A Path to Self Acceptance

A Path to Self Acceptance

I want to let myself fly! Let myself be free! Let myself be in my own truth as I remain steady within myself! This inner child of mine wants to be free, she wants to explore life, she wants to express herself and be creative and she wants to make her own rules and see what works for her. She’s tired of trying to be perfect and playing to everyone else’s rules. 

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5 easy mindfulness exercises for children to use in the classroom

Mindful living is becoming something we strive towards more and more in modern life, but how can we teach children mindfulness? Mindfulness is certainly not something just reserved for adults, the art of connecting with the present moment, taking our time to do things slowly and appreciating the little things is something we should be teaching children from a young age, an invaluable life skill for so many reasons. And where better to learn such a great skill for life than at school? Here we present five easy ideas to help teachers incorporate mindfulness exercises and activities into the classroom.

 

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 1. Quick Grounding Meditation

Introduce a daily ritual of taking two minutes at the start of the class’ day and again after lunch to help yourself and the kids in your class to ground, ready to learn! 

What do we mean by grounding? Grounding means connecting to our own bodies, the earth and our connection to it, getting out of your head and into the body in the present moment. Signs of being ungrounded include hyperactivity, racing thoughts, inability to sit still, inability to concentrate, sound familiar in the classroom with your students?

 

Meditation Text

Begin by sitting comfortably in a chair with your feet flat on the floor hip distance apart (shoes on or off). Make sure your nice and comfortable and then become still, like a tree. Take a slow deep breath in and out, and another breath in, and out, and one more in and out. Close down your eyes. Bring your attention to your body. Focus on the weight on your body as you sit on the chair. Now bring your attention to your feet and think about your feet as being very very heavy. Can you feel the heaviness of your feet? Feel the weight pulling downwards towards the floor. Now focus on the soles of your feet. Feel the contact of your feet with the floor and the earth beneath it. Continue to focus on the soles of the feet silently feeling the connection to the earth for the remaining time. 

 

The aim of this exercise is to get the student to focus their attention, quiet down and settle their minds ready for a successful class full of learning.

 

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 2. Mindful Eating

Mindful eating involves paying attention to the food you are eating, how it feels in your body, being grateful for the nourishment you’re giving your body and noticing when you are full or still hungry. Any opportunity for kids to practice mindfulness is a good thing, to be able to practice paying attention to the present moment and take joy from simple activities can only be positive! But mindful eating has the added bonus of helping kids to develop a healthy relationship with food, to pay attention to their bodies and not just eat mindlessly, either too much or too little.

To encourage this in the classroom, you could practice this exercise with kids a couple of times in the classroom, or simply explain the exercise, then remind and encourage them to try it when they are out in the playground. Questions they can ask themselves:

  1. What colour is your food?

  2. What is the texture of your food? Is it soft or hard? Light or heavy? Sticky or dry?

  3. What flavours can you taste in your food?

  4. What are the ingredients in your food?

  5. How does it feel in your body as you eat it? Can you feel it moving from your mouth to your stomach or not?

Think of a way to make it into a game and you’ll have an even better chance of getting this exercise adopted at mealtimes at school or at home.

 

via pinterest from  a rtfulparent.com

via pinterest from artfulparent.com

 3. Mindful Art

You could argue that a lot of the kind of art children create is mindful anyway, most children are great at using art to express themselves authentically, putting on paper their emotions or the situations playing on their minds, without even knowing it! 

To incorporate mindful art-making into the classroom, we simply need to make time to create without an end goal in mind, creating for the sake of creating and focusing on the present moment and the paper in front of you, the act of putting pen, crayon, pencil or paint to paper, or even sculpting with clay.

Why not put on some relaxing music, give out some paper and ask the children in your class to draw how they are feeling right now. Or if you’d prefer to do something more structured, you could ask students to draw around a repetitive, calming, easy theme like bubbles, triangles, waves, leaves, squares, dots, any shape or likeness you think the kids in your class could recreate easily depending on their age. Making time and giving kids permission to engage in the calming, grounding act of art-making is a great way to practice mindfulness.

