I’m well aware that mindfulness is a buzzword and I’m generally not a fan of such things. However, my dad (AKA Geoff Dean) has been espousing the virtues of being mindful and training your brain for as long as I can remember. While I’ve never successfully calmed because #WIRED, he’s helped me endlessly with my insomnia and he helped Dan to deal with his chronic pain for many, many years. So forget the buzzword and go with the ideas which underpin mindfulness, in dad’s words; when being mindful we focus our awareness on the here and the now. We observe how we feel, calmly accepting feelings and thoughts as they come and go. Mindfulness practice helps us to avoid becoming caught up in any thoughts, feelings, cravings or urges that are dominating our mind in an endless stress-producing cycle.
What I find most interesting about dad’s passion for mindfulness is that his work life is as a Professor in Policing, Security and Terrorism, specializing in violet extremism. For someone who spends much of his life researching a terribly negative aspect of the world, he’s an exceptionally calm person, which I can only put down to how much energy he also puts into his mindfulness practice. His latest venture is the SAVE network, which you can read more about here. At the end of this post is a downloadable ‘Mindfulness Card’ he made to use with a number of us in the family who need a bit of mindfulness (no names mentioned). If you’re keen on all things community safety, go like and share his SAVE Facebook page, mainly because I’m managing it and I want some more likes on it #socialmediamanager.
‘Travel lightly in all things in this world, for you are only a pilgrim passing through.’ Geoff Dean
Linked to this post is my post last week on ‘Yoga Books for Kids’.
At school this year we are incorporating mindfulness ideas into our planning and teaching as part of our social and emotional learning program and Michelle Hancock from Merge conducted a PD session on how this might ‘look’ in a school context. As part of this process I have been sourcing resources for the school library and my absolute favourites are below. Click on titles or cover images to read more or purchase.
On the home front, I’ve recently starting using ‘Dream Puffs’ as a mindfulness and sleep aid for the girls (I probably need one for myself actually – I need all the calming tricks!). These gorgeous little creatures were designed by two sisters and, together with their mum, they hope to spread calmness and tranquility far and wide – check them out here and on Facebook and Instagram. There is a huge amount of information on mindfulness on the My Dream Puff website and the actual puffs come with guided meditations and detailed instructions and ideas for use. My girls use them as part of their bedtime routine – telling them all the things they hope to dream about as they sleep. ChickPea also likes to hold hers when she sits in the zen garden with papa (my dad) and they do their little mindfulness routines. It’s nice to have a soft object to hold, and one which signifies that this is a time to be calm and to be mindful. Or sleep…
When the world feels chaotic, find peace within through an accessible mindfulness practice from the bestselling picture-book dream team that brought us I Am Yoga. Express emotions through direct speech. Find empathy through imagination. Connect with the earth. Wonder at the beauty of the natural world. Breathe, taste, smell, touch, and be present. Perfect for the classroom or for bedtime, Susan Verde’s gentle, concrete narration and Peter H. Reynolds’s expressive watercolor illustrations bring the tenets of mindfulness to a kid-friendly level. Featuring an author’s note about the importance of mindfulness and a guided meditation for children, I Am Peace will help readers of all ages feel grounded and restored.
This is a slim little softcover picture book, but there is much to found inside it’s pages. I’d prefer it as a large format hardcover book, but I’ll take it for now! I have read it to Kindy – Year Six students this last week and found it has just worked on so many levels. Preps and ones have contributed leaves to a mindfulness tree and written on these things they do when they ‘take the time’ to stop, listen and experience life. With older grades we’ve talked about why, why. Why we need to slow down and become deliberate with our day-to-day actions and thoughts. Really like this book…super simple and short in some respects, but very child friendly and lots of great conversation starters.
You can read my full review of this book here and see some of the internal images. ‘Making Mindful Magic’ is by Lea McKnoulty, a former early childhood teacher and founder of a children’s arts festival. Lea is keen observor of the evolution of family life and the postivie benefits of mindfulness for families. She says: I see mindfulness as threefold. Firstly there is the pure mindful meditation time, when thoughts can dissipate, when real quiet can be found – bliss, really! Then there is the mindfulness that relates to being fully present with whatever you are doing at any particular time; not thinking about what happened in the past and not contemplating what might happen in the future. The third prong is about living a mindful life. This means to me that you are consciously making decisions about what you eat, where you buy your food, what products you choose to use in your house and on your body, the list is endless when you really begin to explore the notion of living mindfully.
