Good evening – what a fun day to open up the blog and see that there have been exactly 5400 visits to this blog over the years. More than I ever imagined! My greatest wish is that some goodness and kindness has been cultivated through the readers and any children these ideas have been shared with. Onward.
For today, my post is simply an invitation for you to join me in a 28 day meditation challenge. I will be sitting for 28 days along with my girls, thanks to a daily email from Sharon Salzberg. A few years ago I wrote a post about a new look at forgiveness, which was inspired by thoughts by Sharon in her book Loving Kindness.
As we think about our community, especially in the U.S., swirling after the election – a community trying to understand how to find truth in media, goodness in all humans, and conviction in our hearts – it is a perfect time to commit to meditating for the month of February. I will be sitting with loving kindness and searching for right action. I will sit for endless patience and goodness. I will write about my experience over the next month.
Be well, friends.
Commit to sit & change your life –> http://bit.ly/Commit2Sit
Happy Winter Solstice,
What a great time of year to write about grounding! In fact, you may have noticed I’ve been a way for a few months! Between moving, the election, year-end, and the holidays, I’ve been out of balance! Something had to give…however, in hind-sight, I gave up that which gives me balance, that which gives me joy. So here I am, in time to give a post on grounding, just prior to the family visits, family gatherings, and bringing in the New Year.
With the speed of our days and our surroundings getting faster and faster, more disconnected in many ways, it is more and more important to ground ourselves to the steadiness of the earth. The ground. There is something profound in this place we inhabit, this place we walk on every day, this play we one day return. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Much of what I am about to share is based on a photocopy that was given to me and I don’t know from where it originates, so I cannot give credit where credit is due. I will categorize this post in the 2nd part of MindfulKinder – Balancing, week 1. So, if this post resonates with you, you may want to go back to that section. I hope these ideas can bring balance to you and your children during the holidays and into 2017.
Simply stated, grounding helps us feel our connection to the earth more strongly. It is particularly helpful for those who live mostly in their minds, and not in their body. Those of us adults and children who spend a lot of time with school work, work meetings, computers and phones. Those of us living in the media world.
You (or children) may feel the need to ground yourself if you feel particularly spacey, have trouble concentrating, feel like you are floating, or feel disconnected from other people or surroundings. If you day dream, you need to ground. Or if you or your children are just ‘out of sorts’.
There are many ways to ground yourself and here is a suggested list of methods:
- Imagine roots growing out of your feet deep into the ground. Feel the earth’s energy rising up into your body.
- Review grounding rocks
- Breathe slowly and deeply, being fully aware of how the body feels doing so.
- Flex your muscles, stretch
- Be fully aware of all of the colors, sounds, and scents around you
- Eat chocolate, red meat, oatmeal, potatoes, carrots or other root vegetables (earthy foods). Make pot roast for the family.
- Work in the soil, weed your garden
- Take a walk in nature or simply around the block
- Listen to sounds of nature
- Take a salt bath or rub table salt all over you when showering
- Put your feet into a stream of water
- Go swimming
- Build a snowman or snow fort
- Sit on grass in the moonlight or simply stand outside and watch the moon while noticing the sights, sounds and feeling of your environment
- Carry rocks or crystals or gems in your pocket
- Sing, dance, or play a musical instrument
- Drink water
- Do a hobby that requires concentration
The idea is to be present, fully experiencing your body and your moments on earth.
As I write today’s post, I continue to have a smile on my face and a belief and trust in something bigger than me.
Thanks to a conversation with my mom today, I learned about this mindfulness activity. Apparently, my paternal grandmother did this in the later years of her life. Even though I don’t remember her doing this, I know that part of the reason I write this blog and believe in these lessons is because of her. In her way, she taught me about this way of living. I’m so blessed.
The story goes like this:
My grandmother had two coffee cups on the kitchen table (I can picture her sitting in her spot in the kitchen as I write this post.) She put a grain of rice in one cup every time she thought of something she was grateful for. In the other cup, she put a grain of rice for every burden or worry she was carrying. Then, she would pour out the rice in the cup that held the burdens. However, she let the gratitude cup fill up with rice. Tears fill my eyes with this wisdom that my grandmother is teaching me 10 years after her passing.
I may just begin this activity with my family this week. My first grains of rice will be these: 1) I’m grateful that my mom shared this story with me today; 2) I’m grateful to have spent so many years with my grandmother, as she lived to be 93 years old; 3) I’m grateful to have found my home with mindfulness – a practice that brings me peace of mind and connection to heart, and 4) I’m grateful to share these teachings with my children and the world.
Today it seems that we need proof points to ‘convince’ others that something works or is believable. Well, my post today is entirely personal and serves as a proof point that raising a child through the observations and suggestions in TheMindfulKids makes a difference. In addition, remember that proof points can serve as motivation to continue doing good work in our lives.
I recently experienced a birthday and my 11-year-old daughter shared gifts and words that I know would not have been a part of our lives without this blog.
Words in her birthday card to me: The time goes by just like that, but even though we are getting older each year, we are still alive, happy, wonderful, beautiful, kind people that are part of this beautiful, wonderful world. Mindfulness and kindness are the keys to…happiness.
Inscription in the meditation book that she picked out as her gift to me: Mom, I love you so much. You have taught me so much about mindfulness. I am so very thankful, and I will use that knowledge in the years to come.
What pure love and admiration and gratitude I am feeling. May all mothers experience the feeling I had this week.
With a full heart, a mom who is simply doing her best every day to be a good mom while making daily mistakes!
When the world around us is filled with hatred and deep sadness, it is imperative that we purposefully seek out the joy and love in our lives. As you feel your mind and body fill with sadness and become overwhelmed, remember a simple prayer or wish for happiness is enough. “May all people that feel unhappiness and sadness be free from suffering.” Repeat this over and over, while focusing on breath or an image. Or simply feel the tingling in your feet. The discipline of a daily mindfulness or meditation practise can fill your soul with the strength to keep above the sadness within and around you.
