‘Silent Time’ for Mindfulness

Last week I had the absolute joy of experiencing a week on retreat. There was a lot of sharing throughout but when we weren’t in session, we were asked to remain in silence. This included no media at all, not even books to distract ourselves from our purpose in being there. I found it to be a very special opportunity to focus on me and to really be with myself and to mindfully engage in whatever I happened to be doing at the time.

The Color Inside, a Skyspace by artist James Turrell via pinterest

The Color Inside, a Skyspace by artist James Turrell via pinterest

When you think about it, we spend a lot of life making conversation, gossiping about others, distracting ourselves with all manner of things but we are often reluctant to make the time and commitment to just be happily with ourselves. This wasn’t a time when we were meditating but just going about our usual business of eating, clearing our plates after dinner, writing our thoughts, walking in the garden, preparing for bed.

As part of the final process, we discussed ways of implementing into our lives what we had learned and the subject of sharing with families came up. This got me thinking about the ‘Silent Time that I found so refreshing and grounding during my time there and how it could be useful in family life.

I’m not, of course, suggesting this as a permanent arrangement but what a wonderful experience it could be if all the family were to spend one hour a week, or 15 minutes a day, or whatever time-frame works for your own situation, in silence. What can happen with this silence is our senses can become heightened – we can hear that bird singing in the garden, the wind rustling the leaves, the smell of dinner cooking. This happens because distractions are minimal and we can truly focus on the present moment.

If we have an emotional issue this is an opportunity to really be with that feeling if we allow ourselves the time to not be distracted. Healing can take place instead of the common reaction to forget all about it and push it way down onto our sub-conscious by diverting our attention away from it, letting it fester away until it causes real problems in our lives.

‘Silent Time’ can start small and grow, it can have a focus and it can be beautiful and a blessed relief from the constant chatter and distraction that can fill our lives if we choose to let it.

Reduce the Stress

Blue Wave Maine, Georgia O'Keefe - 1926

Blue Wave Maine, Georgia O'Keefe - 1926

I only recently heard of the passing of author Richard Carlson although he was killed in an accident many years ago. Such has been the impact of his writing on me that his thoughts have been profoundly with me and living on!

One of his mantras that I love is, ‘Lower your tolerance to Stress’ from his book ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff’, one of his beautiful books of inspirations. In his explanation, he talks about how we who are members of first world countries are constantly rewarding and admiring those that tolerate high levels of stress. We even have stress reduction programs that encourage us to tolerate even more stress in our lives.

He turns this idea on its head and simply notes that however much stress we tolerate is generally the stress we live with day in day out! He further notes that what we actually want for better health and well-being is to reduce the stress levels we can tolerate and we do this by noticing stress early before it gets to critical levels and to take measures in our lives to keep stress at bay, rather than increasing our own ability to handle even more of it! It’s a subtle but important difference.

“When you’re feeling out of control and resentful of all you have to do, rather than roll up your sleeves and ‘get to it,’ a better strategy is to relax, take a few deep breaths and go for a walk.’

I love this idea to catch ourselves before stress takes us over – not only by looking at a few simple strategies like Richard Carlson suggests but also by looking at our lives, how they are structured and what we try to cram into them. This applies to people of all ages, children too and is important food for thought for those of trying to live our best lives!

Take a Mindful Moment

Photo courtesy of Trudi Bannister

Photo courtesy of Trudi Bannister

One thing about social media you certainly get to connect with like-minded people and for me one of those is Trudi Bannister, you can read her work at www.trudibannister.com. She’s a psychologist, devoted mum and mindfulness advocate and recently posted on Instagram that while skiing as a family the kids take a little time when they get off the ski-lift for a ‘Mindful Moment” to take stock of what’s around them!

Wow I love this practice – so simple but so effective! It’s impossible to rush when you are taking a ‘Mindful Moment’ as you’ve literally slowed down the pace by just noticing! If you love this simple idea you can use it through your day – every 60 minutes, just take a ‘Mindful Moment’ no matter where you are and what you are doing and notice the beauty and positive things around you in this moment.

The bonus is when we slow down, we calm down and we feel very much more contented with our lives. This ‘Mindful Moment’ also encourages us to instinctively become more grateful for those good things in our lives and when we are grateful we are kinder, more caring and much happier!

