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Bringing Mindfulness to the World

The fundamental message of the mindfulness movement is that the underlying cause of dissatisfaction and distress is in our heads. By failing to pay attention to what actually happens in each moment, we get lost in regrets about the past and fears for the future, which make us unhappy. Learning to focus turns down the volume on circular thought, our “entire society is suffering from attention deficit disorder – big time”.

By practising mindfulness, individual freedom is found within “pure awareness”, undistracted by external corrupting influences. All we need to do is close our eyes and watch our breath. The world is slowly changing, one mindful individual at a time.

Mindful You Mindful World

Training yourself in times of nonstress becomes increasingly important, because you build up those practices for accessing calm quickly. Even years of meditation or yoga practice, however, aren’t always enough to handle the challenges of the modern world. When anxiety takes you by surprise, these strategies will help you catch your breath and calm your mind.

1. Be Ridiculous: To calm yourself quickly, tell your autonomic nervous system that it’s OK to stand down. One cue that works surprisingly well is silliness. If you’re anxious before an important call, have a one-song dance party. Make faces in the mirror. Translate the day’s headlines into pig Latin.

2. Focus on a Game: The Scientific Solution to Building a More Resilient Brain and Life, is redirecting a racing mind by playing games, especially ones that require some concentration. Play Tetris on your phone or a round of 20 Questions with a friend.

3. Slow Your Breath: Rapid, shallow breathing is a common feature of anxiety, but that deliberately slowing the breath down — to six or seven breaths a minute — and inhaling twice the usual volume of air can lower sympathetic nervous system activity by as much as one-third.

4. Listen to Your Environment: One way to tune out the noise in your mind is to tune in to the sounds around you: the chirping birds outside your window, a humming air conditioner, a horn beeping down the street, the sound of a copy machine. “Allow your ears to simply receive whatever sounds arise,”.

5. Take a Play Break: If you can step away from a tense moment long enough to throw a Frisbee or pet your dog, you’re on your way to calming down. Play can trigger positive neurochemicals — serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins — that increase well-being.

6. Drink a Glass of Water: Simply slowing down to have a glass of water can be calming; it also supports stress recovery. Staying well-hydrated may reduce your HPA-axis response to stress.

7. Listen to Music: If you need to get out of your head, put on some tunes you love and listen actively, with your eyes closed. Calming music especially can have a direct effect on the autonomic system. This may be why music is now being used therapeutically in emergency rooms, as well as in pain-management and stress-reduction programs.

8. Sing: Produce your own instant music therapy by belting out a song or two (singing loudly with the radio absolutely counts). Singing can measurably improve immunity, decrease stress, and raise oxytocin levels, which help promote social bonding.

9. Monotask: If you’re feeling anxious about having too much to do, approach each task in a conscious way. “I’m going to answer emails for 10 minutes,” for example, or, “I’m taking 10 minutes to clear off my desk.” Even if you can’t complete them on the first try, it can be calming to get a start on lingering tasks — which is often the hardest part.

10. Alternate-Nostril Breathing: Deep breathing is useful for slowing down the sympathetic nervous system and alternate-nostril breathing can be especially relaxing. First, exhale completely, and then inhale deeply. On your next exhale, place an index finger against your right nostril to close it off. Inhale through the left nostril, and then close the left nostril as you release the right nostril. Exhale completely through the right nostril, and then inhale through that side. At the top of the inhale, close off the right nostril, release the left, and exhale. Repeat for 15 rounds.

11. Pet an Animal: Find the nearest domesticated mammal and give it a friendly scratch behind the ears. Studies show that petting dogs can lower your blood pressure, and having a pet of your own can be a reliable source of unconditional love that keeps stress in check over time.

12. Enjoy Some Greenery: Take a walk in the woods, if possible. Research on “forest bathing,” a practice that originated in Japan, has revealed that spending time among trees and plants can measurably lower cortisol, blood pressure, and pulse rate. Gardening is also a calming activity that gets you outdoors.

13. Express Your Thanks: Numerous studies have found gratitude to be a life changer, bringing feelings of greater well-being and reducing depression. So write a note to a friend, say thank you to three people in an hour, express gratitude for the little things every day, like “Thank you, universe, for that amazing parking spot.” Or, “Thank you, universe. I am still alive. Perhaps my anxiety doesn’t know everything after all.”

