Ivy Child Team

#SeasonOfGiving: OUR TOP 5 FREE MINDFULNESS RESOURCES

At IvyChild International, we have always believed in sharing resources and tools to help people along on their own mindfulness journey. These resources are always aimed at providing practitioners of mindfulness, both novice and veteran, some useful aids and insights that enhance and deepen their practice.

And now, as the holiday season is upon us, we’re taking the #SeasonOfGiving further with a roundup of the top 5 of our most popular and important mindfulness resources. These range from tools to help you center yourself to understanding how mindfulness could help children unlock their potential; from ways to cultivate mental health in the midst of the global pandemic to striving for racial justice with the help of mindfulness

So here’s the list of our Top 5 Free Mindfulness Resources:


Videos from Healing Retreat for People of Color

We begin with one of our most crucial resources for our times; video sessions of the unique Healing Retreat for People of Color(HRPOC). 

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected people of color and the environment of racial and social injustices further compromises the health and wellbeing of many people of color. As a result, HRPOC has been developed to provide holistic, metaphysical practices and lifestyle tools to reduce the negative impact of the unique challenges that all people of color face. 

This retreat teaches that the ancient practices of yoga, meditation, breathwork and mindfulness are invaluable as contemporary life support tools. The inherent substance, meaning viability and sturdiness that lies within these practices are essential and necessary for health and wellbeing for People of Color and other highly impacted groups.

Here are the free videos from the Retreat. If you find the free sessions helpful, you can register for the upcoming monthly series of HRPOC and even consider making a donation to help us keep it going.

HRPOC #1 – The Benefits of Yogic Breathing | Sara Clark

HRPOC #2 – Ayurveda and Nutrition | Angela (Dharma) Fears

HRPOC #3 – Exploring Our Relationship With Our Emotions | Peter Weng

5 Steps to bring you back to center (part of Mindfulness for Parents Teachers and Caregivers)

One of the biggest challenges faced by parents and caregivers is to be able to maintain a state of equilibrium. This workshop, led by Maya Breuer and Kiesha Battles, will focus on 5 Steps to Bring You Back to Center.

In this video resource, participants will explore various wellness tools and techniques to revitalize and reconnect to their center and find the balance they need to renew and serve others. Tools and techniques include Breath-Work, Meditation, Self-Compassion, Movement and Creativity.

Unlocking Children’s Potential Through Mindfulness

Rose Felix Cratsley, Ivy Child International’s CEO & Founder talking about mindfulness in children at TEDxFitchburgStateU.

At Ivy Child International, it is our mission to enhance the social and emotional well-being of children while embracing their multicultural needs using positive psychology and education as a uniting force to inspire resilience and leadership.

Mindfulness equips children with simple practices to work directly with managing their central nervous system, helping them regulate, manage emotional states and focus attention. To understand more of how mindfulness can work for children, you can check out our quick guide to mindfulness for kids.

Cultivating Mental Well-Being Through the COVID-19 Crisis (part of Mindfulness for Parents Teachers and Caregivers)

This resource is yet another from our Mindfulness for Parents Teachers and Caregivers series. 

In this video by Peter Weng, CEO, Healthy Minds Innovations(HMI) and a highly regarded practitioner and beloved leader in the field of mindfulness, we learn about compassion practices, access to a free mindfulness app and resources that are shared to develop a personal practice in mindfulness to help navigate this unprecedented time.

Mindfulness and Racial Justice with Craig Martin

We seek accountability for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the innumerable Black lives lost due to the horrific systems of oppression that are prevalent in our world today. As we stand in solidarity and work to create spaces for healing for all, we wish to contribute by sharing the importance of building more spaces for real conversations together that result in action.

Abundant thanks to our wonderful friend and community partner Craig Martin for offering a heartful conversation on Mindfulness and Racial Justice.

