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A Meditation For Winter

A Meditation For Winter

I love winter. This has not always been the case. I lived the first part of my adult life disliking winter. I would start to complain as the last of the leaves were raked up and put into the compost pile. I would complain about how cold my bed was when I got in at night and how cold my room was in the morning. I cussed under my breath while clearing my windshield of snow after a quick run into the supermarket. I told animated stories highlighting my struggle to drive while adorned with my layers of winter gear. Complaining about winter became my favorite pastime. I was miserable and cold from early December through the end of March and I did not hesitate to engage anyone I met in conversation about just how much winter sucked. My family planned winter vacations in warmer locations and I would engage strangers on the beach to express my dislike for northern winters hoping they would agree so we could commiserate. I was very happy in my unhappiness and no one could convince me to change to my thoughts on the struggle of winter. 

 

As I remember it, gratitude was the theme of Christmas 1995 or 1996. I am sure the theme was sparked by something Oprah Winfrey wrote or had on her show.  A close friend gave me the book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach. It was a pretty pink, hardcover book. The author had thoughtfully laid it out as a yearly planner filled with daily inspirational quotes, journal prompts, and space dedicated to gratitude, naturally. It was designed so you could start anywhere, any day. I endeavored to complete the book, to read it and write in it every day of the coming year. This would be my year of gratitude. I purchased a new pen. I placed the book on my nightstand. I looked at the book every night for six months before finally putting it on the shelf, having never written a word. The book did, however, change my life. I did not write down the many things that brought me joy, but every night, while looking at the book on the shelf, I quietly acknowledged all the beauty and joy present in my life. How beautiful the snowfall was at night when illuminated by the outside lights. How quiet the world was when snow blanketed the ground. How beautiful the birds looked against the stark winter backdrop. That book shifted my perspective, not just on winter, but on every season of my life. 

 

Gratitude and mindfulness are complimentary. When I focus mindfully on gratitude it opens up space for me to have emotions about the weather, or a season, and accept them, not get stuck in them. I still do not like being cold, but I am grateful for the blanket that brings me warmth. I would like to offer you a short mindful meditation on gratitude for winter. I hope that focusing on gratitude and joy will bring you more happiness as it has done for me. 

Listen to a guided version of Mindful Meditation for Joy (approximately 4 minutes) here or scroll on for a written version to practice independently. 

Mindful Meditation for Joy 

by Linda Snyder

 

 

 

 

I invite you to find a comfortable space where you can sit or lie down with as much support as you need. You are welcome to close your eyes or keep them open, whichever feels more comfortable for you in this moment.  

{count to 10}

Begin to bring your awareness to your body. 

Notice where your body is making contact with the supports beneath it.

{count to 10}

Notice any sensations in your body. 

{count to 20}

Notice your breath and the way it moves. 

{count to 20}

As you breath in offer gratitude for the life force entering your body

{count to 5}

As you exhale let go of any tension in your body or mind

{count to 10}

Breathe in gratitude

Exhale tension

{count to 20}

Bring to mind an image or experience from winter that brings you joy or happiness. 

Snow falling

Cuddling up in a soft blanket

A warm drink

An activity you do with friends and family

An activity you do alone

A special winter dinner

Now hold that joyful, happy image or experience in your mind.

{count to 20}

Now notice where you feel the joy, the happiness

{count to 15}

Now, with the intention of cultivating gratitude repeat silently

{count to 5}

May my happiness continue to grow

{repeat silently}

May my joy continue to grow

{repeat silently

May I appreciate the joy in my life

{repeat silently}

May I appreciate the happiness in my life

{repeat silently}

You may stay in this meditation as long as you wish. 

You may choose to bring another image or experience to mind or you may release your image and begin to bring awareness to any sounds in your environment, sensations in your body. 

In your own time, choose when you would like to open your eyes or lift your gaze and look around your space.

May your joy and happiness continue to grow.

10 Mindful Intentions To Help You Start Your Day!

10 Mindful Intentions To Help You Start Your Day!

If you are anything like me, when you wake up, it is a race against the clock. It might be lunchtime before you stop, sometimes to realize, “ This day is just whacked!”

Maybe your day could start just a little bit different. Maybe you want to be more purpose-driven. Why not tweak your morning just a bit and create a new, super easy habit?

Setting intentions each day helps you to align your values with your purpose. When you cultivate the habit of setting intentions you determine what is important, and are closer to designing the life you want to live.  Making intention setting part of your morning routine is the surest way to make sure you are moving through the day in the way you plan to move. 

Be intentional about being intentional.

Do you fall into the trap of starting the day by going through mental checklists? Your emails? By visualizing your calendar? This sends our newly awake minds and nervous systems into immediate overdrive, when what we crave and need is a little calm. 

Setting your alarm a few minutes earlier can give you the space and opportunity to sit with your thoughts for a few minutes.  Begin with a short meditation to the present moment. Writing down your intentions is another helpful trick to really imprint them on your mind. 

If setting intentions is new to you, we have some prompts to start you off. Perhaps choose a few or create some of your own.

