5 Unique Initiatives Teaching Mindfulness to Kids

Wymbin Yoga , www.wymbinyoga.com

Wymbin Yoga , www.wymbinyoga.com

As supporters and promoters of mindfulness for kids, at home and at school, and the role that passing on a mindful approach to life can have on children, we’re always on the lookout for others around the world that share our enthusiasm and beliefs. 

We’ve collected up our some of our favourite organisations and initiatives we’ve come across on Instagram and the internet to inspire you and share examples of people creating change in their communities by teaching kids a more mindful way of living. 

Here are five of our favourites:


1. Whole Beings                                                                                                                                                Holistic education centre for kids
Burleigh, Gold Coast, Australia

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Whole Beings was founded by two teachers who also happen to be sisters, who believe that the mind, body, and spirit of a child should be nurtured holistically to help them grow into all that they can be. Peace, compassion and gratitude, a connection to the natural world and the community are all part of their belief system they pass on to the children they teach.

A holistic non-standard approach to educating each individual learner for who they are is employed here with all their students. Whole Beings have offerings for young children to play, learn and create as well as after-school programs for school-aged children and teens to nurture each child's spiritual growth, guide them to use kindness, positive affirmations, and EFT as a mindfulness tool. Whole Beings’ revolutionary approach to education makes us excited for the future of education systems and all the possibilities we have available to us if we dare to think outside the box!

 

 

2. Wymbin Yoga                                                                                                                                                  Yoga, wellness and meditation classes for kids
 

Calgary, Canada

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We connect very strongly with Wymbin Yoga’s reason for being, based on ‘a deep belief that by starting with today's youth, we can start to change the world.’ We started Making Mindful Magic because of an awakening in our own lives of the powers of mindful living and everything that comes with it but realised that the place to start was with our children.

Wymbin is a children and youth yoga studio that focuses on providing families with wellness education, movement-based classes, and an inclusive community environment in Calgary, Alberta in Canada. They believe that through all these initiatives they can help kids flourish and grow!

Wymbin Yoga offers a variety of classes for kids including different variations & styles of yoga, dance, movement, meditation, and mindfulness including some very cool sounding parent and child classes families can do together.

 

 

3. Holistic Life Foundation
Implementing daily meditation and movement practices in schools and providing high-quality yoga and mindfulness education to individuals and communities.                                                                

 Baltimore, USA 

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The Holistic Life Foundation is a Baltimore-based non-profit organization committed to nurturing the wellness of children and adults in underserved communities. Through a holistic approach helping children to develop their inner lives through yoga, mindfulness, and self-care, they’ve served 14 different schools in the Baltimore area.

The Holistic Life Foundation come in and train the students over a short period of time to lead their own classmates in stretches, breathing exercises, centering exercises and meditation. Students continue to lead their classes through these exercises regularly once the foundation has done their job, meaning these practices are sustained over long periods of time leading to happy, healthy, stress-free, relaxed, and peaceful students. 

We found this incredible organisation through a great article on CNN talking about how The Holistic Life Foundation helped a school replace detention with a Mindful Moment Room to help kids re-centre and think about what they’d done instead of being punished.

 

 

4. The Hutto Project                                                                                                                                            Choir for children of displaced populations living in a refugee camp                                    

Berlin, Germany 

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In 2016, The Hutto Project came into an emergency refugee camp outside Berlin with the objective of creating a creative music and performance program for the asylum-seeking children living in the camp. For the duration of the project, which has now ended as the camp is no longer in operation, they provided space, time, and musical instruction — 90 minutes, three times a week — for children ages three to fourteen from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Moldova, and Vietnam. Together, they explored music theory and performance, created original choral music and movement pieces, and collaborated with artists of all disciplines and ages. 

The objective of the initiative which we wholeheartedly applaud and agree with, was about providing consistency to these children, displaced from their homes, countries and everything they knew, fostering self-expression, and building bridges between the many cultures living in the small community. 

They found that structure also had a big impact on the kids, whose days were otherwise free-form, chaotic, and random in the absence of a formal schooling program in the camp. We believe strongly in the power of music and creative expression as important parts of mindful living for kids, music can even act as meditation as we wrote about recently in our post on 5 Easy Ways to use Music as a Mindfulness and Meditation Tool for Kids.

 

 

5. Jamie’s Food Revolution                                                                                                                                 Mindful eating, healthy food and food education for kids                                                        

UK, USA and Australia 

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Access to good, fresh, real food and the basic skills to cook it has the power to transform kids’ lives, and that’s what the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation is all about. Jamie’s Food Revolution aims to improve the health and happiness of future generations, through the food they eat. From their food education programmes to their national and international campaigns that influence policy on key issues, they aim to revolutionise the way people feed themselves and their families.

Two of Jamie’s projects we love are; the Kitchen Garden Project, empowering primary school teachers to integrate growing and cooking into the school day, and the Ministry of Foods practical and hands-on community-based cooking programme that teaches people of all ages how to cook. Food is the only fuel we give our bodies, and part of a mindful approach to life is being mindful of the food we eat and how we eat it, looking after our bodies, minds and spirits and giving us and our kids the best chance to thrive and grow.


 

Free Guided Kids Meditation: Watch Waves

We're excited to present to you this week a new guided meditation for kids, Watch Waves, perfect to be shared with the children in your lives at home or in the classroom. Like our other free guided meditation for kids, Go Walking in Nature, it was created as an extension of our book, Making Mindful Magic, with both meditation audios available by signing up to our newsletter at the end of this post!

Guided meditations are a wonderful tool for transporting you into a space that for one reason or another we are unable to access all the time whilst also allowing us the opportunity to benefit from the experience, to promote deep relaxation and a sense of calm that we can carry into our everyday lives.

If you are a teacher, this meditation would be a very useful post-lunchtime activity to bring the children back into focus and into a calm place to re-engage with the learning process.

If you’re a parent, try using this meditation before bed to promote restful sleep or anytime calm and peace is especially needed.

Below is the accompanying verse from the book upon which the meditation is based.

 

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Watch Waves

Nature is in charge here

Backwards and forwards the waves live

Retreat and advance, the story is endless

changeless, timeless

The only stillness is in your mind

The only silence is you

 

 

Waves crash, water moves back and forth, but your own mind can be very still amongst it all. A sense of deep calm can be summoned in the midst of this wild activity. This is good training to connect to your inner self despite what may be happening around you. This then is the essence of the guided meditation – focusing on both watching and listening, using your senses to connect deeply with yourself and the world around you.

Like all meditation, guided or otherwise, we begin by deep breathing to focus on the exercise and to encourage a relaxed, stress-free state. We then transport ourselves to a place in nature, very near the beach and use our senses to really notice our surroundings all the while practising our skills of mindfulness. We journey to the beach and focus on the movements and sounds of the waves to maintain our journey into mindfulness and a subsequent calm and peaceful state.

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE KIDS GUIDED MEDITATION, Watch Waves, below by signing up for our monthly mindfulness tips for you, your family or your class. 