Try it and see what a difference it can make to your life when you get in the habit of taking a ‘Mindful Moment”! Encourage your children, workmates, partner, friends to do the same and you’ve made a very big change in how you and those around you live life and interact with the world!

Call for Amazon Reviews + Free Gift in Return

2017 is the year we take the Making Mindful Magic message out to the world! As of late last year, we have our book, Making Mindful Magic, stocked in both Amazon UK and Amazon US warehouses meaning we’re now easily and affordably able to get our books to all of you in the US, UK, Europe and Worldwide.

We’re now trying to generate as many genuine reviews of the book for our Amazon product pages as possible to help Amazon browsers to see that our book is great! So we’re offering you all a little something in return for leaving your honest reviews on our US and UK Amazon product pages.

    Your free gift - A Free Drawing Workbook
    As a token of our appreciation to you for your help, if you email us (hello@makingmindfulchildren.com) a screenshot of your review or just tell us the name you left the review under, we’ll send you a link to download our new Making Mindful Magic: Printable Drawing Workbook for free!

    **We're only running this offer until June 1st so get review-writing to claim your free gift!**

    Drawing-book-with-girl-drawing_higher-res.png

    We developed this drawing workbook and have been using it in our kids workshops over the last year to great reception from the kids!

    How to post a review on Amazon:

    • Before you can post a review, you need to have an Amazon account that has successfully been charged for the purchase of an item at one point or another. You don’t need to have purchased the item you are reviewing on Amazon in order to review it. You can also use your Australian Amazon account login details to login to any Amazon country site worldwide.
    • Review Making Mindful Magic on Amazon UK here (sign in to your account via top right corner)
    • Review Making Mindful Magic on Amazon US here (you can leave reviews on both sites!)
    • Scroll down to ‘Customer Reviews’ on our book page and click on button ‘Write a customer review’
    • Rate us out of 5 stars, write your review, click ‘Submit’ and you’re done!

    As self-publishers who are learning all this as we go, we really appreciate your help in getting our message out there into the world!

    - Lea xx

    **We're only running this offer until June 1st so get review-writing to claim your free gift!**

    Children Making Choices

    via themamaearthproject.com on Pinterest

    via themamaearthproject.com on Pinterest

    Recently I re-engaged with a former acquaintance who since I saw her last had become a joyful mother to 2 adorable children. One of her comments was understandable and beautiful - “They are my whole world”.

    I well remember that feeling myself as the mother to three children! My children are now adults and I’d say it would be fair to say that I was very involved in their lives. As a caring mother I believed part of my role was to protect them and that is undoubtedly true to some level but it can go too far if we venture into the role of rescuer as well. You know how it can easily happen, perhaps they’ve had a problem in the playground and it’s tempting to go on up and sort it out for them with the teacher. That’s a possibility but one that ultimately denies them opportunities to solves problems for themselves.

    I learned over time and through my own journey of personal discovery that recuing and over-protecting are not helpful in the long run. For me the temptation to rescue is still there, even with adult children but it is one I have learned to resist. It doesn’t mean abandoning our children, far from it! Instead it means giving them the freedom and confidence to make choices and feel the power and sense of accomplishment this can bring to their lives. At some point, our children strive towards becoming independent souls and here lies one of the great challenges of parenthood – letting them go to find their own place and sometimes it’s not one that we would choose for them. As mindful parents we need to remember a child’s life journey is their own and not ours! They have the right to make choices and our unconditional love as a parent is what they really need from us.

    There are times when this is hard. Looking through experienced eyes we may believe that certain choices may lead to difficult consequences but protecting our children from those consequences is not our role. More it can be to give comfort and support when life gets uncomfortable but becoming the continual rescuer and decision maker is not our role as a parent. Learning the realities of life through our own experiences is a gift each of us deserves to discover.

    Depending on their ages, their abilities and circumstances each parent will need to determine when and how those independent choices are best undertaken but undertaken they must be made if we are to foster a generation of responsible, caring people who rely on themselves to make mindful choices about how to live their lives and take their place in the wider world.    