This boxed card deck includes 50 creative mindfulness games, visualizations and exercises divided into 5 categories to help children feel grounded, find calm, improve focus, practice loving-kindness and relax. Whimsical full-color illustrations on both sides of the cards break down each practice into easy-to-follow steps. Tips on individual cards plus an 8-page instructional booklet show modifications that make these activities inclusive for children of all abilities.‘Mindful Games’
A playful approach for cultivating mindfulness in kids, with fifty simple games to develop attention and focus, and identify and regulate emotions. Playing games is a great way for kids to develop their focusing and attention skills and to become more mindful. Susan Kaiser Greenland has had a lot of success bringing mindfulness to the classroom, and in this book she shares her experience, showing how parents, caregivers, and teachers can cultivate these qualities at home or in a school setting. She includes fifty mindfulness games that develop what Greenland calls the “new A, B, C’s” for learning and for a happy and successful life: Attention, Balance, and Compassion. ‘Sitting Still Like a Frog’
Simple mindfulness practices to help your child (ages 5-12) deal with anxiety, improve concentration, and handle difficult emotions. Includes a 60-minute audio CD of guided exercises. This little book is an introduction to mindfulness meditation for children and their parents. In a simple and accessible way, it describes what mindfulness is and how mindfulness-based practices can help children calm down, become more focused, fall asleep more easily, alleviate worry, manage anger, and generally become more patient and aware.
In Is Nothing Something? Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh answers heartfelt, difficult, and funny questions from children of all ages. Illustrated with original full-color artwork by Jessica McClure, Is Nothing Something? will help adults plant the seeds of mindfulness in the young children in their lives. Beginning with the most basic questions, “What is important in life?” and “Why is my brother mean to me?” and progressing through issues that we all wrestle with, such as “How do I know if I really love somebody?”, “How long am I going to live?”, and “What does God look like?”, each page presents a question with a short answer from Thich Nhat Hanh, appropriate for beginning readers to work with on their own.
What can you hear when you are completely silent? Beautifully illustrated and gently written, Silence encourages children to stop, listen, and reflect on their experiences and the world around them. Using qualities of mindfulness, readers are asked to pay attention to what otherwise gets drowned-out in our noisy environment and use those sounds as a means to develop imagination and curiosity, and learn a little more about themselves.
A Handful of Quiet presents one of the best known and most innovative meditation practices developed by Thich Nhat Hanh as part of the Plum Village community’s practice with children. This is a teeny tiny little book, possibly better suited to home use, although I’ve been using it in the library too. Pebble meditation is a playful and fun activity that parents and educators can do with their children to introduce them to meditation. It is designed to involve children in a hands-on and creative way that touches on their interconnection with nature. Practicing pebble meditation can help relieve stress, increase concentration, nourish gratitude, and can help children deal with difficult emotions.
Social stories are a wonderful way for children to explore learning and mindfulness. Children love to tell stories, role-play stories and teach others what they learn from stories. Research supports that mindful meditation calms the brain, inspires creativity and enhances cognitive and social-emotional skills. The reflections in The Magic Box incorporate simple relaxation exercises and visualizations designed to improve children’s self-esteem and confidence and reduce stress and anxiety. Practiced regularly, these exercises can have a profound effect on children’s mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.‘Mindfulness and Yoga in Schools’
A research-based text intended to help teachers and practitioners implement mindfulness and yoga programs in schools. A complete review of the literature on mindfulness and yoga interventions is provided along with detailed steps on how to implement such programs. Training requirements, classroom set-up, trauma-sensitive practices, and existing quality programs are reviewed. Twelve core principles of mindfulness and yoga in schools are woven throughout for the utmost in continuity. As a whole, the book provides tools for enhancing classroom and school practices as well as personal well-being. It is distinguished by its emphasis on research, translation of research into practice, and insight into potential roadblocks when using mindfulness and yoga in schools.And because I love any excuse for a new essential oil purchase, here are my fav oils and diffusers, from Lime Tree Kids. Again, my girls associate some of these essential oils with sleep or with mindfulness now as we use them as part of their routine. I live in hope my children will turn into calm and peacful beings, until then I’ll just diffuse ALL the oils. Downloadable ‘Mindfulness Card’ here: Daily Practice Card_(Mindfulness for Stress Reduction)Enter code ‘Children’s Books Daily’ on any Oh My Giddy Aunt purchase to receive a free silver charm.Booktopia. You can also compare prices on Fishpond and Bookworld for Australian purchases.If you live in the US or would prefer to use Amazon click here. If you live in the UK or would prefer to use Book Depository click here. Purchases clicked through from the Children’s Books Daily site result in a small commission. Commission is used in part to maintain Children’s Books Daily and to support community groups which connect children with books.