You'll also receive the FREE download of the audio file for our Walking in Nature Meditation and two FREE printable eBooks, Seven Day Challenge to Calm Nights and Mindful Seven Day Challenge for kids, perfect for parents and teachers to use as a resource for home or class!

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5 Easy Ways to use Music as a Mindfulness and Meditation Tool for Kids

VIA PINTEREST

VIA PINTEREST

Music can be a powerful, practical tool to bring mindfulness and meditation into our lives as well as our children’s lives. Here we present five easy ways to use music as a tool for mindfulness and meditation with the children in your lives, be it at home or in the classroom. Read our recent more general posts on music for meditation and mindfulness here and here for more tips and information on the links between these two calming, positive practices!

1. As a tool to calm children

In our ebook (find it here), music is used as a tool to calm children in preparation for a better night’s sleep. In the same way, music can be used anytime as a tool for calming children down, to a place where it is easier to be peaceful and more focused on the present moment in much the same way meditation is used. In the article above you’ll find suggestions for some pieces, you might like to try.

2. As a tool to help concentration

By bringing our minds to a calm, peaceful place we can help children become better at focusing on the task at hand. During our workshops music is always used as a part of that process, using finger plays with younger children and action, interactive songs with older ones. If you’re in the classroom use action songs to re-focus after the often highs experienced during lunch break or if you’re at home, try them before homework time.  The very act of putting together words and actions in song requires being fully in the present moment and re-grounds us for better concentration. We like this link here for some ideas on finger plays and action rhymes for young children and you’ll find some good examples to use with older kids here  

Remember any song can be an action song – just add some arm movements. Get the kids to make them up if you’re not feeling too creative or just because kids have brilliant ideas!

3. As a tool for kids to feel their emotions

Just like meditation and sitting quietly are important ways for each of us to connect with our inner selves, listening to emotive music is a tool you can use with your children to help them connect with themselves. Our recent blogs, and last week's about Letting Go talk about why this is so important for emotional well-being and mental health and its early establishment in children is a gift for ongoing healthy lives. After some quiet, deep breathing to bring focus to the moment, try any of these songs that may help children find quiet space within themselves for self-reflection 

https://www.google.com.au/search?q=emotive+music+for+reflection+and+meditation&rlz=1C5CHFA_enAU733AU733&oq=emotive+music+for+reflection+and+meditation&aqs=chrome..69i57.19723j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

4. As a tool to use with dance for self-release and self-love

Music is an inspiration and accompaniment for free dance which itself is a cathartic tool to release deep emotions and to focus on the present moment in much the same way as meditation. Children love to move – it is almost a pre-requite of childhood so use music to help establish dance as a tool for self-expression, self-love and self-release. Any of the above pieces (in tool 3) can be used for moving in free dance. We need to establish as adults that there are no rules for free dance and self-expression, it is all good! It releases the soul and acknowledges an acceptance of ourselves and others in a most profound and healing way and without judgment we can be fully ourselves in the present moment.

5. As a tool to write about our feelings and thoughts.

Journaling is long held method for connecting with the present moment. You can use emotive music pieces to encourage children to focus inwardly in a similar way to meditation used before writing. A little quiet listening to music before writing about feelings is a great way to focus. You can use fstimulus statements like, ‘When I listen to this music I feel…..” or “When I listen to this music it helps me remember …..” Very young children can draw instead of writing with similar results. Again the emotive music in Tool 3 could be used but experiment and try different styles and pieces – most likely different emotions and situations will be evoked.

‘In the ancient cultures of India, Egypt, and Greece, music played a therapeutic role in the lives of people. It was created and performed with the intention of bringing about well-being and health. By the Middle Ages, the idea of music as entertainment took over. But down through the centuries, many industrious, stubborn and creative souls have kept alive the use of sound and music as medicine for the body, mind, and spirit.’ Jeffrey Thompson

Let’s be part of making music, medicine for the soul – for ourselves and our children! 

Letting Go

Some of our recent blog posts have reflected on the need for self-reflection for all of us, adults and children alike and how we might make that become a reality in our lives. You can read about it here and here. One of the ways that really helps me to re-ground and allow myself the space to reflect is when I read a spiritual book and this week I’m sharing one that really brings the two themes together – Letting Go, The Pathway of Surrender by David R. Hawkins., Ph.D.

This book is a very useful part of self-reflection – it gives very practical advice on how to deal with the emotional issues that arise during self-reflection. Hawkins has developed a mechanism he simply and aptly calls, ‘Letting go’. That is exactly what it is – simply letting go of our attachment to the emotions that arise, not in an intellectual way but rather in an emotional way, freed from judgement and self-reproach, free from the judgement of others and instead full of acceptance of life and how things are at the moment.

‘Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender provides a roadmap to a freer life for anyone who is willing to make the trip.’ Fran Grace

So this is the crux of Dr David Hawkin’stechnique to ‘let go.’ 

  • Firstly we need to find the head space to connect with ourselves to allow emotions to arise, honestly and deeply. 
  • We need to allow ourselves to feel where the painful emotion lives, maybe it’s your heart, maybe it’s deep in your belly, your shoulders or some other place. 
  • We need to accept that emotion without judgement, realise it is real that it lives in a physical reality and not an intellectual one, ‘without wanting to make it different or do anything about it… the technique is to be with the feeling and surrender all efforts to modify it in any way.’ 1.
  • Allow it to stay for as long as it wants.
  • When you let go of your resistance to feeling the emotion, then it will become less and less intense.

That’s the technique in a nutshell but the book is beautifully and simply written and explores issues like why we have resistance to accepting the feelings of our emotions as well as deeper reflections on various emotions and how they affect us like apathy and depression, grief, fear, desire, anger, pride, courage, acceptance, love, peace.  It also delves into questions of stress reduction and scientific proof of this method to name just a few of the issue explored. 

So looking at how simple this technique is for dealing with emotional stress, as adults we can teach it to the children in our lives if we are keen to inspire them to lead stress-free and contented lives. I wish it was a technique I had learned earlier in my own life and I rejoice it’s one my young adult children use to help them deal with issues that arise in their own lives. I believe freedom from the carrying of emotional issues will help us be brave enough to lead the lives we want to live. As a parent that is my foremost wish for my children.   

1. Letting Go, The Pathway of Surrender by David R. Hawkins., Ph.D., page 20

Music for Meditation and Mindfulness

‘Listening to music or playing music can also help us step outside our small sense of self, into a larger, more expansive awareness, just as meditation can.’ Anja Tanhane

By Javier Perez 

By Javier Perez 

Music as a practical tool for meditation and mindfulness is an obvious concept when you stop to consider it. When I even think of music and how I interact with it, I immediately feel more grounded and more centred in my own heart. There are many ways to invite music into our lives, not all of them are mindful although all are certainly joyful and advantageous. Music is often a backdrop to many other things we are currently doing and that is a totally valid expression of our love for music. It soothes and relaxes or invigorates and excites, depending largely on what we are listening to. But music used as a mindfulness practice is something a little different.   