Ivy Child Team#SeasonOfGiving: OUR TOP 5 FREE MINDFULNESS RESOURCES
read more

HOW GRATITUDE AND MINDFULNESS CAN HELP YOU HEAL

The traditional ritual of Thanksgiving; families gathered together to offer thanks for all the gifts, protection, warmth and joy in our lives; a truly special experience. Sharing of gratitude not only makes for beautiful opportunities that bring us closer, but aids in improving mental health, according to recent research.

WHAT DOES GRATITUDE MEAN?

While we all understand gratitude as the act of giving thanks or the emotion of feeling appreciation, to understand its psychological impact, we turn to Robert Emmons and Robin Stern for a deeper psychological definition:

“gratitude has a dual meaning: a worldly one and a transcendent one. In its worldly sense, gratitude is a feeling that occurs in interpersonal exchanges when one person acknowledges receiving a valuable benefit from another. Gratitude is a cognitive-affective state that is typically associated with the perception that one has received a personal benefit that was not intentionally sought after, deserved, or earned but rather because of the good intentions of another person” (Emmons & Stern, 2013).

Growing research shows that gratitude and the practice of being mindful and grateful is a powerful tool to heal and bolster our psychological immune system.

THE GIFTS OF GRATITUDE

We have always known the warmth we experience from expressing our appreciation for others. Research shows ways to harness that emotion to achieve better mental health.

So here are some of the benefits of practicing gratitude:

  1. Gratitude frees us from toxic emotions Studies have shown that practicing gratitude shifts our attention away from negative emotions, such as resentment and envy.
  2. Stress and pain relief. Researchers have observed gratitude light up areas of the brain closely linked to the brain’s “mu opioid” networks, which are activated during close interpersonal touch and relief from pain networks.
  3. It can help beat depression. Researcher Prathik Kini and colleagues at Indiana University observed how practicing gratitude can alter brain function in depressed individuals. It is hypothesized that the practice of gratitude may even be able to change neural pathways and re-wire the brain.
  4. It’s a tonic. Gratitude is being seen to impact general well being. Scientific studies suggest that gratitude can improve your sleep, enhance your romantic relationships, protect you from illness, motivate you to exercise, and boost your happiness, among many other benefits.

So let this Thanksgiving not just be a day to give thanks for the things you appreciate, but also a start of practicing gratitude for a better you.
Here’s Young Peace Leaders Cultivating Gratitude:

Ivy Child TeamHOW GRATITUDE AND MINDFULNESS CAN HELP YOU HEAL
read more

Thanksgiving & Safe Haven Meditation

100 Days of Growing Gratitude Ivy Child International Inner City Mindfulness Program-Claremont Academy, Worcester Public Schools Worcester, Massachusetts USA

I invite you into a sacred, safe and loving space together
Enjoying each breath as you breathe in and out
In through your nose and out through your mouth
Allow the motion of your mind to rest on the motion of your breath.

Allow yourself to anchor into a peaceful stance
and allow your body to feel what it is,
adjust yourselves to what feels comfortable and right for you in this moment
Give yourselves the permission to take a time in instead of a time out
honor the ground and earth that supports us and holds us each step that we take

Acknowledging, honoring and embracing this moment

Gently bring your awareness to your breath…as we breathe in and out, Breathe in peace and breathe out discomfort, pain and suffering.
Let’s anchor ourselves in our breath
Allowing a space to hold in our hearts all that we are thankful for
The gift of breath
The gift of the earth to support us

Next allow a shield of safety and sacred protection around you.
This can be in the form of an object or person near or dear or someone you perhaps never met, someone who is on this earth or no longer here. Someone’s arms in which you feel the safest or a certain place that you feel the safest. Welcome that safety, that security, that solace we all need.
Welcome the feeling of being seen, soothed, secure, and safe.

Embrace this unconditional love, acceptance, and care
Allow this warm and beautifully resonant compassion to soak in

Share your gratitude and thanks to this person for offering their love, care and devotion to you, as you open your heart and mind

And awaken your heart in this moment with your beloved community

And just allow your heart to hold those dear near and far in this precious moment

Let go of anything you may need to in order to fully give and receive all that we can to our loved ones and our world.

