Tag Archives: Mindfulness

Top 5 Tips to Success in Learning and creativity

Do you ever get writer’s block? Do you sit down to take a test and your mind goes blank? Do you wish you were more creative? Try some or all of the following tips to enhance your learning and creative success.

Mindfulness is a hot topic these days! It is really about awareness and focus. Don’t let life happen to you, take control of your life and pay attention to your thoughts and your actions. Be present in everything you do. If you drift, bring your attention back to your breathing so that you can refocus. Notice your environment: the colors and shapes, the smells, the sounds, and the textures. Multitasking is the opposite of being mindful.

Exercise will enhance blood flow to the brain and build Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF) which helps to grow new brain cells and connections. Exercise also helps us produce endorphins or happy hormones which relax our mind and help us build confidence and good mood. A quick walk or swim can do wonders for getting creative juices flowing!

Rest well by sleeping for 7 to 8 hours each night. Readjust your schedule to make this happen. If you don’t make it a priority, your body will find a way to make you rest, which usually comes in the form of illness or injury. A rested brain can focus better, remember better and help you to be creative.

Nutrition is a critical component because without planning we may not get the critical nutrients we need. Eat every four hours to avoid blood sugar drops. Eat whole foods rather than processed or refined foods to slow down the digestive process and control blood sugar better. Foods containing oils that are beneficial to the heart and brain include walnuts, avocados, and salmon. Two-thirds of your plate should come from plant foods (whole grains, fruits and vegetables).

Build habits for future success! You are building habits every time you repeat a process, good or bad. We tend to have a lot of mindless processes that end up becoming automatic…we do them without thinking. Starting tomorrow, work on a simple habit that you would like to work into your routine. It could be as simple as waking up and saying three things you are thankful for about yourself, another person, and your environment.

The bottom line is that you have to take care of your mind and your body.


A fly on the wall inside my skull

Illustration of a housefly crawling into a human skull

The inspiration for this post comes from one of the FUN PROMPTS: “If you could be a fly on the wall on any place on campus, where would you want to be? Explain why.” My response is probably not in the direction the prompt author intended, but here’s where I went with it.

This close to Spring Break, I always feel hectic and frazzled. I am more likely to forget something, “drop the ball”. I’m describing stress, though there’s no real reason for me to be more stressed now than any other time of year. But invariably, I am. It’s a pattern for me when I’m employed in academia. (I almost wonder if I’m picking it up from the faculty and students around me, like the common cold, but seeping into me by empathy or telepathy instead of spreading virally.)

Photograph of a housefly showing the large compound eyes

So right now if I could be a fly on the wall anywhere on campus, I would be a fly on the wall inside my own skull, with my compound eyes showing me the mosaic of what’s happening inside my head, big picture. And I would allow my superb motion detection to spot stress coming, and flit away from it, toward the tranquil places.
I actually tried becoming that fly yesterday morning on the way to work. Here’s how it went:

I turn on the car radio to KJZZ, hoping for a traffic report.

News Announcer: “…our conservative commentator…”

I punch the radio off, darting away. I breathe for a few minutes. I turn the radio back on.

News Announcer: “President Trump had this to say about…”

I punch the radio off, darting away. I breathe for a few minutes more. I tentatively turn the radio back on to hear the news announcer report a story about a woman who was refused service at Starbucks because she rode her horse through the drive-through. It becomes apparent the only reason to report the story is so the news announcer can end with a hipster snarky comment at the woman’s and horse’s expense in order to manufacture a lighthearted moment.

I punch the radio off, darting away from my dismay that the news isn’t really news anymore – it’s facts mixed with lies and lame attempts at humor. This time I leave the radio off.

I insert a CD and drum on my steering wheel, playing along with some seriously windswept Scots energetically attacking drums and pipes. I do this all the way to work and arrive feeling focused and energized.

Reflecting on this 20 minutes spent observing the inside of my own skull while choosing and responding to external stimuli, I remember:

The only thing I can change is me.

illustration of a butterfly with wings spread (symbol of transformation)

I get to choose at least some of the things I’m exposed to. I get to choose whether I stress out in response to something I can’t control.

I understand again, if I want to change feeling scattered and stressed, I need to change myself.

I think in order to do that, I’ll need to carve out time to be a fly on the wall in my own skull, observing, identifying what to change. And then, I have some work to do, making it tranquil in here.

Images used in this post are from:


Mindfulness in Everything

I thought the word mindfulness was a little overused and overrated. And then I started abusing the word myself. In the classroom, in meetings, with my friends, with my kids.

I have actually boiled it down to the one thing that could save us all from ourselves. If something is going wrong in your life, you are likely on autopilot. Handy for planes. Bad for most people…unless you are a really good habit builder.

Too much body fat…eating mindlessly.

Too little sleep…surfing (internet, TV channels) mindlessly.

Depressed…wishing mindlessly.

Anxious…fearing mindlessly.

I think we just do things because it’s the way we have always done them, never questioning why. Always on autopilot.

Mindfulness is about being present and focused on people and the world around us. On our thoughts, on our food, on our lessons, on quiet, on noise, on smells, on textures, on colors, on tastes and on how we feel about it all.

The mind is powerful and controls our body and ultimately our health. If you are having a hard time getting focused, start with your breath. You’ll will find stillness there and will eventually be able to expand your areas of focus.

I encourage my students to touch, feel, hear, see and question as they are learning. I encourage mindfulness in the classroom because it teaches the student to learn in new ways and reach surprising new levels of comprehension.