Mindfulness and Social-Emotional Learning: Working with emotions, the mind and the body.

Many parents and educators have heard of SEL or Social-Emotional Learning. In many schools, SEL has been incorporated into classrooms through activities that help students understand themselves and others. According to CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) “SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.” There are five “core competencies” that CASEL has identified to be important in nurturing social-emotional health: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. 

Group mindfulness and SEL circle practice are below.

Mindfulness, according to Jon Kabat-Zinn, is “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally.” Mindfulness helps us recognize and accept present-moment thoughts and emotions and can also help people handle stresses in life. Through mindfulness, we become more empathetic and compassionate. 

SEL and Mindfulness work well together to nurture healthy relationships. The areas in which mindfulness contributes directly to SEL are self-awareness, self-management, and social awareness. By cultivating an awareness of what is going on in the body and mind right now in the present moment and accepting this with gentleness and kindness, we understand and manage our emotions, thereby nurturing positive relationships and decision-making. The following family practice brings together self-awareness as well as acknowledging what others are experiencing.

A Circle of Mindful Awareness

Begin by sitting in a circle with our back to each other towards the center and the front of our body facing outward. The circle should be as small as is comfortable so that each person is either in physical contact with neighbors or at least close enough to sense their presence.
Designate a leader who will guide the group, reading step-by-step directions.
First, we bring our attention to the breath, counting three or four deep breaths to relax and settle the nervous system and mind. While we breathe collectively we are aware that others in the circle are breathing and we may be able to hear and feel that as well.
With the energy and atmosphere settled, we imagine the breath as a river of energy flowing through the body, stopping now and again at different areas such as the head, neck, shoulders, abdomen, arms, legs, etc. (Leader can guide this body scan).
Next we will invite any emotions that are present for us, allowing the mind to join the experience. What is an emotion that is present for you right now?  Give this feeling a name by labeling it: sadness, excited, happy, tired, etc.
Let’s now notice where in our body we feel the emotion we just recognized. This may be an area of tightness or warmth, coolness or tingling. With a quick body scan, where is the emotion the strongest in the body? 
Now we will take turns saying our name, the emotion and where we feel it in our body. For example, “I’m Neveah and I feel happiness in my heart”.Moving around the circle, each person acknowledges those who spoke before them, repeating their name, their emotion and where they feel it.
Lastly, the person shares their own name, emotion and body area. We continue this circle activity until everyone has had a chance to repeat their neighbors’ information as far back as possible to the first person, ending with their own.
To finish, the first person who started the activity will try to recite all of the other names, emotions and body parts. 

I recommend the leader be sensitive to the age and awareness level of each family or group member. Some young children may find it challenging to remember everyone’s emotion and body part. There should be kindness and acceptance as the person tries their best to remember before sharing their own information. The activity is not about who can remember the most; rather, it is an opportunity to build self and social awareness through mindfulness.

Published June 9, 2022 in The Taos News

Swimming and sports as mindful movement meditation.

Conscious Daily Mindful Musings

My first love (as far as sports) is swimming. I began swimming competitively at about eight years old. It’s also how I met my husband. (Another story) Last year, during the first wave of the pandemic, not being able to swim was a mental and physical challenge. Regular walking, jogging, and mountain biking kept me sane and were daily movement meditations.

During the summer months, I love swimming outdoors. The Quail Ridge pool (local tennis and sports club) has been a sanctuary for many years. And this summer, when it closed about a month early due to mechanical issues, I have been swimming at the Taos Spa and Tennis Club. Starting next week, I’ll be moving to the Taos Youth and Family aquatic center; so grateful there are many swimming options in such a small town.

I’ve also enjoyed swimming in the Rio Grande, and have created a workout for myself by swimming upstream for a while and then coming back down to the John Dunn bridge aided by the current. Hoping to swim there for a few weeks more as the water gets progressively more chilly.

