Guiding our children to shine their inner LIGHT by being our absolute best!

Posts tagged ‘stress’

Push the PAUSE Button

Mercury in retrograde, full moon, racing from one thing to the next…does it ever end?

Today I woke up a little later than usual and of course this put me behind the eight ball-so to speak- throughout the day. I felt like I was running from one thing to the next and as if life was a blur. Of course anything that could go wrong, went wrong, because isn’t that just how it goes?

I went into my classroom and tried to get ready for my 1st graders to come through the doors. I always like to make sure that when they walk through the door, they see a smile and not a rushing, crazy idiot!  Today, that was a challenge though.

I tried to print morning work and there was an issue with the printer. Next I tried to get online for a backup plan, but that didn’t work either. I rushed to find a solution and came up with something just in time, but the day was already spinning out of control.

After the kids came in and started on morning work I remembered that I had to do lovely progress monitoring. I pulled the iPod out of my drawer and had technical difficulties with that too. After wasting at least 30 minutes trying to get technology to work with me so that I could get the ‘data’ teachers are expected to report, I finally got things rolling, but it was clear that my energy needed a shift.

I progress monitored 6 students (tested them…oh I LOVE those tests) and then we were off to lunch. I was definitely on edge with the kids and that’s so NOT fair to them!

Every day after lunch and recess my kids have ‘Mindful Time’. This is a time that I dedicate solely to ‘quieting our minds’ (you can read about this in my book Ignite the Light)

Some days we lay our yoga mats on the ground and go to our ‘Happy Place,’ other days we do power yoga or color mandalas. I usually take this 10-15 minutes to breathe and release some tension or get ready for the next hour with the kids (ironically, I am not always mindful during mindful time). But today- TODAY was a day when Mindful Time really made the difference for me.

The kids came into the classroom and parked themselves on the community rug for instructions. I instructed them to use mandala’s to quiet their minds and then walked to my desk to ‘catch up’. Fortunately, I caught myself and decided that I too needed to practice mindfulness.

I announced to the kids that I was going to color a mandala today as well. I chose one, pulled out my crayons (that was really awesome-I love the smell of crayons) and began to color my mandala from the inside out. As I colored I shared some thoughts with the kids. They were so happy to have me join in as well and so intrigued by my coloring and choice of colors. I smiled to myself because of their excitement.

Time was up. I began to pack my crayons away and began counting down for the kids to do the same. When the kids came to the rug again for instructions something was different…I was different. My energy was now re-balanced and even though things were still ‘ticking’ me off throughout the afternoon with technology and testing, the edge was now gone!

mandala

This made me realize that we all need to push that pause button throughout the day. I literally sat and colored (yes, I colored with crayons) for about 10 minutes and suddenly life didn’t seem so tough after all.

Mindfulness doesn’t have to happen at the same time every day and it doesn’t have to happen in a certain way. Mindfulness just needs to happen. And the only way for us to be mindful is to sometimes hit the PAUSE button.

Try it. 10-15 minutes (even 5 minutes) in the middle of your stressful day can totally make all the difference in the world. Go ahead, pull out a box of crayons-I dare you!

Lots of Love & Tons of Light,

Vicki

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Why Can’t These Kids Listen?

I have always prided myself on my ability to see the world through the eyes of a child and create a peaceful, warm, loving environment within my classroom. A few years ago I earned the title of ‘The Mindful Teacher’ because I work so hard to stay in the present moment and I actually teach a mindfulness practice in my classroom for at least 20 minutes a day every day after lunch and recess-

Yet, Friday was truly a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day because my 1st graders just wouldn’t listen to a word I said.

This behavior had been building from about the middle of the week but on Friday I literally stood there at the front of my classroom wondering if I was stuck in a Charlie Brown cartoon because as I gazed at my students it appeared that they were simply hearing ‘wha wha wha wha wha’ (just like the cartoon) instead of the actual words I was saying. At one point I actually raised my voice (which never happens in my room) in order to get their attention. I was then quickly heart broken as I noticed that this was the only way that the kids respond to adults-when their voice is loud and they know they’ve crossed the line. That was the worst feeling ever and certainly not how Mrs. Savini’s classroom runs on a daily basis!

I decided to take a step back, ask some questions to my audience and go within. And here’s what I found-

Step 1: I asked this question on my facebook page, ‘Why do you think children are not good listeners in today’s society?’

