What Are You Going To Be When You Grow Up?

My five year old asked me that just the other day. Without prompting of any kind.

I looked at him, quite seriously, and said, “A Writer.”

I said, “What about you?”

He said, “A Pokemon collector.”

Now you might not see this as a great career option, but let’s face it, there are people who do this kind of stuff professionally. As parents, we don’t think this way. We try to steer them logically to a more security – driven profession, or even worse we might tell our five year old that his dreams are not realistic.

But you don’t see what I see.

I see this kid in the playground, the centre of attention as he splays his cards for the crowd to check out. He is in top form as he laughs, calls out the names of the cards and declares whether they are good or bad. He enjoys the spotlight and ensures, in someway that it is on him.

He also climbs like a monkey, is street wise in a way I can’t put into examples and shakes off getting into trouble like water off a ducks back. He does his own thing. He can’t sit still and he is sweet and funny and mischievous.

My older son, also loves Pokemon but he loves the methodical nature of collecting the cards, storing the information, and doing this utterly fascinating (and sometimes tedious) thing where he can recite all of that information back to me by rote. Even before he learned to read he had all the (thousands) of skylander names and their powers stored in that amazing brain of his.

Julian is social, kind and dreamy but he likes order and doesn’t like getting into trouble. He conforms which is a good thing and a bad thing.

These are gifts shining with in them. They are not obvious like that of natural athletes of mathematical genius’s but they are just as important to recognise.

These gifts, these pursuits, interests, passions can become the joy of our lives and who are we, as parents, to tell them that they are not warranted, not important, not something to spend time on?

Now I am not saying that I haven’t banned them numerous times or that they should be allowed to just ignore everything else and do just what they enjoy, but I think we need to be more aware of their joys.

We, as a society, as a culture, as a human race, are naturally inclined to compare what we have to what others have.

What we need to teach them, what we need them to know and understand as they grow up is that comparison is futile.

There will always be someone prettier, funnier, more intelligent, more together. BUT they don’t have what they have. The ultimate uniqueness of being themselves.

Sometimes its hard to put into words why you admire others but as I get older, as I learn more, I’ve realised that the people I admire most are being the most authentically themselves. Because they embrace themselves and are at home in their own body – the Universe conspires to give them it’s abundance.

You want to be around them. They are attractive. They live a life they love. They are doing what they are doing for the pleasure and passion of it, and in turn, giving service of some kind to others through this awareness of their gift.

That is the kind of children we should be raising.

But at present, we seem to be more concerned with the fact that we might miss our children being next Tiger Woods, than encouraging them to be the best Harry, Johnny, Isabel they can be.

Our children do so many multiple sports, music, swimming, extra school lessons that they don’t often get time to work out what they like and who they are. They barely get play dates because there literally is no unscheduled time for some kids.

We might be covering up their gift of writing poetry because they are at basketball practice and have no time to be dreamy.

The ancient Indian text, The Bhagavad Gita states, “The Gift is indestructable. It is a seed. We are not required to be God. We are not required to create the seed. Only to plant it wisely and well.”

As parents, what we don’t want to do, is help our kids cover that seed with so much dirt that it may never see the light.

And we don’t want to do that to our own gifts, our own passions and dreams either.

Don’t you find it amazing that there is such an incredible range of interest, talent and diversity in people’s career choices? Some are naturally inclined to science, some medicine, some administration and some the arts…and so the world turns.

There is a reason for this and the Bhagavad Gita calls it Dharma. Your purpose. It is like you have been programmed with the gift that the world needs and your life’s journey is to figure out what it is and give it to the world.

Dharma is born mysteriously out of the intersection between The Gift and The Times. Dharma is a response to the urgent, though often hidden need of the moment.

An example is that maybe activism and woman’s rights have always held an interest for you. Maybe you work in politics or for a charity and then Trump gets elected and you find yourself, with your gifts, in the perfect space for connecting woman together to rise up and challenge inequality and injustice. This is the intersection between your Gift and The Times and your purpose unfolds.

