ABCs and Rice, Cambodia

Whole School Well-being For a Nourishing Educational Experience

Whole school well being has been rising in popularity. More and more, we’re beginning to see it in headlines as an alternative form of education. Below, you can read more about which techniques are used in whole schools and how they can promote well being in children.

What Are The Components of a Flourishing Educational System?

There are many components of a flourishing educational system. The best school don’t only prioritize academics; rather, they recognize that a student’s well being is just as important. This form of education is more smooth than traditional forms of education.

Students are taught things like zen, meditation, yoga, and emotional literacy so that students become less impulsive and more in control over themselves; subsequently, they also become more in-control of their minds and education.

Educational Well-being

One of the major benefits of whole school wellbeing is that students are often paired with an individual counsellor. This helps students to identify their strengths and weaknesses. It also helps them to develop their character and make sense of their lives.

Children who regularly see a counsellor in school are able to achieve higher emotional maturity and to focus better in school.

Whole school well being forces children to be active in their own learning. They learn respect, value, etc. rather than learning to be another statistic.

Meditation and Mindfulness

Whole schools use mindfulness to prevent emotional problems like anxiety, depression, and anger. Because meditation helps students tune in on themselves, they’re able to identify their emotions with more ease.

The schools will also allow their students to take breaks throughout the day. The frequency of these breaks depends on which school they’re attending; however, they can take these “mind breaks” up to three times a day.

Since students often have a hard time concentrating, the breaks allow them to turn into themselves for a short time so that they can get their designated distraction time. After the breaks, students can return to their studies with clear minds.

Emotional Literacy

Teaching emotional literacy in schools also teaches students to be self-aware. Students who are self-aware become individuals who can manage their lives. When children tune into their minds, they can become more aware of what they want in life and what engages them.

Even children have their own goals and motivations. The brain grows and develops skills after recurring experiences. If they only listen to their teachers over and over, this doesn’t give students the time to discover and develop their own skills.

Conclusion

Whole school wellbeing is a practice that focuses on looking at students as individuals; meaning, there is no universal way to teach them. This way of teaching uses the best components of a nourishing education. Teachers will instruct the students on being zen, on meditation, self-awareness, and more.

 

How to Create a Meaningful Life

How can we make our lives meaningful? Does a meaningful life equal a happy life? These are valid questions that one might ask himself or herself. By studying the various theories on how to create a meaningful life, we can begin to understand what that means for you.

Paul Wong and Meaning Therapy

Paul Wong is a renowned psychiatrist who studies meaning therapy, which is a form of therapy that studies relationships and meaning. In his research, Paul Wong claims that human beings are the only ones who search for meaning. His work aims to help people come to terms with the meaning of their lives so that they can learned to cope with their lives in general.

 

A Meaningful or Happy

Life

It’s easy to confuse living a meaningful life for living a happy life. While these terms are similar and they often discuss the same things, they aren’t identical.

For some people, having a meaningful life is one that is full of relationships. With people, friends, and significant others, we often find meaning in feeling loved. Having a lot of possessions and fulfilling your desires might make you happy; however, this doesn’t translate into living a meaningful life.

So, what’s the difference between being happy and living with meaning?

Being happy is an emotion and temporary state-of-mind; therefore, it comes and goes. When you’re happy, you’re living in the present. Living a life with meaning, on the other hand, incorporates the past, present, and future.

This means that when you’re happy, you’re not necessarily thinking in the past or future. When you’re meaningful, you’re often thinking of the past and future, but not of the present. People who are more meaningful tend to have more anxiety and depression because of this. By thinking of the future, one might think of everything they have to do to reach a goal and by thinking of the past, they might think of how far they’ve come from bad situations.

While this might seem like living a meaningful life is less satisfying than living a happy life, it isn’t.

If you want to live a meaningful life, you should enact principles of positive thinking. Essentially, what you think will become your reality. If you envision a life of wealth and happiness, you’re more likely to have these things.

Living a meaningful life ensures that while you might encounter difficult situations, you’ll always overcome them and reach your goals. To live a meaningful life, you must decide what you want your future to look like.

Conclusion

If you want to lead a meaningful life, you have to determine whether you truly want a meaningful or happy life. The two differ greatly, but ultimately, leading a meaningful life depends entirely on how you want your future to look.

Learned Optimism, Fixed and Growth Mindset, and Positive Parenting

Parents have a powerful impact on the growth and development of their children. Parents tend to pass down certain habits, emotions, and behaviours to their children. Because of this, parents have the ability to impact their children’s’ lives more than anyone else.