And here are some responses:

‘Technology and chemicals in food have negatively changed the physiology and essentially rewired our brains.’ -Nicole

‘Too much technology not enough out doors and simply playing learning and exploring.’ -Cheryl

‘Because the world is so rushed and no one teaches them to stop and listen, to quiet their mind and hear what is being said before responding. Many children and adults are so busy forming their response in their head that the don’t listen well.’ -Teri

Probably because adults are poor examples – at least its one reason.’ -Elizabeth

Step 2: I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths and asked for answers from my higher self.

Dear Higher Self, 

What the hell is going on? Have I lost my magical touch? Is it a full moon?’

The answers came…

No it’s not a full moon and no you haven’t lost your magic touch. The truth is our kids are growing up in a hectic, busy society where everyone is a bit disconnected. Yes, the chemicals in the foods and environment are a factor and yes too much technology adds to their brains going astray, but the most important factor is YOU.

Hmmmmm. Well that’s certainly something to think about isn’t it?!

Have you ever gone out to dinner with your family and noticed the tables where parents are scrolling through their smartphones and kids are on electronics while waiting for their meals to come? I’m sure you’ve stood and watched people texting back and forth while they are sitting in the same room as well.

I remember a time when I was waiting to board a plane in a major airport. I noticed that many people were on electronics, busying their minds until their time was up. Then I turned and noticed a family of four sitting at a table; Mom was on her laptop, dad was on a kindle, the teen boy was also on a laptop and the youngest child (likely 8-9 years old) was on his iPod. They were not looking at each other, nor were they talking to one another. They were sitting in the same space, at the same table as a family, yet they were totally disconnected. Their flight was called and everyone packed up and walked away together, still not interacting. I had tears in my eyes as I watched this because it reminded me just how precious childhood is and that we are wasting it away by not connecting with the kids.

Where’s the connection nowadays (omg…did I just say that? I’ve turned into my mother…lol)? When do we look into each others eyes and share a moment of tenderness? When do we stop and truly listen to what the other person is saying? We need to get this back-we need to CONNECT and if we want our children to be better  listeners, then we need to listen better and model better.

After all of this pondering about the problem, the solution finally hit me-

My students need more mindfulness training than 20 minutes a day and I need to be more mindful to model this behavior for them!

The truth is, our kids have difficulty listening and are seemingly careless about life because they are growing up in a disconnected society where everyone is on the run and our minds are never in one place. We are running to a meeting, running to a practice, running to the grocery store, running-away.

We all need to STOP, BREATHE and just BE.

Here’s my new plan for Monday;

Instead of just practicing Mindfulness for 20 minutes or so after lunch and recess, I will practice throughout the day. I, myself will stay in the moment and serve as a strong model for my students. Each and every day moving forward, I will remind myself that the gift of life is the present moment. I will do this by posting this simple sign in my home, my car and of course, my classroom.

breathe.

 

Why breathe? Because when we take a deep breath, we are brought back to the present moment.

My students aren’t deliberating ignoring me and we aren’t deliberately ignoring the children, but we are all disconnecting in some way, shape or form. It’s time to connect again. It’s time to breathe!

 

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Lots of Love & Tons of Light,

Vicki

Mind Full…or Mindful?

It’s a GREAT question, isn’t it?  Lately, I have realized that my mind is totally full and I am absolutely NOT mindful when my mind is full…

How often do you catch yourself stuck in your own thoughts?  How many lists do you make in your head a day (and later transfer to the iPad or paper)?  Making lists is not the problem.  The problem  is…the list never ends!  You will always find more and more to do, and you will be completely disconnected from the present moment if your mind is full.

A few nights ago, I was preparing dinner for my family.  My son wanted fish sticks.  As I took them out of the oven, I asked, “Nico, what do you want to dip these in?  Do you want ranch dressing or ketchup?”   He responded with, “Mom, come on, don’t you know me?”  The tears welled up in my eyes because, in the not so distant past, my son would never have had to ask me that question.  Unfortunately, I have allowed my mind to become completely cluttered with random thoughts and I now see clearly, just how easy it is to fall into the trap of a full mind!