During this morning’s pool swim I was reciting mantras as a way to bring present moment awareness to movements while counting laps. (Lam, Vam, Ram, Yam, Ham, Om, + number of laps) and (May I be ….. based on first letter of the number of laps). Combining these two passions of swimming and meditation uses all the muscles of the body including the mind in a wholehearted and harmonious way.

Life is good in the present moment. May we be conscious and healthy as we move about our days. How can you bring mindful meditation to your daily activities?

Mindful FrontiersMindful Frontiers CommunitySAGE Institute for Creativity and Consciousness#meditation#movementmeditation#mindfulnesspractice#swimming#awareness#presentmomentawareness#presentmomentreminder#dailymeditation

Lace Up Your Walking Shoes

Walking for fitness naturally helps you manage blood pressure and weight. It also helps reduce stress and releases feel-good endorphins. In other words, walking is a major mood-booster.

“Without physical exercise, I can get pretty grumpy,” says Anne-Marie Emanuelli. She’s the founder of Mindful Frontiers, a center for mindfulness and meditation in El Prado, New Mexico. Emanuelli attributes her calm, reflective mind to her habit of regular walks, jogs and bike rides.

Lace Up Your Walking Shoes

“When I exercise outdoors, it is an active reflection time to work out personal and work-related issues as well as tuning in to my body and mind,” says Emanuelli. She has worked out many issues with friends and colleagues during long walks in the countryside. “Usually, by the time I get back home, issues have been worked out and I feel much better.”

If you’re not used to walking regularly, try starting small with the Mayo Clinic’s 12-week walking schedule. It starts out at 15 minutes per session the first week. It helps you build up to 40 minutes of walking by week 12.

Excerpt from Embrace These 5 Mental Wellness Habits to Start the New Year Off Right The Hartford Extra Mile (December 15, 2020)

An Exercise to Help Identify Your Standards of Integrity



Standards of Integrity activity. This is an insightful exercise that was shared at a recent teacher in-service and led to some deep contemplation and personal evaluation. I am sharing it from the blog entitled The Lotus Experience 

“I would highly recommend you to do this assignment as well, but to get the full impact you have to do it without reading ahead. So if you are open to doing this, please grab a couple of sheets of paper and something to write with. And again, do not read ahead.  Also, if you decide to get the book, it is on page 68.

  1. Take out a sheet of paper and on the left side of the paper write down the names of people who have qualities you admire. These are qualities that spark a warm feeling for you and that make you feel like you want to be around them. Go back to your earliest memories and up to now. This list can include the names of family members, friends, teachers, co-workers, and people you don’t know such as authors, political leaders, historical figures, fictional characters (superheroes, cartoon characters) and mythological characters.
  2. On the right side of the paper and next to the name of the first person listed, write down the qualities this person has that you admire. Go down to the next person and if this person has qualities that the first person did, then put a check by that quality. If they have a quality that the first person didn’t then write that new quality down. Repeat this process until you have reached the end of your list.
  3. Grab a new sheet of paper. Look at the list of qualities you wrote down in the previous step and on the new sheet of paper write down the qualities that you feel an attraction to (even if it’s just a little). It can be all the qualities you just wrote down or some of them.
  4. Take a look at the qualities you have written down. This new list you have is a list of the qualities you possess and are called your Standards of Integrity. These are qualities that your authentic self has and when you are acting in a way that does not match your Standards of Integrity, you are likely to feel unbalanced or out of sorts.

This exercise acts on the premise that what you like in others you also have in yourself. It’s the same as when we don’t like something about someone else; we usually have that in ourselves as well. It works both ways. When we are acting in ways that does not reflect our Standards of Integrity, not only do we begin to feel unbalanced, but we can also feel anxiety or depression, and we can begin to see it more clearly in others and begin to compare ourselves to them and feel jealousy and envy.”

When I finished this activity, I realized that the qualities I admire in others definitely are qualities I see in myself or wish to have. I also noticed that there were two or three qualities that almost all the people had so it made me think that these are the main ones that are vital to my life: Intelligence, Patience, Strength of Personality, Independent Character, Creativity.

My Standards of Integrity



Respectfully sharing from The Lotus Experience blog