Positive Parenting and Learned Optimism

Learned optimism is a theory that describes how optimism can be developed. Parents can use learned optimism to improve a child’s self-esteem in the long run.

In order to do so, parents can attempt to challenge their child’s negative thoughts or negative self-talk with positive affirmations. In this way, optimism can be learned and reinforced in children.

 

Fixed and Growth Mindset

Of course, praising children is fundamental in helping them to develop a good self-esteem; that said, there are ways in which you can praise children that will promote growth rather than show them that they don’t need to improve.

Parents who tell their kids, “You’re smart”; for example, provides them with the fixed mindset that they’re smart and don’t need to improve. Instead of saying this, parents should consider words like “You worked hard and it paid off.” or “You developed a good strategy”.

The fixed and growth mindset shows children that while they did a good job, they have room for improvement. This method of parenting develops self-esteem because their hard work is being affirmed, but it also shows them that they can improve.

When children finish their homework quickly and with ease, parents should attempt to challenge them with something harder rather than accept that the child has finished his or her homework.

 

Positive Parenting

In positive parenting, mothers and fathers must lead by example. They have to regulate their own emotions so that their children learn to do the same. In doing so, they can strengthen their bonds with their children by providing the children with positive affirmations.

Much like with the fixed and growth mindset, parents have to decide whether a situation can strengthen or weaken their relationships with their children. Instead of punishment, parents should focus on guidance.

 

Conclusion

Children can benefit greatly from the right teaching methods and the right parenting tricks. More and more, parents are turning toward positive parenting and the theories (like learned optimism and fixed and growth mindset) surrounding it to develop strong minds and self-esteems in their children.

Positive parenting essentially demands that parents lead their children by example. Rather than the classic, “Do as I say, not as I do” approach, parents are adopting a “Do as I do” attitude. The benefit of this is that children will learn to trust their parents more. By seeing their parents’ attitude toward a situation and seeing how it plays out, children learn to trust the opinion of their mother and father.

Mindfulness in Daily Life

Practising the art of mindfulness trains your mind to stay alert and live in the moment. You may have noticed that our happiest memories are of the time when we are living in the moment. All our cherished memories comprise of talking to a loved one, being on a vacation and so on.

Is living in the moment really this great? According to recent researches, the answer is yes.

Being mindful is about experiencing each moment in all its vividness without letting thoughts and other distractions clouding the experience.

Mindfulness at home: Boosts health and immune system

Mindfulness has changed and improved lives of millions of individuals all over the world. In a 2013 study, it was reported that mindfulness meditation has beneficial effects on individuals who have anxiety and helped reduce stress reactivity in people with anxiety disorder.

Introducing mindfulness in your daily routine isn’t difficult. You don’t need to have an hour-long meditation session to feel positive effects of meditation. Even 2 minutes are enough.

  • Try to be mindful while doing the everyday task as ordinary as walking from one room to another. Make it a habit to count your steps, observe your surroundings and just focus on what you are feeling.
  • Similarly, be mindful while eating by focusing on your every bite instead of just going through the motion of eating.

Mindfulness at work: Boosts creativity and problem-solving skills

In a Gallup Survey “How Millennials Want to Work and Live” only 29% of millennials felt engaged at work. These figures are troubling because millennials make up 40% of the current US workforce will be 75% of the workforce by 2025 and if effective measures are not taken soon, it will affect the organizational efficiency in future.

Companies including Aetna, Google have been offering mindfulness-based programs to their workforce. Google, since 2007, has been offering its popular 7-week training course called “Search Inside Yourself.” The training consists of three parts: attention training, self-mastery, and creating mental habits. The participants learn how to better relate to themselves and to others. Positive changes in behavior like improved self-knowledge as well as ability to listen to others have been reported.

Mindfulness is known to enhance creativity and problem-solving skills. In a 2011 study, it was found that students who meditated during the break were able to solve more problems after the break as compared to students who didn’t practice meditation.

Practising mindfulness at work helps you be a more efficient worker and enjoy the tasks as you perform them.

    • Focus on the task at hand. This will allow you to finish tasks quickly – thus helping you be more productive.

 

  • Perhaps you get stressed easily or maybe you are prone to procrastinate a lot? We engage in poor work habits without even realizing and here mindfulness will help you. Be more mindful of your responses to various situations and challenges during the work to alter them for the better. Whatever your bad habits maybe, once you become mindful of them, you will be more likely to quit them.

 

Lastly…

Living mindfully is a choice. A choice you can make to live a deeply enriched and fulfilling life. It helps you stay rooted at the moment, prevent your thoughts from wandering and allows you to enjoy the perks of health, productivity and most importantly the joy of experiencing the moment.  