If a musician or student is interacting with their instrument in the act of music making, it is essential to focus fully on playing the piece – present moment engagement comes with the territory and some even liken it to meditation so akin is it to the essence of mindfulness! You can read more about that idea here.

If you are listening to music then you can listen on a superficial level, with the piece playing in the background as you go about your many other activities and that is most definitely a valid way to use music in your life. It is uplifting to envelope ourselves with beauty and it is an appropriate addition to many situations, socially or individually and is how many people generally interact with music – for fun and enjoyment! 

The other way you can listen to music is to engage with it very mindfully, focus on it only, doing nothing other than listening to it, allowing it to engage with us fully and to evoke the emotional responses that allow us to focus on our inner selves. In this article there is great advice about ways to prepare ourselves for this type of interaction with music. Put simply we need to remove possible and real distractions from the physical situation so we are best able to really allow ourselves to feel the music and feel our emotions arise. We may need to look at our physical environment, seeking a quiet place, making sure we are physically comfortable. 

This is not only for adults but using music as an emotional response can be cultivated in children from an early age. In our Seven Day Challenge for Calm Nights eBook available for download here, we suggest listening to music as a path to a better night’s sleep. In this situation music is a calming, relaxing tool, an emotional experience when there is mindful engagement with a piece of music. 

In other ways music can also be used as an evocative method to connect with our emotions as a form of therapy as we allow our emotions to rise, to be held in the safety of the beauty of the music and to let those emotions fade away in the same way as a wave rises and falls. Positive and negative emotions may arise at different times. A physical response can be involved, perhaps the music calls you to move – sometimes in celebration and other times as a physical release for something difficult in your life. It can be incredibly healing and cathartic. 

Music has played a changing role in my own life. I was at one time living a life with so much noise that I felt music was an intrusion into my personal space and psyche. When things changed and my life slowed down and became less chaotic the music joy came back to me, uplifting me as it is so capable of doing. Music soothes me, it entices me to move and when I move, emotions and feelings surface and come to peek out at the world. The world heals us if we let it. Music can heal and restore. I guess the conclusion of this personal observation is to make space in your life for music, set aside some special time for real interaction with it as you use it as a tool for the whole family to move forward into mindfulness.

5 Tools to Help Cultivate Self-Reflection and Self-Awareness in Children

Via Pinterest

Via Pinterest

Developing a routine of self-reflection is beneficial for adults and children alike. Making time for self-reflection and self-awareness activities for children at home and in the classroom helps kids to gain a better understanding of both the world around them and especially themselves.

I love this quote from Jennifer Porter, ‘Reflection gives the brain an opportunity to pause amidst the chaos, untangle and sort through observations and experiences, consider multiple possible interpretations, and create meaning.’ A lot goes unnoticed without time for reflection, many opportunities are lost to assimilate what happens into our thought process without it.  

If we quieten our minds enough to allow self-reflection we can also grow in our understanding of ourselves and this helps us move towards self- acceptance and self-love which are so very important to our emotional health and well-being. Children’s need for this is as great as adults and what a gift to them and the society they will be functioning in as adults, to be making space for self-reflection from an early age. If children are encouraged to believe self-reflection is not only acceptable but necessary, then we are all winning.

 

Our five top ways to encourage children to self-reflect are these:

1. Be a good example as an adult. Do you project the image of the adult in their lives who is always busy, always having to do, rather than be? Are you the person who sits and reflects without any agenda? If you are then bravo! If you aren’t, then think about making time in your own life for self-reflection and tell your children that are you are having quiet reflection time.

2. Help them find the time in their own lives. Don’t schedule every second of their lives or be perturbed that they may be bored if they have free time – it is every child’s right to be bored and to fill it with time just to reflect and to be!

3 Make a Family Time for self-reflection – it can be part of a sit and do nothing time or it can come with a simple question – maybe thinking about how you feel now or how you felt during your day?  Start small, like 2 minutes and build it up from there.

4 Make journal writing a part of their routine. Very young children can use non-written ways to write a journal,  drawing about their feelings or dictating to a parent can be used if they are too young to write themselves. You don’t have to solve the problem, you can be merely the one who gives comfort and validation to a feeling. It can of course be about positive feelings, not just difficult ones.  It may be a time when they can accept a situation or decide they can do something about it. What is important is they know its ok to self-reflect and ponder life. They will love the independent and powerful feeling it gives them!

5 Encourage gratitude  Ask the question often, ‘What are you grateful for?” You can start by sharing what you are grateful for so they get the ideas. This notion of gratitude can often put in perspective those difficult situations as being perhaps not as huge as they may have thought when weighed against the positive things in their lives.

Self-reflection helps us realise some things are out of our control and need to be accepted as a part of our life’s journey. It gives us the space to recognise who we are and to, therefore, accept and love ourselves. It can steer us into thinking what it is about our life that makes us happiest, who are the people and experiences that give us the most joy and peace in our lives.  If we are comfortable exploring who we really are then we can better use and trust our own guidance and intuition. 

Free time for thinking allows us to access that part of ourselves that we can so often deny, that part that keeps our hidden feelings, our hurt feelings, the ones we are always trying to keep down there deep inside so we don’t have to face them. Letting ourselves have time so they can come up and surface and to feel comfortable enough to sit with them and deal with them is a healthy habit to develop especially in a child as it can be carried into adulthood where the hurts from our childhood can fester! 

 Self-reflection is for everyone! It’s a time for getting to know yourself better and to accept yourself. It’s not a time to explore the idea of being perfect, that leads nowhere positive but learning to accept and trust yourself is a gift best learned as early as possible!  

Self-reflection is a Mindful way Towards Being Present

Sphinx by Elisabetta Trevisan

Sphinx by Elisabetta Trevisan

I love the idea of taking time out for self- growth and self- reflection. It’s part of the self-love philosophy so many of us strive for and is a mindful pathway to both connect with ourselves and to experience being present. It can happen on many levels and in many ways but this was my absolute joy last week-end; a group of women on retreat in nature finding ourselves and our truth. 

We not only reflected on women-kind but the group’s composition reflected women-kind as well. Stop and think of the endless varieties of women, in stature, status, intellectuality, sexuality, interests, careers, personality – we create a rich tapestry as a whole and as individuals too as we embrace many roles as we play out our lives. I felt grateful to be a woman. 

The common thread with this group of women – we were eager to delve deep into ourselves and to find our own truth and explore ways to live with it. We were prepared to acknowledge uncomfortable truths about ourselves and to open to other women’s uncomfortable truths and to support rather than judge ourselves and each other.

This was not an anti-men’s group but rather a strongly ‘focused on women’s’ gathering. Our emersion in nature brought us in close proximity with mother earth as we were safely and warmly held in its arms as we explored known and new possibilities of the nature of women and what that means in real life. The peaceful and gentle side of women was strongly contrasted with and celebrated alongside the wild and primal nature of women’s ferocious instincts, sometimes lying dormant as compromises are made and true selves hidden for convenience, for the comfort of others, fear, for the sake of peace or for any other number of reasons. 

