| CULTIVATING HAPPINESS
Christine Mason, Jeffrey Donald, Krishna Kaur Khalsa,
Michele M. Rivers Murphy, Valerie Brown
As the pandemic recedes and the world gradually returns to “normal”, it’s more important than ever to make your classroom a place that supports mental health and improves overall wellness. With this practical, research-based guide, you’ll incorporate age and grade appropriate meditation, breathing, mindfulness, and secular yoga activities into your teaching, in ways that work for in-person as well as virtual and hybrid settings.
Adaptations for special populations, including those who have experienced trauma
for family involvement in social emotional learning
on self-care for teachers and school staff
from successfully implemented programs
of illustrations, QR codes, and reflective questions
Mindfulness isn’t just a buzzword — it’s a time-tested, teacher-tested technique for reducing anxiety and improving you students’ outcomes. Incorporate it into your classroom and see for yourself how much good a deep breath can do.
| THE AUTHORS
PhD, is an educational psychologist and a nationally recognized expert in the areas of educational reform, visioning, trauma and mindfulness, teacher and principal mentoring, and special education. She is also a yoga, mindfulness, meditation instructor who was trained in New Mexico and certified in 2001, with a Level II yoga certification in Conscious Communication in 2005. From 2005-2009, she was chair of the Education Committee for Miri Piri Academy.
Jeffrey Donald, MS, has served as an educator and instructional leader for the past sixteen years. He is currently the Mindfulness Coordinator for Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland. Jeffrey holds a Master of Science degree in Educational Administration and Supervision from Hood College as well as being a certified 500-hour Master Yoga and Meditation teacher & Reiki Master.
Krishna Kaur Khalsa
Krishna Kaur, a dynamic, heart centered Yoga teacher, began studying yoga in 1970 and has passionately taught the art and science of Kundalini Yoga and Self Awareness for over 40 years. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from her teaching in Africa, Mexico, and inner cities throughout the United States.A master teacher trainer, she conducts workshops in Canada, Europe, Asia and Latin America.
Michele M. R. Murphy
Michele Rivers Murphy, EdD, CEI’s Associate Director of Heart Centered Learning, is a seasoned consultant, presenter, and educational leader. A change agent for over two decades, she has helped transform some of the highest-needs neighborhoods and districts by improving student engagement, school culture, and academic success.
Valerie Brown, JD, MA, PCC, transformed her high-pressure, twenty-year career as a lawyer lobbyist, representing educational institutions and nonprofits, to human-scale work with leaders and teams to foster trustworthy, compassionate, and authentic connections. She is an accredited leadership coach, international retreat leader, writer, and Chief Mindfulness Officer of Lead Smart Coaching, LLC, specializing in application and integrationof mindfulness and leadership,and is a Co-Director of Georgetown’s Institute for Transformational Leadership.
Who is Cultivating Happiness For
Educators and families who are looking for maintaining a healthy balance in the midst of the current chaos, uncertainty, and anxiety.
Parents that are looking for a tool to enhance their kids’ alertness, focus, and learning;
Teachers, therapists, and yoga teachers who are collaborating with schools and district-level mindfulness coordinators.
Behavioral health therapists, community health, and mental health providers that assist people in their transition from unhealthy or dysfunctional to healthy or functional coping .
Other members of educational
You’ll find amazing handy features such as:
Teacher notes, suggested yoga sets, breath work, mantras, meditations, and home practices, as well as explanations around the connection to the Five Cs and Heart Centered Learning.
Recommendations to help teachers guide student exercises, including how to help students improve postures and common accommodations that can increase student buy-in and engagement, keeping advanced students interested while helping students who may struggle with an exercise.
Suggested resources and apps that support our recommendations.
Activities (yoga sets, meditations, and breath work), with a discussion of appropriateness for various age levels (pre-K to high school) and circumstances.
A suggested “curricular context” and suggestions for integrating yoga-meditation-mindfulness into the school day.
Examples of how the authors and others have applied these practices in their lives and in their instruction.
A description of options for teachers, teacher preparation, or coordination with local yoga and meditation teachers.
Suggested references for online apps and videos that can complement activities in each chapter.
Data on implementation in Maryland and elsewhere, including information on a number of teachers trained, impact on students, student and teacher opinions of effectiveness, and practical hints for infusing aspects of the program throughout the school day.
