#mindfulAISD (11/14)

Mindfulness in the Austin Independent School District

Week of November 14th

Welcome to the #mindfulAISD newsletter for the week of November 14th. This will serve as a way to highlight the awesome mindfulness work being done across the district as well as offer resources. Have suggestions for material you'd like to see on here? Please email the SEL Mindfulness Specialist: james.butler@austinisd.org


Want to Showcase Your Mindfulness Work?

Send James Butler an email with a brief story and/or photo (if you have photo releases for your students). Or if you're on Twitter, use the hashtag #mindfulAISD and I'll post a link to your tweet on the newsletter.


GIFs for Deep Breathing

The election has understandably created some very strong feelings. Practicing mindfulness helps us respond to those strong feelings, as oppose to react to them.

Below are two links with GIFs to display on a screen that help with intentional deep breathing, or belly breathing. These are great for teachers who might not want to lead a breathing exercise, or who might just want to participate in the deep breathing with their students. Click on the link, display and enjoy some deep breaths.



"Palm the Present Moment" Script (Best for HS students)

I attended a seminar led by mindfulness expert and author, Donald Altman, two weeks ago and he shared this script for us to use in AISD. It's recommended for HS students & adults.


by Donald Altman, M.A., LPC author, One-Minute Mindfulness and The Joy Compass

HANDOUT: Palm the Present Moment (from his book The Mindfulness Toolbox)

Instructions: Use this portable grounding meditation whenever you find yourself getting anxious, worried, feeling overwhelmed, lost in negative thoughts, or feeling uncertain about the future while transitioning from one place to another. Spend as much time as necessary to do this the first time. Once you’re familiar with how to Palm the Present Moment, you can shorten the process and do this in just one-minute, if desired.

"Sit in a comfortable chair and take a couple of nice, long, calming breaths. Now, just raise your hands up to the height of the heart center, with the palms facing one another—about a foot or so apart. Notice how much tension there is in just holding the arms and hands up in the air.

Next, ever so slowly, bring the hands closer until you feel even the slightest or subtle sensation of energy, pressure, heat, or warmth. Stop when you feel this, and just notice this for a few moments. Observe closely this sensation. Is the heat, warmth, energy, or pressure constant? Or, does it vary slightly moment to moment?

Now, gently move the palms closer until just the fingertips come together with the most feathery, lightest touch. Imagine that the molecules from the fingertips of your right hand are dancing with the molecules of the fingertips of your left hand. You might even think about what dance they are doing… the foxtrot, the samba, the tango, or the jitterbug!

Now, you continue to bring your palms together until they lightly touch. As you do this, notice how the fingers straighten out and how more heat builds up between the palms. With your palms together, this is a good time to reflect for a few moments on the body, which is a precious gift that we possess.

(Rest in silent appreciation for 5-10 seconds)

Let’s see what it’s like to tense, then relax the body. Keeping your palms touching, raise your elbows up to the side. Press with only ten percent of the total pressure you could exert. Now, press your hands together even harder—up to twenty percent of total pressure. (Stop pressing if you feel any pain. Press only as hard as you experience no pain or discomfort.)

Again, observe how far up your arm the tension goes. Does it extend to the wrists, the elbows, the shoulders, the shoulder blades, the back, the chest? Maybe you feel more heat building in the palms of your hands? Which muscles are tense? After about five seconds of this, let your shoulders and elbows relax and fall. Release all this tension. Notice how nice it is to let go of tightness and tension in the body.

Finally, very slowly open your palms, like flower blossoms opening to the morning sun. Sense the coolness in your palms as the heat dissipates. Finally, let the weight of gravity tug on your hands and arms, letting these gently fall like leaves from a tree, until they come to rest on your lap or legs. Take a nice, long inhale, and as you exhale, imagine all the remaining stress draining out with the exhale down your legs and out of the bottom of your feet—where it will flow into the Earth for recycling.

If you want, just sit for a few more moments in appreciation for the body that follows your commands and carries your consciousness so you can achieve your life goals."

Mindful Classrooms--Week 13

If you're using Mindful Classrooms: The Educator Guide, I recommend using Week 13 this week. It's a very loose recommendation though. Please do what's best for you and your students. If you'd like the free electronic copy of the book, please feel out the Google Form at the bottom of this page.

Photos/stories of Mindful Classrooms being used in class are always welcome and would be great for the newsletter! Email James Butler.


Sign Up for Mindfulness Support

If you haven't filled out the #mindfulAISD Google Form (below) and want to highlight your work and/or receive mindfulness support, please check it out. It only takes about 1 minute to complete. Know someone in AISD interested in mindfulness? Send them this newsletter for them to fill out the Google Form.


James Butler

SEL Mindfulness Specialist