MINDFULNESS MULTIPLIER EFFECT™

At the heart of Ivy Child’s mission, we believe that when you provide any individual access to learn and practice mindfulness, it not only enhances their direct well-being, it also ripples out to benefit all of those in their outer world (SELF, FAMILY, COMMUNITY, WORLD).

This is Ivy Child International’s Mindfulness Multiplier Effect ™.

The effect you have in the world, the intangible, energetic impact you have on the whole, begins from within you and how you feel, what kind of emotional energy you carry out into the world and spread around, so to speak. The specific emotions don’t matter, although it very much makes a difference whether the emotions you’re allowing to influence your contribution are positive or negative.

It all begins with you, from within. That’s where your ripples originate, and that’s the only source of ripples that you have influence or control over. You hold a vast power within you, the power to influence your experience intentionally, and all you have to do to embrace this power is decide to.

Mindfulness Practiced by the World

If you look at any culture throughout history, you’ll find that their traditions include some form of meditation or mindfulness practice.

Day 1: Norway – Friluftsliv

 

In Norway, people practice a custom known as Friluftsliv (“Free-looft-sleeve”), which means “free air life”. Friluftsliv refers to spending time outdoors and soaking up the beauty of nature.
When you go outside, feel the sun on your face, the breeze in your hair, hear the birds singing, the insects buzzing, see the beautiful flora and fauna around you, it takes you out of your hectic thoughts and brings you into the present moment.
You breathe deeper, your heartbeat slows down, and your mood lifts as you simply enjoy each breath, breathing in the wondrous world we live in.
From the remote Arctic to urban Oslo, friluftsliv means a commitment to celebrating time outdoors, no matter the weather forecast. Friluftsliv can also mean long strolls with friends, picnics, a leisurely afternoon bike ride, or walking the dog on a chilly morning.
The benefit goes beyond good mood though. Spending time in the outdoors can also help heal the kind of grief and trauma emerging as the virus races through communities worldwide.

Day 2: Turkey – Keyif

 

In Turkey, people value the experience of Keyif (“kay-eef”). This is the art of quiet relaxation and living in the moment.

The great thing about this practice is that you don’t have to go out into nature to do it. Just find a few minutes of quiet time in your day to relax, engage with your surroundings, and appreciate being present in the moment.

These are usually simple activities. Sitting on a bench by the Bosphorous watching the sunset, throwing simit to sea gulls from the back of a ferry, drinking raki and eating mezes with your friends, watching the bosphorous from a hill, listening to gypsy musicians on the street and so on.

You would see many people in Istanbul not doing much, seemingly idle, they might be at that point enjoying the keyif of living in Istanbul. Food, drink, friends, views, the Bosphorous are all important elements of Keyif in istanbul.

Day 3: Germany – Gemütlichkeit

 

You could choose to practice Gemütlichkeit (geh-moot-lich-kite), which hails from Germany. The word means “geniality,” or “friendliness” and is all about celebrating your appreciation of others.
This is a fantastic mindfulness practice because it’s all about getting together with the people you love and honoring their presence in your life. It could be as boisterous as a party or as simple as making the effort to offer well wishes to everyone who crosses your path.
When you devote your time and energy to focusing on others in this way, it takes you out of your own head and helps you feel a stronger sense of empathy and connection to all of the wonderful people in your world.
Gemütlichkeit cannot be experienced alone because one of its necessary components is having a sense of social belonging. And we’re not talking about being at a dinner and having everyone stop by at your table to talk, or being the life of the party. It’s more about doing something, like spending an afternoon at a beer garden, that everyone in the community recognises as a pleasant but largely pointless activity.

Day 4: Japan –  “Shirin-Yoku”

 

In Japan, people follow a practice called Shirin-Yoku, which means “forest bathing.”
This custom is drawn on as a kind of medicine or healing therapy currently intended to combat the stresses of modern living and the relentless presence of technology in our lives. If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, a great solution is to take a 15-minute walk in nature. And while you’re there, focus on your surroundings.
What do you see, hear, feel, and smell?
The key to unlocking the power of the forest is in the five senses. Let nature enter through your ears, eyes, nose, mouth, hands and feet. Listen to the birds singing and the breeze rustling in the leaves of the trees. Look at the different greens of the trees and the sunlight filtering through the branches. Smell the fragrance of the forest and breathe in the natural aromatherapy of phytoncides. Taste the freshness of the air as you take deep breaths. Place your hands on the trunk of a tree. Dip your fingers or toes in a stream. Lie on the ground. Drink in the flavor of the forest and release your sense of joy and calm. This is your sixth sense, a state of mind. Now you have connected with nature.
Breathe in the beauty of it all. Consider the resilience of nature, the amazing adaptability of life itself, and remember that you too are a creature of the natural world.
It will shift your perspective and help you develop a more relaxed and positive mindset.