I love this quote from Dolly Parton, “Find out who you are and do it on purpose”

Do it on purpose. Be more you. Be more authentic. Stop doing what you ought to do, what you have been told you should be doing, what your friends are doing and do what you want.

This quote from Robert Frost describes how I felt after I uncovered my seed. The seed that was so buried it took the tragedy of death to dig it out.

“They would not find me changed from him they knew – Only more sure of all I thought was true.”

We must stop encouraging our children to look elsewhere for happiness. We must stop the busyness and start listening to their thoughts and dreams and only provide encouragement. They will find out in life if they need security, a steady job, to have a year off, to live extravagantly or simply. They will make their own mistakes regardless of how much cotton wool we wrap them in.

The biggest mistake of all however, is ours if we bury that seed before it even gets a chance to bloom.

The tree of life has many branches, many different ways to climb but you must choose the one that resonates most with you and often, its the road less travelled, the one that is scary, lonely and risky and that’s why the path is so hard to take.

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Image credit: www.saintpour.com.au

 

 

Too Much To Do? Read This

I know you’re busy. I know you probably don’t have time to read this. But indulge me. Indulge yourself.

What if you didn’t have to be busy?

What if the most exhausted person you know, wasn’t you?

What if you slowed down.

Stopped?

What would happen? Would your world fall apart or would the fun, the love, the happiness creep back in?

Why do we try to squeeze it all in when it is pushing out the joy?

For years I have loved yoga without really knowing why.

Why do I feel so good after yoga when other exercise, although endorphin-inducing, doesn’t give me that same buzz?

Yesterday, when looking for a quote in a book that I could relay in my yoga teaching class, I found this,

“After practicing poses for several minutes, it is a good idea to relax and feel the rebound – calmly focus on the sensations of chi (prana).” Paul Grilley

Prana is life-force and it is seen as a universal energy which flows in currents in and around the body.

Regardless of the exercise you choose you to do, it will allow the prana to flow,but yoga specifically focuses on opening the channels in the body for the prana to flow more easily and freely.

My quoted paragraph pointed to feeling the rebound and that is where yoga differs again. In yoga, we are told specifically to stop and focus inwards. How are you feeling now? What are you feeling? Focus on your breath. Just be. This is our chance to feel the rebound. We might be in child’s pose, tadasana (mountain) or savasana to do this.

Usually in the down time in-between exercises, whether it is tennis, cycling, pilates etc you are encouraged to get a drink. you might also find yourself chatting to others or picking up your phone to see messages you have missed.

What you are actually missing out on here is the rebound. The opportunity to focus inward and feel the sensations of that prana flow throughout the body. Without it, that quiet opportunity to stop and reflect, you are skipping the most important part. The part where your mind chatter stops and sensations in the body take over.

That’s when you understand the true meaning of yoga. That calm, that inner-peace that takes over and you take that feeling with you when you leave. That feeling improves relationships, improves tolerance, empathy and compassion and instills a greater joy within.

I think it is a practice however that should go beyond our asana practice, the physical practice.

In life, between juggling to-do lists, children, work commitments, social life, family, we are missing out on feeling the rebound.

Today I got up, flew around the house getting the kids and myself ready to leave the house for school and preparing for my day. I squeeze in meditation, a hot breakfast, coffee, showers and lunches and then it’s in the car. Drop first kid off, then second, then third – now to yoga. Then to the shops. I looked at my watch, oops have to race to doc’s appointment. I had an x-ray on my foot and then I picked up a parcel from the post.

I was starving so I thought I’d pit stop at home for a coffee and something to eat. I was going to head straight out again – to do errands that could be done at anytime, instead I decided to stop and feel the rebound.

Enjoy my coffee. Come down from the whirlwind of my morning and regroup for the afternoon’s activities.

It’s so important to realise that life is about enjoyment. It’s not about getting stuff done or winning because you are the most busy or exhausted.

