself these words.

  • May I be safe
  • May I be well
  • May I be happy
  • May I live with ease

Now relax your hands down into your lap and picture an image of the person who is suffering standing in front you. Imagine a dark cloud around them that is their suffering sorrow or pain.

As you inhale, imagine breathing in the dark cloud. Breathe in, imagine the cloud becoming a bright, warm light of compassion in your heart.

When you exhale, breathe out the light of compassion to the person you are picturing and imagine the light washing away the suffering, sorrow, or pain.

Continue breathing in the dark cloud, turning it into a light of compassion and then sending the light back to the person in front of you.

When you are ready, come back to your own breath and then send these words to the person.

  • May you be safe
  • May you be well
  • May you be happy
  • May you live with ease

End by bringing your hands back over your heart and repeating to yourself.

  • May I be safe
  • May I be well
  • May I be happy
  • May I live with ease

Stay here in meditation for as long as you need following your breath and feeling peaceful and at ease.

Building Communities that Ignite Potential

There is immense power when a group of people with similar interests got together to work toward the same goal.

Idowu Koyenikan

The deeper I dig into my work with schools, the more I realize the need to bring tools for wellness, mental health and well-being beyond just the classroom and into the whole community and culture of the school. This includes everyone – teachers, staff, para-professionals, administrators, bus drivers, janitors, parents and families.  The mental health crisis we are now recognizing in our schools is not isolated to our children and our teens, I believe it is a poignant reflection of our society and culture at large.

It seems an overwhelming task in this light. How can we even begin to cultivate greater wellness, mental health and greater well-being, not only in our schools, but in our communities, our gathering places, and in our families? One step, one family, one community at a time. 

Imagine

Imagine the fire that could spread if we were all more daily conscious of not only who we are being, but what we are each doing to support the community around us? Imagine building communities that encourage the wellness and well-being of every individual, that ignite the potential of all of its members.

As I was contemplating this a question continued to arise: How do we create a culture of wellness and well-being? What are the components needed in a community to encourage personal growth, resilience, compassion, empathy, gratitude, innovation and inspiration? 

My thoughts…

6 Essential Components to Building a Culture Wellness and Well-Being

A Wellness Investment in EVERYONE. We cannot expect our children to embrace wellness practices if our teachers are not.  We cannot expect teachers to embrace wellness practices if school leaders are not. We cannot expect our children to communicate openly and clearly if their parents are not. Each and every member of a community must be afforded the opportunity to learn about wellness practices, practice them, and to be encouraged in an understanding of themselves and their potential for personal growth and well-being.

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