My daughters from early childhood were raised with the saying: If you want to know the future, create it. Their children are now creating their future. The future is created by what we do now, and hopefully intentionally.
I had the opportunity to dialogue with Leah Kalish, MA, former Program Director of Yoga Ed., about the importance of influencing our future generations mind, body and spirit.
Leah is Founder and Chief Learning Officer of Move with Me Action Adventures. She believes, alond with many early childhood educators, that movement and mindfulness skills are two essential missing links in early childhood learning.They are of one mind that we all are responsible to support all children in being physically fit, emotionally stable, and learning able.
She and her small team of educators at Move with Me develop, produce and offer a unique interdisciplinary integration of story + exercise + self-regulation that truly engages the whole child. Their offerings fulfill educational standards while building focus, fitness, motor and social-emotional skills the the children involved. Move with Me is part of an ever growing number of educators bringing Mindfulness to our school systems. Just put “Mindfulness and Children” in a YouTube search and you will see what I mean.
Leah and her team have created their award-winning movement story video programs. Their comprehensive curriculum provide affordable, easy-to-use resources. These programs help anyone working with young children to provide active play and mindfulness practice needed to maintain the self-control necessary for academic and social success. At the same time it helps the children sustain a healthy weight to counteract the problem with obesity among our children.
Learning how to de-stress when young is essential to our children’s nervous systems, brains, and personalities. All of us have experienced the stresses of growing up. Imagine if we had coping skills as children to deal with what frightened, scared or bothered us. How many of us carry the scars into adulthood caused by “amygdula highjack” or letting others “live in our head rent free.” How much of our creativity and coping abilities were derailed by chronic or excessive stress. Many of us live with the damaging effects on our learning, behaviors, and health because we reacted poorly to what bothered us.
Move with Me, like the growing number of programs, are resources and trainings to teach children and their care-givers/teachers to handle stressed states. They learn needed skills to overcome the triggered survival mechanisms of the stress response.
They learn and use movement and mindfulness practices to change their emotional state as needed. They cultivate and sustain a less-reactive, more aware, and compassionate state by recognizing the signs of stress and choosing to take positive action via self-care practices.
Remember Mindfulness is a practice. Daily, regular participation in self-regulation exercises reinforces our ability to sustain an optimal state of focus to better manage stress. Check out the Scooter & Me Program. Also they have a good number of YouTube videos to watch.
Remember to give the children in your life a foundation for a mindful life!
This conference presentation by Jon Kabat-Zinn’s was part of a benefit for Mindful Schools: The Role of Mindfulness in Education. As Jon mentions, he didn’t need to use the work Mindfulness to teach these techniques that help anyone no matter their age.
Andrea Miller shares her experience in the March issue of Pema Chodron on 4 Keys To Waking Up:
Stabilize Your Mind
Make Friends with Yourself
Be Free from Fixed Mind
take Care of Others
You can read an excerpt of Andrea’s article on “Stabilize Your Mind.”
Andrea shares a moment when Ani Pema is answering questions.
Do you have a regular meditation practice” Ani Pema asks
“And how does that feel these days?”
“It feels hurried.”
“I have a child with disabilities, so meditation has to be fit in. I can’t just decide to go sit down. It has to be set up.”
“I get it,” Ani Pema says slowly. “So, okay, that’s how it is currently–uncomfortable, hurried. Things as they are.” Then she comes back to what we’ve been talking about this morning unconditional friendship. Ani Pema’s advice is this: don’t reject what you see in yourself; embrace it instead. Feeling Hurried Buddha, Feeling Cut Off from Nature Buddha, Feeling No Compassion Buddha–recognize the Buddha in each feeling.
I realize how difficult it is to embrace all of me. The song pops in my head as a song I can sing to myself: “All of me, why not take all of me. Can’t you see, I’m no good without you.” And the courage it takes to be gentle with myself.
When I go to bed at night with my wife, the saying goes: There are 16 people sleeping with me:
Me and my wife (2)
Our inner voice that is with us 24 hours a day (2)
Our parents on both sides (4)
Our grandparents on both sides (8)
They all live on in us. They all have an opinion, an influence and a voice. So I get to experience the impact that sitting quietly observing breath can have on all those voices.