Mindfulness for Adults and Children

Mindfulness for Adults and Children

Seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet – About Children

 

Being Mindful with Children

The pressure to be the perfect parent, teacher or caregiver can feel daunting. You organize to be on top of drop off and pick up, homework, conferences, fundraisers, activities, and sports.…plus working to pay bills, managing housework, family meals, and outings… the list never seems to end.

They used to tell you the key to balancing work and family life is an organized system. Check. You have that down (pretty much).

Now they are talking about mindfulness for improved learning, better parenting, career advancement, better health and quality of life.

Holy cow. (No pun intended). Now I have to learn Eastern meditation just to be a good parent or teacher?

Actually, mindfulness practice is more accessible than you might imagine. Though rooted in Eastern philosophy, mindfulness is a practice that can be easy to absorb into your daily life.

kids

What is Mindfulness, Exactly?

The core concepts of mindfulness in daily life are surprisingly simple derivations of the high moral and personal standards practiced by Himalayan monks for thousands of years.

For the non-monk, achieving mindfulness boils down to everyday life practices that

  • Build awareness of the physical responses to triggers
  • Overcome physical responses through breath work
  • Replace reactions with curious, nonjudgmental consideration of triggers
  • Apply compassion to all circumstances and people, including self-compassion and self-love

 

Scientific evidence confirms that these practices reduce stress levels, improve cognitive functioning, help build immune system strength, and help reduce conflicts. Mindfulness practices are now being used to successfully remediate intransigent social and personal problems, such as conflict resolution, chronic anxiety and depression, PTSD, and addiction.

little-girl

I get that Mindfulness is powerful. How can I be more mindful with children?

Bringing mindfulness into parenting, teaching and otherwise dealing with children is something that benefits you and the children in your life.

Compassion is your starting point. Children today have been born into a world vastly different from the world you knew as a child. They face a future most adults cannot even imagine. Yet they are children, still wondering and in need of affectionate guidance that nurtures their innate abilities and gifts.

All compassion starts with self-love and self-inquiry. Meditation will help uncover where you lost trust in your gifts, where compassion for the child was broken and will provide an opportunity to heal through self-love.

Mindfulness practices with children can be as simple as co-breathing – a practice through which you can reduce stressful situations by matching your breathing pattern to a child exhibiting challenging behavior. Start with matching the child’s breathing pattern, then consciously regulate your own breathing. You will see the child begin to shift his or her own energy then to match your own.

Another mindfulness practice effective with children is a nonjudgmental presence. Children, like anyone else in a time of stress or crisis, need the compassionate presence of someone who cares, in order to transition from flight-or-fight reaction to open, trustful communication. Nonjudgmental presence is a quality built upon your practice of self-compassion, extending to compassion for others, as well as your own life experience,

Becoming adept with mindfulness practices is a goal that can Improve your relationships with children and even adults, through a transformed, crystal clear, compassionate understanding of their life stories – starting with your own!

Mindful Eating with Children

Mindful Eating with Children

You may give them your love but not your thoughts

For they have their own thoughts

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet – On Children

In the delightful 2014 film, Chef, there’s a scene in which a parent, Carl (the Chef in this story),is walking through an open market with his precocious 10 year old son, Percy. This bright young boy asks for kettle corn. Carl is a bit distracted with picking just the right produce to create an impressive dinner for an important food critic expected at his restaurant that very evening, but still tries introduce Percy to a better choice of snack. Dad picks up an orange and extols the beauty and freshness of the fruit. In the next frame, we see Carl and Percy walking out of the market with a bag of kettle corn.

Of course, you saw that coming. (By the way, although Chef is a terrific film about family and food, it also features colorful language – so it’s family-friendly viewing if your kids are teenage and older!)

 

Mindful Eating

Mindful Eating events and programs are springing up around the country, mainly catering to (no pun intended) adults, who sense the need to slow down, appreciate life’s simple gifts, and become an active part of the change towards a healthier, more sustainable world. Indeed, Mindful Eating has gained great traction through the efforts of nonprofits focused on social justice, local and organic food movements, and spiritual well being.

While Mindful Eating may call to you as an adult, is it possible to bring the benefits of this beautiful practice to your children.  Mindful Eating is a cultivated practice, not one built on natural tendencies. Yet, if we look back at our own past, into customs of one or two generations back in our own family histories, most of us can recollect times of Mindful Eating, that featured true enjoyment of preparing food and eating together, sharing stories, and deep love.