Many questions were asked and given during the course of our time together. I felt pure gratitude for the opportunity and a deep sense of feeling very present as mundane matters were put on the back-burner. I felt a deep sense of the magnificence of women and our many facets that sometimes beam brightly, at other times gently, reluctantly, in sorrow and in joy. I discovered parts of me that had lain dormant and opportunities to celebrate myself – so many layers to acknowledge and explore. 

Not everyone can or wants to devote a week-end to self-exploration for any number of reasons but self-reflection on any level is useful and essential to each person’s spiritual journey. I love and fully endorse this quote from Carl Sandburg:

'It is necessary ... for a man to go away by himself ... to sit on a rock ... and ask, 'Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?'

There is an opportunity to make a genuine start with this type of enquiry on any level. How and where you do it and how much time you can devote to it is part of each person’s reality but it is possible to engage on the smallest level to make a difference and is our right as individuals to make time for ourselves. 

As a parent, I urge you to embrace the idea of making time for self-reflection part of your parenting plans. For children, you could begin by using a simple question like, “How am I feeling right now?” It can happen randomly or once or twice a day, timetabled like swimming training. It can happen once a week or nightly as part of family reflection time. It can happen whenever and however you think appropriate for your own child and their own situation and maturity but I believe it can and should start young! It then becomes a natural part of life, one they can continue throughout their lives. The ability to connect with your inner self is a gift that we can foster within the hearts of the children in our lives both by giving them the opportunity and by living the example. Let them know you are having some quiet reflection time, give them the modelling that this is a worthwhile part of feeling comfortable with ourselves and that you and they are worthy of taking the time for self-reflection. 

Being present in this way is a gift for everyone – create the opportunity and feel the satisfaction and contentment it brings. 

Seven-day Challenge for Better Sleeping  E-book

Helping children get to sleep each night is no easy task! We've all been there – it's past bedtime, your child is refusing to go to bd, bouncing off the walls and showing no signs of slowing down. But with some simple mindfulness exercises that can become part of your daily bedtime ritual, you can help your children sleep better when bedtime comes around, featured in our free eBook available for download below.

Last week we offered our challenge for better sleep and calmer nights, Seven-day Challenge for Calm Nights via Instagram if you’ve followed us on our social media. We hope you found something that resonates with your family to add to your regular bedtime routine. That’s the thing with routines – they need to be personal and you need to own them! Whatever you choose to maintain a quiet calmness before bed, an important thing is to remember why you are trying to grow a pattern of winding down before bed-time? Why bother keeping a routine and pattern at all?

I love this quote from the Dalai Lama who in his usual succinct yet simple way, invites us to focus on obtaining wholesome sleep by beginning that pattern before we go to sleep and we think a regular calming routine is the best way to achieve it.

 “If you can cultivate wholesome mental states prior to sleep and allow them to continue right into sleep without getting distracted, then sleep itself becomes wholesome.”

Children (and adults for that matter) who maintain a regular pattern of quality sleep generally are better able to cope with life’s challenges and tend to remain calmer in the face of their regular lives. They are generally easier to live with and experience less irritable and explosive outbursts.  In addition, concentration levels are improved with a better ability to maintain present moment focus. If fostering mindful children is a part of your parenting plan, then quality sleep for your children will be an important consideration for you. So it is definitely worth putting in the effort to establishing a good routine for bedtime. 

With that in mind, we’ve created a downloadable eBook so you can refer to it and use it anytime you choose. Sign up to our newsletter below to get your free copy. I wish you calm, blissful nights and contented, mindful children!

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE PRINTABLE EBOOK - Seven-day Challenge for Calm Nights - BELOW by signing up for our monthly mindfulness tips for you, your family or your class. 

When you sign up, you also get free access to our FREE 'Go Walking in Nature' Meditation script and audio file as part of our Seven-day Challenge! 

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Seven Days to Calmer Nights

It’s school holidays in my part of the world and if you’ve been reading my recent blog posts you’ll know I recognise that a change in routine can be unsettling as well excitement inducing – not a great combination for calm bedtimes for young ones!  With that in mind, we’ve created the 'Seven-day Challenge for Calm Nights'  centred around activities that can help bring your kids back to a more balanced place, one that is calmer and less exciting and readier for a good night’s sleep. They are designed to focus minds in the present moment – a mindful progression to calmness and a better night’s sleep!

Of course, it’s also perfect to use these experiences regularly – not just when we are out of routine. They can become part of establishing a routine for bedtime if that hasn’t been a big part of your household. Children need routine in their lives to help them feel secure and untroubled and the bed-time routine is one of the most important for a calm transition from the day’s busyness to a state of relaxation. As adults we can recognise this in our own lives – trying to sleep while we are still investing in our thoughts and worries does not a great night’s sleep make! Children, who these days lead busy lives themselves are also vulnerable to poor sleep and need to be encouraged to let go of the day’s activities to prepare for sleeping! Good sleep is one of life’s greatest gifts! 

Here are a couple of tried and true things to start your routine – a bed time story (nothing too exciting)- we would, of course, recommend our book Making Mindful Magic (available here), a simple lullaby and hugs and kisses (of course) were favourites in my household!  I created this lullaby to use with my own children when they were young.

Lullaby and goodnight

You are Mummy’s little darling

Close your eyes and goodnight

And I’ll see you 

In the morning 

 

I’ve recently become acquainted with a couple of inspiring young women (www.thegoodnightco.com) who are making it their mission to improve quality of sleep. They have just launched into improving children’s sleeping and now have available a beautiful box called, Mind Time Kids in which they are using chakra clearing as a tool for helping kids get a better night’s sleep! 

We’ll be posting daily for the next seven days on our Instagram and Facebook pages an experience a day to promote calmer nights. Join us and Give these experiences a try and keep the ones that resonate with your family and build them into your night-time routine! 

You can modify this challenge any way you choose of course and use it over and over by finding different versions of the experience – eg changing the music used for listening or the mandala for colouring - it’s easy! You can incorporate any into a regular night-time routine – for holidays and any days! Enjoy, relax and sleep well!

 

 

Resources for the Seven-day Challenge for Calm Nights

 

DAY TWO: Listen to our 'Go Walking in Nature'  Guided Mediation

DAY FOUR: Listen to Rolling Waves 

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

DAY FIVE: Colour a Mandela

http://www.sparklingbuds.com/free-mandala-coloring-pages/

We love this description by Cat Hawkins about the benefits of colouring a mandala. http://shaktimandala.co.uk/mandalabenefits/  

DAY SIX: Immerse in calming music 

Classical music that is slow and rhythmical www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAqLStH6E6s

Acoustic guitar music  www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGP6aJ4PBbo

Marconi Union's 8 minute trance-inducing tune, “Weightless” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfcAVejslrU

Any lullaby  www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYvyCkMZ_FY 

 

DAY SEVEN: Alanna’s bedtime routine

Alanna recommends these poses be done in this sequence with gentle slow breathing, for a few minutes each for children and up to 10-15 minutes for adults (great bedtime routine for everyone)!