    3 Sure Ways to Feel Calm

    Contentment Island, 2004 by Helen Frankenthaler

    Contentment Island, 2004 by Helen Frankenthaler

    I’m always looking for ways to slow myself down! It’s so easy to get caught up in the frantic pace of life and it’s something we can do something about! Bringing ourselves back to calmness is a goal worth working towards as when we calm down, our brains actually work better, we feel more contented and those around us certainly benefit as well, including our family members!

    Today I’m sharing three of my favourite ways to bring ourselves back to a calm state if you feel life and all its demands are getting you to a state of stress. Of course, they can also be used on a regular basis to ensure you don’t get there! These are so easy you can do them anytime, anywhere and are suitable for anyone to use, children included! We need to remember that children are not immune to feeling stressed so as the mindful adult in their lives I invite you to share these simple practices with the young ones in your lives after you explore them yourself.

    Calm Breathing

    If you have downloaded our free ebook, ‘Mindful Seven Day Challenge’ (available here) you’ll be familiar with it. It’s also a practice I teach during my workshops with children but it’s a very effective stress reducing practice for anyone to use. This method is an excellent way of gathering ourselves inward and calming racing minds. Basically, you put your hand on your lower belly and slowly breathe deeply into that space rather than your chest, watching it rise on the inhale and fall on the exhale! You might want to find a quiet space to practice this initially but over time, it can be done anywhere, anytime and whenever you sense anxiety approaching. It is reminiscent of meditating as it will physically calm and slow down the whole body. It’s how babies breathe and how we all began breathing but over time we learned to breathe in our upper chests instead and short shallow breaths do nothing to induce calmness. This is a life skill well worth learning!

    The Pushing Down Exercise

    This is an exercise from Dr. Lawrence Wilson and it’s so simple to do but I use it myself and find it very effective for grounding and centering. It’s very easy to always be in our heads, always thinking and going over situations over and over again which can be very stress inducing. With this method, Dr. Wilson shows us how to move our energy and therefore our thinking downwards and to ground with the earth and at the same time to lose the need to be living in our heads. This is how he explains it:

    “Sit or lie down comfortably. Close your eyes. Some do the exercise with eyes open but it is easier with eyes closed. Eventually, you will be able to do it with eyes open.

    Keep your eyes focused straight ahead. Do not roll your eyes up into your head, and do not strain in any way. Also, keep your shoulders down at all times. Do not let them ride upwards or twist.

    Now use our mind to move a subtle energy into your head from above, and down the entire body to the feet.”

    It may be easier for children to imagine a white light moving down their body rather than using the term ‘energy’.

    Slow Down Whatever You Are Doing

    If you have our picture book, Making Mindful Magic, (available here) you’ll recognise this activity from the book, as ‘Take As Long As You Can’. Basically, you focus very purposefully and very slowly on performing a particular activity or the one you happen to be doing right now. For example, you may be in the kitchen preparing dinner. For a short time slow the activity right down – really look at the vegetable you’re cutting, slowly turn it over in your hand, smell it, rub your finger over it and notice its texture. Very slowly engage with the cutting process and you will feel yourself become noticeably calmer and more relaxed. With children there are many activities that can be turned into a Take As Long As you Can exercise – brushing hair, colouring in, chewing a mouthful. It really doesn’t matter what it is but the point is to do it as purposefully and slowly as you can so you can calmly re-connect with the calm, inner you.

    Feeling calm is in everyone's best interests and part of an attitude of self-love - enjoy the benefits!

     

    Free eBook - Mindful School Holiday Challenge

    Last week on our Instagram and Facebook, we celebrated sharing the gift of mindfulness by sharing with you our 7 Day Mindful School Holiday Challenge. In it we offered a daily experience to engage the children in your lives with mindfulness. We've now put it all together into a free printable eBook that can be used as a reference and shared, a Mindful Seven Day Challenge for kids.

    I like to think of a mindful activity as anything that calms our minds and engages us in wholeheartedly paying attention to what we are doing. The thing is these two ideas feed off each other. Research shows when we calm our minds, we calm our bodies which then allows us to pay much better attention to anything we are doing. Our brains actually work better when we are calm and not stressed.

    In my part of the world, Brisbane, Australia, last week marked the end of the school holidays so it was timely to re-gather our thoughts and to put our minds into a calm, restful place, allowing us to concentrate better – a great back to school outcome!

