Dragons at Santa Monica School…Pelotas, Brazil

The Dragons had a busy day when they visited young people and staff at Santa Monica School in Pelotas, Brazil. Massive thanks to the team there for pulling these events together. It was magical.

Os Dragões voaram até Pelotas. Clique aqui para a versão em Português.

Fresh from the excitement of the book launch, the Dragons took part in an interactive “What Colour is your Dragon?” workshop for 80 young people, followed by a “Get into the Green” workshop for the schools 60 teachers. It was Teacher’s Day that day so they were really feeling ready to embrace their green dragons (and each other – love Brazil!).

Below you can find out a bit more about the Get into the Green workshop where the Dragons helped us to gain permission, and develop an appropriate language, to speak openly about the reality of Reds, Blues and Greens in today’s teaching profession. Work-life balance, tech, the wider world, crippling admin, increasingly distressed young people in the classroom. The issues are, sadly, pretty similar the world over.

Permission to pause, take care and even just rest, eat and restore is the first step. You can see our three Dragons below in this photo taking a well-deserved rest after the workshop with the young people! Honouring rest time is one of the four pillars of the Mindful Business Charter too.

Tamara and Raquel sharing the wonders of a mindful shoulder roll.
Learning through imitation happening right there! Thanks Raquel you did a great job!

Get into the Green (for educators)?

In the group we used the Dragons and storytelling to quickly embed the three colours language. A live reflection on the preceding workshop with the young people provided plenty of raw material.

The Red of working with translation and a group of 80 excited and curious young people. The Blue of organizing colouring sheets, materials, and instructions. The Green of sharing the dragons and seeing the amazing work of the young people.

The most touching Green moment was when the Green dragon physically helped a youngster who was agitated because he hadn’t had time to finish his drawing. Shoulder rolls, a deep breath, a kind word to our Red Dragon “I see you”, hand on heart (or hug your green dragon). And now?

What’s happening in the brain?

A few “brainbytes” shared the science underpinning the three motivational systems (threat, drive, soothing and care). We discuss how this soup of the brain impacts on our attention, thinking and capacity to cope when things are not “ok”.

The Three Motivational Systems
(adapted from Paul Gilbert’s work)

Mindful Movements unlock our potential…

We emphasized the importance of mindful movement. Shoulder rolls and neck tips are a favourite. They i) loosen up muscles which can bring some relief and antidote to shoulder pain from tech use; ii) give information about our emotional state as many hold emotional tension in this region and iii) can train your brain’s attentional network too (if done in a mindful way).

A Mindful Shoulder Roll has four physical movements (forwards, up, back and down) and four mental movements (focused, wandering, noticing, getting back).

Connecting to our Hearts and Purpose

Hand on heart was a favourite and can evoke quite deep feelings.

Teachers tapped into their original intentions and heartfelt motivations for their work. Connecting back to these “purpose” and values greens can really help to manage the endless Blue of admin and the Reds of the world we live in.

Soothing practices like Hand on Heart or the Self-Hug are with us all the time and are a free source of mental wealth. Our task (Blue Dragon!) is to work out what feeds our Green Dragon. THEN we are ready to work, play and share. We can also cope better when Red arrives.

Permission to Hug?

An extended hug with someone you care for can release the so-called “love drug” oxytocin and helps us to bond and feel safe. It’s all about psychological safety. While the science is often a bit more complicated than the press release headlines, it’s certainly true that for most (but not all) people, getting a hug feels good. The young people often tell us that a hug from mum or dad is one of the things that feeds their Green Dragon. Permission to hug is important as not everyone likes or appreciates touch from strangers.

A culture of hugging in Brazil allows plenty of restorative touch and connection moments. This is vital to soothe the vagal systems of these hard-working teachers!

As adults we have to navigate the touch space mindfully. There are vastly different cultural norms related to personal space and touching. Now is the time to check some of our behaviours in relation to touch. Especially as the science is confirming what we mostly already intuitively knew – gentle, kind, and authentic touch can be extremely healing. We do need some de-conditioning however as there are often confusions about intentions. Touch activates multiple bonding systems (including sexual) so intentions matter. Mindful movement what am I doing (and why?) is a great training to support wise use of touch.

In Brazil, a group of happy teachers hugged and jumped and felt valued and cared for. We proposed that every day be teachers day – not just once per year. Lots of Green Dragon energy, and for the Dragon team? Some creeping Red of tiredness, soon remedied by the Greens of nourishing food, great company and rest!

Some very happy teachers at the end of the workshop. Thank you for taking care of our children. Please take care of yourselves as well.

Contact Raquel Lhullier for more information about What Colour is your Dragon events in Brazil.

You can buy the Portuguese book here.

Look out for the Dragons at Concriart Rio 2020.

Contact Casa Do Horto for more information about Dr. Tamara Russell’s Teacher Training Program in Brazil.

Find out more about mindfulness in Brazil via Iniciativa Mindfulness.