So what is it that’s on our mind all of the time? Finances, family issues, career, colleagues, relationships, responsibilities, and the list goes on…

We can constantly plan in our mind what it is we have to do and how we should go about it, but we are missing the big picture.  In all of our planning and doing, we are not being

There are several definitions for mindfulness, but here is one I found that is simple and right to the point (just the way I like it)…

Mindfulness is bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis (Marlatt & Kristeller, 1999).

Today, my son and I were driving down a country road as we headed to a birthday party in my hometown.  He was playing his DS in the backseat, while I was trying my hardest to clear my full mind.  We were only about 20 minutes into our hour and a half drive and I was already feeling my mind fill up with ‘stuff’.  As we traveled down the road with only a few cars, I noticed a dog close to the side of the road.  He was an adorable hound dog and he looked like he had a tag on, signifying that he certainly had an owner.  I saw that he was dangerously close to the line on this winding road, so I beeped my horn as I saw a few cars approaching in the opposite direction.  This peeked the dogs attention and thankfully slowed the cars down to avoid a terrible event.  I continued to slowly drive down the road, thinking in my head, “That poor dog.  I wonder if his owner even knows he’s out.  What will happen to that little guy?”  I started to pick up speed and went back to my mind full of thoughts, which now included some guilt for not stopping to be sure that the dog was home with its owner.

Within a few minutes, we were about 2 miles away from the dog and I was still feeling badly about the little guy, but focusing on where we had to go instead of the present moment.  I looked in the rear view mirror and my son had tears in his eyes.  He said, “Mom, we have to go back to make sure that dog is okay.  We just have to!”  Without hesitation, I turned around to go and find the dog, hoping and praying that he was okay.  As we approached the area where we first saw him near the road, we noticed that he was heading into a house with a person.  I pulled into the driveway and talked to the owners for a few minutes.  It appears as though our beeping cautioned them and made them realize that the dog had gotten out.  They were very thankful and we were very excited to know we made a difference.

We backed out of the driveway and headed down the road.  I knew what I was feeling in my heart… pure bliss.  I then looked in the mirror at my son, and said, “Nico, I am so proud of you for asking Mommy to go back to make sure that dog was okay.  You are such a kind and caring young man and you did the right thing.”  I smiled and continued on.  A few minutes later, I looked in the mirror again and saw my son crying.  I asked what was wrong, and he replied,

“Nothing Mommy, these are tears of joy…tears of joy.”

Up to that moment of seeing this hound dog on the side of the road, I was caught up in my own stuff. I was thinking of all the things I needed to do and how long this trip was going to take.  I was focusing on what was to come, instead of what was right in front of me.  You would think that just seeing that dog almost lose his life would have been enough to break that stinkin’ thinkin’, but it wasn’t.  As soon as we passed, my mind started to drag me in again, until my son, a six year old, forced me to BE in the moment.  He never questioned going back to check on the dog.  If he was driving that car, he likely would have pulled over as soon as he saw the dog near the line of the road! His first and only thought was to be sure the dog was safe.  He was so clearly in the moment, and not worried about where we had to be in the next few hours.

When we first began our journey today, I will be the first to tell you that I had a full mind and felt a bit heavy in my heart with worries.  I wanted to raise my vibration, but I wasn’t sure how.  I was wondering if I should listen to some positive CD’s, like Dr. Wayne Dyer or the Law of Attraction, but my heart still felt heavy.  It wasn’t until I shifted my thoughts away from myself and to the needs of another that my Spirits lifted.

Today, I feel blessed to have children in my life who teach me daily lessons and remind me to stay in the present moment.  In the scheme of things, it really didn’t matter that we were 15 minutes later than we had planned.  I certainly wouldn’t have solved my day to day worries during that car trip, nor would I have solved the problems of the world.  Staying in the moment can certainly bring so many blessings to us.  Today, being mindful helped a dog get home safely with a simple little “beep,” and it reminded me just how important it is to stay in the moment!

I know that life can get busy and it’s easy to allow the mind to fill, but today, and every day, when you catch your mind filling with all of these random thoughts (that are usually fear driven), take a breath and find something beautiful happening right in front of you.  If that’s too hard, then watch a child  for just a few moments, because truth is, children spend most of their time in the present…being mindful!  As we guide our children to shine their lights, let us remember that they have much to share with us as well.

Be Mindful!

Vicki

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