    It struck me too that this is a challenge that can be used by anyone, anytime they are wanting to begin engaging their children or themselves in mindful activities. A deep philosophical discussion about mindfulness is not a prerequisite here as what is important is actually practicing being mindful and often these experiences are very simple and ones we know about but perhaps have not thought of as being mindful.

    Perhaps you are a parent, perhaps a teacher, perhaps a grandparent or caregiver or a health professional working in your field with children. Whatever your role I invite you to be the mindful adult who shares the gift of mindfulness by simply providing the opportunity for them to practice mindful experiences. The thing is, the more often we purposefully practice being mindful, the more naturally we will be mindful without even consciously trying – a gift worth giving!

    DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE PRINTABLE EBOOK - Mindful Seven Day Challenge - BELOW by signing up for our monthly mindfulness tips for you, your family or your class. When you sign up, you'll also receive the FREE download of our Walking in Nature Meditation script and audio file!

    Name *
    Name

    Mindful School Holidays Challenge

    Where I live in Australia, the summer school holidays are drawing to a close and if you have school aged children in your life, perhaps a case of holiday boredom is creeping in.

    It’s a first world problem I know but instead of choosing the myriad of ‘stuff’ out there to do, entertainment places to go or the TV and computer to use, we invite you to use the time to engage in some mindful experiences and join our week of the Mindful School Holidays Challenge which we’ll be publishing daily on our Instagram and Facebook pages!

    With school just over a week away, this is a perfect time to gather our thoughts, to tread more slowly, carefully and calmly. Of course these are experiences anyone can join in with no matter what your age and location.

    Over the next week on our Instagram and Facebook we’ll be highlighting a mindful experience every day of the week to keep us all more grounded and connected with ourselves, each other and especially in the beautiful world of nature.

    If you’ve already bought our book, Making Mindful Magic (available in our store) you’ll be familiar with one of the experiences already!  They are experiences you’re sure to know about but perhaps haven’t looked at as being mindful. Sometimes it’s so easy to forget about the simple things, pre-occupied as we can be with the complicated. It’s also an opportunity to remember that mindfulness isn’t hard – it’s about paying attention to the present moment and developing our calm, quiet, considered side. Over the week we’d love you to share your photos on Instagram of you and your your family engaging in our Mindful School Holidays Challenge!

    We don’t believe children need to fully understand the concept of mindfulness but what they do need is mindful adults in their lives to provide opportunities to practice it. We hope we inspire you to be one of those mindful adults! See you on Instagram and Facebook this week!

    Mindful Christmas gifts - new art prints in store + we're on Amazon UK + US

    Christmas is fast approaching and in the spirit of mindfulness, we encourage you to start thinking about your Christmas shopping now, buying consciously, with intention rather than rushing around at the last minute (which we’ve all been guilty of I’m sure at one point or another)!

    We’ve created some new items in our online store and our book, Making Mindful Magic is now available on Amazon for our international followers!

    Art Prints
    We’re excited to today launch something we’ve been dreaming of bringing into the world for a while now, art prints of some of our favourite works from our book, Making Mindful Magic, printed sustainably with a local printer to us in Queensland, Australia, on recycled paper using environmentally friendly inks.

    Our prints hang on your wall as an everyday reminder, a gentle prompt, to stop and be mindful of everything around you as you go through your day. Producing these prints was a wonderful joint project shared between myself and my daughter Louise.

    Shop the prints here

    SPECIAL OFFERS

    • Buy 4 prints, receive a 5th print for free. We have 5 different prints in total so you can purchase the entire set and receive the 5th print free, that’s 20% off! Purchase the full set here.
    • Purchase our children’s book, Making Mindful Magic, and a print for a special price of AU$21.95 (save 24%).  This bundle makes a great mindful gift for the children in your lives! Purchase the book and print set here.


    Amazon UK + US
    To all our US, UK and European followers, our children’s mindfulness book, Making Mindful Magic, is now available on Amazon US and Amazon UK, with affordable shipping rates and quick shipping times, just in time for Christmas shopping!

    Buy 5 books for the price of 4!

    If you're looking to buy bulk presents for the kids in your life, buy 5 books in our shop for the price of only 4. Use code: 'mindfulness555' at checkout

    We hope you enjoy our new art prints hanging on your wall as much as we enjoyed bringing them to life. And we’re so delighted to now be able to extend our book to the international community through Amazon!