Nature and nurture can actually work against Mindful Eating. When we are hungry, we eat to refuel our energy, as most humans have done all over the world for millennia. In our modern world, some of the food we eat carries meaning, based on our learned associations.

Mindful Eating gives both you and your children important life values, and can be successfully integrated into your lifestyle in ways that can be transformative in your lives and for future generations.

baby-couch

How exactly? Take the SAGE approach:

Savoring

Mindful Eating programs often teach adults to put down their forks between mouthfuls to really feel and taste the food they’re eating. Children already know what they taste and feel and make their comments known at the table – not always sounding the way we think “Mindfulness” should sound, but mindful nonetheless!

Your children’s reactions to the food on their plate offer you an opportunity to practice Mindfulness and Mindful Eating. It starts with non-judgment. Learn to simply hear their comments without offering an immediate response. Instead turn your attention to your own plate. Pull off a leaf of the infamous Brussels sprout or unloved spinach from your plate. Just one leaf. Be fully aware of its taste and texture. Put down your fork and chew. Your children see what you are doing, even if they say nothing but “ewww!” Mindfulness is a practice free of the need for immediate results. Just enjoy. They are watching. Enjoy meal after meal, day after day; over time they will enjoy, too.

The same idea holds true if their reactions are positive, but these situations offer an opportunity to share your savoring of the crispness of the salad, the rich tomatoey-ness of the pasta. Sometimes there will be a response, sometimes not. No worries. You have started a tradition of savoring.

Active Contribution

This is a part of Mindful Eating that doesn’t involves tasting or chewing, but is nonetheless equally important. In generations past, children learned from an early age the arts of preparing meals. Your younger children are probably quite eager to help wash and prepare vegetables, mix ingredients and stir pots with careful supervision. Teens and preteens can be great helpers in more complex tasks of mincing ingredients, spreading layers of a lasagna or casserole and with proper tools and protection, taking food out of an oven or off a grill. All of these tasks are important life skills to teach your kids. Montessori preschools teach cutting fruit and vegetables to build fine motor skills and life skills,

Food preparation can also teach mindfulness. The colors, textures and aromas of food change as we process our food, whether by cutting, mixing or cooking. Slow down enough to experience with your child the changes that take place as you prepare each part of your meal. Even the busiest families, who often order meals can have opportunities for Active Contribution: once or twice a month you can bake bread or make yogurt from scratch – both easy, fun ways to contribute to the family’s food, while learning scientific concepts.

littlegirl

Gratitude

The sense of gratitude for the food we eat has come a long way from simply saying Grace before meals. Farm to table dining, agro-tourism and even the trips to the local farmers’ market build true appreciation for the great effort that goes into getting the food that nourishes our bodies and spirits.

Other opportunities abound for building your children’s sense of gratitude. If you have a yard or even a patio, work with your child to grow something to eat. Just growing your own culinary herbs indoors from seeds is an amazing experience for kids – and makes a surprising difference in your food budget and quality!

Children enjoys outings to go fruit or berry picking; if a local farm offers this activity be sure to make it a priority for a weekend day trip. Also, visit fields where farm workers are harvesting produce. But remember, Mindfulness is compassionate non-judgment. The lectures kids heard in bygone years (Children in Africa are starving…finish your plate!) haven’t really resulted in a strong tradition of healthy attitudes about food in our society. Instead, observe peacefully, releasing blame or guilt, simply appreciating the work of others that feeds your family. Your children can sense this, so trust in your intentions and visit again, as often as you can.

 

Education

Although food is a source of pleasure and happiness it is above all our nutrition. The bureaucracy may require teaching kids about the food pyramid, or whatever geometric shape fits their current learning standards, but you can explore further with your children.

Each food item they love has some nutritional quality – even kettle corn! Your caring, well researched, compassionate and non-judgmental approach can make Mindful eating habits an easy choice for your children. Your own preferences for less-than-healthy choices – as a child or adult – is an place to start. Investigate and identify how some of your choices – chocolate, coffee, French Fries, etc. – are deeply connected with positive experiences. Simply observe without judging, and be truly compassionate toward yourself.

Now look at one not-so-healthy food your child loves. Again try to go back to positive experiences connected with that food.  Remember also to remain non-judgmental about negative reactions you’ve seen negative reactions – hyperactivity, lack of focus, low energy. These are signs that your child is suffering, and needs your compassion. Gradually replace those foods with healthy, delicious alternative that trigger the same positive feelings. As gradually as needed to make the change as easy and conflict-free as possible.

Mindful eating with children is a journey, not a destination. The time it takes to build a strong foundation of conscious choices, appreciation and healthy enjoyment of good food in your child’s life is well worth the effort.

