While technically most of the one-minute practices will also work when you have three-minutes, here are some things you may want to explore when you have a little more time available.
Mindfulness and Guided Meditation
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally.”Jon Kabat Zinn
Mindfulness is a way of bringing ourselves back to the present moment, instead of trying to focus on the many other things fighting for our attention. Focused breathing is a great example of mindfulness – paying attention to only the breath. You can practice mindfulness during various everyday activities, even those in the classroom! Next time you are tuning instruments, setting up chairs, or preparing materials for class work to bring your full attention to that activity. If your mind wanders, acknowledge it and return your focus to the activity at hand.
There are many meditation apps and online tools available. Guided meditation will help you be more mindful and is proven to reduce stress, improve cognitive function, and boost well-being. Here are some popular meditation tools to check out:
“Gratitude is a state of mind that arises when you affirm a good thing in your life that comes from outside yourself, or when you notice and relish little pleasures.”Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence
Gratitude is something that we can purposefully feel and experience when we affirm what is good in our lives. You could be grateful for a good night’s sleep, grateful for the person who held the door when your hands were full, or grateful that your alto saxophone players finally remembered the fingering for F-natural. Gratitude can even come out of a negative experience you learn from. There is always something to be grateful for. The best part: regular gratitude practice has shown to increase happiness by 25%!
Gratitude practice starts by paying attention to things you usually take for granted. Think through the various positive (and difficult) moments during your day. What do you have to be grateful for?
The next step is to write it down. Find a journal or notebook where you can write a few sentences about what you are grateful for, why, and how it makes you feel.
To take it one step further, express your gratitude! Is there someone in your life you have been meaning to thank? Send a quick note or email to express your gratitude to them.
Tara Martin, educator, author, and the brain behind #BookSnaps, also began sharing #GratitudeSnaps on social media! Instead of a gratitude journal, Tara takes a picture of something she is grateful for, creates a snap (using Snapchat) and shares it on social media. This is a great alternative if creating digital content is more comfortable than writing. (For more info about Tara’s #GratitudeSnaps, check out this blog post: https://www.tarammartin.com/gratitudesnaps/)
Listening to Music or Mindful Listening
Is there a piece of music that calms you? Something that makes you stop and pause when you hear it? Use that for some mindful listening.
Put your phone away, close your computer, sit and listen. Focus on the melody, the harmony, or the contour. If your mind wanders, acknowledge it and bring your focus back to the piece of music.
You may find one piece and use that consistently. Train your mind to understand when you hear that piece, the rest of the world stops temporarily. Or you may experiment with different pieces, making this the time to expand your musical horizons, or reconnect with old favorites. Which ever you choose, know that this time is special. This time is yours.
Incorporate These Ideas With Your Music Students
- Many meditation tools have specific content for students. Consider beginning class with a short guided meditation to bring calm and focus to your time together.
- Listening to music is likely part of most music classrooms. Consider how you can make this more mindful. Dim the lights, encourage students to sit comfortably, and ask them to focus only on the music. Many times we give students very specific things to listen for, and there is value in this, but occasionally consider having them just listen and see what they feel.