 

Child’s Pose

Begin by kneeling then drop the bottom back to your heels as you stretch the rest of your body down to the floor and forward, arms outstretched with head on the floor.

Cat Cow Pose

Begin on all fours. Inhale as the belly is dropped and look up, raising your tail bone upwards(Cow). Exhale as the chin is tucked to the chest and the mid-back raised to the sky with your tailbone under (Cat). Continue these positions with a neutral spine between the movements.

Standing Forward Pose

Start by standing with the feet together. Bend forward from the hips, not the lower back, bending the knees enough to allow the palms to press flat on the floor with the head touching the knees, if possible. To end, bend the knees keeping the back straight, the arms out to the sides and move up back into standing.

Legs up the Wall

Start by sitting with your left side against the wall. Turn your body to the left and bring your legs up onto the wall. Lower your back to the floor and lie down. Move your bottom close to the wall. Your arms rest by your sides, palms facing up. 

Happy Baby Pose

Lie on your back with both knees into your chest and put arms through the inside of the knees. Hold onto the outside edge of each foot.  Tuck the chin into the chest and head on the floor. Press the tailbone down into the floor and push the heels up and pull back with the arms. Press the shoulders and the back of the neck down into the floor, trying to get the back and whole spine flat to the floor.

Corpse Pose

Lie on your back, arms and legs open. Close the eyes, and take slow deep breaths through the nose. Allow your whole body to become soft and relaxed. To finish slowly move up to a seated position.

 

Seven Days of Small Ways to Ground and be Mindful

Georgia O'Keeffe, Black Rock on Red, 1971, oil on canvas, 30 x 26 inches

Georgia O'Keeffe, Black Rock on Red, 1971, oil on canvas, 30 x 26 inches

Are you feeling grounded and connected to yourself or like most of us do you need ways to bring yourself back to yourself? After my blog post last week offering five ways to re-ground after a time out of routine, I felt the need to pay particular attention to a simple thing every day for a week that was especially focused on helping me to feel centred, to feel connected with my real self and to feel especially in tune with nature. This week I’m going to share with you how that week looked for me and to offer you the challenge to devise something similar for yourself– just one thing a day that will help keep you present and grounded. In my part of the world it’s school holidays, a perfect time to engage with your children and encourage them to participate too. It can be a daily focus while you have a little more time than usual. I’m hoping you’ll discover that it actually takes very little time to incorporate this practice into your regular life – it just takes a commitment to do it and the self-knowledge that mindful activities make you feel calmer, less stressed and more connected to the real you! 

I posted on Instagram the grounding tool I used each day for a week:

 

Day 1 | Cook Whole food

I made a simple pumpkin soup– pumpkin, leek, cashews, ginger. I took the time to take it slow and focused fully and carefully on the task at hand, cutting, smelling the aromas, enjoying the stirring, allowing it to simmer for a long time.  I felt nurtured and centred as I followed on with the slow theme and leisurely relished its warmth as I ate.

 

 

Day 2 | Connect with a Sunset

Sunsets are one of my favourite things. They inspire me so much and remind me how amazing nature really is. When I feel connected with nature, I feel connected with me!

 

 

Day 3 | Accept Nature’s Invitation

There was nature calling me again to engage with it – to come down the path, to sit in the winter sunshine and feel a part of the real world of nature. All it takes is a commitment to notice what is in your immediate surrounds and then to take a few minutes to open to it. 

 
Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 5.20.24 pm.png

 

Day 4 | Listen to the Wind in the Trees

Using all our senses is part of being in the present moment and to be mindful. To really listen to the rustling trees made me feel very calm and peaceful and energised in a way that felt inspiring.

 

 

Day 5 | Sit under a Giant Tree

There is something very profound about sitting on the earth under a tree – I felt the pull from above and below as I sat peacefully and felt connected to the earth. I carefully took the time to follow the shadows cast by the magnificent canopy – a calming and mindful moment.

 

 

Day 6 | Read a Spiritual Book

One of my very favourite books is Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. When I feel scattered I randomly open it and it always offers me a chapter that fits perfectly with me and brings me back to my inner self and connection. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 7 | Engage in something creative

It’s hard to think of anything else when you are making art, or music, or dance or writing from your heart or whatever it is that means being creative for you. Just opening my pastel box almost forces me into the present moment like no other! 

Seven days of purposefully setting aside a little time to engage in a mindful activity gave me the feeling of being grounded and connected that I was seeking. Perhaps you feel motivated to do the same and to encourage the children in your lives to participate too. We’d love to see and hear about any ways you engaged. Post here………? 

5 Ways to Re-ground

It’s Monday morning as I write this and I just had a really fun week-end - I played tourist in another city with friends! It was a party week-end and disruptive to my regular routine but you know I have enough self-love to not beat up on myself and to accept that as normal behaviour in the human condition! Seeing new sights, sounds, places, people can be very stimulating, is loads of fun but it can make us feel ungrounded. It’s not how I want to fee all the time but it is part of my life. 

This week’s blog post is about exploring ways to re-ground after a time of excessive fun, however that looks to you. It’s not just a message for adults it’s very much a lesson for families as well – you know a week-end that included maybe a birthday party, a sleep-over, lots of play dates, late nights for whatever reason – it happens, we all know it happens and it can in fact serve as a poignant reminder of how we feel when we are grounded as opposed to how we feel when are ungrounded! 

How do I recognise I have become ungrounded? I tend to l lose my sense of calm and my heart races just a tad more quickly. I don’t notice my surroundings as much but begin looking for the next fun thing to do rather than immersing myself in the current moment and what I’m actually doing so in a way I’m not embracing the current experience. I find my mind starts racing from one thing to another, I feel scattered and don’t sleep all that well! Some people may even suffer from a little or a lot of anxiety or depression, depending on your make-up. 

So there I was on a Monday morning and feeling not as connected to myself as I usually do so here are five things I do to make myself feel more connected and grounded. They work for me, always do and perhaps they’ll resonate with you as well.

 

1. I re-engage with my regular routine and rituals

So to get myself back in touch with myself I make sure I do my regular morning routine. It starts with 20 minutes of meditation, a short 15 minutes of yoga, I pull an oracle card to inspire me for the day, I use my collection of seven crystals to clear my chakras and I write in my journal. That’s just me – think of your own and frame it around your own commitments and life. Some time taken for rituals will enhance your connection with yourself, no matter how long you have to use. You will no doubt recognise those things that work for your children as well but I think it’s well accepted that children need routines in their lives to feel secure and grounded.

 

2. I take a walk in nature

I don’t need to go far, a 30 minute stroll around the close-by riverfront and parkland, down some quiet tree-lined streets, shoes off from to time to really feel the grass and earth beneath me and my real connection to it, will help enormously.