Enjoying each deep breath as we breathe in and out

Breathing through each moment and taking each step
with grace, courage and strength

Ivy Child TeamThanksgiving & Safe Haven Meditation
read more

5 steps to Mindful Parenting and Caregiving

Parenting and caregiving is a sacred and yet challenging role. It is a lifelong occupation that involves nurturing and developing the hearts and minds of our loved ones. It is full of highs and lows. A life full of stress, disappointments, surprises, joy and pride. Parenting and caregiving however have not been known for their moments of equanimity.

What is Mindfulness?

According to the American Psychological Association (APA.org, 2012), mindfulness is:

“…a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment. In this sense, mindfulness is a state and not a trait. While it might be promoted by certain practices or activities, such as meditation, it is not equivalent to or synonymous with them.”

As founder of Ivy Child, Rose states, “Mindful parenting and caregiving is about giving ourselves the space and permission to be human, accepting the imperfections of life, while loving ourselves and our loved ones through all of life’s seasons. It entails deliberate intention, care and devotion abundantly and unconditionally with our whole heart and mind.” 

How can Mindfulness help?

The practice of mindfulness allows for a host of skills and typical responses to be reshaped from instinctive or conditioned actions into more composed, deliberate ones. The following are ways that you can harness the power of mindfulness to become the caregiver you strive to be:

  • Being Present

The bedrock of mindfulness is the ability to be fully present . The simple practice of observing yourself sharpens your awareness of the moment. Mindfulness helps caregivers declutter their minds and immerse completely in their loved ones time without distractions. This is particularly important for working parents and caregivers that need to divide their time between many responsibilities and their daily balancing act. Through these practices it is possible to have much richer experiences in the time they get together.

  • Acceptance without Judgement

Mindfulness helps widen the gap between stimulus and response. It helps break the conditioned links between actions and perceived entanglements or expected outcomes. While it is easy to rush to judgment and be critical, it is important to take a breath and realize that the world does not work the way we anticipate especially for our little ones. 

  • Deeper empathy and bond

While  it can be difficult for us as adults having to navigate and manage our emotions during challenging times, imagine the complexity for a child to do the same. Experiencing isolation and losing a sense of community during this time, and missing meaningful gatherings and experiences can feel like a significant loss. Mindfulness equips us with the super power of empathy. It allows us to be able to take a step back and imagine the world of others to gain greater insight and connection to our loved  ones. 

  • Manage emotions and reactions

It is difficult to always keep stress, irritation, frustration and despair in check. At some point it is overwhelming and gets the best of us. We often unleash our emotions to those nearest and dearest to us. Mindfulness helps with being able to pause and take a few deep breaths to settle the mind, release a few pressure valves and go back to being the superhumans caregivers can be.

  • Compassion for self

Caregivers benefit from the space and permission to be human. While striving for the best each day, it is important to carry and exercise the same care and love we exhibit to others to ourselves. The gift of self-love and compassion that a practice of mindfulness provides brings the loving and kindness we all need intertwined in our journey and further models that for our loved ones.

Here’s a video where Daniel Siegel sheds light on this skill and lends some great insights:

Ivy Child Team5 steps to Mindful Parenting and Caregiving
read more

World Mental Health Day 2020

World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, instituted by the World Health Organization, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world.

This year, the day coincides with a highly challenged global scenario impacting intergenerational mental health. The COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the planet has led to an increase in human suffering across our world and given rise to one of the worst mental health crises in recorded history.

While most of humanity faces the same harsh realities of disease, financial distress and fear, the underserved have experienced the worst brunt of the fallout from the pandemic. Racial and social injustices further serve to compromise the health and wellbeing of many people of color.

The COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately affecting people of color, with higher levels of illness and death. Compounded with racial and social  injustices, further serves to compromise the health and wellbeing of many people of color. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and intensified these pre-existing realities and increased the vulnerability of these populations.

