Mindfulness Can Be Hard: 8 Reasons Why You May Not Want to Start a Mindfulness Practice (and 4 Supports)

We Are Experiencing a Mindful Revolution Mindfulness is all the rage right now. In 2015, Time magazine declared that we are in the midst of a mindful revolution. Rigorous studies in the field of neuroscience continue to demonstrate the efficacy of the practice in areas ranging from chronic pain to post traumatic stress to the emotional health of children. So Why Would I Tell You to NOT to Start A Mindfulness Practice? For the sake of illustration, think of a young Superman who suddenly realizes he can fly, but he doesn’t yet know how to fly well. Instead of being …

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Meeting Difficult Emotions With Compassion

Read an updated version of this blog post here. Life is just hard sometimes. We get sad, angry, frustrated, lonely, and afraid. If you’re like me, you will do everything and anything you can to avoid the pain. Have a glass of wine, get lost in Facebook, go shopping, or eat ten doughnuts. If only all those tactics worked—but they don’t. The feelings don’t go away; they just get buried for a while, take their vitamins, and get ready to erupt in a Mount Vesuvius kind of way. Usually, it happens at the worst time. Another way to meet those …

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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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Easiest Meditation Practice Ever

There is a wonderful meditation story in which a student asks his teacher, “How do I practice meditation in my everyday life?” The teacher replies, “By eating and sleeping.” The student protests, “But everyone eats and sleeps! How is that meditation?” The teacher answers, “But not everybody eats when they eat, and not everybody sleeps when they sleep. When I eat, I eat; when I sleep, I sleep.” Clearly, the teacher is exhorting the student to do one thing at a time as a way of weaving meditation into his everyday life. The Easiest Meditation Practice Ever If everyone in …

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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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3 Essential Elements of Self-Compassion

“Sweetheart. You are struggling. Relax. Take a breath, and then we will figure out what to do.” I love these words from long-time meditation teacher, Sylvia Boorstein, for two reasons: 1) They challenge me; and 2) they contain the three essential elements of self-compassion. Let’s start with the first reason. I am challenged to the core by the word sweetheart! Who in the world refers to themself as “sweetheart” when they are struggling? Not me! In fact, the thought of it makes me cringe and causes my chest to tighten up. It seems I share this response with many others. …

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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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My Amygdala Made Me Do It!

Imagine a world where each time you messed up or said something mean, you yelled, “My amygdala made me do it!” Although that may sound funny, it could be just the thing to help you step back from reactivity and take more responsibility for your actions. Why? The amygdala is the portion of the brain responsible for sounding the alarm when we perceive a threat or some nearby danger (see Carol’s blog post: Change Your Brain). The time between the amygdala sounding the alarm and our reaction is so fast we usually do not realize the alarm has sounded until after …

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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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