And that’s the takeaway from Chef you may really appreciate. Without giving away too much, it’s enough to say that the film inspires us to bond with our kids through the love of good food and Mindful Eating.

Fun Kid Activities for Mindfulness and Focus

Fun Kid Activities for Mindfulness and Focus

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

 

Start Today! Fun Kid Activities for Mindfulness-Focus

Mindfulness is the buzzword that promises advantages to everyone, from business managers to classroom teachers to parents around the world. You’ve done your homework on child development (and maybe part of your child’s homework, too – that’s OK, we’ve all done it!) and now you want to bring mindfulness practice into your child’s life today.

So today, are your kids tearing around and bouncing off the walls? Glued to an electronic device? On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “impossible” and 5 being “no sweat,” does starting a mindfulness practice look closer to 1 or 2? Even zero?

Worry not, loving parent! If you are committed to raising a strong, focused, smart and happy child, know this. What your beloved child is doing right now is, in fact, purpose-driven.

Children of every stripe are driven toward joy, dreams and possibilities. Do you remember “flying” down a flight of stairs, “hiding” behind the living room drapes? Your fleet of airplanes and Barbie doll dramas?

Mindfulness is as normal and natural as life itself.

The closer we are to our birth, the more naturally mindful we are: noticing without judging, being aware without reacting negatively.

Your job in teaching mindfulness practices is to guide your child’s natural attention to the joy and happiness of learning, and to help your child evolve into the peace-filled, curious, focused and inventive adult that resides within. The beauty of choosing mindfulness for your child is that the practices can revive your own memories of awareness and noticing without judgment, creating a powerful foundation for your life, your child and generations to come.

Should you talk to your child about mindfulness? Yes! But start with games and practices that appeal to your child’s own sense of joy, creating a family habit that you can later build into a concept of mindfulness appropriate for your child’s age and disposition. (We’ll give you tips on talking to your kids about mindfulness in a future post).  For now, just be with your child and enjoy of their capacity for awareness! Here are some practices to try.

bubbles

Preschool to elementary school age mindfulness game: Blowing soap bubbies

On weekends or after school, just say “Let’s blow bubbles!”

Dip a wand into a bottle of soap bubble water (available commercially or a 50/50 mixture of dish soap and water). Holding the bubble wand about 4 inches from your child’s mouth. ask your child to breathe in through the nose to the count 1…2…3. Then breathe out through the mouth to the bubble wand  – 1..2..3. Regulating our out-breath is far harder than regulating in-breath. At first, your child and you will see many small bubbles. Chase just one with your child. Ask, “What colors did you see in that bubble?” You already know all the colors in the spectrum are in each tiny bubble.

Go back to the wand. Breathe in with your child 1…2…3. Let your child breathe out to the wand  – 1…2…3. What colors did your child see now?

Go back again. As your child has masters out-breath, fewer and bigger bubbles will appear, and the colors will be more easily visible.

Twenty to thirty minutes of mindful bubble play with your child teaches:

  • Regulation of in and out breath, the basis of life balance.
  • Focused attention, by chasing just one bubble, while knowing other bubbles exist.
  • Calm awareness through simply noticing that more colors are visible as the out-breath balances with in-breath.

For the active, martial arts kid, athletic or older child

The art of Tai Chi offers a treasure box of mindful activities perfect for your active, athletic child’s focus on success in martial arts and other sports: balance, strength, flexibility, and endurance.

An important core practice will teach your active or older child to use Tai Chi training to become aware of his or her own energy, a great advantage in succeeding in their chosen challenges.

Ask your child to sit on the floor in a cross-legged or kneeling position, with a straight back, palms resting upwards on their knees facing upwards. You will sit behind your child, practicing full nonjudgmental awareness to support this activity.

Start with breath awareness. Count the in-breath 1…2…3, and out breath 1…2…3. Notice particularly the out-breath. Continue counting for your child until the in-breath and out-breath are equal in speed and regularity. Don’t comment on or correct your child’s breathing. Just continue the counting, and the regularity will come.

Next, ask your child to bring their awareness to the palms of their hands. The palms have a strong capacity for energy and healing, As your child focuses on the palms (a key center of healing energy or chi), he or she will feel a tingling sensation in the in the hands. Tell your child to pay complete attention to the tingling sensation.

Start the breath counting again 1..2…3 in, and 1..2…3 out. Direct your child’s awareness to the increasingly strong sensations in the hands as he or she continues to breathe.

