Category Archives: EQ

Learning to Breath

I have been working for the better part of a quarter century to learn to meditate.

I came to a curiosity about Zen Buddhism while in high school as I had the opportunity to travel to Japan one summer, and though I had never really left my rural upbringing in Vermont, I entered a Buddhist temple for the first time during that summer and found a sense of peace and feeling of being truly at home I had not yet experienced.

I have this memory rooted in my hippocampus after returning home to Vermont and picking up a book that gave instruction on meditation in the Buddhist tradition.

In this memory, I can still hear the rain falling as I sit in my Ford Granada stuck off the side of a dirt road between Hinesburg and Charlotte, Vermont. Unable to drive any further because of downed trees and washed out roads. While I waited for a rescue, I decided that now of all moments would be the best time to try meditating.

I found myself alone doing nothing curious about Zen and with a book about Buddhist practice in my backpack. I opened the book and began to reread a passage on meditation. I sat. I tried a chant. I worked on an open posture. I crossed my legs. I began to breath.

I was puzzled. I did not understand how to breath in this way.

That memory sits with me now 25 years later as I have come to finally understand what clarity feels like when you sit breath listen.

Many experiences in that time have added guidance and purpose to that earnest kernel of curiosity and drive that came with my first visit to Japan. What has allowed me today to actually find a consistent practice with breath and meditation is an app. I use it on my iPad and my android devices. Insight Timer.

There is a beautiful intro course on the app that is open to all learners. I also find deep commitment and connection to a daily meditation course for mothers. I found the app through a course listing free for teens to learn to manage stress and emotions through meditation.

I was compelled to pen this post because as fundamental as breathing is to life, it is hard to learn to breath with confidence, calm, and insight. I am hopeful that sharing a sense of struggle and purpose will light the way for others to explore opportunities for sitting in stillness and learning to breath.

EQ Café: Anxiety

Anxiety in the world is growing and it’s affecting youth and adults. But what IS anxiety? Since it’s a feeling, how can we use emotional intelligence to understand and work with it?

Join this interactive, powerful “EQ Café” to practice emotional intelligence together, and explore answers to these important questions about anxiety. EQ Cafés are insightful, fun sessions for people curious about emotional intelligence to connect and learn together. 

In this Café we will discover:

  • What “anxiety” is and isn’t 
  • Current data about anxiety, it’s causes and effects
  • How emotions, and emotional intelligence, helps us work with this challenging feeling

Who: Anyone interested in learning about and practicing emotional intelligence – the learnable, measurable, scientifically validated skillset we all need to thrive.

What: Free interactive workshop

Where: The Dream Center
205 West 119th Street
New York, NY 10026
212-678-7030 
www.dreamcenterharlem.org

When: Tuesday, June 4, 2019 (6-8 pm EST)

How: Save your space by Registering

Questions: Please email Six Seconds’ Network Leader, 
Sarah Benis Scheier-Dolberg <sarahbsd@gmail.com>

Learning about the Brain

Learn how the brain is a muscle that learns and grows.
See an actual brain while learning about what the parts do.
Learning about brain signals and how they move different parts of the body.
The anatomy of the brain – use your two hands to learn and remember.
Learn about neuroplasticity and how the brain grows over time.
Basic brain anatomy helps you understand how to understand and calm our emotions.
Flipping Your Lid – what is happening in your brain when you momentarily flip your lid
Emotions are made in the brain.
Inside Out – considering how the emotions operate the brain.

Inclusivity and Equity Resources – Set 1

Family and community resources for supporting public schools to engage in equity, inclusion, and anti-bias initiatives.

What equity framework might you/your group choose to operate from? – link to Equity Frameworks (Hammond, 2017)

Consider using comprehensive resource sets from organizations like:

The Equity Project Resources Link

Engaging families and community members in a school walk through with a focus on culturally, responsive teaching, school climate, and/or inclusion can be an eye-opening experience to launch an equity initiative in a school and then return to monitor progress toward school-wide goals. A few examples of these walk through tools are linked below.

Teaching Tolerance has been a foundational organization for school communities to engage in deep equity and anti-bias education. See a few highlights of their free online resources below.

One final idea – make it real with stories and short articles. One examples linked below.

How should we sing Happy Birthday? from Rethinking Schools

From Rethinking Schools – Photo Credit Olivia Wise

Anger and Advocacy

We have the opportunity to tap into the wisdom of our feelings.

When I feel angry, I have the opportunity to pay attention to what the feeling might be telling me.

What am I angry about? What important pathway is blocked? What closely held values are being violated or ignored? What conditions need to be changed? What danger do I sense and want to protect myself or others from in this situation?

I have learned over the past year to breath deeply, to pull back my shoulder blades and open up to a more relaxed posture when I sense that anger is present in my body, mind, and heart. My mouth may feel dry, my pulse quickening , and a feeling of heat or general agitation suddenly appear in my body. I am learning to condition my body to respond to anger with curiosity and openness so that I might learn more about the source of this very powerful feeling.

More often than not, the source of my anger is institutional, but it manifests in individual professionals and parents in city schools. I am often angry about the condition of schools, the mindset of adults who see children and families as less than, the insidious nature of privilege and our inability to see and value others who have radically different views and experiences from our own.

I am curious about how we can learn ways to see our anger as productive to justice-centered endeavors. A few starting points are linked below.

Buddhist Peace Fellowship U Mad? Wisdom for Rageful Times

Six Seconds Anger Archives

Blog header image from Getty Images

Emotional Wellness In Schools

Emotions drive our actions, and developing our capacity to make space for exploring our own emotionscapes gives us greater agency in directing our energies in purposeful pursuit of our goals. Becoming smarter with feelings (EQ – emotional intelligence) is a pursuit I have recently devoted a significant amount of energy to both professionally and personally.

I have found increasingly in my work that many schools in America have normalized an enormous amount of toxic stress into the culture of teaching and learning for children and adults alike. The effect takes a toll on school administrators, educators, children, and parents in ways that change the development and functioning of our individual and collective brains, severely impacting opportunities for student learning.

Image from: https://developingchild.harvard.edu

What is also true is about stress in schools is that it can unlock new capacities in both children and adults, depending on their access to knowledge coming from recently established fields such as neuroeducation.

Are you a school administrator or district administrator? Spend 25 minutes in your next meeting with administrators or educators watching and discussing this video:

How to make stress your friend | Kelly McGonigal

McGonigal’s talk alerts us the opportunities that the neurohormone oxytocin releases in us – it stimulates us to reach out to others to whom we feel positively related during times of stress. Research suggests that our bodies are hard-wired to seek out those whom we trust and that responding with empathy and caring to others builds resiliency and may be positively related to many positive health outcomes.

My work in schools and my review of recent research confirms for me that learning the science of empathy, resiliency, and stress is indeed where we need to direct our energy. Attending to emotional wellness in schools is a critical next step for administrators, educators, and parents to take together.

For more resources related to emotional wellness in schools, please visit the Social Emotional Learning Resource Board linked below.

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