I began doing Mindfulness meditation with my grade 6 students earlier on this year since research has shown that the practice of Mindfulness in the Classroom can actually decrease symptoms associated with mental illness such as: depression, anxiety, etc. and that regular practice of mindfulness can have positive benefits for many of our students.
"Mindfulness is being fully present in the moment; having a non-judgemental awareness of our moment-to-moment experiences as they are occurring rather than being lost in thought about the past or planning for the future. Through mindfulness practice we can learn to be less reactive and more intentional in our words and actions. We can become more intimately aware of our emotions and respond to them, rather than being swept away by them when they become very intense. Mindfulness practice can support us in leading a richer life as we learn to 'show up' and be present with all that life brings our way - whether it be pleasant, unpleasant or neutral."
I came across some fantastic audio recordings when I felt ready to dive in and try mindfulness with my students. Each recording is 4 min in length and feature a soothing woman's voice leading you through mindful breathing, thinking and feeling with a child-friendly approach. I have used these tracks with both my grade 6s and grade 3s and both age groups have really loved it. Click here for the audio recordings.
After my grade 6s became very comfortable with the above audio tracks (to a point where they were almost restless), I realized they needed something more. That's when we turned to some guided meditations using a quick Youtube search. My students have really enjoyed several recordings with individual students relating to and finding solace with particular voices. It's really important to make sure as teachers that the resources we use are culturally responsive (click here for more info). This is why I have tried to use voices with different accents and a mix between male and female voices.
How I set up the classroom:
First, I turn off all the lights and ask student to uncross their legs and arms. I have them "ground" their feet by placing them firmly on the floor and their hands on their lap. I ask them to close their eyes and take a couple breaths in and out. Sometimes, I ask them to hold their breath for a couple seconds and then let it out with a ''ha''. I ask students to pay close attention on each breath and to try to "unwind'' and let go. If they have competing thoughts I tell them to acknowledge them and return to the present moment. Present thoughts could be about their current bodily sensations, or things they are hearing. Sometimes, I will do light stretching or yoga poses before we begin our daily mindfulness practice.
I always ask students to reflect on their thoughts and feelings after we finish mindfulness. This practice of reflection is so revealing of my students mind. They share how they notice how their breath changes or sounds they heard or feelings they have had afterwards. Always, my students share positive thoughts and feelings. It is so good to see the visible changes across my students faces and attitude when we do this!
I have included some really great links of short guided meditations (5-15 min) below to get you started:
I hope you have found this post and links useful! Best Wishes to you with your mindfulness practice, wherever it leads you!