     - Lea

    Evolving in mindfulness...and we're changing our name!

    We are living through an age of fast human evolution, we’re opening up to mindfulness and other spiritual concepts more and more in response to the challenges of living in the modern world.

    We’ve been going through an evolution too as we finesse our offering in the wake of all that has happened since the launch of our first book, Making Mindful Magic, and our website www.makingmindfulchildren.com one year ago.

    Our passion has always been and continues to be helping children and families move towards a more mindful way of living. Something we have become increasingly aware of is the prominent role that we as adults must take on in providing opportunities for children to be mindful. We can shape our children into strong, grounded adults but we too must evolve and become more mindful ourselves, for our own good, the good of society, and the good of our children. Children need to be given opportunities to practice mindful experiences by the mindful adults in their lives, it must come from us first.

    With these things in mind we are changing our name to Making Mindful Magic as a reflection that we are all in this journey together, adults and children must learn to be mindful together, we need each other. Our website will change to www.makingmindfulmagic.com, to have a shared focus on inspiring children and adults to incorporate mindfulness into their daily lives.

    Further to this end, I’m currently working on my second book, a book of mindful experiences for adults. It’s written in verse and will come in pocket book size. I haven’t quite decided yet whether I will use my own illustrations or whether my talented artist daughter will do these for me. The goal here is to help mindful adults evolve.

    We’re also at the end of the process to produce prints of the artwork and verses from our first book, Making Mindful Magic, for sale in our online store. Coming very soon and in time for Christmas with an attractive book and print package!

    Lea

    Parenting a sensitive child

    Recognising and accepting who your child really is, nurturing a sensitive soul helps them to be true to themselves and their own nature.

    I have come to appreciate the idea of valuing yourself for who really you are as part of my own spiritual journey. Part of that has been learning to protect my own energy! If your energy is less intense than those around you, you are probably sensitive and more than likely, an introvert, as I am. Accept it as just a normal part of the personality spectrum; we are not all extroverts but we can all be true to our own selves and our own nature.

    Are you a parent of an introverted or sensitive child? Celebrate it because you have given life to a child who feels deeply, who has the potential to experience a rich spiritual life. An introverted child is not necessarily shy but is sensitive to the energy that surrounds them and will re-charge their own energy by some time alone rather than by being with others. Most likely they will prefer a small number of very close friends rather than a big number of acquaintances. Similarly big noisy parties can be overwhelming but a small number for a play date is much more their style. They don’t much like small talk but can be talkative about topics close to their hearts.

    Some parents worry that their sensitive child is not part of the pack. If you are further along the extroverted spectrum yourself then this may be difficult to accept but accept it you should because being part of the pack will most likely be quite challenging for your sensitive child. Try trusting their judgement around how they want to spend their time and who with; it will reap rewards for everyone.

    They aren’t reclusive, they just like some time alone and for a quieter pace, noise and light level to predominate in their lives. Your job is to nurture that sensitive soul, to accept them for who they are and to help them appreciate and understand themselves as they grow and mature. Be the conduit for their self- knowledge. Allow opportunities for quiet time to rest and recover after a lot of social interaction and be supportive of those needs. 

    If you value the notion of being a mindful parent, help your children value their own energy and to learn how to protect it from other people and situations which may be more intense than their own. Introverts and extroverts are all on the same spectrum of life, no one is superior, only different in their personal energies!

    For further reading on this subject, I like:

    ‘Quiet:The Power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking’ by Susan Cain
    ‘The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide’ by Ted Zeff
    ‘Parenting the Highly Sensitive Child’ by Julie B Rosenshein 

    Our first children's book, Making Mindful Magic, detailing mindful activities for children and adults to share together is available for purchase in our online store worldwide here. 

    How I came to host my own book launch event

    Making Mindful Magic author, Lea McKnoulty

    Making Mindful Magic author, Lea McKnoulty

    My plan for Making Mindful Magic has always included the premise that the universe will help me and guide me in getting its message out into the world.

    I didn’t set out to have a big launch event, it felt much more comfortable for me to proceed with an online launch but the universe has ways of offering opportunities and none more so than my author event at Mary Ryan’s Milton on Thursday 21 April.