So while it is about “loving myself so much that I don’t want to make myself suffer anymore” I was reflecting on what is it that I have to let go.
Kay Harkins who is helping me put together my writings on running, walking, marathoning, running and walking therapy said in our first meeting: “I’d like you to think about what it is that is “falling away” so that you can get to the core of what you want to share.
Falling away, letting go rang a bell but the gong for me was shared by Thich Nhat Hanh saying that one must: Throw away. His talk on Letting Go resonated as he touched on what it means to throw away the notions, perceptions or mind-objects as he calls them. (42:00)
He shows how I need to throw away my notions and perceptions of self, human being, living beings and life span.
A match cannot become nothing. It cannot be annihilated. The flame manifests itself. It comes and it goes. Medititate to deeply listen to the flame. Hear the voice of the flame. When conditions come together, it manifests.
A cloud cannot become nothing. It is a manifestation and was many other things before it became a cloud. A river, a rose, a match – looking deeply no birth/no death.
Birth and death are notions. There are no human beings without non-human elements. Hmmmm. Where is the human race without oxygen? Or calcium?
The Diamond Sutra looks deeply so that I can meditate and throw away my notions/perceptions/ideas of self, human being, dualism, living being, life span.
Through my Consciousness/Feelings/perceptions/mental formations I am aware of impermanence. Impermanence is the object of my/our looking deeply.
Coming and going are notions. Like the match, like the cloud when conditions are no longer sufficient they cease their manifestation.
So I ask myself this question as I push publish and head off for the rest of my day: How am I manifesting now? Am I doing me fully awake, fully present and living my life intentionally?
How about you? Are you embracing all of you…today? What are you throwing away…today?
We have no word for Good Bye for Life is Forever.
If you want to view the entire KPBS presentation go to: A Concert for Reconciliation of the Cultures (Live at Mt. Rushmore)
Mindfulness is a reminder that: We Are All One.
“The true miracle is not walking on water or walking in air, but simply walking on this earth.”
Thích Nhat Hanh
Dancing sets the soul free. In this New Year remember to listen to the music in your heart and dance the love of life. Your heart with dance and you will smile. And your smile will infect those to live the Dance of Life. Their unique life. Their unique dance. As you yours. GAPO
No matter the language, the universality of dance touches the soul every time.
At Thanksgiving it is helpful to remind ourselves of the blessings we are, we give, we have, we receive.
We are a moment in time. What contribution do I make to this moment of time in my life and the lives of all those whose lives I touch. This short TED talk on Gratitude touches all parts of our lives.
NOT TEXTING WHILE DRIVING IS A PRACTICE. If it’s to be it’s up to me.
The life you same may be one of my family members
Please share this video. It is one of the most mindful gifts you can give to all those whose lives you touch.
Mindfulness is a practice. It is about me being awake, aware and living my life intentionally. If I stand for being mindful, then everyday I am aware of my moments of my mindlessness.
Werner Herzog’s documentary is a view of unintentional mindlessness. It is about not being here, present and in the NOW. It all took place in just a second, and life is forever changed.
And even in the most horrible of experiences, forgiveness can be found. First of ourselves, and then those that experienced what we have done.
Mindfulness Is A Practice.
NOT TEXTING WHILE DRIVING IS A PRACTICE. If it’s to be it’s up to me.
Dr. Caroline Meeks is a physician who became Dr. Funshine as she developed her practice and a following through her Laughter Yoga. In this video she shows us how to use our breathing, mindfulness and laughter to heal from within and without.
Elisha Goldstein who blogs for PsychCentral with his Mindfulness & Psychotherapy says this about De-Stressing with Laughter Yoga:
Dr. Madan Kataria tells us that it doesn’t make a difference whether you force laughter or it comes naturally, eventually it becomes contagious and it just flows. He is the founder of, hold onto your seat, Laughing Yoga. This form of yoga combines laughter exercises with yoga breathing, moving and stretching, which releases much needed endorphins and brings more oxygen and energy into the body. Just like in mindfulness work, we practice just being present for its own sake, in laughing yoga, we just laugh for the sake of laughing and you can’t help but be present to it.
…laughter can decrease stress hormones, improve immune system and boost endorphins.
