Posts Tagged ‘artfulness’

I can’t say I am very talented in the area of art in any way from drawing, to painting, to music, or dance.  However, I love to look at great art, listen to great music, and watch people dance from classical to Hip Hop.  But to help your students grow in all areas of their lives it is important for us as parents, teachers, and coaches to expose them to art in all its forms.

mindful-teaching-schoeberlein-davidHere is another great tidbit for you from Mindful Teaching and Teaching Mindfulness A Guide for Anyone Who Teaches Anything by Deborah Schoeberlein (with Suki Sheth, PH.D.). This exercise  gives the students time to discover the artistic talents that they have hidden away in the recesses of their minds.  She calls this exercise “Drawing the Mind: Enhancement for Take 1 (For Students) (pages 93-94).[1]

Part 1: Current Mental State

  • Sit quietly. (Give students about thirty seconds before giving the next instruction.)
  • Notice what’s happening in your mind: are there thoughts, feelings, or sensations? None, some, or many?  Do they remain the same or change?
  • Draw a picture of your mental state right now in the left-hand corner of your paper. (Give students a minute or so to complete their drawings.)
  • Return to sitting quietly.
  • Fold the left-hand third of the paper (with the drawing) face-down, so the two remaining blank sections remain face-up covering it .

Upon completion of the three sections of this exercise she invites the students to share their drawings and reflect on their experiences.

I have an exercise that I do in my classes with my adults and it helps them learn how to use a mind map when asked to write a report, essay, or article. I read a one page mini autobiographical blog post that I wrote entitled “Sometimes a horse looks like a cow.” Next, we take our three breaths and then I invite them to think of a time in their life that they could write about.  Some write about something that happened when they were young, others about high school or college or marriage, or the day their first child was born. Once they have created the mind map I have them write the story.

They are all shocked about how much fun they had remembering this event, how easy it was to write the story after they took their three breaths and wrote their mind map out.  They discover that artfulness and creativity are in everyone if they just take the time to foster them, to let them appear, and to be free to grow!

Let me know how it works for you and your students!

In gassho,


[1] Schoeberlein, D., Sheth, S. (2009) Mindful Teaching and Teaching Mindfulness A Guide for anyone Who teaches Anything Somerville, MA:Wisdom Publications

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Teaching with mindfulness and contemplative practices is like wearing a MASCC while at the same time creating a road map for your students and for yourself.  When we use Mindfulness, Artfulness, Simplicity, Compassion, and Connectedness (MASCC) to design our courses, prepare to teach them, and actually teach them we empower our students in many important and exciting ways.

As educators it is our responsibility to educate our students not only in the course content, but also in how to live mindfully, compassionately, and successfully in an ever changing and challenging world of war, hunger, prejudice, poverty, disease, and climate change.  The power within each of your students lies dormant until we help them discover it.  But for that to occur we must first discover it within ourselves.  We must create a MASCC for our lives and the circumstances within which we live and move and have our being.

So the first step in this process is to find a practice that resonates with your belief system and discover the power that it has to expand your life in these areas.  Chose one area at a time and focus your reading, research, attention, time, and talent in that direction. Make it fun, make it experiential, and make it an integral part of your life.  Then watch what happens with your teaching ability, your creativity, and your responses from your students, friends, and family members.

Change is not easy, but it is important. Stagnation often appears as a very slow death. So slow that we often don’t even recognize it until it is too late.  Stagnation can mean the death of a relationship, a job, your health, and more.  It hinders the growth and learning for yourself and your students.

Today’s students have sensory overload with the internet, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more! They have trouble focusing and quieting their minds and thus it makes learning very difficult. Their attention span is short and getting shorter every day!  So if you think how and what you taught last year or two years ago or five years ago will work today think again!

mindful-games-book-coverSusan Kaiser Greenland in her book “Mindful Games” shares with her readers an exercise that I think you might like.  It is called “Drop the Monkeys (page80-81).”[1] In Buddhism we talk frequently about the Monkey Mind! Monkeys represent thoughts, sensations, distractions and emotions running around our heads throughout the day.

So what do we do with them? She has her student’s remove their power by adding them to a chain (like a necklace) filled with monkeys.  Once they’ve filled up the chain she has them dropping the chain into a barrel, letting go of them quickly and easily! Whatever you do don’t go back and take them out of that barrel!  Getting rid of the Monkeys will put you on the fast track to creating a powerful MASCC that can change your life forever!

Let me know how it goes!

In gassho,



[1] Greenland, S.K. (2016) Mindful Games. Shambhala: Boulder

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Vera John-Steiner, Presidential Professor of Psycholinguists and Director of the Santa Fe Graduate Center at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque wrote in her book Notebooks of the Mind Explorations of thinking, “It is most likely that highly curious, intense, and independent children elicit an involvement, an interested response from those around them. The encouragement that they receive from caring adults is in turn an important part of the development of their sense of self, for an inner belief in one’s self is a necessary strength in the pursuit of a creative life (page 199).”

Each of us is creative in some way.  Regardless of how you feel about your “creativity” you are creative!  I am very creative in the kitchen.  I am a great cook and everyone seems to enjoy immensely the dishes I make whether they are  appetizers, a main course, or a dessert.  I can’t tell you how many times I have pulled something out of the oven and exclaimed, “Wow, that is picture perfect it looks like it could be on the cover of Good Housekeeping Magazine!”  However, do not ask me to paint a picture, mold something out of clay, or play a musical instrument because the results would be disastrous.  I tried that one time in college and what I thought was a beautiful elephant made out of clay when he saw it my husband responded with, “Honey, that’s a great looking cow you’ve made there!”  I know he thought he was just trying to please me and make me happy, but boy was I depressed! “A cow,” I said, “that’s not a cow–it’s an elephant!”

As educators, bosses, parents, friends, and family members it is our job to help find and foster the creativity in everyone we know.  Why?  Because when people do creative things it boosts their level of self-esteem, it increases the synapses in their brains, it brings them joy, peace, and a feeling of accomplishment.  Even if the elephant looks like a cow!  It makes them happy.

Artfulness and creativity are in each of us we just need to look around us, look within us, and allow ourselves to be free of self-doubt and self-criticism. Beauty is within us to express for our own pleasure and for the pleasure of others.  Whether it is a short story you create, or a poem, or a song, whether you can eat, ride, hear, or see your creation it is part of you to share with the world.  The Wright Brothers saw the beauty of the flight of the birds and took flight themselves creating the first airplane in America. They were happy!

Making people happy was one of my dear departed father’s jobs on this planet. Not only was he an award winning portrait photographer in New Jersey, but he was a man with a mission: to make people happy.   No matter where he went he felt it was his job to make a joke, send a smile, pinch the cheek of a baby, or compliment you on your dress or new suit.  His only reward was the smile on your face, the glint in your eye, or the chuckle in your voice.  That was his paycheck and he collected on it each and every day. He made people happy….you can too.

Share your artfulness and creativity wherever and whenever you can.  And who cares if the elephant looks like a cow! Not me!

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