    I have discovered since self-publishing Making Mindful Magic that although the first part was not easy, it was straightforward in comparison to the varied skills required in marketing and distributing the book, one of them being public speaking. It’s not that I have an aversion to speaking in front of a group – I was a teacher – but speaking about myself is something quite new for me!

    Mary Ryan Milton has a team of people, headed by the very capable and amiable Kirsty-Lee who are incredibly supportive of authors, even self-published ones like me. So when they agreed to stock my book, I of course accepted their offer to hold an author event at the store. It’s part of my plan for the book, to say ‘yes’ to whatever opportunities arise and then trust the universe will help me work it out.

    On the night I’ll be exploring issues like what inspired me to write the book, how I came to write it and how I see the role of mindfulness in the quest to slow down and lead calmer, more meaningful lives.

    There will be a Q&A session and I will also read the book and discuss ways to use it with the children in your lives. We’ll include a mindfulness exercise of our own and send you home with a little party favour to remember the night!

    If you live in Brisbane I’d love to meet you personally and if you haven’t had the opportunity to purchase a book, I’ll happily write a personal message in a new one or bring along one you may have bought already.

    EVENT DETAILS

    Thursday 21 April
    6.15pm (event will run for about an hour)

    Mary Ryan's Milton
    40 Park Road,
    Milton, Brisbane

    Please RSVP to lea@makingmindfulchildren.com or via our Facebook event here so we can count you in for nibbles, drinks and your goody to take away at the end. 

    Mindful parenting: a beginner's guide - Part II

    Amazing nature - bioluminescent waves on a Maldives beach

    Amazing nature - bioluminescent waves on a Maldives beach

    When we really connect with nature and observe carefully what is around us, we can’t help but be mindful! A mindful parent will help install in children a sense of wonder at nature. If we take the time, nature is the most amazing builder. We regularly have an ‘Amazing Nature’ post on our Instagram – share the pictures with the children in your lives and help them appreciate the natural world!

    On a practical level, a regular weekend ‘nature experience’ is a great addition to any mindful parenting practice. Let’s face it, we schedule a weekend sports activity or play date with no question, so why not schedule a ‘nature experience’ session as well? And they don’t have to be amazing, your own backyard or city will do!

    Our children's book, Making Mindful Magic purposefully offers mindful experiences set in nature like ‘follow a bird’,  ‘go walking in nature’ because we believe being in nature is very grounding and encourages us to fully experience the present moment.

    A page from our children's book, Making Mindful Magic.

    A page from our children's book, Making Mindful Magic.

    There are experiences inviting you into nature in your own backyard and neighbourhood – take the time to accept the invitation on behalf of your family. Discover the peace and calm that connecting with nature offers. Encourage your children to mindfully observe everything around them – listen to the quiet or the sounds of nature, breathe in the fresh air, smelling its perfumes and feeling it encompass your whole body.

    Children can become overwhelmed and distracted – a good solution is to get them outside. Look for the easy and uncomplicated to rebalance them. It’s hard to go past slowly walking barefoot on grass to feel a deep connection to nature and a sense of calm.  

    Random acts of observation of nature are important too. Stop and notice things with your children on the way to school, when visiting a friend’s home, maybe it's just a flower that has bloomed? It doesn’t really matter where, but keeping your eyes open for a dose of nature daily helps keep all of us, including our children, in the present moment and helps us to appreciate the wonder of our natural world.

    Our first children's book, Making Mindful Magic, detailing mindful activities for children and adults to share together is available for purchase in our online store here. 

    Mindful parenting: a beginner's guide - Part I

    A little quiet time in child's pose at our Making Mindful Magic reading event at Books@Stones

    A little quiet time in child's pose at our Making Mindful Magic reading event at Books@Stones

    Becoming and being a parent is truly awesome. The creation and nurturing of a human life is most definitely a gift but at times it can seem daunting because we all want to be the best parents we can be!

    A good place to start is with mindful parenting. Being a mindful parent is multi-layered and this post is the first in a series that looks at some of those layers.