If you think about it logically being busy and exhausted is actually the opposite to how we want to feel and yet we persist and over-schedule until we squeeze all of the enjoyment out. I know that if i schedule back to back outings on the weekend or go out too many nights in a row – fun things become drudgery.

So slow down and feel the rebound during your day.

Being busy and always moving forward will not fulfill your dreams of a joyful and content life.

Standing still is where you can enjoy all the prana, the life force, you have created in you beautiful life xx

I will leave you with a piece from the Radiance Sutras, Lorin Roche.

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How To Create A Life You Love

Today I am reflecting on my life and how it came to be.

Today is the first day in seven and a half years that I am on my own, during a weekday. My two eldest are back to school and my littlest Elijah has started his little pre-kindy program.

I was a very different person seven and a half years ago. In fact, as I overlook my picket fence to the lake and enjoy the serenity of the trees, I don’t actually think I would recognise my life if I had been transported from then to now.

We all know that Motherhood changes us. That the love for our little people re-shifts priorities, interests, friendships and relationships. It changes our relationship to ourselves as well. Sometimes Motherhood allowing us to bathe in our own magnificence for creating something so perfect and at others it feels like our soul is being torn out of our body and the aliens are invading. Or maybe just some kind of exhausted half-ass alien.

But Motherhood creates a strength. It strips us back to our basics, without the bells and whistles. It forces us to take care of ourselves in ways we never had before and it quite literally pulls our hearts out of our chests and gives it to our beautiful creations, as a gift to take on their journey.

So then what is left? Who are we. Without our role as Mother, Wife, Daughter, Worker, Carer. What do we like to do? What do we want to say?

What do I choose to do with my time? Where will I make the biggest difference?

I went to two yoga classes this morning, with my newly found freedom and now I am sitting at my desk, with my beautiful view to look at, writing my joy and happiness.

I think of my funny, independent, quirky, different, amazing, miraculous children and I feel joy.

I think of my charming, humorous, loyal and adoring husband and I feel joy.

I think of my family, I have been gifted with two amazing ones, who are loyal, kind, generous and supportive and I feel joy.

I think of my friends and all so different but all loyal, fun-loving, do-anything for you kind of people and I feel joy.

I think of who I am and I feel joy.

I think of my life filled with beauty, nature, ocean swims, sunshine and love and I feel grateful.

Maybe you are here with me, today, so intensely grateful for all you have or maybe you are wondering where you took a wrong turn.

If so, I wanted to write down five things that are essential to creating a life you love, so you can have it too.

1. Acknowledging what is truly important

If it is important to you you will priorities it in your life. What you have to make sure is that you are important to you. If you look at how you are spending each day – where are you having fun – where are you feeling joy?

You do have time for the things you want to do if you value yourself enough. You are important. You can get to that gym class (sewing workshop, yoga, painting tutorial etc) if the kids do one less activity this term, or if your husband cooks the dinner one night. You can go out with your girlfriends, get away from the kids and have a date night, go for a lone swim at the beach…. you just need to figure out what is important to you.

There are brave souls out there who have realised that their lifestyle choices such as mortgage, fancy cars, and expensive material possessions were keeping them in a life that was joyless. What happens when they quit it all and follow what is important to them instead of what society has deemed important?

You need to know that your life is your own creation.

2. Simplicity

I say no a lot.

To nights out when I am swamped. To emails from companies I don’t want to email me. To more things. To added activities for the kids. To playdates when I am exhausted. To the status quo. To things I don’t believe in.

A lot of us fill our lives with the meaningless, the inane, the boring, the over-whelming and then wonder why we have this feeling of dissatisfaction, despite our full lives with material wealth.

Having no down time, no space in the clutter, no time to breathe or even think is detrimental to our mental health.

If you are feeling over-whelmed, weighed down, burdened, unhappy or even a little depressed it’s time to make things more simplistic. What can you dump? Clear out. Stop doing? Say no to?

It will make a difference.

