Learn how you can use digital tools to celebrate mindfulness and kindness and creativity with digital tools, with Erika Sandström.

“Wait… what just happened?” said every educator in March 2020 (and beyond)! Thank goodness for my mindfulness practice which has helped me survive these unprecedented times – maintaining a better balance of my mind, body and spirit. One of the most healing modalities has been to honor and cultivate compassion for myself and others through creativity.

Why mindfulness?

People often ask me, “How did you get into mindfulness?” The truth is, it has been integrated in my life for 16 years as a yoga and Pilates instructor – plus, when you have spent 31 years in the classroom, you naturally learn to be more mindful! I’ve realized the powerful benefits of mindfulness in times of distress and accepted that it doesn’t mean you have to be in a good mood all the time; it is the ability to recognize your emotions, find the root causes, honor them and forgive yourself for having them.

Embracing mindfulness can be simply appreciating a sunset or recognizing the powerful impact of a kismet (destiny) encounter. I have deep gratitude for an encounter such as this, which helped me to cultivate and strengthen my own practice. The universe sent me a very interesting and powerful message when I was bumped off a flight after an exhausting weekend. I was joined by a stranger, who cheerfully told me that he was, “so excited for what the universe could bring us today!” He remained mindful, calm, and happy during what was a stressful situation. He suggested that we look at the circumstance not as an ordeal, but rather as an opportunity for adventure, by remaining present and open to possibilities.

So, as the fiasco continued, I pulled out my phone and opened my ’21-day meditations’ challenge from Deepak and Oprah. He then proceeded to take out his phone to show me a photo of Oprah and himself. This is when I realized I was with Dr. Blaise Aguirre, who was featured in ‘Mindfulness the Movie: Be Happy Now!’ alongside Deepak Chopra. It was surely a day packed full of trains, trams and mindfulness that changed my life path. Dr. Aguirre has remained a friend and mentor ever since, helping me cultivate my mindfulness practice. My favorite reminder is that “Mindfulness isn’t hard, you just need to remember to do it!” Meeting Dr. Aguirre has had a tremendous lasting impact on me. I love that he shares that “young children are naturally mindful. We just need to teach them how to maintain it and help them build resiliency.” As a true Leo (astrological sign) extrovert, I’m happy to share, teach, and talk about the power mindfulness has had in transforming every aspect of my life. Allowing others to experience some of the blessings of taking a break from their own maladies has motivated me to pursue this passion further.

Mindfulness in the classroom

As an educator, I’ve been sharing simple strategies for mindfulness with my students and colleagues. I have also had the great fortune of presenting mindfulness globally through webinars with Wakelet and the Climate Action Day supported by the United Nations. It is a blessing to share the benefits of mindfulness to others so they can stay in the moment and recognize the beauty of the world around them. I’m astonished by how simply balancing our mind, body, and spirit with simple methods can help people find peace in their busy lives.

Helping our students recognize, honor, and regulate their emotions can truly be a superpower!

I’ve witnessed first-hand the joy that students receive from teaching and sharing these newfound skills. To truly understand compassion, you must practice and share it. Teachers are always looking for innovative ways to inspire their students’ creativity and wonder. A consistent media production practice in your curriculum is a great way to promote social and emotional learning (SEL). Social emotional skills are cultivated naturally in the mindful work of brainstorming, storyboarding, and scripting. In sharing these ideas, my hope is to help students everywhere cultivate compassion for themselves and others, while tapping into their own unique creativity.

10 activities for cultivating compassion

Gratitude

Use video production skills to share something like, ‘10 things I am grateful for during my typical week!’ Some students may choose to create slides, videos or a picture diary of their daily gratitude

Kindness

‘Be the “I” in Kind!’ Take this popular activity to a new level by creating a green screen video!

Breathe

Create a video teaching a breathing technique like this 5 Fingered Breathing video. You can also create a personalized breathing bubble.

Mindful meditation

Use your five senses to become present. Create a video to document the moment, or  try Glitter Jar Meditation – This is a favorite of mine as it fills my heart! (Please make sure to use eco-friendly glitter.)

Compassion

Compassion could save the world. I say it often: “Compassion Equals Action!” We created this fun ‘Pass a smile!’ video during COVID lockdown. Students helped to share joy using a very magical yellow highlighter.

Self-love

A fun activity to try with any age is to block, swat or even chop things that no longer serve us, or things we should avoid, such as negativity.

Joy

Play is one of the healthiest things kids (and adults!) can do. Use digital media in fun and playful ways to cultivate joy, like in this green screen video made with twin sisters.

Equanimity

Equanimity – Defined by Jackson Education as, “mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.” 1 Students really enjoyed being a part of this one and felt empowered by it. Self-regulation of emotion: Why do we flip our lids? How to manage fight or flight mode!

Self- discovery and self-care

Create vision boards to inspire and help students to set goals, manifest dreams, and think of ways they can give back going forward!

 

References

  1. Jackson Education (2019) ‘The Year of Equanimity in Education.’ Available at: https://www.je411.com/blog/the-year-of-equanimity-in-education

Author

  • Erika Sandström

    Erika is a digital learning coach and a 6-8 digital media teacher specializing in green screen and video production. She is a leader of her district’s social emotional learning team. Dubbed “Green Screen Gal,” Erika shares her passions speaking at conferences, through professional development, and online webinars and courses. Erika has also created and presented ‘Mindfulness Professional Development’ globally.
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