    In an earlier blog post, How I came up with the topic of mindfulness, I defined mindfulness in three ways:

    “Firstly there is the pure time of meditation when thoughts can dissipate, when real quiet can be found – bliss really! Then there is the mindfulness that relates to being fully present with whatever you are doing at any particular time; not thinking about what happened in the past and not contemplating what might happen in the future. The third prong is about living a mindful life. This means to me that you are consciously making decisions about what you eat, where you buy your food, what products you choose to use in your house and on your body, the list is endless when you really begin to explore the notion of living mindfully.”

    If we want our children to be mindful then we might want to examine our own relationship with mindfulness. Children are sponges, absorbing all around them, sampling what is offered and eventually taking what works for them and making it a part of their own lives.

    Modern lives are generally busy but if we can make time for mindfulness practices as a family then we are offering our children choices. They can experience the busy and the calm, knowing there can be and needs to be a balance between the two!

    Setting aside a time to observe no noise, just sitting is an easy way we as parents can set an example – 5 or 10 minutes a day is almost always possible for everyone. You could establish a ‘Quiet Time” using a bell with a beautiful tone to set the routine rather than you.

    Even very young children with time set aside to experience quiet and peace will be in a very different place to children who constantly are exposed to noise, movement and activity.

    Our first children's book, Making Mindful Magic, detailing mindful activities for children and adults to share together is available for purchase in our online store here.

    Are children naturally mindful?

    Children are more naturally mindful than we think!

    Imagine a camping trip or a picnic in the bush. The technology doesn’t work out here! What will the children do? Typically they will put their mind to making their own fun, collecting leaves and rocks to make a picture in the dirt, climbing a tree, lying on the grass and looking at the sky, making up games!

    They often naturally dawdle, paying a lot of attention to what they are doing – hard for parents keeping to a schedule but they are practicing being calm and thoughtful!

    If we give them the opportunity children can tap into their natural affinity with mindfulness! Remaining calm ourselves is a good place to start.

    Look to our elders to be mindful

    In my part of the world after the rush of school holidays, at beach caravan parks it's high season for our grey nomads. Yesterday I loved seeing 2 bikini clad older ladies  surfing together with their boogie boards as a few metres away an older gentleman was busy paddling out on his surf board to catch a wave. It made me think they have found the freedom to be who they are, believe in the healing power of nature and know what matters to them.

    I wondered if it took a lifetime to get there or if these revelations only came in retirement! No matter, pray it happens eventually to all of us! Pray we make time to engage with the elders in our lives and use their knowledge to seek ways to live mindfully knowing ourselves, finding time for our passions and immersing ourselves in nature!

    The earlier we can start this process the better for the whole of society for as the social reformer Frederick Douglass said, “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

    An ayurvedic doctor's tips for healthy eating

    There is a beautiful doctor in India who I've had the pleasure of meeting; he sparkles with the joy of living. Many westerners visit his clinics and he imparts to them pearls of wisdom.

    He says, because of our way of life in the West, almost everybody he sees suffer from a 'vata' imbalance. A person with a Vata imbalance will have physical and mental qualities that reflect the elemental qualities of Space and Air - flighty, living up in their head, ungrounded. Our way life in itself is very flighty, we are always running from one frantic part of our lives to another, multi-tasking at every opportunity with little thought to living in the present moment. 

    If you live this type of life, then you should be focusing your health efforts in reducing your almost certain Vata imbalance.

    He says this:

    • Good digestion is the key to good health
    • Only eat when you feel settled and happy and never when you are angry - your food will never be digested if you eat with a negative frame of mind.
    • Undigested food forms ama in the body which is really the build-up of toxins that lead to many of our chronic western illnesses.

      To digest our food better ayurveda would suggest:
    • Only eat when you feel good
    • Only eat and don't do anything else at the same time - no TV, no newspapers, no technology only gentle conversation if you are dining with others. I think we'd call it mindful eating.
    • Never eat canned foods or re-heated foods - they are dead foods and offer no nutritional value
    • Cold raw food is inferior to cooked, warm, oily food for most people
    • If you want to eat something ofpoor nutritional value - e.g. alcohol or sweets - then have it in the spirit of celebration rather than as a reward or a pick-me-up when you're feeling bad.

    We believe that ayurvedic eating in mindful eating, and the health benefits we've seen in our own lives have been beyond immense!