 

3. I engage purposefully in an activity

I take my time making my breakfast, I concentrate on being very focused, careful and purposeful as I cut, mixed, pour, spread and eat. I love feeling the return of the flow in my system

 

4. I listen to some calming music

Find something that works for you – today I listened to some Deval Premal & Miten. I make a little time for myself to do nothing other than listen and to allow myself to react to it with a little movement, allowing the emotions to rise up so I can hold them without judgment for a short time.

 

5. I am very careful about what I eat

After a party week-end I like to be careful and to eat really well! If you listen to your body you’ll know what cleanses you. For me it’s things like lots of vegetables, perhaps some dahl and rice. This type of eating makes me feel calm, the making of it alone makes me feel connected and grounded – it’s worth taking the time and making the effort for the rewards you’ll feel.

 

That’s what I do to re-ground myself after some time of being less careful. We all do this, kids do this, families do this - it’s called being human! Some of my methods may be useful for you and your family but if you have your own fixes we’d love to hear and see them on our social media. (Can you put links here?)

To help keep myself more present and mindful I’m going to be posting this week an experience each day this week that is helping me stay grounded – would you like to join me?

Make music together to be mindful

This weekend was a musical extravaganza for me –on Friday night I went to a ukulele jam session at a local café and then Saturday my choir performed with a number of others in an incredible afternoon of a combined choir experience. It made me feel happy and uplifted for sure as all those endorphins flooded into my body and soul but it also reminded me how mindful making music really is!  I think it’s virtually impossible to not be present when you are making music of any sort!

That’s a gift for any person and any family to embrace! Last week I wrote about the need to share in a simple way our values and passions with our children. My blog told the story of a friend, a dedicated dad who shares his mindfulness passion by engaging his daughter through verbalising what he sees, what he hears, what sensations he’s feeling as they ride his bike together and she reciprocates and the passion grows very organically and without a lot of effort, but with a lot of purpose! 

You can do the same with the children in your life with singing and music! This is not about how musical you are either - there are a myriad of youtube experiences from which you can learn a simple children’s song, the internet is full of them! Or you can choose a song they sing at school or kindy, find it on youtube and use it until you can sing it together alone. If it has actions – even better! You are riveted in the present moment when you sing an action song! How about the Hokey Pokey – you remember ‘You put your right foot in, you put your right foot out…..” Find it here  

When I do workshops with kids, I always include a finger play or action song – you can see a little bit of Incy Wincer Spider below...

You can use musical instruments for mindfulness in a similar way – you don’t need expensive, authentic instruments for this either, although if they are at your place already go right aheadand use them. If you don’t’ you can make music from a myriad of home-made ‘instruments’ – rice filled jars make wonderful maracas! You can also easily make home-made drums with empty cans, sturdy brown paper and rubber bands.   Bells inside whisks are pretty amazing and check this out for a myriad of other ideas -    https://au.pinterest.com/explore/homemade-musical-instruments/?lp=true  Find some music you all like and play along together. Pretty simple isn’t it and there you are sharing the gift of mindfulness with the children in your lives! 

Most of us love listening to music but there is active and passive listening and only one is mindful, although both are highly enjoyable!  Passive listening allows you to go about your business with music playing in the background but active listening through which you can purposefully set aside some time to sit and listen and engage with music, invites us to be mindful. This is something you can easily share with the children in your lives. I favour something that aligns with the emotions so you can feel freely and to let more feelings arise. The point here is to let yourself be reactive to what you hear – it can be through movement and dance or you can sit and let the feelings that arise to just be held withininstead of trying to supress them which is never helpful in the long term.

Caring and sharing are closely linked – we all care about our children, use whatever opportunities that arise to share your passion to be mindful. Music adds such a wonderful, connected opportunity to being mindful so making time to include it in family life makes a whole lot of sense!  

 

Sharing the gift of Mindfulness with Our Children

We recently changed our name from Making Mindful Children to Making Mindful Magic, the reason being we became increasingly aware that mindful children need mindful adults in their lives. That’s where and how it starts if we are to encourage and foster a new generation of mindful souls! Many of our posts and blogs challenge adults to think mindfully, to be in the present moment, thoughtfully living each experience as it comes and to be mindful enough to make choices in our lives that reflect our own values. When we are mindful ourselves we become open to paying the gift forward.

Where and how do we start sharing these values and beliefs with the children in our lives? It starts at the very grass-roots level of being the person you want your children to be, to provide experiences that show them what you value and to encourage them to value those things too so they can bring them into their own lives as they grow. If we’re talking about mindfulness as one of the values that we want to share then be the person who values slow, quiet time, who appreciates the need togive purposeful attention to your children and to your own activities and to make choices that reflect your values.

It can start simply with sharing. I know a very connected young father who passionately and regularly shares his beliefs with his children. He told me the simple story of when out bike riding with his three-year-old as his passenger, he shares his passion for being present with her. His story inspired me to write this verse, so moved was I by this unpretentious but effective way of sharing ideals and fostering passion.

 
   Poem by Lea McKnoulty, Watercolour & pencil original artwork by Mathilde Cinq-Mars Illustration

   Poem by Lea McKnoulty, Watercolour & pencil original artwork by Mathilde Cinq-Mars Illustration

 

This is what we love, the simple ways of sharing the gift of mindfulness with the children in your lives. We like to think our book Making Mindful Magic is a tool you can use to begin and to foster the act of sharing your passion for mindfulness. It's available on our website here in Australia and on Amazon in the UK, here and in the US, here

 

 

Your Choices Matter!

Nancy Katanari Tjillya / Tree of Life (in collaboration w/ Alison Riley, Nyurpaya Kaika, Nurina Burton) 2011 198 x 122cm via pinterest

Nancy Katanari Tjillya / Tree of Life (in collaboration w/ Alison Riley, Nyurpaya Kaika, Nurina Burton) 2011 198 x 122cm via pinterest

Mindful Living is all about the choices you make and one of those is definitely who, what and where you choose to share your time and space with. This idea of being consciously mindful of the decisions we make has a direct correlation to the way we lead our lives and to our personal well-being, development and contentment.

I have recently experienced a great example of this in practice when I moved to a new suburb where I’m finding the collective energy to be a big shift. This concept is tied up with surrounding yourself with people who uphold and improve our own energy rather than those who drain and diminish it. I feel there is a sense of prevailing calm, a freshness in the air that I suspect comes not only from the abundance of huge ancient tress but also from the openness of its residents. No doubt stories are held in the structure of the old homes that are adjacent to my relatively new apartment block that leak into the energy field as well.

There feels a sense of freedom from judgement here – many walks of life, socio-economic streams, ethnicity, diverse interests all seem to work together with a high degree of acceptance and harmony. In my short time here I feel it’s going to be okay to be me, to live my life as I choose. I believe the lack of judgement I’m feeling will reflect in my own psyche as well and that I will become more accepting and less judgemental of myself and others.

This collective energy not only exists in where you live, it can be about who you spend your time with socially, at work, who you live with, where you shop or congregate, where you send your children to school, who they spend time with.

