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! 

Name *
Name

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

Making Mindful Health Choices through Ayurveda

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to spend two weeks detoxing at Sukhavati Ayurvedic Retreat Bali and whilst I feel blessed and fortunate I was able to have that time for myself, the lessons Ayurvedic medicine can bring to family life is available for anyone, anytime, any place.

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian practice of medicine and really a way of life as well. It harks back to one of my favourite themes – making mindful choices about how we live our lives. In the ‘olden days’ as I called it as a child before modern medicine became so readily available, generations had passed down their health secrets and remedies via the wisdom of the family matriarchs. They didn’t all work of course but many have stood the test of time as people have now become more aware and more interested in directing their own health care and by using natural methods to achieve it. Ayurveda is thousands of years old and is one of those health systems and practices passed down through the generations.

You could say Ayurveda is involved in establishing personal health regimes that are largely preventative towards illness and to use the natural world to help existing ailments. For example, as a family, you may wish to establish sleeping routines that are more in sync with nature like ‘early to bed’ an idea that follows our natural patterns of when we are actually ready for the sleeping cycle. Or you can easily explore which type of constitution you have and then choose to adhere to a lifestyle and way of eating that syncs with your own body to bring greater health and contentment to your life.

It is fascinating to explore what Ayurveda can offer and obviously in my short blog with my layman’s knowledge I can’t begin to paint the whole Ayurvedic picture. There are many authors who dedicate themselves to writing about Ayurveda, some more easily readable than others but the book I absolutely love and is written with adaptation to everyday life is Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health by Mark Bunn. I love the point of view he writes from and the sub-title says it all for me, ‘rediscover the simple, timeless secrets of health and happiness.”

I’d love to report that I always follow an Ayurvedic lifestyle but given the demands of everyday modern life, I do the best I can, adhering to whatever resonates with me and what brings the greatest results for me personally! I do know, however, after spending two weeks immersed religiously in its practice, it is possible to feel very, very well, centered and contented so I try to make as many mindful choices that support Ayurvedic principles as are practical for me.

 

Spending More Time in Nature is a Mindful Choice

“Whether it be a stream, a forest, a mountain or the sea, connecting with nature’s intelligence will give you a sense of unity with all of life and help you to get in touch with the innermost essence of your being.” Deepak Chopra The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success

 

It is no co-incidence that many of the practices in Making Mindful Magic relate to nature and happen outdoors. Similarly our Seven Day Mindful Challenge has experiences set in nature and our Guided Meditation is an imaginary walk in nature! There are movements worldwide that now actively promote children spending more time in nature! It is where connection with ourselves and the universe are made. Endless hours engaging with technology cannot touch the heart and lift the spirit, the way time and pastimes in nature can.

As I write this I am on retreat in Bali surrounded by the most lush and amazing jungle vegetation. I feel enlivened by the sight and calmed by the natural sounds that surround me. This is my view as I write. It makes me feel open-hearted and peaceful. Knowing this what nature creates for all of us to share makes me feel grateful and connected to the world at large.

We lead busy lives but being in nature is one of the very best ways to re-ground and de-stress ourselves after all the activity. Depending on where you live and how your family lives their lives, you’ll need to gauge for yourself how much effort and time you’ll need to put in to make a change.

You might already be lucky enough to have nature at your doorstep in which case your contribution to increasing your children’s time engaging with nature might be to limit the amount of time they spend on media and increase the time they are in the backyard. If you live inner city perhaps your children need to have some time slotted into their lives to go the local park. Perhaps you know the whole family is involved with many activities that keep all of you constantly on the go so perhaps a weekly outing together for something as simple as a picnic or a walk in a quiet, peaceful but vegetated are might be what you need.

Whatever it is you need will become obvious to you if you spend a little time yourself in quiet reflection on the subject. This is an opportunity for you to also engage the children in the process – ask how they feel when they are in nature, how can we make more time to spend in nature, where can we go to spend more time in nature?

Looking for opportunities to make choices about how we live our lives can be filtered down very easily but very powerfully to our children to encourage them to be more mindful in their own lives.

Mindfulness in other cultures can be our Teacher

I’m fortunate enough to be in Bali at the moment and it’s reminding me of some interesting things about mindfulness that are easy to forget in my first world, convenient, easy life! When I travel what I most love is noticing how people live their lives and what strikes me about here is that people need to really be mindful as a necessity of living and on a daily basis.

