Circle of Life
This week we are exploring the Circle of Life. Not only as an incredible song from Disney's The Lion King, but with a broader sense of its meaning — acknowledging that all things come and all things go. In this edition of Four Thought Friday, we will experience the birth of a new learning tool, the death of a historic technology, and we will explore our cosmic connection to all forms of life in the universe.
After five magnificent years, I have decided to take a brief hiatus from social media. In the past, I vigorously encouraged the use of social media platforms, specifically Twitter, as a way for educators to connect, engage in dialogue, share ideas, and support one another in learning and growth. While this was my ideal, I chose to hold this belief as universal. This was a mistake.
Over the past few weeks, I became aware of several educators behaving in ways that ran counter to my ideal. Instead of accepting their behavior and allowing it to pass, as all things do, I chose to confront it. Another mistake.
There is a famous Japanese proverb, Hotoké no kao mo sando nazuréba, hara wo tatsu: "Stroke even the face of a Buddha three times, and his anger will be roused." This proverb reminds us that we all have anger within us. It is within our power to choose how and when we use it. To paraphrase the Grail Knight, I chose poorly.
My current social media hiatus comes at a good time. I plan to focus my attention on family, friends, professional learning, and self care. When the time comes to return, I look forward to proudly continuing our work of learning and growing together through this incredible journey we call "life."
Now, without further ado, please enjoy this edition of Four Thought Friday!
Branding, Coaching, Leading, and Remembering
One of the best parts of summer, is having the time to critically inspect the work of teaching and coaching before jumping into a new year. This week, we begin by deconstructing some of our practices with an introspective look at a few basic elements of work and life.
As always, if you find the following four thoughts useful, please be sure to share via Twitter, Facebook, or by simply forwarding this email to a friend or colleague. Word-of-mouth is the best way we can share knowledge with our personal and professional communities. So, without further ado, please enjoy this edition of Four Thought Friday!
This week, as we return to work and continue to evaluate our New Year's Resolutions, I wanted to share with you an app I consider to be essential to my daily life. This app is called Calm.
The Calm app is one I use on a daily basis—often, multiple times a day—for guided meditation and mindfulness exercises. The science is undeniable, meditation teaches us to calm and sharpen the mind, improve focus and concentration, while increasing our overall awareness.
With regular meditation, we can reduce stress, anxiety, and blood pressure levels, while increasing in our immunity levels and improving our ability to heal. It can also be effective in coping with ADD/ADHD, PTSD, chronic pain, sleep problems, insomnia, and many, many other conditions.
As a novice meditator, I found the intro sessions to be particularly helpful. These sessions are structured in 7- and 21-day options, permitting one to develop his or her practice over time. Once you get comfortable with meditation, you can begin to include the Daily Calm, as a part of your daily practice. And depending on how you are feeling, on a particular day or in a particular moment, you can choose from a collection of meditations designed for anxiety, sleep, focus, stress, relationships, and an array of other categories.
Calm's primary meditation instructor, author and producer Tamara Levitt, is extraordinary. Her guidance is calming, reassuring, non-intrusive, and otherwise difficult for me to put into words, but unlike any other guided meditation I have experienced before. Please enjoy this example of a Daily Calm session:
In addition to the meditations, Calm offers Sleep Stories, designed to lull even the busiest mind into sleep, and music tracks, to improve focus, bring relaxation, or bring the outside in.
For the classroom, there is also a section labeled "Kids." This section includes meditations designed to help students of all grade levels balance emotions, while building confidence, focus, and calm. Over the years, Calm has committed to adding content into this area, as they aim to improve the lives of students everywhere.
While much of the app is free, in order to access the full program, Calm offers a $12.99 a month, $59.99 yearly, or $299.99 lifetime access charge. Fortunately for us, Calm has introduced the "Calm Classroom Initiative", providing educators with lifetime access for free (a $299.99 value). Simply complete this form and begin enjoying the calm.
Please reach out if you have any questions about the Calm app and/or how to integrate mindfulness into your classroom. Have a great weekend!
Calm is available on the following platforms:
New York Times — The Mindful Child
KQED News — What Changes When a School Embraces Mindfulness?
Washington Post — Harvard Neuroscientist on the physical effects Mindfulness
Harvard Business Review — Mindfulness Can Literally Change Your Brain
The Atlantic — Should Schools Teach Kids to Meditate?
Wellcome Trust — 7-year study about mindfulness in UK schools
Mindful Nation UK — Report by the Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group
“Room to Breathe” — documentary on mindfulness in schools by Russell Long
San Francisco Chronicle — Meditation Transforms Roughest San Francisco Schools