3. Making Sure That You’re Manifesting What You Actually Want

I built a life once based on other people’s perceptions of what it should look like. I followed other’s plans and paths because I didn’t know what I wanted. I never got clear enough on who I was, to know what I did want. There were glimpses of my true self, sure, but it can sometimes feel like an out-of-body experience when you are not living a life you love. You wonder how you got here, you blame others, you make excuses and you feel stuck.

You need to make time for yourself to get clear on who you are and what you want. Follow your bliss, your joys and do things you love. Meditate, turn off your phone, get some space, some silence, some quiet time in your life so you can hear yourself. Because your true self whispers and sometimes she’s hard to hear.

4. Gratitude

Being grateful for what I have is one of the best things I have other done.

It’s easy to get off path and think other’s have it better. It’s easy to think that you don’t have enough because you always have desire. It’s easy to think that we are not good enough.

However when you focus on gratitude your perception of life starts to change. I am grateful that I can pay that horrendous bill, rather than feeling resentful. I am grateful that the crappy meal I put on the table means that my family have eaten. I am grateful that my sore muscles means that they have given my body the gift of movement.

Everyday there are so many things to be grateful for and I truly believe you cannot love your life if you are not grateful for what you have, right now.

 

5. Surrendering to a Higher Power

Give your best efforts and surrender the results. No effort on this path goes to waste.

I live for these two sayings. The more I live them the better I feel.

We are creators of our lives, yes but I believe we are co-creators. Life always has a curve-ball to throw at us or a dream that is better than we ever could think of.

Whether you surrender to God, to the Universe, to Life itself – giving up control of how things turn out is one of the most amazing things that you can do to make yourself happy.

That sounds counter-productive right? It’s not.

Trying to control the outcome is sometimes a futile purpose as you cannot control all the elements. Trying to control the outcome will give you expectations and when things don’t happen like you want, you make yourself unhappy.

Do we really want to make ourselves unhappy?

I don’t think anyone really wants to be unhappy, we just don’t know how to remove ourselves from this cycle of Want, Control, Expectation.

The answer is in all the ancient wisdom – cest la vie, what will be will be, let it be.

Give your best efforts and let the rest go.

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Bigger Than Us

“It’s no good going back to yesterday because I was a different person then.” Alice in Wonderland.

A new year, a new direction.

I feel like I am coming out of my Mummy bubble and into the real world.

Maybe a little known fact about me is that I have a Social Science degree.

I once majored in politics and history and spent my working hours summarizing the news for companies and headed up the political division of the media reporting agency in our WA elections.

Perhaps it was burn out or an incessant dislike for how the news was reported, re-ported, and re-run over, but I chose roughly ten years ago to stop watching.

We are in control of how we choose to feel in any given moment and I didn’t want to follow news stories that just incite fear without an anti-dote (I mean, can we help? Who is doing something about this? Why is this happening? What is the follow-up).

But, I have since realised, that we can’t close our hearts, minds and souls to information. What we can’t do is ignore what is happening in our world, our country, our city or community.

I was extremely naive to think or want to think, that human rights violations stopped with Hitler. That terrorism was the great evil of the 21st Century.

It is easy to be that ignorant when we tailor our own news feeds and views of the world.

But some things can just shock us out of our complacency.

After Trump won the election people cried, thinking that this reflected an America  that was filled with more hate, racism and fear, than love and hope.

How?

How did an educated, westernized country make this choice?

And the real question – what information am I missing that would skew the results so resoundingly in Trump’s favour?

My husband pointed out to me that people distrusted Clinton. That people were not necessarily voting for these things that Trump represents, but against things they had heard about Clinton, like her alleged involvement in arming terrorists.

Completely unaware of these things I did some research. Then some more.

As I started to research and gain an understanding of the politics behind the decision, I realised that the world is so much bigger than me and that knowledge and education beyond my own bubble, is sorely needed in my life.

Maybe this sounds like something that would bore you to tears but researching this was fascinating. Like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, there was just more and more craziness and it was almost like fiction.

And it made me wonder…..

Do you want to know more? Do you want to know what is out there in the world? If someone was talking about Syria – would you like to be informed enough to contribute to the conversation?