    How two small villages abroad influenced my thinking

    Mercatello sul Metauro, Le Marche, Italy. Image via The Travelling Light

    Mercatello sul Metauro, Le Marche, Italy. Image via The Travelling Light

    I have associations with a couple of small villages in other countries, one in Italy and another in Bali. I think they have been brought into my life for specific purposes – in Italy to understand the need for family connections and authenticity and Bali to let me see how children can be indulged with love rather than possessions for great outcomes.

    There is a small Italian rural village of only 1,500 people called Mercatello sul Metauro that sings to me. Italians here take life very slowly and purposefully, eating and living with care.

    In the Balinese village children are spoiled with love and attention but devoid of many toys or possessions. I have never seen a child here throw a tantrum.

    This is part of where my awareness came from – a spiritual journey I had already started through meditation was heightened by exposure to these two cultures. They have tempered my thoughts on how people can live their lives and raise their families more meaningfully and mindfully.

    Mindfulness has become the vehicle for me to make sense of all this and to move forward but it’s not only about living in the present moment, it’s also about calmness, authenticity, a minimalist way of living where people put more value on the relationships in life, the way they live their lives rather than the collection of possessions they accumulate. 

    Parenting children is a gift, endeavouring to show them the gift of a mindful way of life is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give. 

    Our children's book, Making Mindful Magic, available here.

    The law of giving

    You may have seen a little while ago I posted on Instagram about one of my favourite books, ‘The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” by Deepak Chopra, I wrote:

    "There is so much heart-felt wisdom in this small book! It's my 'go to' when life throws up a curve ball, when I'm feeling a little spiritually disconnected or when I feel my 'Trust the Universe' mantra is not burning brightly!"

    One of the laws is the Law of Giving and with this Deepak explains,

    "The universe operates through dynamic exchange….giving and receiving are different aspects of the flow of energy in the universe. And in our willingness to give that which we seek, we keep the abundance of the universe circulating in our lives."

    Recently I saw the Law of Giving in action. A woman emailed me wanting to buy four copies of my book, Making Mindful Magic to give to colleagues but instead of paying for postage she wondered if she could pick the books up from me as we live in the same city. As it happened I was heading her way the next day so offered to drop them to her instead.

    Before I left the house, I remembered the ‘Buy 5 and Get 1 Free’ offer we run on the website (use code ‘mindfulness555’ here) so instead of just packing the four she was expecting, I popped in an extra book to make five.

    Little did I know, she had waiting for me a beautiful scented posy of home grown herbs and flowers as a thank you for bringing her the books! We spent a little while together and found we had much in common.

    To add another element to my day of giving and receiving, driving her way took me past my father’s graveside so I instinctively stopped, pulled a flower from my bouquet and left it on his plaque as a gift of remembrance.

     

    A whole lot of giving and receiving resulted from the simple offer to drop off the books and give one away! This sort of thing has been happening to me since I first published Making Mindful Magic and started selling it. The more I give away, the more people buy it and the more people promote it and find new homes for it that I would never have found on my own. Try it – it really works!

    3 simple ways to go back to school mindfully

    As adults we often set New Year resolutions, perhaps one of yours may have been to be more mindful!  As a parent you have the opportunity to bring this gift into the lives of your children and the start of the new school year is as good a time as any to bring some new practices into everyone’s lives.

    ‘Practicing mindfulness makes us more grounded, brings inner calm and clarity of thought, encourages us to live authentically and be happy with what we have and who we are. Who wouldn’t want to offer these gifts to their children?’ - an excerpt from the Making Mindful Magic glossary.

    If you have a copy of Making Mindful Magic already then every day you can use the experiences in the book to encourage the practice of mindfulness with your children.

    These three simple suggestions can get you started to be more mindful:

    1. Set aside a special time every day, maybe just 5 minutes where as a family you sit quietly, eyes open or shut, depending on what works best for you and just be peaceful, no talking, no sound, no reading…just being.
       
    2. Make some time each weekend to be in nature and discuss why you all need this time in nature together, without your iPhones, tablets, computers, TV.
       
    3. On the way to or from school, encourage your children to stop talking, thinking, doing and really ‘notice’ their surroundings – maybe it’s the trees, maybe it’s the sky, it could be a shop window or an unusual car.

    Making Mindful Magic is available for purchase through our shop for Australian and international orders.