Day 5: Tibet – Metta Meditation 

 

The Tibetan practice of Metta meditation is somewhat similar to this. It focuses on cultivating a sense of benevolence and goodwill towards others.

Metta translates to “loving kindness” and involves entering into a meditative state and then consciously directing positive thoughts to other people. In Buddhist tradition, this is one of the four sublime states of the mind.

To do this practice one sits in a comfortable posture, evokes a prayerful attitude and then thinks of oneself and wishes oneself well. Then one thinks of a cherished person, a neutral person, a disliked person and finally all people and likewise wishes them well in turn.

Done with sensitivity and over a period of time, loving kindness meditation gradually develops a deeper self-acceptance, a strengthened appreciation of those one already loves, a warm and growing interest in casual acquaintances and less ill-will towards those one previously did not like.

Benefits

A regular metta meditation practice can be beneficial for both your mind and body.

  • Promotes self-compassion
  • Decreases stress and anxiety
  • Reduces physical pain
  • Improves longevity
  • Enhances social connections

Day 6: Hawaii: Ho’oponopono

 

This is also called as a forgiveness and reconciliation practice. The word, Ho’oponopono means “to make right.” At the surface level, it’s about reciting the mantra, “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.” This ancient Hawaiian practice of forgiveness functions as both a communication concept for reconciliation and a tool for restoring self-love and balance.
And while you do this, you think about a person or people you have wronged, unintentionally or otherwise, and all the people who have wronged or who have upset you. And you let go of all of the anger, disappointment, shame, sorrow, or guilt you feel.
It’s a powerful way to heal old wounds, let go of old stories, and cultivate a more empathetic connection with others – and with yourself.
If you are ever about to have a difficult conversation with someone, reciting this mantra to yourself while you focus on the other person beforehand will help you remain calm, empathetic, and understanding, so you can achieve a better outcome.
With regular practice, reciting these simple phrases helps develop self-love and self-esteem at the times when we need it most. In this way, it’s both a lullaby to the self and a guaranteed insightful way to approach forgiving other people. Part of the reason why this traditional Hawaiian forgiveness prayer is so powerful is that it first requires you to acknowledge that wrong was done by saying you’re sorry.
Having other people acknowledge our feelings is a universal need; in ho’oponopono, you must first acknowledge that wrongdoing exists, which is a way of acknowledging these feelings. Only then will it be possible to find it in your heart to forgive someone else, or yourself.
Ivy Child TeamBringing Mindfulness to the World
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A Guide to Practicing Self-Care with Mindfulness

Self-care is the practice of taking an active role in protecting our own well-being, pursuing happiness, and having the ability, tools, and resources to respond to periods of stress so that they don’t result in imbalance and lead to a health crisis. Self-care means asking yourself what you need, and following through on the honest answer, it can be as simple as getting to bed earlier on a work night.

Why Is Self-Care Important?

Self-care can be an intervention tool that keeps you from being completely sucked into the vortex, saving you when you find yourself standing on the precipice gazing into the dark abyss.

A Self-Care Plan is a fail-safe, created by you, and filled with your favorite self-care activities, important reminders, and ways to activate your self-care community. Here’s why it’s important to create your own Self-Care plan:

1. Customizing a Self-Care Plan is a preventative measure. By designing a roadmap that is unique to you, in moments when you’re NOT in crisis, you’re directing your best self to reflect on what you may need (and have access to) in your worst moments. The reality is that only YOU know how intense your stress levels can get and what resources are available to you.

2. Having a plan takes the guesswork out of what to do and where to turn in moments of crisis. From a mindfulness point of view, it helps you respond instead of react to the situation at hand. When you have a plan in place, you’ll feel more in control of your circumstances and life won’t feel quite as chaotic.

3. A Self-Care Plan helps you stay the course. You’ll find it far easier to stick to your personal care strategy and avoid falling into the trap of making excuses. Having a plan helps you establish a routine, ensuring that you and your self-care partners don’t wind up in isolation.

The 7 Pillars of Self-Care

1.Health literacy – includes: the capacity of individuals to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.

2.Mental Wellbeing – includes: knowing your body mass index (BMI), cholesterol level, blood pressure; engaging in health screening.