Gently support your child’s straight posture if needed, without breaking the count. Continue for 5 minutes for the first session. Children always experience and understand the sense of energy immediately. Gradually increase the timing for the breath work and the entire practice each time you support your child in this activity.

This simple practice teaches your active or older child

  • The power and value of stillness
  • How balancing breath increases focus, power, and stamina
  • Awareness of their own internal source of energy

 

These easy mindfulness practices are a lifelong gift to your children. Start today, and see how their lives – and yours- begin to transform!

How being grateful makes you happier

How being grateful makes you happier

Gratitude is one of the most powerfully fulfilling emotions in human experience. As the flip side of selfless contribution, gratitude shares all the positive energy of human compassion, Gratitude is not simply a concept – it has measurably strong energetic vibrations that can alter your day to day life experience and long-term outlook.

Moment of pure gratefulness perfect moments. They allow you to experience something greater than yourself — the very act of selfless giving, whether you are the giver or the receiver –  is a timeless gift from the deepest, most beautiful core of humanity’s ability to express compassion. When compassion takes shape in someone in your life sharing, caring and showing their empathy for you, sometimes unexpectedly, your gratitude completes the circle of love, bringing you happiness – if you choose to accept it wholeheartedly and give expression to your gratefulness.

Positive psychology research indicates that gratitude brings greater happiness. Gratitude helps you connect with positive emotions, improves your health, inspires you to deal with difficulties and strengthens your relationships. Gratitude build your resilience in troubled times.

What can you do today to increase gratitude and become happier?

Thank someone directly

Make a call, pay a visit or send a card or email to someone who has made an important contribution to your life. Your loved ones and friends stand by you when the going is rough are not doing so because they pity you. Realize that their effort is inspired by their faith in your abilities and strengths. Release unneccesary feelings of shame and self-doubt, and let gratitude do its magic!

Thank someone mentally

Sometimes it’s hard to quickly connect with someone who has helped you. Perhaps it is someone in your past who you’ve lost touch with or has transitioned beyond this life. A powerful distance healing technique inspired by the deep Tibetan practice of Tonglen, provides a wonderful and easy path to happiness,

Choose and hold a teddy bear, stuffed animal, doll, a photograph or some item that represents someone you want to thank.

Sit quietly, going back into your memories to recreate a special loving gesture that really moved you, perhaps from your childhood. Allow your mind and body to feel again the great happiness of that time. Stay there for some time.

As those memories and feelings arise, so will a powerful sense of gratitude. Remembering the person who evoked these feelings in you, let the feeling of being genuinely loved flow to the object in your hands.

This object is now attuned to your gratitude. Let it be your loving-kindness prop from now on. Hold it to increase your gratitude to those close to you, and then to neighbors, coworkers, and friends. Go back to your gratitude object, again and again, to flow positive feelings toward those you don’t know well, people in need and, when you are ready, anyone who has hurt you.

morning

Count your blessings… or rather, make your blessings count

If you already take time to count your blessing – and even if you don’t – follow the advice of spiritual author and teacher, Eknath Easwaran, who proposed that the way to happiness is reducing our needs.

Take a moment to reflect on this. Reducing your needs makes complete sense!

Sot what do you really need to be happy?  When you are honest with yourself and really look within, you’ll probably discover that it’s actually less than you are currently striving for.

Much of what you need is already in your hands!  Open yourself to gratitude for what you have now.

Which among the things you don’t have are fairly easy to get? Can you manage a hiking day, a gathering of friends, or a few hours to yourself? Be grateful for the choices before you, and give to yourself life’s simple gifts.

Spend time in nature

A mindful retreat into nature is a wonderful way to increase gratitude and happiness. A personal retreat does not have to be a long or complicated endeavor. If the area you live in is close to nature, a day trip will do the trick.

The day you choose is just for you, so plan ahead to expect reduced cell phone connection. Leave your laptop and any other devices at home.

Go slowly and explore, taking in every tree, plant, creek. Stop to look at the sky and breathe.

Make this time just for breathing and being aware of the power of nature around you. If thoughts or worries arise, let them go. All you have to do now is just be and breathe.

fitness

Meditate

Meditation lets you focus on the present moment, where you can focus on small thing that make you feel grateful: the chirping of birds, the blueness of the sky, a wonderful scent. Just sitting peacefully for ten minutes, releasing thoughts and judgments, gives you the time to not just fell gratitude, but to be gratitude.

 

Waking up Grateful

The yogis teach that the moment you awaken is the most important moment of your day. Just getting out of the bed can be hard if you immediately feel pressure about the day ahead. Here’s a way to use gratitude to wake up to a brand new day feeling refreshed and optimistic.

