Thoughts from Dr. Schwartz
Let's Have A Mindful Year
MindUP: Brain-Focused Strategies for Learning-and Living
The MindUP curriculum has been shown to help children:
· Improve focus, concentration, and academic performance
· Reduce stress and anxiety
· Handle peer-to-peer conflicts
· Manage emotions and reactions
· Develop greater empathy toward others
· Choose optimism
The first lesson I shared with the students focused on the different parts of the brain because in order to be mindful, it helps if we understand how our brains respond to stress. In future lessons, the students will learn how to create a calm mindset which will in turn help them with their decision-making and problem -solving skills.
Listen to poet Elizabeth Acevedo talk about being present in the moment.
A Mindfulness Exercise
- Holding - First, take a raisin and hold it in the palm of your hand or between your finger and thumb. Focusing on it, imagine that you’ve just dropped in from Mars and have never seen an object like this before in your life.
- Seeing - Take time to really see it; gaze at the raisin with care and full attention. Let your eyes explore every part of it, examining the highlights where the light shines, the darker hollows, the folds and ridges, and any asymmetries or unique features.
- Touching - Turn the raisin over between your fingers, exploring its texture, maybe with your eyes closed if that enhances your sense of touch.
- Smelling - Holding the raisin beneath your nose, with each inhalation drink in any smell, aroma, or fragrance that may arise, noticing as you do this anything interesting that may be happening in your mouth or stomach.
- Placing - Now slowly bring the raisin up to your lips, noticing how your hand and arm know exactly how and where to position it. Gently place the object in the mouth, without chewing, noticing how it gets into the mouth in the first place. Spend a few moments exploring the sensations of having it in your mouth, exploring it with your tongue.
- Tasting - When you are ready, prepare to chew the raisin, noticing how and where it needs to be for chewing. Then, very consciously, take one or two bites into it and notice what happens in the aftermath, experiencing any waves of taste that emanate from it as you continue chewing. Without swallowing yet, notice the bare sensations of taste and texture in the mouth and how these may change over time, moment by moment, as well as any changes in the object itself.
- Swallowing When you feel ready to swallow the raisin, see if you can first detect the intention to swallow as it comes up, so that even this is experienced consciously before you actually swallow the raisin.
- Following Finally, see if you can feel what is left of the raisin moving down into your stomach, and sense how the body as a whole is feeling after completing this exercise in mindful eating.
Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn (2007). The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness. New York: Guilford Press.