It’s another aspect of mindful living, re-enforcing the notion that the choices we make, the actions we follow will eventually reflect in our own lives for better or worse. Our choices matter!

Collective energy, collective permission to be yourself and to let others be themselves – it’s a place to work from, a place to move gently towards self-awareness and self-acceptance as well as acceptance of others. I think it can be a genuine guiding light for families – seek those people and places, experiences and situations that enhance the positive energy you seek in your life and for the lives of your children.

 

 

Are You Doing Too Much For Your Kids?

'My Childhood' by Sveta Dorosheva via Pinterest

'My Childhood' by Sveta Dorosheva via Pinterest

How being a mindful parent can help kid’s independence

Yesterday was Mother’s Day in my part of the world and it got me thinking about a variety of mothering issues that we all face. One of them is how much we should do for our kids?

As a mother I would say that I did too much for my children, going in to bat for them when problems arose. Looking back I wonder why? Maybe it was based on protecting them from pain but maybe also it was a better reflection on me if they were successful and didn’t stumble. Ouch!

In the long run experiencing pain and being allowed to live their own lives, mindfully being in their own moment, living the experiences they are meant to live, teaches them resilience and self-reliance which are big factors in building self-confidence.

I was once asked by a friend how to build self-confidence in children. As a former early childhood teacher who had studied child psychology perhaps they thought I had the answers. For my own children I think It would have been more helpful if I was more mindful to paying attention to where they were in their own life journey to independence and to allow them to find their own answers more often and to suffer the consequences of their own choices.

Now I’d answer my friend’s question by saying trusting them to deal with their own lives from as early an age as possible is really important – be the mindful parent and watch for when you can comfortably ‘look on’.

That definitely does not mean we start ignoring our kids – it’s just the opposite! We pay a lot of mindful attention to what they are doing and what stage they are at but then letting them make choices or even ignoring choices but living the consequences themselves rather than us trying to protect them and to dictate what happens in their story!

And that can be really challenging – believe me I know!

Being Grateful is Being Present

I saw a photo on Instagram this morning that inspired me – arms outstretch towards the camera and the backdrop the setting sun over mountains and valleys with the caption, ‘Grateful Sundays’!

It begged me to ask myself how often I think to be grateful! Not enough I have to admit but when I am in that space things change in my whole physiology. I feel my shoulders drop, my heart-space swell and a feeling of well-being encompasses me. The crazy thing is, it’s easy to think of things to be grateful for in your life if you just choose to pay attention and to take a moment to notice. It is part of one of my favourite themes of living mindfully and it so helps us to embrace the present moment in our lives.

There are so many things to be grateful for – a list may on simple terms include the beauty around us, the people in our lives, the opportunities we are given, even the food in our bellies and the roofs over our head. These and many others are worthy of our gratitude and are most likely an excellent place to start to embrace gratitude. It is also an easy way to bring the concept into the lives of the children in your lives and is very much within children’s understanding to embrace gratefulness and the opportunity to consider and express it can be scheduled into anyone’s daily life as easily as can tennis practice. The question is simply, ‘What do you have to be thankful for?”

Pay attention to being grateful and over time it’s possible to view all experiences as positive. With a purposeful intention, being grateful can be a constant state of mind, whereby we can embrace everything that happens to us as something to be grateful for. I set out to look at that version myself and this is what I came up with and I invite you to so the same in your own lives.

What do I have to be grateful for?

My opportunities for self-expression just like this one

Those who love and support me

My urge to continue on a path of self-discovery

My interest in universal discovery of the spiritual realm

Opportunities to discover what touches my heart

Roles I’ve earlier played and experiences I’ve had that taught me what I needed to know to embrace how I currently am, be they wounds or joy, it was all part of my life journey that taught me what I needed to know to grow.

Considering being grateful puts our lives in perspective, acknowledging that we are not alone but are part of a much bigger universe and that we are all in this together. I love the way it encourages us to be less self-obsessed as we can acknowledge the greatness of the universe and the existence of a universal plan. Mostly I love the way being grateful reminds us to be in the present moment, really paying attention to our lives and the rewards within it and that which is inherent to our own particular version of living. It brings comfort and satisfaction and dismisses negativity and encourages positivity in our lives. It’s part of my plan to try harder to be grateful more consistently!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ways to find your real self

I recently wrote about the satisfaction of leading a life that better reflected being my real self. This is a follow-up that explores some ways of getting there, mostly around firstly finding who that real you may be. This is written from my own personal point of view and embraces what I know for myself to be true for me – perhaps indulgent, definitely cathartic and hopefully helpful to anyone who seeks to find it in themselves.

I used to live a very busy life with loads of commitments – I raised three children, worked in the family business, ran a very busy household and generally helped a wide range of people to achieve their goals whilst not focusing very much on my own. I found I wasn’t living a life that was supporting being true to my real self. I know that has changed for me now and I feel grateful.

Painting: The Ten Biggest, No 7 by Hilma af Klint, 1907 via Tate on Pinterest. 

Painting: The Ten Biggest, No 7 by Hilma af Klint, 1907 via Tate on Pinterest. 

My introduction to finding my real self began when I learned to meditate ten years ago. I adopted a regular twice daily, twenty-minute session of Transcendental Meditation that brought me into silence with myself. If now I miss a session I feel the difference! It gives me opportunities to feel connected with myself and every day I am thankful for the opportunity I received. It supports the notion that to find the real you, you must make space, time and energy within yourself to find that person.

There are a variety of ways to make space in your life to find the real you but all begin with the personal desire to find it. One way is to look at your level of commitments and consider ways of reducing them or modifying or sharing them? Helpful questions may be, ‘How is my commitment level contributing to me living my life as the person I really am?” ‘What are some commitments I can make to myself to help me make space to find the real me?”

You can challenge yourself to look at not only the level of commitment but also the ways you spend your time. Clearly, If you spend a lot of time on social media, you will be using up your time and headspace to distract yourself from time to be alone and to self-discover. I’m not suggesting we dump the lot and live a hermetic existence, I’m suggesting instead that we actively assess the time spent there and if reducing it may give greater opportunities to seek the real you and to get know yourself.

Contrast your media time with the amount of time you spend in nature, one of the best ways I know to clear your headspace, connect with yourself and your senses and to enjoy the present moment. When there is space and peace, self-connection can arise quite naturally.

The challenge then is to open up to hearing what your intuition tells you, to embrace and accept what you find and ultimately to be brave enough to face what arises and to perhaps seek help to find ways to implement your discoveries into your life.

It starts for me with self-love, the granting of permission to myself that I am worth the effort, my needs are important and I am deserving of the joy and rewards that living a life closer to reflecting my true self can bring. A level of trust is needed here to not only embrace what you have found but to tell your loved ones what you have found and to seek their acceptance of your need to more fully embrace the real you. Perhaps you may need a little or a very large shift in surrounding yourself with people who support your right to more fully be the real you.