Stay laying down in bed, and begin to flex. Stretch on arm over to the opposite side as far as it can. Then stretch the other arm to the opposite. Do the same stretch with each leg.

Breathe deeply. Now arch your back, then move into a kneeling position. Drop your body over your folded legs, drop your head down and stretch your arms forward.

Sit at the edge of your bed. Sit straight and tall, with your feet flat on the floor.

Visualize a spectral light entering from above through the crow of your head flowing downward into your body, flowing into every cell.

Now, visualize a warm glow entering from your feet, flowing upward, mingling with the spectral light from above. Keep your focus just below your abdomen, where the two energy sources meet. Remain there for a few minutes; as you start your day sense your gratitude for the earth and air that sustain you. With a few minutes of practice each day you quickly gain gratitude for the gift of life, which is the ultimate source of happiness.

Don’t Be Sad

Don’t Be Sad

There are plenty of actions you want to take in order to protect your preschooler from getting hurt or feeling down. There are also a lot of things you want to say to him especially when he is going through something tough. Sometimes, however, you end up being unable to control yourself and you say things you did not mean to say. It is a rather difficult task to always be mindful of the things you say and do in front of your child. You know that these could have detrimental effects on your child. That is why this article is made in order to help you become a better parent when it comes to teaching your child emotional intelligence.

Why is it that telling your preschooler not to be sad is something that you should not do? Or teaching him how to control his feeling of sadness is not emotionally and mentally healthy? It is because doing so is equivalent to discrediting his feelings, which are supposedly valid. Of course, your child is allowed to feel sad. He is allowed to cry. He could feel down about something. He will be upset. You can never avoid this. As a parent, you only want what’s best for your child and you want to save him from pain and displeasure. However, there is very little that you can do about a human being’s emotions. He is normal if he experiences sadness. He is not normal if he doesn’t. At this point, you must accept that there are so many things in this world that you cannot control, and one of those is the way your child is supposed to feel.

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More than that, you are taking away your child’s chance to express himself by invalidating his feelings and not allowing him to label them. Bear in mind that a child’s awareness of how he feels is the first step to proper emotional management. When he does not know what he is feeling or what predominant emotions are inside of him, there will be no way for him to know how to attack these emotions and to control them. Moreover, he will just always end up invalidating his feelings every single time he feels that way and he will never know the proper way to cope. By allowing your child to feel that way and by telling him that whatever he’s feeling is valid, you allow him to express himself. One of the best results of this is his ability to be empathetic. Not only that. You will also be surprised as to how open he will become about his feelings. He will cry less and talk more about it instead.

Instead of invalidating his feelings, it is best for you to simply recognize them. Get to know your child more so that you will know what makes him happy, sad, disappointed, or scared. Understand him and do not prejudge him right away. Let go and do not be too overprotective. Do away with the “I want my child to always be happy”, because you know that this is highly improbable. If you cannot do these things, you will only hinder your child’s growth and maturity. You will cause him to find it rather difficult to go out into the real world and deal with the realities of life. Before all of this happens, you should take this unsolicited piece of advice: recognize your child’s emotions. Treat them as valid. Label them. Allow your child to embrace them. That way, he would feel human and he would understand what it actually feels like to live.

The next step to recognition is to teach him how to properly manage these emotions. Young as he is, he may be innocent and unaware of how these feelings are dealt with. Be his guiding light. Tell stories about yourself when you were feeling the same way and what you did about it. Show to them that they are not the only ones going through that phase, and that they are not alone in feeling sadness. Many people experience sadness of varying degrees. It’s inevitable, but it can be managed. Teach him that despite the sadness, there can be plenty of good things, and all it takes is to have a positive perspective.

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When what makes them sad is something that can be solved, help him come up with a solution coupled with contingency plan. Do not be the one to provide the solution yourself. Allow him to explore his options and assess his emotions and the situation. This will slowly teach him emotional intelligence. Just be there to guide him and affirm or correct whatever his suggestions may be. The contingency plan will be for purposes of backup. Explain to him that things do not always go the way he wants them to, and therefore it is always best to have a backup plan in hand. This is so in order to lessen casualties and further emotional damage.

Do not always serve as a safety net for your child. Allow him to experience discomfort. Although it is quite hard to be “not always there” for your child, it is necessary for him to learn how to handle things on his own. When he wants to cry, offer your shoulder and give him a hug. When he wants to rant, just listen and get him ice cream afterwards. However, this does not mean that you make all decisions for him. Give him enough discretion in order to allow him to learn. Give him space so that he can make his personal assessment of what his feelings are and what he should do about it. Again, just serve as his guiding light. Teach him what is right and wrong and how to differentiate one from the other. Help him at every step of his discernment process. Present to them the possible consequences of his actions or decisions. But at the end of the day, balance is still key. You must make sure that he is given enough room to still make personal considerations and evaluations.

