We are the keep­ers of chil­dren’s pos­si­bil­i­ties

Our life is lit­er­ally the cre­ation of our mind. Mind­ful prac­tices em­power chil­dren to make kind, pos­i­tive choices for them­selves and the world.

Living Now - - Meditation & Mindfulness Feature - By Janet Etty-leal

Aw­ide, won­der­ful win­dow of op­por­tu­nity ex­ists to en­gage chil­dren with pos­i­tive mind­ful pos­si­bil­i­ties – cre­ative op­por­tu­ni­ties for chil­dren, of all ages, to nur­ture the abil­ity to cul­ti­vate con­scious, com­pas­sion­ate aware­ness.

Self-knowl­edge is the key skill that is de­vel­oped – and the great news is that mind­ful­ness train­ing can be fun! A di­verse range of cre­ative, age-ap­pro­pri­ate ex­pe­ri­ences can be shared and ex­plored.

Mind­ful med­i­ta­tion for chil­dren is get­ting the at­ten­tion it de­serves. Mind­ful­ness pro­grams are be­ing de­vel­oped by uni­ver­si­ties and or­gan­i­sa­tions in many dif­fer­ent coun­tries. Stud­ies tak­ing place in schools across the globe give ev­i­dence of pos­i­tive out­comes for chil­dren when they com­mit to reg­u­lar prac­tice.

Mind­ful­ness ben­e­fits for chil­dren in­clude: • El­e­vated hap­pi­ness and well­be­ing • Im­proved con­cen­tra­tion and aca­demic

per­for­mance • Ef­fec­tive stress man­age­ment skills • Im­proved ex­e­cu­tion func­tion and

im­pulse con­trol • En­hanced emo­tional and so­cial

in­tel­li­gence • In­creased op­ti­mism and re­silience Draw­ing on the key char­ac­ter strength of cu­rios­ity, an in­quiry-based ap­proach en­ables each child to ‘ join their own dots’ and make per­sonal dis­cov­er­ies.

Of­ten learn­ing has an ex­ter­nal fo­cus. Yet there is so much to learn and dis­cover about our in­ner world. Mind­ful med­i­ta­tion ad­dresses this im­bal­ance. Chil­dren can be­gin to deeply ap­pre­ci­ate and be­gin to feel cus­to­di­ans of the mag­nif­i­cent in­ner re­source of their bod­ies and minds. They can take steps to be­friend them­selves and life, as they prac­tise the skills of aware­ness, ac­cep­tance, for­give­ness, grat­i­tude, and em­pa­thy and care for oth­ers.

In the ex­cel­lent book ‘Ed­u­cat­ing from the Heart: The­o­ret­i­cal and Prac­ti­cal Ap­proaches to Trans­form­ing Ed­u­ca­tion’ Paul Hous­ton says that ed­u­ca­tion is about mak­ing con­nec­tions and that if we can con­nect to the hearts of chil­dren: ‘… you will bring their heads along’. He also says, ‘ We are the keep­ers of chil­dren’s pos­si­bil­i­ties’.

Par­ents, grand­par­ents, teach­ers and ther­a­pists are priv­i­leged to be ‘keep­ers of chil­dren’s pos­si­bil­i­ties’.

We know that phys­i­cal health does not come about by chance. Phys­i­cal well­be­ing is the re­sult of diet, ex­er­cise, hy­dra­tion, rest and healthy re­la­tion­ships. Pos­i­tive men­tal health ex­ists in a sym­bio­sis with phys­i­cal health and is usu­ally not the re­sult of luck ei­ther.

The life skill of in­ner con­nect­ed­ness is vi­tal for chil­dren to thrive. Mind­ful­ness helps chil­dren de­velop a per­sonal ‘root sys­tem’ – a strong, sta­ble foun­da­tion, draw­ing on aware­ness of phys­i­cal, emo­tional, men­tal and spir­i­tual sources of en­ergy.

Our life is lit­er­ally the cre­ation of our mind. Mind­ful prac­tices em­power chil­dren to make kind, pos­i­tive choices for them­selves and the world. n

Janet Etty-leal is a mind­ful­ness ed­u­ca­tor, speaker, au­thor and teacher. She has fa­cil­i­tated mind­ful­ness train­ing pro­grams for over 15 years. Janet’s con­sul­tancy, ‘Med­i­ta­tion Cap­sules’ has pro­vided mind­ful life-skill pro­grams for or­gan­i­sa­tions in Vic­to­ria and in­ter­state. A key fo­cus of Janet’s work is to pro­vide ser­vices to the ed­u­ca­tional sec­tor. She has fa­cil­i­tated cour­ses for a di­verse range of gov­ern­ment, pri­vate and spe­cial Schools. In 2010 she pub­lished ‘Med­i­ta­tion Cap­sules: A Mind­ful­ness Pro­gram for Chil­dren’.

1Mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion al­lows you to be­come the ob­server of your mind and emo­tions. As you sit for a few min­utes, you no­tice the mind ac­tiv­ity, its con­tents and their ef­fect on your body through emo­tions and sen­sa­tions. Notic­ing does not mean that you have to do some­thing about it. Rather you al­low the thoughts to be there with­out be­ing pulled into them, and you al­low the feel­ings to be there, di­rectly ex­pe­ri­enc­ing them. What helps to re­main fo­cused on this ac­tiv­ity of notic­ing is the breath. The breath is the an­chor to which we at­tach our con­scious aware­ness.

2think­ing in which the mind en­gages in­vol­un­tar­ily. It helps us to dis-iden­tify from the mind!

The same prac­tices also al­low us to choose bet­ter re­sponses in re­ac­tive sit­u­a­tions. Most im­por­tantly they al­low us to be­come present or mind­ful.

Al­most ev­ery­body is do­ing some­thing 99% of the time. If it is not some­thing phys­i­cal that we are do­ing then it is our mind that is do­ing the think­ing, analysing. Our think­ing mind never gets a break and nei­ther does our body. The body re­sponds to the inces­sant think­ing by feel­ing tired, tense, wor­ried, anx­ious, frus­trated… We can’t stop the mind from think­ing but we can choose to fo­cus our at­ten­tion on our sense per­cep­tions to come into the NOW, to ex­pe­ri­ence the full­ness of this mo­ment – the alive­ness of this mo­ment, whether it is the clear blue sky, the flow­ers in our gar­den or the juicy plum we eat!

In or­der to do so, an aware­ness is re­quired. An aware­ness of the need for aware­ness. We know that it feels good to the body. It rests the body, re­laxes the body, grounds the body, al­lows it a break from the mind. In­stead of be­ing on au­to­matic pi­lot with no aware­ness, we are now aware, alert and present.

Five steps to­ward creat­ing mind­ful­ness in your daily life: • Con­scious breath • Con­scious move­ment • Con­scious sense per­cep­tion: the

see­ing, the lis­ten­ing • Be­ing the aware­ness be­hind your

sense per­cep­tion • Rais­ing your vi­bra­tion by en­gag­ing in an ac­tiv­ity that nour­ishes your soul. n

Born in Pak­istan and liv­ing in Aus­tralia since 2004, Tripty Hi­rani (PH.D.) is an ex-bio­chemist, now a cer­ti­fied holis­tic coun­sel­lor, reiki prac­ti­tioner and mind­ful­ness in­struc­tor to adults and chil­dren. She owns and op­er­ates Trans­for­ma­tive Holis­tic Coun­selling in the leafy in­ner west sub­urb of Chapel Hill, QLD, and runs mind­ful­ness pro­grams for adults and chil­dren through Ken­more Com­mu­nity Ed­u­ca­tion.

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