 

  • I intend to listen to my inner wisdom
  • I intend to listen to others before I speak
  • I intend to have an open mind
  • I intend to find gratitude in this day
  • I intend to not take things personally
  • I intend to be kind
  • I intend to lean into discomfort
  • I intend to enjoy the journey
  • I intend to take a few minutes outside
  • I intend to meditate today

 

At the end of the day, when you are reflecting, self-compassion is key. It’s not about judging yourself. A mindful life is a life of contemplation and compassion.

Begin with intention and end with compassion, and soon your days become weeks of passion and purpose.

 

Mindful Holiday Survival Guide

Mindful Holiday Survival Guide

The holidays bring joy and (if we are being honest) chaos. Is your to-do list as long as mine? Our teaching schedules leave little time for holiday prep. My daughter told me I need a holiday survival guide, which got me thinking about how I could do the holidays better. 

I sat down with my afternoon cup of tea, took a deep breath, and this is what I came up with,  my eight-step Holiday Survival Guide. 

8 steps to reduce holiday stress

8 Mindful ways to reduce stress during the holidays

 

 

Practice Mindful …

  1. Decorating – Isn’t it easy to go Pinterest-crazy all the time? Especially at Christmas! Be mindful. Take a moment to plan your time and choose decorating and crafts that bring joy- in the creation, the placement, and in reflection.
  2. Lesson Planning – Add more SEL to your teaching calendar!
  3. Assessments – Why trade a holiday Zoom with friends for grading a stack of papers? Lighten up your grading load by mindfully creating student work and assessments.
  4. Commitments – Learn to say no. This is the time to focus on the basics.
  5. Thoughts – Get into the holiday spirit with our playlist and our new holiday audio meditations. Try it free using the promo code HOLIDAZE2020, and feel free to share this with a friend!
  6. Cooking – Make the slow cooker your best friend- feel that joy of effortless dinner prep. While you are at it, plan to make extra for leftovers that can morph into another dinner.
  7. Collaboration – Work with teachers on your team; many hands make light work!
  8. Delegation – Let your students help. In doing so, they are also learning mindful collaboration skills, and the work gets done. It’s all good!

Mindful SEL is paying attention on purpose. It is essential to your holiday survival, to thrival (if I may coin a new word!) during the holiday. 

Let’s connect over the holidays! Find me on Facebook and Instagram, and also look for Mind Body Align’s free resources, mindful living tips, and even playlists on our website here. Follow us on social using Facebook and Instagram.

 

 

 

 

Create Your Own Calm

Create Your Own Calm

Mindfulness isn’t a “quick fix” to solving all your problems. Instead, mindfulness is a tool kit that you can pull resources from when you’re faced with moments of stress or anxiety. You can also pull from your “mindfulness tools” to help you create more moments of calm. Try this easy writing trick before bed to help you dial into the positive and significant moments in your daily life. Eventually, you can look back on your week or month and see so many wonderful moments you can be grateful for.

Writing down just (1) positive moment from your day can have a profoundly positive effect on you.

Use one of these prompts to get you started:

Color for Calm: 3 Free Resources to Try Now!

Color for Calm: 3 Free Resources to Try Now!

Coloring can activate calm and settle your nervous system. That’s why we include it as a resource in our MBAwareness Educational Program. Teachers and students alike benefit from a few minutes of coloring for calm.

According to this article by Positive Psychology, “mindfulness coloring allows us to switch off extraneous thoughts and focus on the moment.” While you can find a “mindful coloring” book at nearly any retailer, here are a couple of our favorite online resources for kids and adults

Customize Your Kicks

Who doesn’t want the chance to customize their own Converse, Vans, Air Force Ones, and other easily recognizable sneaker silhouettes? These fun coloring pages are from Kitchen Table Classroom Just sign-up to get access to her FREE Resource Library and you can download this 5-page coloring template along with a host of other cool art and home education resources! 

 

Words to Color (and Live) By

Kristina from Planes and Balloons has created these mantra coloring sheets that are equal parts calm and empowering. You can download her FREE trio of coloring sheets with words like “Be Still” and “Just Breathe” embellished with beautiful floral patterns.

 

Color What You Love

Not seeing what you need? No problem! Jump over to Pinterest and type in something you love, (like coffee) and add in “free coloring printable” and you’ll have a plethora of options to choose from! You can even try to create your own coloring pages with apps like ReallyColor.com! Don’t forget to Follow us on Pinterest for other mindful tips and tricks! 

 

Mindful Minute: Ninja Breath

Mindful Minute: Ninja Breath

Taking just a few minutes to focus on quiet breathing techniques can transform your classroom from chaos to calm. Ninja Breath is a fun and interactive way to explore the centering nature of intentional breathing. Check out our quick video below! Be sure to share this with your students and kids. Let us know how your little ninjas enjoyed the practice by tagging us on your social media!

Looking for more classroom calm? We’ve got all the resources you need with our MBAwareness program, which is designed to help students and educators utilize various mindful practices in and out of the classroom. You can meet your Social-Emotional Learning standards and have fun doing it! Click here to learn more about the MBAwareness program!