I have personally found when I am living a life that reflects the real me, it seems to incorporate some passion that whilst not necessarily taking over my life, some time spent there allows me to enjoy a sense of loss of awareness of time, a feeling of deep contentment, a peace in my heart. It is different of course for everyone but for me, it mostly centers around writing and being generally creative.

It also involves using my own power to incorporate it into my life. A challenge yes, but a rewarding one! As a parent, it is inspiring to remember that we always lead by example with our children and no matter what age, they will be encouraged to more fully be themselves in their own lives if they are witness to their parents being brave enough to live their own.

Being in the Present Moment with Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart Tolle via Holistic Dublin 

Eckhart Tolle via Holistic Dublin 

If you’re reading this blog then I think we are in agreement that some more mindfulness in our lives is a good thing. I was privileged to see how that can happen in real life a few nights ago when my daughter, Louise and I joined a large crowd to attend an evening with Eckhart Tolle at the Brisbane Convention Centre.

There is no hype that surrounds this genuine man – he simply sits on a chair and talks! His only acknowledgment of technology is the presence of two large screens behind him on either side that allows his audience to interact more fully with him. But there is no sideshow of a moving background, only a true representation of a simple man sitting and sharing his thoughts.

There is no gesticulating, no walking up and down the stage or on a centre catwalk, no raised voice to make a particular point. It is a bland delivery for those used to the enhancement of modern technology but one that is truly engaging and shows a man living his own truth, showing the world how to be present and being entertaining at the same time.

This realisation led my daughter and I to ponder afterward how one can sit still for 2 hours and engage an audience simply by speaking – did he actually prepare for it, how does he remember it all if he does or does he simply let whatever wants to come up, come up? I loved Louise’s summary when she said, ‘For two hours he allows the presence to flow through him.’ I think that is the essence not only of his presentation but also to the heart of his message. It is possible to engage not only others but also yourself if you are really being in the moment. Then you are not relying on outside distractions and not paying attention to that debilitating voice in your head, insisting you need to prove yourself over and over when engaging with others.

He made many memorable points but there were a couple that I found especially relevant and easy to remember and use to encourage and practice, not only for ourselves but for our children and all our family members.

I loved this line, ‘In the doing remember to bring in the being’. We all have commitments and for some of us, there are many but we can still use those times to be present in the moment, to not be in our heads focusing on past events or ones yet to come but instead to be mindful of focusing our attention on what we are currently doing.

He’s very passionate about this one, ‘Time without social media is essential.’ It’s one that can take over our lives, one that is important to remember and for our children as well as ourselves. It is easy to distract ourselves from life by engaging in what we deem as incredibly important messages, posts, clips etc rather than to give ourselves the opportunity to ‘be’ and to do nothing at all!

His challenge was to be that person who can happily sit without technology supporting us. It used to happen before technology became so easily available ‘round the clock’, people used to sit and just be but now it is rare to see people without the mandatory phone in their hands if they are required to wait in a queue, for example.

He explained how his love of being in nature and the expansiveness it offers to our thinking can be coupled with the notion of ‘no technology’ to be more present in our lives. He encouraged us to use time in nature to begin the process of being with ourselves, rather than with our phones. He says it is the easiest way to be present – look at the sky, those few seconds of wonder can be the start of being in the present, do it more often and for longer and it will become part of your being. Then, over time, challenge yourself by moving into a busier location and apply the same principles – just sit and look around you, take in your surroundings, acknowledge the noise but don’t let it take you over. You will find over time that presence is possible wherever you are and no matter how challenging the surroundings.

via StellaMuse

via StellaMuse

I needed to look no further that Eckhart Tolle himself to believe what he says is true – he is a living personification of his principles and those of you who have read my past blogs will know that I am inspired by people who are brave enough to live their own truth and he is one of those people for sure.

He is not only a world-renowned speaker whose sessions are numerous on UTube but also a prolific writer. I’m going back to re-read a couple of my favourites, ‘The Power of Now’ and ‘A New Earth’ and I invite you to join me in exploring his wisdom but also his immense personal portrayal of living in the present.

Being Your Real Self

The idea of truly living your own truth has been on my mind a lot lately! Many ‘Big Picture’ changes have happened in my life over the last 12 months and I know part of it is because I more than ever before want to live and make choices that are a reflection of who I really am. From my own perspective I know I spent a good part of my life living a version of myself, living a number of roles that in many ways had far more to do with keeping everyone else happy than with fulfilling my own life purpose and interests. As a woman of my generation that is not unusual.

It is an interesting thought to explore in terms of parenting as our children can be very different from us in temperament and interests. As parents, we can find ourselves walking a fine line between encouraging children into expectations of how we want them to be and behaviours that we find appealing or even comforting at the extreme and the other side that is encouraging them to find an environment that is appealing and fulfilling and comfortable for them.

Currently, I’m reading a wonderful book, Women Who Run with the Wolves. In one of the chapters the author, Clarissa Pinkola Estes uses the story of women as seals, who shed their skin and come out from time to time to play, to make her point. During one of these outings of shedding the skin, one of the women has her skin stolen by a man who convinces her to abandon her natural ways and come and live with him as he promises to protect her and look after her if she chooses him. She agrees and for a while, all is well but after a period of time she seeks her original skin and to return to her seal life as she feels withered and lost, losing her energy and vitality. I won’t finish the story for you as it is a book well worth reading and one I hope you will read but the point is if we are not prepared to live our own truth and revel in it then we are really living as a shadow of ourselves and the people we attract into our lives are those who are attracted to our false self, not our real self. The hope of life being ultimately fulfilling seems remote if lived under those conditions.

This, of course, brings up parenting challenges as we walk the line between encouraging the development of the real nature of our children or encouraging the version we find more socially acceptable. I have an unproven theory that if more of us were to be our real selves then more of us would be more contented as we would feel more self-fulfilled. Instead of swimming upstream against the current we could more leisurely go with the flow of our lives offering more opportunities for genuine contentment and fellowship with others who more comfortably fit with us. But if we aren’t brave enough to be our real ourselves or even look for that person and encourage our children to do the same then we and they will most likely continue to be swimming upstream against the natural flow and find it difficult to make connections with themselves and with those who are really part of their tribe. To find ourselves and our tribe we must first be prepared to open up to who we really are.

I recently have made opportunities in my life for a lot of self-reflection with and without guidance and support. The number one issue that keeps arising is my failure, until this point in my life to really feel I was living my own life. I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way, ones I needed to experience from in order to learn but I am now feeling my authentic self rising more and more often and it feels powerful and satisfying and brings me happiness. Opening up to your real self can be a huge challenge, it isn’t always comfortable to be the person who isn’t agreeing with everything for the comfort of others and there are many others with a vested interest in you remaining the person who fits in, who doesn’t challenge the status quo who just does what is expected of her. And the best thing is this opening up to your self is part of a continuum, start with wherever you feel comfortable and take it as slowly or quickly as you like. The speed of your journey of self-discovery is part of acknowledging your real self as well after all. 

via www.holisticshop.co.uk

via www.holisticshop.co.uk