Vulnerability. Some may see it as a sign of weakness. Others have learned to regard it as a true reflection of authenticity (which is taking a beating in our modern world, particularly with the onslaught of social media). The pressure to appear perfect is far greater than ever before...perfectly beautiful, perfectly popular, perfectly accomplished, perfectly creative, perfectly vegan, perfectly stylish, etc. Those are the contrived images that are projected making most, if not all, feel perfectly inadequate.
So how can mindfulness help to combat the perceived social pressures that compromise our authenticity?
When we teach our students mindfulness, we provide them with an opportunity to recognize and accept their feelings, whether deemed “good” or “bad”. We show them that they are worthy of love and acceptance from others, but most importantly from and towards themselves. We use mindful teachings to help students face their fears and...
The younger we start mindfulness exercises with our kids, the easier it is to do.
It becomes a very normalized part of their day. Little ones love to show how still and quiet they can be, putting their "mindful bodies" on and using "mindful ears" or "mindful eyes". Getting these kids "hooked in" is relatively easy, particularly with all the fun breathing techniques available to us.
We can do "elevator breathing", "balloon breathing", "waterfall breathing", "snowflake breathing" and "5 finger breathing", just to name a few. Scaffolding their inner awareness can, therefore, be very organic and natural as they grow and mature.
On the other hand, starting with older kids (around grade 5 and up) can be a little more challenging. They tend to be self-conscious and may perceive mindfulness as embarrassing... their self-images being so fragile at this age. Getting tweens and teens engaged enough to put themselves in the vulnerable position of closing their eyes and doing deep...
We love our children. We want them to be happy, healthy and achieve their fullest potential. As parents, we try to make the right decisions for our kids and when we make mistakes, they are usually with the best of intentions.
Happily, as an educator over the last couple of decades, I have seen parents become evermore involved and invested in their kids’ lives. I have seen parents develop beautiful friendships with their children. (Something that was not really “the norm” when I was growing up.) I have also seen parents run ragged by work lives and hectic schedules, with the desire (and sometimes pressure) to keep their children active and enriched in programmed, after school activities.
I have seen technology affect the way children learn, the way families communicate with one another, and the way they spend time with each other. In our precarious world, I have seen parents instinctively want to shelter their...
I have been taking classes out into the forest for exploration and inquiry learning. It has given me the perfect opportunity to teach the children about mindful listening and mindful seeing.
We have been noticing how all the senses are heightened in the forest. As we sit in a circle with our mindful bodies, we deeply breathe in the fresh, autumn air and "listen like owls" to the sounds of the wind and the birds, (and unfortunately the occasional plane flying overhead).
Then I ask the children to find a "sit spot" in the woods where they can be alone for a few minutes, without interruption. There they are asked to use their eagle eyes to observe all the little details around them... an ant dutifully carrying its supper home, some fragrant spongy moss on a rock, the intricate design in the bark of a log, or a cluster of beautifully formed mushrooms.
They come back to the group so excited to share what they've seen, delighted by the small wonders in nature and amazed by the...