As a result, people of color are experiencing a greater mental health fallout from the pandemic. This mental health impact and ongoing racial inequity reinforce the urgency to provide pathways of psychological healing for people of color.

In celebration of World Mental Health Day, Ivy Child International would like to go beyond just raising awareness about the importance of our mental health. We are happy to share a free video resource specifically created to bolster the psychological wellbeing of people of color.

The Healing Retreat for People of Color™ (HRPOC) has been created to provide ancient healing practices that support the lives of people of color, during the many challenges we are all facing.

The HRPOC has been developed to provide holistic, metaphysical practices and lifestyle tools to reduce the negative impact of the unique challenges that all people of color face. This retreat will teach that the ancient practices of yoga, meditation, breathwork and mindfulness are invaluable as contemporary life support tools. The inherent substance, meaning viability and sturdiness that lies within these practices are essential and necessary for health and wellbeing for People of Color and other highly impacted groups.

This program will be conducted free of cost every first Sunday of the month beginning January 2021, we share these video recordings of the 2020 program sessions to allow access and opportunity to engage and benefit from our past sessions, while also gaining a sense of what is to come through these sessions from our Healing Retreat for People of Color.

HRPOC #1 – The Benefits of Yogic Breathing | Sara Clark

HRPOC #2 – Ayurveda and Nutrition | Angela (Dharma) Fears

HRPOC #3 – Exploring Our Relationship With Our Emotions | Peter Weng

Ivy Child TeamWorld Mental Health Day 2020
read more

Mindfulness for kids. A Quick Guide

 

Mindfulness For Kids. An Essential Life Hack

Mindfulness has become well known as a tool to help those with anxiety and depression. Another popular notion is that mindfulness is only meant for those looking to supercharge their efficiency at work.

But mindfulness is a superpower practice of ‘being’ of becoming capable of living through experiences without being overwhelmed by those experiences or without giving in to our reactions to these experiences. Its advantages in helping us cope with mental health issues is just one of its many positive outcomes.

Mindfulness helps kids with not only with early onset mental health and social emotional challenges; mindfulness is essential and beneficial for every child for their overall wellbeing.

Children are constantly drawing and redrawing their understanding of the world through what they experience and how they see others react to their individual and collective experiences. Hence the sooner we train ourselves to not be swayed by our experiences the better we would be at navigating the world without being consumed into the negativity that so many of us, so often experience.

Mindfulness equips children with simple practices to work directly with managing their central nervous system, helping them regulate, manage emotional states and focus attention.

Mindfulness Improves Focus

Being taught to practice attentiveness and focus at an early age is to receive the most important tool to hack life itself. The ability to tune out distractions and to fully be focused on one’s breath or even on a sound, emotion or sensation, helps one to center and find stillness and calm. Mindfulness for children helps kids navigate the highs and lows of life building a resilient mind.

Improved focus allows children to be able to retain more information and with greater clarity. With improved concentration, comes far better performance at everything – academics, sports and art. Mindfulness for children doesn’t just help them get better grade, but to simply do better at almost everything.

Mindfulness Enhances Self-Awareness

Learning to experience life without judgement and reaction teaches kids the essential skill of being self aware at all times. Mindfulness practice helps children deal with tough emotions and even improves impulse control. It replaces impulsive reactions with thoughtful responses.

Mindfulness gives kids the skills to focus their minds, calm down and meditate on a vexing issue with greater calm and clarity. When children start understanding their emotional ranges, they understand the triggers and outcomes of oscillating emotions and are able to self regulate their impulses.

Mindfulness Develops Social Skills

When one is able to apply their mind with clarity and are able to self-regulate their emotional states, it is understandably easier to develop empathy. Mindfulness in children allows them to build strong connections with peers, develop strong meaningful relationships and social encounters.

