By Dana Asby, CEI Intern
At the Center for Educational Improvement, we tirelessly promote mindfulness, because we know that science has proven its myriad benefits: lower stress levels, fewer incidences of mental health concerns, improved physical health, better academic outcomes, and more constructive responses to conflict (Shaver, Lavy, Saron, & Milkulincer, 2007). Discussing theory and studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of mindfulness is important, but we also want to share practical ways to include mindfulness in your daily life.
One way to make mindfulness a regular part of your routine is to use a mindfulness journal to structure your practice. The Mindfulness Project, a German non-profit whose mindfulness methods have empirical evidence supporting their methods, publishes an excellent mindfulness guide and journal, I am here now. This journal is a valuable resource for mindful novices and experts. In addition to daily 5-10 minute mindfulness exercises to help you start the day off with calm or bring a moment of peace to you mid-day, I am here now includes a brief history of mindfulness presented in an easy-to-digest visual timeline with multiple suggestions for additional resources. Whether you’ve never practiced mindfulness or have incorporated it into your daily life, you’re sure to find ideas for further reading on whatever aspect of mindfulness most intrigues you.
For mindfulness newbies, there is a phenomenal list of ten simple mindfulness ‘Ground rules.’ The authors explain these ten key components of mindfulness in a simple and relatable manner in just one paragraph for each rule. Even if you’ve been meditating and going to yoga classes for decades, seeing these tenets laid out on just two pages can help remind you to practice mindfulness in all areas of your life.
There are many other features of this book that make it an excellent tool for introducing, reaffirming, or changing up your mindfulness routine. You can take a Mindfulness Quiz to see how best to use the tips I am here now is teaching you. The authors also include a great visual explanation of the difference between mindfulness and meditation, something that those unfamiliar with the concept of mindfulness often have trouble understanding.
All of these features are just the appetizer to I am here now’s main course: daily mindfulness exercises. While the book was created for adult mindfulness practitioners, a lot of the exercises included in the book can easily be translated for use with children. I recommend keeping the journal as a place for you to explore your own mindfulness practice, but adapting your favorite exercises with your students or children. Here are a few of I am here now’s exercises that would be great for adults and kids:
- Gratitude, a to z: This exercise asks you to come up with one thing you are grateful for for each letter of the alphabet, which increases feelings of compassion.
- Clouded Thoughts: On this page, you can practice letting go of negative emotions by putting those thoughts into clouds on the page and letting them go.
- Connect the dots: Here, you are asked to very slowly connect some dots along with a deep breathing exercise that will help you reduce stress and focus.
This journal has given me a fun way to start each morning mindfully. The Mindfulness Project has created a companion website where you can see exactly what the book is all about and explore it before purchasing.
Shaver, P.R., Lavy, S., Saron, C.D., and Milkulincer, M. (2007). Social foundations of the capacity for mindfulness: An attachment perspective. Psychological Inquiry, 18 (4), 264-271