As Mummy’s we talk about schooling and teachers and our children endlessly but Í think some of you might want to talk about bigger issues than this? Yes? Go deeper?

So I thought and thought about where to go with this?

If I could summarise, succinctly, into a blog post  – issues that are important, making them as relevant and timely as I can – would you read it?

Would we get past obsessing over the size of our asses, how perfect our parenting needs to be or about the material goods we don’t have, if we were consciously focused on issues of a larger nature?

If we could stimulate our compassion, tickle our intellects awake and educate our consciousness – would we be better people?

Do you ever think about others? Do you have questions about world issues but are too embarrassed to admit you don’t know what references mean?

“We don’t want another Rwanda.”

“People don’t trust Hilary because of those email leaks.”

I do and yes, I don’t know what Rwanda means.

But I want to find out.

We as educated people, have a responsibility to find out what is happening to other humans on our planet. They are sharing our earth and we can’t ignore, forget or deliberately not know.

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I’m going to ask you to share my posts. I am going to ask you to talk about them. I am going to ask you to ask me questions. Send me emails. Tell me. Let me know.

What else do you want to know about? What should I research and write about?

How can we cultivate our compassion, knowledge and empathy whilst increasing the joy and appreciation for our own lives?

Being of service, caring about others and taking action will make a difference to how you feel. It will give your life new meaning.

Let’s get started.

 

The Benefits of Teaching Meditation and Mindfulness to Children

I am currently undertaking my yoga teacher training at Tamara Yoga in Perth and as part of my course we are asked to complete a research assignment on a suggested topic or a topic of our own choosing. I decided to choose my own, going with the area I was most interested in.

Having three children of my own and enjoying the benefits, myself, of meditation and mindfulness, I was interested in what cold hard facts I could uncover to explain the feelign of ease, peace and well-being in my household.

It’s long but worth it 🙂

The benefits of teaching meditation and mindfulness to children.

The Dalai Lama has said, “If every eight-year-old in the world was taught meditation, we would eliminate violence in one generation.”

How do you feel after you meditate?

How do you feel a month after regular practice? A year?

I know I feel like a different person. I feel I have more clarity, more regulation of my emotions, a more stable, centred, clear-thinking mind.

In my study of one person I can say with a resounding yes that meditation has had a positive impact on my life.

Ancient Yogic scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita and The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali refer to meditation as the path to ecstasy, to universal oneness, to God.

Modern day hopes for meditation are less lofty. In looking at the different programs for meditation and mindfulness, the number one reason for meditation seems to be to de-stress.

Deepak Chopra says, “We live in such an anxiety driven society that what we are looking for is the best way to manage stress, but what we should be looking for is peace, equanimity, love and enjoyment of our experiences.”

I think one goal leads to the other. Let’s manage our stress so that we can open up the pathways to peace and then feel that universal oneness.

The ancient texts describe the way. They teach us that the only way to get the mind under control is to still it and to still it, we must practice.

The Bhagavad Gita says,

“The mind is the friend
Of those who have control over it,
And the mind acts like an enemy
For those who do not control it.”

The Yoga Sutras say,

“Yoga is the restriction of the fluctuations of consciousness.”

Through the eight limbs of yoga, what we ultimately want to achieve, is to still the mind and the texts say, this is what will lead us to God.

Now going back to science, the research says that meditational benefits go deeper than just what we notice. Meditation is changing our DNA. Meditation is reaching down into each and every one of our cells and changing its structure.

A study on cancer patients noted that the group who meditated had their telomeres, which are stretches of DNA that prevent chromosomal deterioration, in-tact, compared to the control group whose had shortened with the disease.

We are making physiological changes to the brain when we meditate, increasing memory, sense of self, empathy and stress regulation. There have been extensive brain scans to prove this, using MRI’s on short and long term meditators. The results show the brain centre for attention and focus lights up during meditation and in long-term meditators, increases in size.

