7 Focused-Attention Practices for Students
A focused-attention practice is a brain exercise for quieting the thousands of thoughts that distract and frustrate us each day. When the mind is quiet and focused, we are able to be present with a specific sound, sight, or taste. Research repeatedly shows that quieting our minds ignites our parasympathetic nervous system, reducing heart rate and blood pressure while enhancing our coping strategies to effectively handle the day-to-day challenges that keep coming.Our thinking improves and our emotions begin to regulate so that we can approach an experience with variable options.
Following practices are simple and can be done in class very easily with students. The goal is to start with 60 to 90 seconds and build to five minutes.
The breath is your focus point. Tell students to place one hand close to their nose (not touching) and one hand on their belly. Have them feel their bellies expand, as they breathe in. They can feel the warm air hit their hand, as they exhale. Focus on this breath for only one minute. Let them know that it's OK when thoughts sometimes come into the mind uninvited. Tell them to exhale that thought away.
Have students visualize colors while focusing on the breath. For example, inhale a deep green, and exhale an aqua blue. Have the students imagine the colors as swirling and alive with each inhale. If a student is de-escalating from an angry moment, the color red is a great color to exhale.
For younger children, direct students to stand and, as they inhale, lift an arm or leg and wiggle it, exhaling it back to its original position. When beginning these focused-attention practices at an early age, it's good to include an inhale and exhale with any type of movement.
The Deep-Dive Breath
Inhale and count to four, hold breath and again count to four, and then exhale slowly for four counts. Increase the holding of breath by a few seconds once the students find the rhythm of the exercise.
Pant with mouths open and tongues out for 30 seconds, continuing for another 30 seconds with mouths closed and take short breaths with one hand on the belly. We typically take three energizing pant breaths per second. After a full minute, the students return to four regular deep inhales and exhales.
The use of sound is very powerful for inviting a calm response. One can use rain sticks, bells, chimes, and music. Or, there are many websites that provide music for focus, relaxation, and visualization. Play the music and ask everyone to close their eyes and focus on the rhythm.
Rise and Fall
Lie down on the floor and place an object on the stomach. Breathe in and out through the nose, enhancing focus by watching the rising and falling of our bellies.
As we breathe in and out through our noses, we can lie on the floor and place an object on our stomachs, enhancing our focus by watching the rising and falling of our bellies.
When we are focused and paying attention to our thoughts, feelings and choices, we have a much greater opportunity to change those thoughts and feelings that are not serving us well in life and in school. When we grasp this awareness, we see and feel the difference.
This article has excerpts from Edutopia. Read the original here.