Just today, I read a post about joy from a blog I read from time to time, called Always Well Within.
Here was the post, and I couldn’t say it any better myself so I’m simply pasting it here for you to read. Thank you, Sandra Pawula.
We could all feel more joy. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we did? But the problem is we don’t pay attention to joy. We’re so dedicated to worry, fear, self-doubt, anger, impatience, or another wayward emotion that joy takes a backseat. Please consider breaking-up with these troublesome emotional patterns. Instead, make a commitment to joy.
Use these joy quotes like a tonic. Choose one a day. Tape it to your mirror, stick it on your computer screen, or clip it to your daily planner. Read it often and tap into joy. Smile for no reason. Laugh out loud. Enjoy the beauty you notice in each moment.
21 Quotes to Inspire Joy
“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” ― Rumi
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” ― Dr. Seuss
“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.” ― Mark Twain
“’Without pain, how could we know joy?’ This is an old argument in the field of thinking about suffering and its stupidity and lack of sophistication could be plumbed for centuries but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not, in any way, affect the taste of chocolate.” ― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
“I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.” ― Anne Frank
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh
“He was mastered by the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy of each separate muscle, joint, and sinew in that it was everything that was not death, that it was aglow and rampant, expressing itself in movement, flying exultantly under the stars.” ― Jack London, The Call of the Wild
“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.” ― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
“According to Vedanta, there are only two symptoms of enlightenment, just two indications that a transformation is taking place within you toward a higher consciousness. The first symptom is that you stop worrying. Things don’t bother you anymore. You become light-hearted and full of joy. The second symptom is that you encounter more and more meaningful coincidences in your life, more and more synchronicities. And this accelerates to the point where you actually experience the miraculous. ― Deepak Chopra
“If we can just let go and trust that things will work out they way they’re supposed to, without trying to control the outcome, then we can begin to enjoy the moment more fully. The joy of the freedom it brings becomes more pleasurable than the experience itself.” ― Goldie Hawn
“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” ― Marianne Williamson
“We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. If we smile at someone, he or she will smile back. And a smile costs nothing. We should plague everyone with joy. If we are to die in a minute, why not die happily, laughing?” ― Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras
“When you are joyful, when you say yes to life and have fun and project positivity all around you, you become a sun in the center of every constellation, and people want to be near you.” ― Shannon L. Alder
“Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.” ― Ashley Smith
“To serve is beautiful, but only if it is done with joy and a whole heart and a free mind.” ― Pearl S. Buck
“Comparison is the death of joy.” ― Mark Twain
“A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love. She gives most who gives with joy.” ― Mother Teresa,
“Laughter is a sunbeam of the soul.” ― Thomas Mann
“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” ― Henri J.M. Nouwen
“The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures. It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.” ― Rabindranath Tagore
“Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” – Joseph Campbell
“Scatter joy!” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
I love this call to action – scatter joy! Joy is the medicine so desperately needed in these times. Feel free to use and share the image above in this sweet endeavor. I wish you all the joy in the world!
This is the final post in the MindfulKinder program. As we complete the 12 part program, I leave you with one final post on happiness and compassion.
Mindfulness builds compassion in children. When a child is aware of her own feelings as well as people around her, she will have more of a chance to act in a kind way. Compromise also helps build compassion especially when the child can notice her feelings during the situation. I once heard a great phrase from another parent around this topic: “what are you willing to do?,” and I just love how it helps kids be mindful.
When working through a conflict, asking a child to think about what she is willing to do helps the child pause for a moment while it breaks the intensity of the situation. For a split moment the child’s emotions are separate from the situation while she thinks of her response. Compromise and compassion can begin in this moment.
The phrase can be expanded to bring attention more directly to her emotions in this manner, “what are you willing to do to bring joy to the other child?” If giving a favorite toy to a crying sibling is not possible at the moment, talk about being willing to give a different toy. Maybe the child will be willing to hug the crying sibling or draw him a picture. Asking the child if ‘she can help the other child have some joy too’ is also helpful to draw the child’s attention to her emotions rather than the topic of concern. She might remember that all people want to be happy.
One of the leading experts in the development of mindfulness in children Susan Kaiser Greenland states that we can teach children the habit of happiness. The basic premise is that through mindfulness we can help children notice feelings, and from there we can help children watch which actions lead to happy or unhappy feelings. The goal is to continue actions that lead to happiness and stop the ones that do not.
With summer upon us, take advantage of this playful season by helping children notice where they feel happiness. Ask a child to imagine swimming in the lake or pool, playing on the playground, eating watermelon at a park, or hiking. Then, ask her to share what she sees in her mind. Next, ask her to share what she feels in her body: Do her arms tingle? Does she notice any sensations in her body such as slight pressure, deep breathing, etc. (try it yourself and prompt ideas for the child to consider)? If the child doesn’t notice any feelings, share what you see in the child, such as a smile on her face or sitting up straighter.
Often times, parents do not go to the final step of asking children to share what sensations they feel. In order for children to seek happiness throughout their lives, they need to understand what joy feels like inside their bodies. Over time of mindful noticing, children will begin to connect physical sensations with their feelings to the point where they can determine how they want to interact with a person based on how it feels. This ability is called emotional intelligence (EI), which according to the Oxford dictionary is the capacity to be aware of, control and express one’s emotions and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. In other words, EI is the ability to notice and manage emotions. From this place, a child can be more willing and compassionate.
Helping children to be more willing and to notice where they feel happiness is building their emotional intelligence and compassion. Well done parents, teachers and care providers.