One of the things about being mindful is to really engage with your own life and being here reminds how the ease of western society can easily be a deterrent to being mindful. I recently spent some days in Ubud, a busy, but smallish town and to be honest I really needed to concentrate and be mindful to just get around. In Australia where I live, if there is a break in the footpath, you can be sure someone will be there very fast to erect a makeshift fence in case someone accidently hurts themselves. I can easily just wander around, not taking notice of where I am because I know that will happen. Here I was given the gift of broken footpaths and missing grates so I needed to really engage with where I was and to practice being mindful from genuine need.

Likewise, crossing the road is a challenge in looking after yourself; no walk signs here that absolve you from personal responsibility. At home, I can drink water from any tap and know someone, somewhere has sanitised it for me so I don’t have to think about it! Here, as in much of the world, drinking water is precious and due attention must be paid to its use and where it comes from and how it is used – it’s a necessity of life to be mindful!

The point of this article is not to make disparaging remarks about another country or way of life but it is instead to help make us realise that our first world obsession with all things safe and easy may be leading us down the path of unmindful living.

Are we living a life that is too sanitised with few opportunities to really engage with our own lives and to really make our own decisions about how we live them? It’s food for thought!

It’s a time to reflect that if we as adults in first world countries are living this way, then very likely our children are leading lives that are very protected and they are possibly as a result not given many opportunities by adults to make choices, our desire to protect them from harm, overriding decisions made on their behalf.

When I return home will I be tempted to move somewhere that offers more genuine opportunities for mindfulness? Probably not as what I think is more important is I use the experience to remind me to engage more fully with my own life. I take it as a reminder to not walk through life blindfolded, happy to be led by the regular safety net that exists in western society. Even more, this can be a wake-up call to allow our children in our care to be given opportunities to make real life decisions – start small and see where it leads! More mindful, engaged adults may well eventually be the result.

Living Mindfully at The Green School Bali

A few days ago I visited a special school in Bali – The Green School. It’s a place full of promise and hope for the future. It’s a place where idealists have come together to put into practice what they value, as I said, an inspiring place!

via greencampbali.com

via greencampbali.com

What does that mean in a practical sense for parents, teachers or those interested in social activism that promotes change? It means this is a great opportunity to witness mindful living, even if we don’t personally hold dear all the ideals, we can admire how commitment to ideals can be put into practice.

greenbyjohn.com

greenbyjohn.com

For example the school practices their commitment to sustainability from the foods they serve their pupils to the materials they use in construction of their buildings. Their use of their own electricity turbines whilst not providing all their power needs, they are making choices that show where they stand and encourage others to similarly make their own choices and put them into practice. They have an abundance of projects to grow food and similarly they don’t provide all their needs but it highlights their philosophy. The school supports mindfulness practices so every day there are mindful moments that are used to bring the students back to their present moment awareness. They are showing how to put ideals into practice.

via pinterest

via pinterest

The school embodies a curriculum which is child-centred, meaning there are many choices to pursue individual learnings and interests. The school then, through their school loans embody those ideas in a very practical way by offering loans to begin student enterprises such as establishing a chicken coop that sells its eggs at the local farmer’s market.

 

If you are interested in finding out more about their philosophies and practices follow this link …..

I’m not as interested in what they do as the courage they show in putting their principles into action – they actually are doing it! As parents, I’m not suggesting we all put our children in alternate schools but I am suggesting that we consider what school reflects our own values or if you are so inclined to embrace and try and implement some of those practices by perhaps beginning some initiative in your children’s schools that embody a particular value you hold dear. As a teacher perhaps you may have that opportunity also, despite all the curriculum restraints that face teachers today. But this idea is not limited to schools it has inspiration for how we all live our lives in our homes, in our workplaces and is a practical example of mindful living. It invites us all to make considered choices in our lives, to pay attention to what we do, why we do it and to live it, to bring responsibility to whatever we do.

I also love the way they are embracing opening themselves to a wider community. The school has full-time and part-time students by which they mean some children attend for the whole day as full-time students but they also open the school to part-timers via their after school activities. By offering this they are truly engaging in spreading the word of their values. They also operate guided tours which is how I came to attend – it’s real life stuff and shows courage I admire.

I have always believed that mindfulness for me embraces three things – being in the present moment, focusing attention on whatever we are doing and thoughtfully making mindful choices about how to live our lives. I love the idea that we can be inspired by others like The Green School who practically live their own mindful choices.

 

 

GreenCampBali.com.jpg