Mindfulness — Fullness of the Mind

Mindfulness — Fullness of the Mind

Some days, we wake up totally forgetting about the events that took place, the people we talked to, or even the food we ate the day before. Sometimes, we get phone calls from our parents or siblings where we mindlessly answer their questions and as soon as they hang up, we do not remember what the call was all about. There are also moments when we order dinner at a restaurant and find ourselves looking at an empty plate after some time and wonder how we finished everything without even noticing. Sometimes, we are too scared of what is to come that we have the tendency to prepare so much for the future and forget to live in the now. This is the state of mindlessness—the state of us being on autopilot. This hinders us from being present in our own lives. We do what we got to do, we say what we got to say, but we never really pay attention to what is happening around us. Even worse, we never pay attention to what is happening within us.

Mindfulness is the exact opposite of mindlessness. It is a human ability to be fully aware of the present and of our emotions, actions, and surroundings. It is our capacity to be in a disposition where we give more importance to what is happening right in front of our eyes and do not worry too much about what is to happen tomorrow, next year, or 10 years from now. It is our eagerness to seize the day, experience many things, learn from our shortcomings, accepting our weaknesses and failures, and making good decisions. It is more than just a habit, it is a way of life. That’s why it’s best to start young. Children even at a young age have to be taught how of this way of life because it has plenty of benefits and it can mold them into better individuals.

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Benefits of Mindfulness:

  1. It reduces behavior problems in the classroom. When a child is aware of what he is doing and how this makes him feel, he will be more capable of understanding such act and reaction. When he pays attention to his act and how other people surrounding him react to it, he will be able to assess the situation properly. His mindfulness will also extend to his ability to listen intently to lectures, class discussions, or his classmates’ recitations. Research has it that mindfulness also increases students’ happiness levels and reduces anxiety.
  2. It helps kids in their discernment. Although mindfulness is the state where an individual becomes aware of what is happening around and within him without judging whether it is right or wrong, turning this into a way of life will help a child see a whole situation clearly and objectively. Mindfulness, although at the outset does not require judgment, is an important factor in a child’s discerning process. This is because when he knows of his actions, other people’s reactions, and the effects of his actions, he gains a deeper understanding of himself, his life, and his environment. These are essential in honing his decision-making skills. He has to make a lot of decisions every single day of his life, and you want to make sure that he makes good decisions. In the process of discernment, mindfulness of his internal feelings, thoughts, and the effects and consequences of his decisions, will help him know what choices he should make. If the process is done properly, he will most likely feel more at peace with his decision and he will stick to it.
  3. It teaches both teachers and students how to handle stressful situations. Mindfulness has the effect of changing a person’s perspective into a more positive one. A mindful individual is one who sees that no problem is too big and too complex to be solved. He is one who understands that in fixing a complicated or stressful situation, blames do not have to be thrown at someone else, but solutions have to be formulated in a calm and graceful manner. A lot of people do not know how to react when faced with a stressful situation. All of us have the tendency to break down, especially students who are not used to this, and even teachers. A mindful teacher, however, will be more capable of giving a full and objective assessment of the situation and provide an effective solution. A mindful student, on the other hand, will gain the ability to stay calm and relaxed while thinking of ways to fix the problem. Mindfulness allows us to see things from a different light. Because of this, tension in the classroom is reduced.

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  4. It improves the child’s emotional and social intelligence. As mentioned earlier, a mindful child is more capable of understanding his actions, the reactions of the people toward him, and the internal movements or feelings. He will be able to gain full control of his emotions when he is aware of them. He will understand that it is all right to feel a certain way at one point, and know what to do about it afterward. More than that, he will become more cautious of his words and actions, especially if he knows that this will hurt other people. He will also learn the value of his relationships with his parents, siblings, friends, neighbors, even strangers. He will know the meaning of what it is to be kind, loving, empathetic, compassionate. He will grow and become a better person.
  5. It teaches the child to focus at the right time and place. Mindfulness will teach the child to listen attentively to classroom lessons because he knows that he will benefit from it. He will pay attention to his parents when they are talking to him because he values what they say and respects their authority. He will lend both ears to a friend who needs someone to talk to because he understands the friend’s pain. But he is aware that there are instances when he deserves to play outside, be one with nature, laugh, and live for the moment.

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