Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Do You Meditate?

May 2013,  Week 1 

It seems that information about meditation is everywhere these days. Recently researchers’ interest in the brain and the effects mindfulness practices like meditation have increased, and their studies are revealing a strong connection between our thoughts and our emotional well-being and physical health.  This is great news for those of us whose internal energy meters are permanently pegged at “overwhelm” because the results of the research is consistently positive:  regularly meditating and engaging in other mindfulness practices helps us manage our stress more effectively, and reduces the physical damage stress wreaks on our bodies.  What’s more, it’s not just adults who benefit, but kids as well. 

For families who already incorporate meditation or mindfulness into their regular routine, sometimes it is part of their spiritual practice, but even more often their intention is to help kids build important life skills that will help them navigate the difficult and challenging experiences of life.  Kids (and adults) who practice mindfulness have an easier time:
  • Calming down when they are overwhelmed by big emotions like anger or sadness 
  • Focusing and concentrating 
  • Managing stress and anxiety 
  • Cultivating compassion and gratitude

I began meditating about nine years ago when I was pregnant with my second son, and have had a fairly regular practice since then.  Surprisingly, it didn’t occur to me until just last year that meditation might be something both of my sons could learn and benefit from the same way I do.  I wrote about a particular “big emotion” moment in the Developing Minds post (followed by Developing Minds, Part II), and it was this event that inspired me to do further research and begin teaching my sons to meditate. 

If you're interested in developing a personal or family mindfulness practice, the good news is that there's a tremendous amount of information out there and lots of great tools available.  The bad news? There's a tremendous amount of information and lots of tools.  Don't be deterred,  because the benefits are amazing.  Both of my boys have taken to meditating before going to sleep at night (bed time has become such a calm, peaceful time), and they are noticeably more in control of their emotions -- even the big, overwhelming ones!  

So whether you are new to meditation, or want to recommit to your practice, check out the list below for activities you can do this week.  And stay tuned for next week (learn how here), as we learn more about the science behind meditation, and prepare to teach our kids!

Activities for Meditation, Week 1

If you do all of these activities this week, you will:
  1. Begin increasing your level of mindfulness,
  2. Learn about meditation (or recommit to your practice if you already meditate),
  3. Experience a few short meditation sessions.

    When you have one minute...
    Practice becoming more mindful.  Choose something you do every day, multiple times a day, like touch a doorknob or stop at a stop signThen, each time you touch a door knob, for example, that is your cue to: 
    1. Pause, 
    2. Notice your breathing (fast, slow, shallow?),
    3. Do a quick body scan, noting any areas of tension or discomfort, and
    4. Breathe into those areas of your body.
    When you have 15 minutes... 
    Learn more about mindfulness and meditation.
    1. Watch this excellent TED Talk by Andy Puddicombe describing meditation and mindfulness (10 minutes)
    2. Decide if you'd like to try a couple of meditations and, if so, when and where you will do them.
    When you have 20 minutes or more...
    Try a guided meditation!  
    1. Go to this link:  Guided Meditations   
    2. Choose one of the meditations from the list of options that is of interest to you.  If you are new to meditation I suggest choosing the one entitled "Complete Meditation Instructions" (19 minutes).
    3. Once you feel more comfortable with what to do, explore some of the other meditations.

    And don't forget to share your experiences and thoughts with others on the "Teach Your Own" page:  Teach Your Own  Our goal is to support each other and learn by sharing!



    If you'd like to learn more about MindPooling, 

    check out the MindPooling Overview.



    Monday, April 29, 2013

    MindPooling: An Overview

    What Is Mindpooling?  
    MindPooling is an idea-generator and sharing platform for parents.  Every week subscribers receive updated information on interesting research, useful tools, and insightful resources about important topics related to the education and development of children.  

    Because there's so much great information out there.  We can all use some extra support in helping our kids reach their full potential, but finding the best ideas and tools requires time -- lots of time!  And even when we do come across a great resource, figuring out how to apply it can be a challenge.

    How Does It Work?
    Each month "Teach Your Own" selects a topic related to parenting and education (for example, Meditation is the topic for May).  Each Tuesday of the month we send out an article sharing some of the most interesting and useful information available on the topic, with a list of tools, resources, and activities provided at the end.

    And here's where it gets really good! After you read the article or try one of the activities, you share your thoughts, experiences, questions, and/or recommendations for related ideas and resources.  Others will be sharing as well, so the learning opportunities are rich.

    Where Do I Sign Up?
    The Teach Your Own page on Facebook is our primary platform, so all you need to do is visit the page and "Like" it, and you will automatically receive the weekly editions of "MindPooling".

    Where Does the Term "MindPooling" Come From?
    "Mindpooling" is a term my sons made up when they were working on a video game mission together and needed a way to describe their process for developing and sharing ideas.  They had never heard the term "brainstorming", so this is what they came up with.  I like it because it conveys a calmer, more cooperative process than "storming".  (And I'm using it with their permission, of course!)