Richard Davidson, professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and the Waisman Centre, says that a growing body of “hard-nosed neuroscience research” is attracting attention to the profound effects of meditation. “This deserves serious scientific attention,” he says. “It also explains why people spend time sitting on the meditation cushion, because of the effects on day-to-day life.”

Davidson compares mental practice to physical exercise. “We all know that if an individual works out on a regular basis, that can change cardiovascular health,” he says. “In the same way, these data suggest that certain basic mechanisms of the mind, like attention, can also be trained and improved through systematic practice.”

Often in life when something is good, well it’s just too good to be true. Chocolate tastes amazing – the pleasure centres in your mind go wild for it – but it’s not good for you. The insane thing about meditation is that there is no downside.

You might try to argue that taking time out of your day to meditate is a down-side – you are losing productivity, but that’s not true. The research shows you that it actually increases productivity and I know that I get things done quicker, more proficiently and perhaps more intelligently when I have meditated and have a regular meditation practice.

Research studies show that people who meditate:

  • Sleep better
  • Use oxygen more efficiently
  • Have increased production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA
  • Have lower cholesterol levels
  • Have decreased blood pressure and hypertension
  • Have lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress
  • Are more emotionally attuned

For parents, who may find the word meditation, weird, odd or religion-associated, schools have introduced meditation, but included it in the overall term “mindfulness” which is now an increasingly popular subject from the internet, to bookshelves to schools.

In 2004 psychologist Scott Bishop, then at the University of Toronto, and his associates defined mindfulness as “Maintaining attention on present experiences and adopting an attitude toward them characterized by curiosity, openness and acceptance.”

The million-dollar question now is, what happens if we get all these skills at a younger age?

What happens to future generations that can handle stress better, have more empathy and kindness for their fellow human beings? What happens to children, adolescents and adults that have a tendency to “be here now” rather than fretting over the past or worrying about the future?

But another question to ask is do our children need this? I mean, what do they have to be stressed about?

In 2009 the American Psychological Association sponsored the Stress in America survey finding that children were a lot more stressed out than their parents think. The reason parents are missing these stress signs? Because they are so stressed out.

A study was done of more than 200,000 children enrolled in mindfulness programs at school by The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning. The results found that classroom behaviour improved and students were more engaged in learning. There was a decrease in depression and an increase in the ability to control emotion.

The Hawn Foundation funded research into the actress and mindfulness advocate, Goldie Hawn’s, Mind Up program. These programs have entered American schools and focus on mindfulness and meditation. The children on the program had less absenteeism, better reading scores, a 25% reduction in aggression on the playground, better attention, more concentration, quicker reactivity in answering questions and responding to teachers, better interpersonal relationships, improved ability to manage stress and a 63% rise in optimism.

Another study tested the samples of saliva for levels of the primary stress hormone, cortisol, which goes up and down naturally during the day. The children on the Mind Up program were able to bring that cortisol level down indicating they were better able to manage stress. Stress interferes with memory, the ability to concentrate, recall and focus, all of which would have a direct impact on school work.

Is there any surprise that in one study they found boys improving more than girls? Studies show that women have greater ability to reduce stress and anxiety in themselves than men do. How amazing is it that before some of these little boys even turn into men they will have these beautiful mindfulness tools to take into their lives?

So what are they teaching these kids?

These mindfulness programs are teaching children to understand their brain, where their emotions come from, why they are feeling like they are, what’s happening to their body when they have feelings like anger, sadness, rejection, overwhelm and then giving them the tools to manage these fluctuating emotions. These tools include sense training like mindful listening, mindful sensing, mindful breathing and mindful eating. They also have attitude training by using tools such as a gratitude journal and they are taught to undertake acts of kindness – for the community and each other.

When I think of the tools they are using, such as the mindful sensing, my thoughts go to The Radiance Sutras which has an incredible number of poetic, senses meditations to use in our day to day lives, such as:

“Wherever, whenever you feel carried away,

Rejoicing in every breath

That is your meditation hall”

Or

“Entering this current of sound,

The Listening One

Forgets the external world, becomes

Absorbed into internal sound”

These tools are being re-taught to children who have not long lost the art of being absorbed, being in the moment and understanding the stillness of the mind. It would be logical then to consider that it actually should be easier to teach these methods to children, than to adults, who have long lost the art of being mindful or having that one-pointed focus.