Ivy Child International runs a range of campus and community based child-centered mindfulness programs across systems of education and care with a special focus on schools and institutions in Boston, Massachusetts. Ivy Child’s campus programs provide daily mindfulness education in schools as part of the curriculum.

Ivy Child TeamMindfulness for kids. A Quick Guide
read more

Together through COVID

While the world is uniting in efforts to battle an array of challenges, we feel it is crucial to find ways to serve our community in the best possible manner through mindfulness in action. How individuals respond to an outbreak can depend on many factors but protecting those most vulnerable, bridging and providing immediate relief and recovery support is essential to our collective wellbeing.

As the spring of 2020 rolled in, the realization that the world was going to be in the grip of an unprecedented global crisis was quickly becoming the truth in all our minds. A spate of fresh cases of a new disease on the other side of the globe had snowballed into a global pandemic.

Now, more than ever, our community needed the practice of mindfulness to battle the anxiety and psychological strain of this new reality. To ensure that we continued to bring the mindfulness to our community, we moved all our programs and activities to virtual platforms. We made our resources available online for free for our community to use and share.

But we wished to do more; we wanted to try and provide tangible support to members of our community.

In May, Ivy Child set up an Emergency Relief Fund and with the help of fundraising efforts and generous donations to create a corpus for immediate financial support for our community. Over the last few months, we have achieved the following goals:

  • Executed $75,000 to teachers and youth ambassadors in Ivy Child International’s network and mobilize them to share practice, prevention management and wellness strategies to stop the spread of COVID-19 
  • Distribute 10000 masks and hygiene kits for free to our healthcare partners and families
  • Provide 250, $50 micro recovery grants to vulnerable families.

Furthermore, Ivy Child harnessed its community network and operational capacity to serve as the partner and administrator of The Yoga Alliance Foundation Emergency Relief Fund alongside the Yoga Alliance Foundation. The fund aimed at providing financial support to those within the community who were experiencing extreme economic hardship due to COVID-19.

  • The fund disbursed a minimum of $150 to a maximum of $1500 to yoga teachers whose livelihoods were impacted by COVID-19 globally.
  • The fund received applications from over 30 different countries and over 45 diverse cultures.
  • 85% of the applicants self identified as female.
  • Over 85% of applicants had lost 56% to 100% of their income due to the COVID-19.
  • 93% of applicants had a household income lower than $70,000 per year.

Stories of Resilience

In the course of Ivy Child and Yoga Alliance Foundation’s outreach during this period, we have constantly come across stories that give us an insight into the human condition at the moment; glimpses of unwavering strength, or of hope and positivity at the darkest but always stories of mindfulness and meditation helping them find their bearings in the negativity. Here are some excerpts from such stories.

  • I had to live at my sisters for 3 months and my dad got sick and I had to take over the business. My brain went from working 1000% to 10% in a week. Taking it slowly. I learned that yoga helped me save my life during this time.

    Monica
  • So many things have been uncertain for me, but the virtual (yoga) studio gives me something to look forward to. It has brought so much comfort. Something as simple as yoga, from someone that felt so far away is now accessible to me in the privacy of my own home. This helps me hang on to hope. My fathers recovery seems so far away, but I know I have felt this way about other things that have somehow worked out.

    Mayra
  • In the face of COVID-19, we are challenged with self-isolation, financial and employment uncertainties and disruptions in our day to day lives. Both my parents are immigrants, seniors and have especially been experiencing stress that is debilitating and more seriously, dangerous for their health and well-being. Yoga is the practice of freedom. It is my practice that keeps me grounded and connected to the supreme reality, one which we are all living within. Knowing this, I have been able to connect with individuals across the world as we are collectively not only experiencing this, but also collectively healing together. Life is happening right this instant. Despite the situation and pandemic, we are all experiencing this together collectively.

    Amandeep
  • I continue to teach two weekly yoga classes online on a volunteer basis at no cost. Though this circumstance is not ideal, I am grateful to have this outlet to teach so that I can still connect with others and to not allow my teaching skills to get rusty. Deepening my practice with consistency and openness for knowledge and new experiences has helped me feel grounded and my heart at ease during these uncertain times.  