“Educators will find much inspiration and support in this book, which offers insightful and practical ways to support students’ emotional health. It is our bodies that hold trauma, and it is through our bodies that we can find release and emotional rest. This compassionate work provides educators with easy-to-implement strategies and activities that use the breath and body to create change from the inside out. The goal of this comprehensive resource is to not only lower anxiety and challenging behaviors, but also to create learning communities that further joy, wonder, and happiness.“
Co-author of Reclaiming Our Students: Why Children Are More Anxious, Aggressive, and Shut Down Than Ever—And What We Can Do About It
“I am so excited to hear that Cultivating Happiness, Resilience, and Well-Being Through Meditation, Mindfulness, and Movement will be available to practitioners across K-12 settings. Chris Mason and her colleagues share practical, sensible, and ‘you can do today’ strategies in a beautiful way that adds a spirit of calm at a much needed time in schools. Educators looking for a compassionate approach to supporting their students in a developmentally appropriate and engaging way need to look no further: You found your resource.”
Dr. Susie DaSilva
Superintendent of Schools, Ridgefield, CT
“In today’s ever-changing world, learning cannot take place without paying attention to the well-being of K-12 students and teachers. This powerful book grounds the reader with the scientific understanding of why the connection of mind, body, and heart can enhance one’s capacity to navigate daily stressors. It also contains essential strategies and activities that lift the knowledge off the pages and into personal and professional practice, as well as yoga-mindfulness-meditation exercises and teaching tips on how to effectively lead and guide others. Authored by a village of exceptional individuals with years of experience in the field of social-emotional well-being, this book will influence systemic change in education and, in turn, positively impact the health and resilience of future generations.”
Founder of Mindfulness Without Borders
“The comprehensive and heartfelt exploration of both the scientific evidence base and practical hands-on approaches found within the pages of this book will support teachers, parents, and students to foster learning environments where everyone can flourish and thrive. The thoughtful narrative includes reviewing the research, developing personal practice, curating an effective teaching space, and implementing practical activities and makes this book a pragmatic and approachable resource for both those new to the field and longer-term practitioners.”
Elli Weisbaum, PhD
Assistant Professor of Buddhism, Psychology, and Mental Health, University of Toronto
“Convincing research has demonstrated that our children and adolescents are experiencing an almost universal burden of mental and behavioral health challenges that they will carry with them into adulthood. Our schools are not providing the strategies and skills necessary for successful coping with the worldwide epidemic of unmanaged chronic stress. This book provides a comprehensive rationale, description, and instruction on the implementation of the yoga-based practices of physical exercises, breath regulation and relaxation techniques, and meditation and mindfulness into schools that research is demonstrating improve the stress and emotion regulation and overall mental and behavioral health necessary for our children to succeed and prosper.”
Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Director of Research for the Kundalini Research Institute
“The practice of using meditation, mindfulness, and movement should be in every educator’s toolkit of strategies under the labels of self-preservation and decision-making. This is the book they need to learn these stress-reducing techniques. The book is situated on a stable foundation of theory and what theory looks like in practice. The authors provide validating research and align it with evidence-based activities educators can easily incorporate during their working hours, and they demonstrate how these techniques decrease the risks of empathic distress and burnout while increasing an educator’s capacity to become more compassionate and impartial when making judgments about their students.”
Victoria E. Romero
Educational Consultant and author of Building Resilience in Students Impacted by Adverse Childhood Experiences and Race Resilience: Achieving Equity Through Self and Systems Transformation
“Cultivating Happiness, Resilience, and Well-Being Through Meditation, Mindfulness, and Movement represents an immense contribution to the field. Beginning with research findings, the authors anticipate and address virtually every what, why, how, who, when, and where question that educators, parents, and the public may have about the book’s subject. Their goal is nothing less than to provide blueprints for an education that truly serves the needs of students and teachers in today’s troubled times. They have succeeded!”
Author of Walking the Teacher’s Path with Mindfulness and Founder of the Mindfulness in Education Network
“As a parent, I know how strongly we hope our children will thrive and flourish. With the enormous challenges facing our world today, I am worried, as many are, about the world we will be leaving them. How can we best equip our children to navigate their challenges today and the world’s challenges tomorrow? For centuries, meditation and yoga have provided a gateway to calmness and insights that can guide our actions and interactions as we strengthen our health and well-being. To protect and support them, and for our collective future, these teachings must reach our children. Dr. Mason and her team of dedicated yoga-meditation teachers have written a manual to help schools implement practices that can make a profound difference for each and every child and for our planet. Filled with hundreds of photos and time-tested yoga sets, breathing exercises, and meditations, Cultivating Happiness, Resilience, and Well-Being Through Meditation, Mindfulness, and Movement provides a pathway to a better, brighter future as it addresses students’ and teachers’ immediate needs. This book will be useful for yoga instructors as well as public and private school teachers, school counselors, and administrators. I encourage you to read, practice, and reflect, watching in wonder at the significant improvements in your own happiness, resilience, and well-being as well as in all the children in your life!”