In terms of its implementation into schools there are of course going to be sceptics. One Doctor, Dr. Schonert-Reichl was quoted as saying, “I was surprised when I saw how quickly the kids (fourth and fifth graders) – and then the teachers – bought into the program and practices. The kids just got it right away and seemed hungry for something that would help them manage the stresses in their life… in my twenty years of measuring social-emotional learning quotients, I’ve never seen a program (she was discussing the MindUp program) that works as well as this one. I had to go back and look at the numbers again to be sure.”

Unfortunately, sceptics are not silenced by the sight of happy children. They are silenced by the incredible neuro-scientific research as well as the continued academic success that these programmes are producing.

Goldie Hawn has been thrilled with the research showing her program’s efficiency, but her main aim was to give something to children that they can take with them. She says that the results from her programme, which show that children improve across the board – increasing their self-esteem, relationships and academically, is just the results of a happy child. Neurological studies show that when the mind is less stressed the neuro-functions work better so they can learn better, feel better and care more.

In summary Meditation and Mindfulness Programs for Children:

  • Improve the connectivity in the frontal lobe of the brain, which is linked to improved attention, memory processing and decision making abilities
  • Involve tuning in to internal and external experiences with curiosity, resulting in increased self-awareness, social awareness, and self-confidence
  • Increase children’s ability to self-regulate their emotions, especially difficult emotions such as fear and anger, through breathing and other grounding techniques
  • Improve empathy or the ability to understand what another person is thinking or feeling
  • Builds resilience by giving children skills to help them to cope better with stress

The mindfulness in school’s studies are a relatively new thing and as such there is no ongoing data about how these mindful young adults grow up. However, mindfulness practice is currently being taught in thousands of schools across the world, to hundreds of thousands of children, so eventually the results are going to come pouring in.

Professor Richard Davidson says mindfulness instruction in schools “takes advantage of a natural window of opportunity during childhood, when the neural circuitry that allows us to pay attention, calm ourselves and attune to our own and other’s feelings takes shape.”

Ultimately what I find the most encouraging is the absolute unrealised potential that these children, our future generation, will have taking these skills with them into the future.

The Bhagavad Gita says,

“One must elevate, not degrade, oneself

By one’s own mind.

The mind alone is one’s friend

As well as one’s enemy.”

We will have a generation of adolescents, who will have strategies, besides drinking, drug-taking and rebellious behaviour, to use when they are feeling rejected, over-whelmed, emotional and hormonal.

By bringing them to their breath, by focusing on the present, these kids will have the tools to increase their self-esteem and to really know their self, leaving them free to focus on their unique talents and gift them to the world.

And if that won’t change the world, I don’t know what will.

 

References:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-mindfulness-good-medicine/

https://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/mental-health-matters/mindfulness

(http://www.chopra.com/ccl/why-meditate)

http://mic.com/articles/103790/science-has-amazing-news-for-people-who-meditate#.zZViBUTvN

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ending-addiction-good/201405/mindfulness-and-meditation-helping-stressed-out-kids-cope

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/body-sense/201001/is-your-child-stressed-out-why-you-may-not-know

10 Mindful Minutes, Goldie Hawn and Wendy Holden, 2011

The Radiance Sutras, Lorin Rochem PHD, 2014

The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali, Georg Feurstein,

https://mindfulnessinschools.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/MiSP-Research-Summary-2012.pdf

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/changing-our-dna-through-mind-control/

http://news.wisc.edu/brain-scans-show-meditation-changes-minds-increases-attention/

http://www.chopra.com/ccl/3-kid-friendly-meditations-your-children-will-love

http://www.santosha.com/philosophy/gita-chapter6.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzNIgXoUfgs

http://www.mindfuleducation.com.au/

Building Resilience In Our Kids

If I could build a bomb shelter to protect my kids from getting hurt in this big, bad world – I want to say that I would throw them in there and not let anyone in near them.