 

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 4. Easy Yoga

Getting kids into a gentle, calming, healthy practice like yoga from a young age can’t be a bad idea! And making time in the classroom, even just 20 minutes (or 10) whenever you can fit it into your class’ schedule, is enough. Yoga asanas, the physical postures of the broader yoga philosophy, allow us to connect with our bodies, calm our minds through regulated breathing and increase our flexibility and the health of our bodies overall. This is an exercise that appears in our children’s mindfulness book, Making Mindful Magic, available in our online store and on Amazon US and UK.

Some easy yoga poses that children can easily connect with and remember, owing to their gentleness and animal or familiar names and shapes include:

 - Cat Pose

 - Cow Pose

 - Bridge Pose

 - Cobra Pose

 - Corpse Pose

 - Downward Facing Dog

 - Cow Face Pose

 - Tree pose

 

More information on the poses, including pictures on the Yoga Journal! You don’t need yoga mats to do such simple poses, a patch of grass or carpet will do just fine for this easy level.

 

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 5. Nature Appreciation

This is a theme that also appears in our book, Making Mindful Magic, often; taking the time to appreciate nature. Stopping to notice all the beautiful creations in nature, from the trees to the waves, to the leaves, to the grass and the sky, to insects and birds, is an easy way to help children to connect with the grounding energy of nature, to appreciate the simple, free things in life. A way to incorporate this theme into the classroom could include a short nature walk somewhere on the school grounds to collect leaves, flowers, pebbles, blades of grass, and taking them back to the classroom, spending time appreciating the colours, shapes, names of each thing collected, perhaps turning them into a collage, gluing them on the page and writing or drawing around this theme.

 

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We hope you’ve enjoyed our suggestions for easy mindfulness exercises for children to use in the classroom, and of course, these are all exercises not just reserved for teachers and educators but are ideas you could adapt for home, your therapy practice or studio as well.

 

Mindfulness as a Vehicle for Finding our True Purpose

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I have often wondered what has brought me to my passion for mindfulness and mindful living. I often say it is my own exploration into spirituality that has brought me to it but it doesn’t really explain why that is an important passion to even have.

Recently I have come to realise more fully that mindfulness is the avenue for opening up space in our lives as we slow it down and become more purposeful and aware of what we are doing so we are open for what life is really about, what are own particular purpose for being here is. 

Mindfulness is purposefully going about our daily lives in a calm, uncluttered state, without the constant need to be doing, but rather making time and appreciating the ‘being’ instead. There are times when life is so busy that it’s hard but we can also easily lose sight of the need for any reflective, quiet time unless we make a purposeful effort to seek it. By making mindfulness a priority then we are consciously opening ourselves to the possibilities that surround us, the subliminal messages that show us the way forward to what we are seeking. So many people are seeking, they often are looking in the wrong places. They are looking in material possessions as their answer or in adrenalin as their answer whilst ignoring what is often sitting right under their noses. Finding what is under our noses can be found through self-reflection and listening to our intuition, and mindfulness is a vehicle for finding it. 

We can easily become totally overwhelmed by the day to day trial of what we call living and forget, in the process, the whole big picture of our lives. It is easy to lose our trust in our own perspective and intuition if we are constantly running to everyone else’s agenda. If we try to run our own agenda perhaps in timeframe and priority then we are far more able to make decisions and actions that more whole-heartedly and honestly reflect ourselves and it is in doing this that we discover ourselves and our own true nature and this then gives us clues and shows us the way to discover why we are here and what our purpose is. 

This then is why children and mindfulness are such an important combination. It seems, very few of us, from my generation spent or indeed were encouraged to learn very much about our true nature and purpose in life. If we as caregivers can install the need for mindfulness then a generation will be positively affected to make time for self-reflection and with it will come the practice to trust oneself and ones’ abilities, to fathom our gifts and what makes us contented and fulfilled. These are the signposts to seeking our true purpose for being here. It seems to me that much heartache can be at least reduced if not alleviated by seeking ourselves through this process. 

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. 

 
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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?

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!