3.Physical activity – practicing moderate intensity physical activity such as walking, cycling, or participating in sports at a desirable frequency.

4.Healthy eating – includes: having a nutritious, balanced diet with appropriate levels of calorie intake.

5.Risk avoidance or mitigation – includes: quitting tobacco, limiting alcohol use, getting vaccinated, practicing safe sex, using sunscreens.

6.Good hygiene – includes: washing hands regularly, brushing teeth, washing food.

7. Rational and responsible use of products, services, diagnostics and medicines – includes: being aware of dangers, using responsibly when necessary.

Self-Care Practices to Use Every Day

1. Stick with my normal, daily meditation practice. It’s easy to lose track of time when the days blend into one another, but self-care is important now more than ever. Throw away the excuse “I don’t have time” —all you seem to have is time, you just need to remain disciplined.

2. Maintain contact virtually by creating a schedule. Now is a great time to make sure that you check on the ones who matter to you, and those who you rarely get to see in person. However, it’s very easy to lose track of time—especially across time zones—so having a set schedule of times to check in, hang out and even eat “dinner” together can help to restore some social structure to the day.

3. Get outdoors. If you are blessed to live in a place where there are parks or waterfronts (that are not closed during the pandemic) and you can access them with walks, runs, and bikes, it’s a blessing that should not be squandered. Each day commit to getting outdoors and moving for at least an hour, including taking a barefoot walk on grass.

4. Give yourself permission to cry. This is actually a important point on the usual Self-Care Plan, which seemed appropriate to migrate over in these times. You will inevitably feel sad, disheartened, or downright hopeless at times, but also know that giving yourself permission to feel these emotions fully and turn towards your suffering, will help release any pain or tension and help see the sun through the clouds once again.

5.When all else fails, ask myself: “What do I need at this moment?” This should be your default question—the one you immediately ask yourself when you sense that you are not feeling right, physically or mentally. Just pause, take a long, slow deep breath and ask yourself this question. In this space between, you should always find the answer.

6. Be a friend to yourself. As corny as that may sound, it’s a trick which is incredibly useful. When you notice you’re being hard on yourself over a problem, imagine a dear friend coming to you with the same problem. How would you respond? How would you offer support? What would you say? How would you regard your friend? Now try giving these responses to yourself.

MINDFULNESS MULTIPLIER EFFECT™

At the heart of Ivy Child’s mission, we believe that when you provide any individual access to learn and practice mindfulness, it not only enhances their direct well-being, it also ripples out to benefit all of those in their outer world.

Everything begins from self, from the inside, you are the epicenter. How your emotional energy, thoughts, words, and actions may affect those whom you interact with, and in turn how that shifts their emotional energy, thoughts, words, and actions, and how that continues to spread outward with each person whom they interact with, and so on.

Seven Days Seven Ways of Practicing Self Mindfulness

Day 1: Notice Breathe Allow Act

 

This simple mindfulness practice, helps us notice, breathe, allow, and take positive action. Follow along to widen the gap between the impulse to react and choosing how you want to respond.

When we experience unpleasant feelings or thoughts—we feel stressed or anxious or uncomfortable in some way—instead of just reacting or trying to push those thoughts or feelings away, we have another option. We can notice the feelings and the thoughts, breathe into them, and allow them to be there. We may feel unsettled, but by allowing our discomfort, stress, anxiety, or whatever our experience is to be exactly as it is, we let go of any unnecessary tension and allow the experience to pass more quickly. We also give ourselves more space to choose how to respond.

This is the technique: Notice the fact that you are stressed and how it is showing up in your body, mind, and emotions. Take a breath to clear your mind, relax your body, and gather yourself. Suggest to yourself that this experience will not last forever, so welcome it while it is here. Allow your mind to think its thoughts, your body to feel its feelings, your emotions to move. Then, ask what is your next best action? What do you need?

Day 2: Smile Bath Meditation

 

Many people enjoy bathing as a time to de-stress and relax. Visualization can help bring you to a state of relaxation and mindfulness by focusing the mind. To enhance your feelings of relaxation in the tub, use this concept targeted to your various senses to focus your mind and heighten your bathing experience.

Sight

While in the tub, close your eyes or leave them open (whichever works for you). Visualize a water scene that is relaxing to you. Maybe sitting on a beach, floating in a pool, lounging by a lake. Imagine you are in that scene; delight in all that you see as you are transported to that place.