But even if I had that option I think I would still throw them to the wolves.

Because by protecting them, or should I say vastly overprotecting them, as a lot of us tend to do – we are providing them with less and less opportunities for independence, less opportunities to problem solve, less opportunities for learning.

In life there are consequences to actions and you get a real sense of achievement in tackling a huge problem and getting to the other side.

We worry too much about their education and bullies and too little about providing them with growth opportunities and time on their own to figure stuff out.

I had a conversation with a Mum yesterday who was annoyed the teacher gave too little homework. I said I was thrilled, and she gave me a look until I explained.

Our children should have free time for things other than education. They need to learn so much,  if academics takes up too much of their time they are going to miss out on learning how to socialise, strike up conversations, use their imagination, get creative, learn what things make them “lose time”or really get in the flow of life.

Successful adults need to do all of this.

Plus the brain needs time to digest and understand what they have learned during the day. If there is just more learning, eating and bed then there will be no time for the brain to do that.

If you don’t believe me look up Finland’s education system, which is number 1 in the world, they have NO homework. None. Ever.

There are perspectives for everything and different children need different things but this is mine. Maybe I changed her mind and maybe I didn’t but I know I gave her food for thought and the knowledge that there are other ways of looking at a situation.

I want to give you an example of building resilience in my kids.

I used the wolves analogy before but I truly think I might be bringing up a pack of animals. Or it just might be a boy thing, I don’t know.

Last night my oldest dared my youngest to pee on the rug. Like really, go to the toilet on the rug. I’m not sure how much cajoling it took (not much I bet) but the deed was done, hysterical laughter ensued and then Julian came running to tell me what Leo did.

Seemingly innocent Julian is like some kind of evil genius I’ve discovered. He works out how to get Leo into trouble and Leo goes along with it.

After interrogation Leo admitted to peeing because of Julian’s plan.

In the last two days the boys had cleaned up the playroom four times and their bedrooms twice in hopes of some good pocket money this week. Sunday is the day.

But I’m no fool. Kids around all day equals continued mess so I either give it our Monday before school or bedtime on Sunday night depending on how spotless the house is.

So they thought they got off pretty lightly last night with some light telling off from Mum and Dad.

This morning I told them they would be paying for the carpet cleaner to come and clean it up.

I say this practically with my arm over my face to shield me from the inevitable whining but it doesn’t come.

Evil genius’s mind ticks over.

I go for a shower.

In comes Leo to tell me he’d “äccidentally peed” and it wasn’t Julian’s plan after all, just an accident.

Julian had figured this was the best way to get them out of having to pay for it and obviously was listening in his bedroom hoping for the best.

Shot down Leo goes back to report to Julian. Julian has done the math and knows that it is going to take over six weeks of both their pocket money to pay for it.

He is heartbroken.

I let him take it all in. Rejoicing that his problem skills are working as are his maths skills.

We don’t get strong by always winning. We don’t get smarter by constantly being told we are great and never disappointing anyone.

We don’t build resilience by always making our kids happy.

We should be rejoicing in their failures because this is a learning opportunity (I will rejoice when my carpet is cleaned and the room no longer smells like pee)

How do they move forward?

What skills will they use to pick themselves up?

We are right to show them that there are consequences for everything, because for every action there is a reaction.

Even if it’s hard to see them disappointed. Even if you just want to scoop them up and make it all better.

When I get too tired and can’t deal with their whining I give in.

In this moment I know that I am failing them by not putting the right structures in place.

I know that to truly parent them I need to be firm in my boundaries.

Lovingly strict for the important stuff but letting unimportant things go.

Knowing when to admonish and when to cuddle.

Because we can’t always protect our kids, they won’t stay in that bomb shelter forever, even if we tell them its for their own good.

It’s our job as parents to give them the skills to get out of that bomb shelter and into the world and know that they don’t need protection.

Because if they fall, they know how to get up.