    Aileen
  • La practica del día me permite abrirme y recordar la paz que habita dentro mi, que soy mas que cuerpo, que hay mas que esta situación, que en calma y paz puedo librar si me lo permite, sonriendole a mi hijo y jugando con el, haciendo un tiempo productivo en casa, olvidando que es un encierro forzado, recordandome que es una oportunidad para limpiar y sanar mi mente, porque se presentan las sombras entre la incertidumbre y la practica me permite identificarlas, perdonar, sanarlas y desarrollarme, avanzar. No digo que es fácil, pero el yoga me permite recordarlo y facilita el proceso.

    Nuria
  • This is not the first time that the practice has helped me through a major life challenge. Eight years ago, I began my journey with fibromyalgia, and last year, I parted from my marriage of 21 years. When the COVID-19 crisis came our way, I was prepared to use my learned skills to ride yet another wave. Viewing the world’s situation, and then my own, through the lens of an observer empowered me with the compassion and ability necessary to give myself permission to feel, then heal.

    Terilouise
Ivy Child TeamTogether through COVID
read more

How helpful is Mindfulness for mental health?

Mental wellbeing is the new public health revolution. It has become a goal for people across the globe to enjoy positive mental health. While mental health could mean different things to different people, we can all agree that living a thriving life with mental clarity, balanced emotions, positivity and a sense of purpose would mean living a happy life; a life free of mental health issues.

It’s estimated that over one billion people globally have a mental, neurodevelopment or substance use disorder.

for World Economic Forum

Contrary to what most of us believe, the number of people with mental health issues has grown at a rate commensurate with the growth rate of global populations. But what has definitely grown by leaps-and-bounds is the general population’s acceptance of mental illness and a widespread destigmatisation of mental health ailments.

Another big change in the world regarding mental health has been the spectrum of solutions and practices available to maintain positive mental health. One of the biggest impacts in how we approach and manage mental health has been made by a simple practice known as ‘Mindfulness’.

What is Mindfulness?

As mindful.org puts it; Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. It allows us to pause amid the constant inflow of stimuli and consciously decide how to act, rather than react reflexively with ingrained behavior patterns. Mindfulness is a centuries-old idea that has been reinvented to address the challenges of our digital age.

How does it work?

The research is in and it suggests that mindfulness affects the body and the brain to produce or alter hormones and chemicals that enhance our physical and mental wellbeing. Scientists have found links between non-judgemental and non-reactive acceptance of our experiences and positive psychological and physical states. Mindfulness, hailed as one of the most significant developments in mental health practice, is fast becoming the most effective recourse for people suffering from anxiety, depression and a host of other mental health problems.

While the guiding philosophy of all mindfulness practice finds its roots Eastern spirituality and is often attributed to Buddhist Vipassana  the modern techniques vary vastly amongst themselves and new techniques seem to pop up almost every day. In his book – Mindfulness for Beginners, Jon Kabat-Zinn, known as the father of mindfulness in the west, emphasizes that the practice of mindfulness holds the possibility of not just a fleeting sense of contentment, but a true embracing of a deeper unity that envelops and permeates our lives

There are also a host of resources available in the form of apps, books, online tutorials and classes that help grasp and inculcate a mindfulness practice that suits one.

Head on over to our Resources section to see browse some helfpful mindfulness tools and recommendations.

Ivy Child International is on a mission to provide universal mindfulness education to children and underserved communities, prioritizing urban populations and their multicultural needs. Ivy Child works on furthering the spread of mindfulness throughout the population with their proprietary MINDFULNESS MULTIPLIER EFFECT a mindfulness movement meant to create a ripple effect that starts form individuals and communities that practice mindfulness and spreads through everyone around them.

 

Ivy Child TeamHow helpful is Mindfulness for mental health?
read more