Children & Youth

Generosity Begins with You

By Patti Ward, M.Ed. December can easily be seen as a month of great generosity. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition for “generosity” is: the quality of being kind and generous. The meaning of “generous” is to show a readiness to give more of something, as money or time, than is strictly necessary or expected. What’s your definition of generosity? There is actually a “Science of Generosity Initiative” at the University of Notre Dame. In their research, a number of studies have demonstrated a relationship between generosity, happiness, and well-being. They also discovered a seeming paradox; freely giving of oneself makes us …

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Mindful Mothering Moments (Mediocre, Marvelous and Miserable)

By Rachael Koeson My youngest is 3, and I am just beginning to have a regular sitting meditation practice. I have done lots of sitting meditation off and on through the years, but it is incredibly hard to actually meditate in a formal, regular way while living the reality of family life. For a long time I felt bad about myself for that, thinking that it was a flaw on my part. But there is so much more to it, like the reality that it is ridiculously hard to have a formal practice when you are with your children much …

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Why Schools Need Mindfulness

by Patti Ward, M.Ed. I have been in the field of education for over 35 years. Over those years, I have witnessed schools becoming much more complex, more expectations for both teachers and students, and more pressured filled as each year has passed. Administrators, teachers and students are pretty much exhausted at the end of a school year. Higher expectations, more content, critical thinking, complex math skills, summative and formative assessments throughout the school year, teacher evaluations that rely on student performance, the list goes on and on. Wow, I am exhausted just talking about it. From what I have …

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First Mindfulness Family Day

by Patti Ward, Mindful Schools Certified Instructor “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant. —Robert Lewis Stevenson I am very happy to report that we had a wonderful first family day. It was an opportunity for parents to participate in mindfulness activities with their children. We learned about some of the brain science behind mindfulness, practiced mindful listening, mindful breathing, mindful movement with Qigong movements, and a heartfulness family practice. Each family created a “Gratitude Jar” to take home and add to in the weeks ahead. We shared an article from the …

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Planting Seeds

by Patti Ward, M.Ed. On May 21st, we will be offering our first Mindfulness Family Day. We hope you will be able to attend. It is open to anyone who has attended any of our children and teen classes, or to anyone new to mindfulness who would just like to check it out. Parents, guardians, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings—all are welcome. Sometimes, teaching mindfulness to children and teens is more about “planting seeds” than reaping a harvest. Some of the students come to class and just soak up all the different ways they can be mindful. They practice mindful walking …

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Resilient and Joyful Parenting with the AC/DC Method

I have been a parent for just over 14 years. I think that should make me an expert. In fact, if I gave a significant portion of my time and energy to almost any other subject for 14 years straight, I am confident I would feel some measure of competency. But these rules do not seem to apply to parenting. In fact, most of the time, I end up feeling fairly incompetent—which is to say I am never 100% sure if I am choosing actions that are helpful to myself or my children. The feeling of “not sure” seems to …

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Looking for the Good

By Patti Ward, M.Ed. “Your brain is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones.” —Rick Hanson Last night was our 7th class for Mindfulness & Tai Chi for Middle School. We delved into the idea of “soaking in the good.” We talked about how our minds are highly conditioned to recognize patterns, particularly patterns that suggest something around us is threatening. Noticing a stick on a path and thinking it was a snake kept us safe. Whether it was a snake or not, our initial response, “jump and run,” was necessary for survival. Scientists call this the …

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How to Feel Your Feelings

“The fastest way to freedom is to feel your feelings.” —Gita Bellin I love this quote because it truly blows my mind! What does that mean? How do I feel my feelings? How does that lead to freedom? Although my mind doesn’t entirely understand, my heart feels an immediate sense of relief. Oh. I just have to feel. I don’t have to fight or resist or push anything away. Just feel. I start to breathe a little easier. Naming Basic Emotions It is important to get both heart and mind on board together when learning new things. And so I …

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How I Teach My Kids Mindfulness

“How do you teach your kids to practice mindfulness meditation?” This is one of the most common questions I am asked when people find out that I teach mindfulness meditation for a living. I am often met with a look of confusion when I answer, “I don’t teach my kids how to practice meditation.” Let me explain. But before I do, what is mindfulness? Mindfulness is the simple practice of training your attention to focus in the present moment with full acceptance. Why wouldn’t I teach my children this simple tool when it has been shown to support mental, physical …

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Mindful Parents Know How to Do One Thing

What does it mean to be a mindful parent? Is a mindful parent unusually kind? Is a mindful parent unusually happy? Is a mindful parent unusually patient? A mindful parent may be some of these things some of the time, but they are also something more. Rather, they practice something more. This practice will help you become a wiser and more discerning parent. It will help you become a calmer and less reactive parent. It will help you let go of always trying to be perfect. A mindful parent knows how to do one thing. A mindful parent knows how …

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