…laughter can improve circulatory and cardiovascular health. This can be supportive when struggling with stress, anxiety, or depression. Apparently it’s been used with Iraqi war veterans, Policemen in Taiwan, and those struggling with cancer.
What has always been interesting for me regarding the walls that I build is are they keeping me in or are they keeping me out. Walls protect against vulnerability. Vulnerability protects against the need for building walls. Sometimes I am so busy breaking down walls that I don’t see there is a door right around the corner.
This short video by Cleveland Clinic truly touches what it means to have Empathy. I know not what you are experiencing. There is no empathy without me being vulnerable.
In relationships couples/friends/partners realize that they have built a wall between themselves. One finally decides to break down the wall and works diligently to break through. When they finally get through, they realize to their dismay that each of them had been building their own wall. While breaking through their own wall, the other person’s wall remains intact. This was shared by my brother, Jimmy, many years ago and was an eye-opener.
Anger at others is my wall for keeping myself from admitting that the issue, whatever it may be, is about me and not about the other person or situation that angers me. One of the hardest lessons for us to learn. I must remind myself that the more conscious I become, the more sneaky and underhanded and nefarious my unconscious becomes. To say I will never get angry again is first step my unconscious takes to puff up my ego and forget Terrence’s 3rd century aphorism: Nothing human is alien/foreign to me.
This statement by Jerry Harvey, author of The Abilene Paradox, captures what Pema Chhodron addresses in her talk on “The Propensity To Be Bothered.” It is a way for me to remove myself from having anything to do when I feel wronged or hard done by. There is a belief that I am an innocent victim and somehow not involved in what has happened to me. I know I can find situations where there are innocent victims. However, I am looking at myself when I get angry and upset at someone for what they did to me.
I have learned that when I am upset, angry, bothered, ticked off that it says more about me than whoever or whatever situation I blame.
My tendency is to give intentionality to the person who has wronged me. Jerry Harvey statement about “Why are my fingerprints on the knife in my back,” has been helpful. Over the years those words have allowed me to observe the part that I have played in creating the situation. Often I and the people I have counseled when hearing those words have a new perspective about maybe not being the innocent victim.
Blame allows me to deflect a question I need to ask of myself: What role did I have in creating this situation I am angry about and blaming someone else for doing it to me?
In her book: How To Meditate, shares these insights. I have taken the liberty to put it in the first person as I am speaking only for myself:
I can be caught in the momentum and carried away, which usually means I start talking to myself about what’s going on. I churn it all up more and more, and it’s like the ripples go out and out and out.
When I choose to reinforce the emotion, when I choose to exaggerate it, when I choose to let the emotion run me, to let the emotion carry me away, then I start a whole chain reaction of suffering.
I set off an automatic chain reaction like those ripples. So in meditation, I train in letting the rock, the emotion, drop without the ripples. I stay with the emotion rather than turning to my automatic reaction, a reaction that has been habitual for me for years and years.
And believe me, two seconds of doing something so radical, so counter-habitual, of not setting off my chain reaction, completely opens my life to this working from the space of open awareness. And if I don’t reject my emotions, they actually become my friends. They become my support.
My rage becomes my support for stabilizing, for returning my mind to its natural, open state. Emotions become my support for being fully awake and present, for being conscious rather than unconscious, for being present rather than distracted. That which has been an ogre in my life has the ability to just sweep me away—or it can become my actual friend, my support. It’s a whole different way of living, a whole different way of looking at my same old stuff.
As I type this there are tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.
This same thing happens when I read a poem, hear some music, watch a play, or observe the virtuosity of a performance be it music, or dance, or athletic. It touches in me what is humanly possible and it is manifest right there in front of me. It touches my soul. It touches my human connection.
I know it took practice and time. The measure of performance is: Performance. And when it is executed flawlessly, I am moved. For a part of me knows what it takes to achieve that performance.
It also inspires me to stay with my practice. Being a world class human. Being better at it tomorrow than I was today while accepting myself
Buddha reminds me:
After thorough observation, investigation, analysis and reflection, when you find that anything agrees with reason and your experience, and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, and of the world at large; accept only that as true, and shape your life in accordance with it; and live up to it.