Awareness Practices For the Classroom

Awareness is our real-life superpower!

We talk about the power of awareness in HMHB nearly every day of our programs, and it's always the first step to change, both inner or outer. But how do we teach it?

Here are some simple ways we can teach awareness to our kids in the classroom (or at home):

1. Body Scanning: So often kids get up and wander, can't sit still, or are simply unaware of their bodies in space. Remind kids to try a body scan so they can practice awareness of their body in each of these circumstances. Simply place attention on one body part at a time starting from the top of the head, then the face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands/fingers, torso (especially belly area), bottom, legs, then feet. This should take anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes depending on the circumstance you want to use it in. You can do this standing, sitting, or lying down.

2. Go half-speed in any activity: Whatever the activity, going half-speed and actively slowing down puts us in awareness. We are focusing on one thing at a time, and putting all our attention on it. For example, you can have your students take 30 seconds to write just their first name. Opening a math workbook? Open it as slowly as possible, take a whole minute just to open it. Get creative and have fun making it a game with your kids in all kids of everyday activities.

3. Feeling our feet on the floor: This one is very handy for line up times, getting up to sharpen a pencil, or having fun doing a "slow race" with students (whoever is the slowest, i.e. furthest away from the finish line after a minute or two is the winner)-- actively feeling the sensation of our feet on the floor with each step we take brings awareness very quickly and gets the mind/body connection actually connected. You can also use this approach with objects as well: For instance, before a student writes, have them feel the sensation of a pencil in their hand for 30 seconds, not moving the hand, just wrapping their hands around it, and feeling the sensation.

4. Drop your mind practice: We do this as a part of our daily meditation practice in HMHB, but it's a tool we recommend during the day to promote greater awareness and openness to listening. When you ring a bell have students place attention in the palm of their right hand (with eyes closed) to feel what they can. (They might notice subtle heat or tingles, which is their internal energy, or "inner space") If thoughts come up, or they get distracted, simply practice refocusing and placing attention back in the palm of their right hand. This practice is ideal before a transition, learning something new, as crowd control, a calming down practice, or before reflection.

5. Do the HMHB Guided Daily Meditation Practice: HMHB has a comprehensive and accessible daily meditation practice for kids and adults. We break it up into two parts when teaching it, the fi