Hearing

What sounds bring you peace in your imagined scene? The crashing of waves, birds singing, the gentle rustle of leaves, people laughing. Call them forth as you shut out the noisiness of the day.

Smell

Your tub serves as the conduit to bring your thoughts into your present surroundings. Allow your mind to recall the pleasing smells that permeate your senses, the salty air, or maybe barbeque on the grill as you sit poolside.

Touch

As you picture your water scene, imagine the tactile sensations, the coolness or warmth of the water, the sand touching your skin, the grass beneath your feet, or the feel of the sun on your face.

Day 3 Bumblebee Breath

 

Anxiety is commonly associated with short, tight upper-chest breathing whereas relaxation, on the other hand, comes with slower breaths that originate from the diaphragm. Lengthening exhalation relative to inhalation reduces the ‘fight or flight’ impulse and maintains a healthy level of carbon dioxide in the blood, which helps you relax.

For anxiety, Bumblebee Breathe technique, also known as brahmari, Sanskrit word that means “bee, is an excellent technique. The practice is named for the humming sound that bees make. The sound is soothing for a spinning mind, and the practice lengthens the exhalation without excessive strain.

Bumblebee Breathe can be used as a regular daily practice to encourage relaxation or as an on-the-spot remedy. It works on calming the nerves and soothes them especially around the brain and forehead. The humming sound vibrations have a natural calming effect.

The longer you sustain the humming exhalation, the more relaxing the Bee Breath is likely to be—but forcing the breath beyond your capacity can have the reverse effect, causing even more stress. So don’t force yourself to maintain any particular speed. Inhale whenever necessary, and let the buzzing sound last as long as it is comfortable. Finally, spend a few breaths sitting quietly and noticing whether there are any changes in your breath or mood.

Day 4 Mood – Food Mindfulness

Ever feel down and just don’t know why? Do you know the TYPE of food you eat, and HOW you eat, directly affects your physical and emotional well-being? Research shows a clear connection between the food you eat and the gut microbiome, your inner eco system that governs your mood.

Mood – Food Mindful eating is maintaining an in-the-moment awareness of the food and drink you put into your body. It involves observing how the food makes you feel and the signals your body sends about taste, satisfaction, and fullness. Mindful eating requires you to simply acknowledge and accept rather than judge the feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations you observe. It can extend to the process of buying, preparing, and serving your food as well as consuming it.

Mood – Food Mindful eating isn’t about being perfect, always eating the right things, or never allowing yourself to eat on-the-go again. And it’s not about establishing strict rules for how many calories you can eat or which foods you have to include or avoid in your diet. Rather, it’s about focusing all your senses and being present at that moment

Eating mindfully can help you to:

  • Slow down and take a break from the hustle and bustle of your day, easing stress and anxiety.
  • Examine and change your relationship with food—helping you to notice when you turn to food for reasons other than hunger, for example.
  • Derive greater pleasure from the food you eat, as you learn to slow down and more fully appreciate your meals and snacks.
  • Make healthier choices about what you eat by focusing on how each type of food makes you feel after eating it.
  • Improve your digestion by eating slower.
  • Feel fuller sooner and by eating less food.
  • Make a greater connection to where your food comes from, how it’s produced, and the journey it’s taken to your plate.
  • Eat in a healthier, more balanced way.

Day 5 – Starfish Meditation

Starfish meditation is a way to build resilience to stress, anxiety and anger. Since all these reactions can impair not only our health but also our judgment and skills of attention. Several researchers & practitioners suggest that practicing starfish meditation is an effective way to deal with difficult feelings.

Starfish meditation technique is also known as “5-Finger Breathing”. To attain mindfulness, our first exercise focuses on the process – as you breathe in and out, you have to trace around your fingers.

Basically what you have to do is:

  • Choose a hand to be your starfish. Extend this hand, palm out, with fingers spread like a starfish.
  • Use the pointer finger from your other hand to trace the starfish as you breathe. Start at your thumb, and as you breathe in, trace up your thumb to the top. Do this carefully, so your movement matches your inhale.
  • Now, with your out breath, trace down the inside of your thumb. Again, move slowly paying attention to keeping the breath and movement together.
  • Continue breathing up and down each finger, matching your movement with your breath. As you breathe and trace, notice the sensations of movement in your body – your chest and belly moving in and out and your finger moving up and down.
  • When you come to the base of your wrist below your little finger, rest for a moment. Check in with yourself. Notice how you are feeling without overthinking or judging.
  • Try this again with your other hand.