Amrit Singh Khalsa
CEO at Kundalini Research Institute
“At a time when the pandemic, global warming, racial reckoning, ideological division, and technological innovation have coalesced to present schools and students with disorienting change, the authors of Cultivating Happiness, Resilience, and Well-Being have provided a tremendous resource of hope. Grounding their work in scientific evidence, they demonstrate the benefits that mindfulness traditions have on the health and well-being of adults and students alike. This path-breaking book provides an accessible overview of ancient yet vibrant practices that provide remarkable possibilities; it offers tangible implementation plans that empower students and teachers to listen with their heads and their hearts, to face adversity with courage and compassion, to build confidence and resilience, to care for themselves and, above all, better understand and heal one another. Every teacher, every administrator, every parent who wants to improve learning outcomes, raise moral children, and create a more peaceful and just society should read this book and embrace its promise.”
Bryan K. Garman, Ph.D.
Head of Sidwell Friends School Executive Director, Center for Educational Improvement
Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Yale University School of Medicine, Program for Recovery and Community Health
Chief Advisor, Childhood-Trauma Learning Collaborative
New England Mental Health Technology Transfer Center
“Learning, understanding, and using the five Cs described in this book for social emotional learning in my practice as a school principal has been a game changer! Working with staff and having compassionate conversations has changed how we do business in school. Staff and students are definitely benefitting from being engaged in mindful movement and yoga.”
Stacy Bachelder Giles
Principal, Bridgewater-Hebron Village School, Bristol, NH
“Playing and learning are synonyms. Both – in their purest form – are about freely and joyfully engaging, connecting, and exploring the surrounding world. For children – and adults for that matter – to effectively play and learn, they must have a deeply embodied sense of calm, confidence, connection and curiosity. Movement, meditation and mindfulness are essential tools for developing these senses and enabling people to become lifelong learners and players. This book is a gift. A gift that has been given to our school communities at a time in our history when we need it most. Within its pages lies a practical roadmap for creating safer, more joyful, more loving and more inspiring schools”.
Founder and Chief Playmaker
“A superb resource! Supported by research, the authors have offered a treasure chest of well-structured mindfulness-based activities, practices, materials, and frameworks for educators, yoga teachers, and students. The authors seek not only incremental improvement in student mental and physical well-being, they have offered a practical roadmap for high-performance functioning, integrating mind, body, and heart. Reflecting the authors’ social justice and equity perspectives, the text, and the photos are racially and culturally inclusive.”
Author of YouthBuild’s North Star, a founding staff member and former vice president of YouthBuild USA, creator of the Academy for Transformation, and a current Buddhist Dharma Teacher.
“Where does one start in recognizing what a valuable gift the authors of this book have provided teachers and their students? Cultivating Happiness, Resilience, and Well-Being Through Meditation, Mindfulness, and Movement is truly an amazing experiential resource that begins with an overview of the wealth of neuroscientific research supporting the efficacy of yoga, mindfulness, and mediation in alleviating stress, enhancing executive functioning, dealing with emotions, and advancing happiness and well-being for children and adults. The authors, in a marvelously understandable and illustrative fashion, provide educators with numerous age-appropriate classroom practices to choose from, all with step-by-step instructions including trauma-informed yoga instruction to help students who have experienced trauma, especially considering the impact of COVID-19. The emphasis on how to address the barriers to practice and increase motivation, engagement, interest, and fun is incredibly helpful. In addition, the reader will discover numerous online resources, apps, and outside readings to facilitate classroom instruction. The authors also stress the importance of integrating these practices into teachers’ own lives to help deal with the high levels of stress and burnout that is endemic in their profession and to enhance the joy of teaching these practices to their students, knowing that it can change their lives forever. While I was reading this book, I often felt the mindfulness of the moment. What a wonderful, heartfelt contribution to the field of education!”
PhD, Baruch College, City University of New York