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Back to School Mindfulness Routines

Mindfulness is the practice of being aware and intentional with yourself and others. Mindfulness practices can transform your personal life and your classroom community! Ohm & Teaching and I teamed up to share our top tips for establishing mindfulness routines. 

1. Body Scans
Body scans allow you to tune into how your body is feeling. A body scan can balance your nervous systems, lower blood pressure, and promote a sense of gratitude. During a body scan you'll become aware of sensations in your body and just notice--without judgement. You can do body scans in the morning when you first wake up, at night right before bed, or throughout the day to check in with your body. Here's how to do it:

Begin by taking gentle inhales and exhales, bringing awareness to your body. You may want to be in a comfortable seated position, or lay gently on your back. Close your eyes or keep a soft gaze and begin to check-in with your body, noticing how you feel today. Starting from your toes or from the crown of your head, scan your body and observe what you feel. Where are you holding tension? Where could you soften? Allow your muscles to relax. Where do you feel neutral? What does your breath feel like? Is it gentle, is it shallow or somewhere in between? Notice your heart beat. Maybe even place your hands on your heart to feel your heartbeat and bring to mind something you're grateful for. Continue scanning your body for sensations or feelings of contentment for as long as you'd like. When your ready, slowly wiggle fingers and toes to being awareness back to your space.

2. Self Care Schedule
Teaching is all about taking care of others; meeting our students at their different levels and helping each child grow to be their best: mentally, physically and spiritually.  However, before we can better serve our students, it’s necessary to serve ourselves. The key to creating work life balance is establishing a self care routine.  Whether it’s an evening walk, sweating in a group class, finding peace on your mat, or simple alone time, scheduling time  to check in with YOU is a sure way to make it routine. Majority of your days are scheduled around others. Taking a small percentage of your day to take care of YOU isn’t selfish - it’s necessary.   As self care becomes more routine in your life, you’ll notice a natural increase in its frequency.  While you still take that scheduled class or alone time, now you’ll also experience in-the-moment reflections and deep breaths, your body’s own way of taking care of itself. When you authentically show up for yourself, you authentically show up for your students.

3. Food Awareness
When it comes to mindful eating, remember the power of simplicity.  In a world where looking left tells you one way is healthy, and looking right tells you another, it’s important to listen to your body.  Just like we no two children learn the same way….no two bodies digest food the same way. Mindful eating should be thought of as a self care routine - the food you are putting in your body is fuel; it’s your way of honoring and respecting your body and all it does for you day in and day out. To help you mindfully eat, think who? what? where? when? why? How? Without the attachment of judgement. 
1 Who made this food? Is it locally sourced? Is it a big company? 
2 What is in this food? Are there ingredients I would need to google? Can I count the number of ingredients on my hand? 
3 Where am I eating? Am I in a comfortable spot? Am I standing? Is my mind present?
4 When am I eating? Am I eating because I’m hungry? Or am I eating when food is available?
5 Why do I want this food? Is there an underlying emotion? Or is this food going to serve my body?
6 How will my body respond to this food? Will it help me grow? Will it give me energy?  Will I feel sluggish, feel a crash or feel bloated from this food?

Again, answer these questions authentically without judgement.  When you take the time to build awareness in what you’re putting into your body, you’ll notice a tremendous difference in the energy you’re putting out. 

4. Daily Gratitude
Intentional gratitude practice allows our mind to shift from a mindset of lack to a mindset of abundance, regardless of your circumstances. Gratitude practice lowers stress, helps maintain calmness and allows us to focus on what really matters. Gratitude practice isn’t always easy but it is doable. The key is to make it a habit and back to school season is the perfect time to start!
Here are some tips for practicing gratitude:
● Keep a gratitude journal for yourself and allow students to practice gratitude journaling as well
● Create a gratitude jar for your home and classroom
● Create a gratitude list using a note-taking app or list app on your phone
● Add a gratitude section to your planner

5. Language & Affirmations
Our words are powerful.  The language we use shapes our thoughts and actions.  Being able to recognize the positivity and negativity attached to our words plays a role in both self care and impact.  Most of our language is socialized and used unconsciously - we don’t even think about it.  Making our language conscious allows for us to understand it’s impact. It makes us aware of how we place thoughts and situations into categories, like “good” or “bad.”  Imagine if we simply replaced these words with “helpful” and “unhelpful” allowing us to think about how our words and actions serve us, rather than allow them to bring about judgement.  Take the time to recognize how your language leads to a stream of thoughts or attaches you to emotions.  Bringing awareness to this allows you to detach from the unhelpful. Positive affirmations are just one example of language and the transformative impact language can have in our lives. You can create your own positive affirmations and write them down, type them up or print them out to hang somewhere special. Here are two positive affirmations to kick off the school year with a heart of self-love and gratitude! 
Affirmation for self-love: I am strong, worthy, and compassionate. All that I need is already within me.
Affirmation for gratitude: When I live intentionally with a heart of gratitude, my life feels full and abundant. 

Do you think you’ll use these back-to-school mindfulness tips? Let us know in the comments below and feel free to share the tips with your teacher friends!