Week #6- Mindfulness in Schools

This past week in my Learners and Learning Environments class at UVic we were talking about the benefits of teaching mindfulness in schools. Blair Stonechild, residential school survivor and Professor of Indigenous Studies at the First Nations University of Canada, describes how Indigenous Philosophy recognizes the four essential aspects of being: spiritual, emotional, physical, and intellectual. Out of those 4 aspects of being I put many hours into developing my intellectual and physical being but I spend limited time on my emotional/spiritual development. This is why I decided to learn more about mindfulness and meditation so that I could start strengthening my mind and soul. I also realized that if I am going to teach my own students about mindfulness, I first need to identify my own spirit.

Elementary school teachers have the important responsibility of educating the WHOLE student. This means teaching students not only how to read and write, but how to act socially and find their unique identities. A few techniques I learned in class to help students develop their spirits are as followed…

  • complete guided meditations with your students
  • have your students complete quiet self-reflections
  • practice respecting and acquiring other virtues (humility, honesty, bravery…)
  • take your students on nature walks & teach them that everything is a living thing & we need to respect them
  • honor our ancestors
  • teach students about emotional literacy

Any of these activities can help students identify more about who they are. It’s time parents/teachers start helping children become the best versions of themselves. Most of them time children need our help but don’t even know to ask for it.

I attached Blair Stonechild’s video if anyone is interested…


Week #5- Experiencing Happiness

Many people think that you find happiness; however, happiness isn’t a thing, so it is never lost.

Megrette Fletcher, http://www.mindful.org

Isn’t that a refreshing thing to read? You can never find happiness by looking for it, instead you should be experiencing it. So how can we experience happiness in our lives? In Megrette Fletcher’s 2018 article “Four Ways to Nourish Happiness with Mindful Eating”, she describes how the conditions for experiencing happiness can be easy to find, if we put the effort into identifying what conditions are unique to us. Although Fletcher’s article was centered around mindful eating, I found that the points she made can be applicable across anything that you think can bring you happiness. For example, Fletcher mentions that you can be experiencing happiness without even realizing it. Sometimes it just takes a moment to pause, be mindful, and notice the joy around you. Ever since I have started journalling in the mornings. I have noticed significant changes in my well-being. If you have been reading my other blog posts you know that every morning I list 3 things that I am grateful for. This has helped me to see the joy Fletcher discusses in a lot more aspects of my life. If I am having a bad day, I try to meditate and ask myself- “okay was it really all that bad?”. Often, after pausing and thinking about it I realize that my day wasn’t completely terrible and there are things that I have to be thankful for and that allowed me to experience happiness. I encourage all of you to try this next time you are having a “bad” day. Just pause and reflect on everything that happened and often you will realize that there was some good to your day after all. The more we work on realizing what brings us joy, the easier it will be to put ourselves in our unique conditions for experiencing happiness.

Week #4- 1 month into journaling

It has almost been a month since I started journaling so I wanted to do an update on how the whole experience has been for me. The journal that I decided to write in was one created by personal trainer and nutritionist, Tara Brunet, (ig-trainingbytarabrunet). In this journal, titled “January Jumpstart”, Tara helps you start your year off right with a 5-step process to identify and eventually set your goals for the year. Next, Tara has you identify limiting factors for your goals and then helps you shut them down immediately. The rest of the book is 31 pages for 31 days and each page has a workout, a section to write your daily 3 to-do’s to get yourself closer to your goals, a section to write 3 things that you are grateful for, and then some inspiration for the day. Now 28 days into the journal, I can honestly say that it has impacted my outlook on life immensely. As I touched on in my last blog post, I have found that my productivity has increased a lot because every day I am outlining what I need to accomplish that day. My self-confidence is also increasing as I set and accomplish my goals because I am becoming more like the person I want to be every day. I find Tara’s inspiration for the day has also helped me change my mindset to become more growth oriented than fixed. I highly recommend trying a journal such as Tara’s for a month and see how it impacts your life. Even if after a month you don’t notice a change or decide that it isn’t for you, at least you can tell yourself that you stuck with something for a whole month straight and you should be proud. Images below are from Tara’s facebook page where she posted the journal online for free.

cover page for the january jumpstart journal
insight into what the first few pages of the journal are like

Week #3- What You Practice Grows Stronger

In the TEDx Talk I linked above, Dr. Shauna Shapiro discusses why we should be practicing mindfulness and self-care. When Dr. Shapiro was seventeen, she had spinal fusion surgery and her whole life was turned around. Suddenly, she had to get used to living in a body that couldn’t do the same things it used to be able to do, so she turned to mindfulness to help her & never looked back. Dr. Shapiro discusses how on a mindfulness retreat in Thailand, a monk told her that “what you practice grows stronger”, and it has stuck with her ever since. As soon as I heard this, all these ideas began connecting in my head and it was like a light bulb had gone off. I remember reading studies about two growing plants- one that was told positive comments and the other was told negative comments. After a few months, the plant that was only told positive things ended up growing substantially more than the other plant. This same thing happens in our brains, but instead of plants it’s new neurons growing in response to repeated practice or “cortical thickening” as Dr. Shapiro describes it in her TEDx Talk. It’s said to take 30 days to create a new habit, so the more that we are kind to ourselves, either by saying positive things about ourselves or practicing self-care, the easier it gets. We are always growing something in our minds so it all depends on what you want to grow in life. If you want to grow your judgement, your ignorance, or your negativitiy, then keep doing those things. However, if you want to grow your compassion, your knowledge, and your positivity, then that is what you need to be practicing every day in your life.

Week #2- Why Set Goals?

Why should we set goals? Before I started my inquiry project, I never set any official goals in my life. I am a huge procrastinator and honestly I had no idea where to start. I knew that in my life I wanted to be successful, but what does that even mean? Success is subjective and so I couldn’t just ask someone else what they thought it meant. Instead, I began to brainstorm and I came up with my list- be financially stable enough to own a dog and travel every year, have a job that provides challenges for me to overcome every day, be happy and be healthy. From my definition of success, I began to develop my short and long term goals. At first, I was just creating goals for the sole purpose of creating them, but as time progressed I found that I was able to redefine my goals to become something that I actually really want to accomplish.

retrieved from https://clickbrain.com/strategy/13-damn-good-reasons-to-write-the-damn-business-plan/

Since I’ve adopted goal setting into my life I’ve noticed that my happiness, productiveness & time management skills have all increased. I now love the feeling of setting goals and accomplishing them and all I want to do is set more. Goal setting has also allowed me to discover more about who I am as a person and I have found my confidence has grown a lot. Still not convinced that goal setting is for you? Here are a few resources that I really enjoyed.

Week #1- The Beginning

For my open inquiry project I decided to learn about the benefits of mindfulness & goal setting in one’s life. From http://www.mindful.org, Mindfulness is “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us”. To me, that basically means being aware of your daily thoughts and emotions and training your brain to best deal with them. I have always been an anxious person so learning about how to be more cool, calm and collected, immediately sparked my interest. Over the next few months I will be monitoring my growth as an individual as I learn more about what exactly mindfulness is and how it can benefit my life. I also will be working on setting goals for myself and how that changes my mindset. To do this, I will be keeping a journal and writing in it every morning with 3 short-term goals for the day & 3 things that I am grateful for.