Day 6 Jelly Arm Breath

 

Jelly Arm Breath technique is part of Kundalini yoga and is meant to move energy through the body. It is based on the concept that energy at the base of the spine (also known as the root chakra) needs to be released through the seven chakras of the body and then out through the crown chakra above the head.

This process of releasing energy from the body has the purpose of creating a system of communication between your mind and body to relieve mental, physical, and spiritual issues. This system of bringing awareness to your body by connecting with your breath is intended to facilitate being present, establishing a new rhythm, and communicating with a higher version of yourself.

It’s a method to rejuvenate after a stressful day, manage stress in the moment, and/or counteract tiredness. It also aims to help balance your energy and calm your mind so that you’re acting with purpose rather than just reacting to your thoughts and environment.

Day 7 – Alternate Nostril Breathing

 

Alternate nostril breathing is a yogic breath control practice. In Sanskrit, it’s known as nadi shodhana pranayama. This translates as “subtle energy clearing breathing technique.”

Alternate-nostril breathing doesn’t just belong to yoga, though. It’s often used in mindfulness and relaxation methods to help calm the body and the mind.

As the name suggests, alternate-nostril breathing is the focused practice of breathing through alternate nostrils, one side at a time.

How to Do Alternate-Nostril Breathing

If you want to try alternate-nostril breathing, here’s what to do:

  1. Sit quietly somewhere you don’t need to give any tasks your full attention.
  2. Bring your right hand up to your nose and move your forefinger and middle finger out of the way. Place your thumb on your right nostril.
  3. With this nostril covered, close your eyes and exhale fully and slowly through your left nostril.
  4. Once you’ve exhaled completely, release your right nostril and put your ring finger on the left nostril.
  5. Breathe in deeply and slowly from the right side. Make sure your breath is smooth and continuous.
  6. Once you’ve inhaled completely, exhale through your right nostril.
  7. Release your ring finger and close your right nostril with your thumb again. Breathe in fully and exhale fully from your left nostril.
  8. Repeat the full process two or more times.
Ivy Child TeamA Guide to Practicing Self-Care with Mindfulness
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Cultivating mindfulness in family

As a family, it can be difficult to effectively and lovingly navigate through the rough waters of relationships. With many individual relationships happening within a family unit, finding harmony and balance isn’t always a walk in the park. Whether between parent and child, child and step-sibling, or step-parent and child, mindfulness exercises for families can be of great benefit. Helping us to see clearly what is really going on when tensions run high – and when things seem rather mundane.

Cultivating mindfulness in families begins with deepening our understanding of the factors that may make harmony seemingly hard to maintain. Some of the factors that make familial relationships difficult are simply due to our being human. While, others are due to the modern day environment.

Mindful Relationships

As we cultivate mindfulness within the family unit through the use of mindfulness exercises, our relationships improve through a variety of mechanisms. By enhancing our ability to be non-judgmentally present with what is within us and within those we care for. Mindfulness brings understanding, compassion, and acceptance of family members to the surface. Mindfulness:

1. Facilitates our ability to communicate – to both listen and express our feelings and needs from a place of love rather than fear.

2. Reduces habitual reactions, encouraging us to speak and act with greater presence and consciousness.

3. Enhances our self-awareness, encouraging us to take responsibility for our own actions and behavior.

4. Helps to both honor and regulate our emotions, making communication more effective.

5. Enhances compassion and empathy, strengthening our understanding of those we love and reduces our propensity to judge.

6. Reduces our perception of difference and heightens our understanding of connection.

Mindfulness does not mean that we will avoid confrontation or misunderstandings with family members. As humans, we are bound to see things differently from time to time. Mindfulness simply enhances our ability to find common ground amidst the perceived differences.

Mindfulness Activities for Families

There are a variety of ways we can incorporate mindfulness within the family unit. The age of our children will impact the way we explore these powerful practices. Keeping this in mind, here are some simple activities you can consider:

1. Gratitude-Giving Before Dinner: Going around the table before dinner to express gratitude is a powerful practice that enhances mindfulness of the abundance we have to be grateful for. Each family member can share one thing they are thankful for with a simple word or sentence – or with a more in-depth explanation as required. This practice can also spark meaningful conversation around the dinner table. Mindfulness Activities for Kids and Families

2. Sense Exploration: Particularly applicable with young children, sense exploration encourages kids to become more aware of their surroundings. This type of practice can be used to explore food. For instance, encouraging children to tune into all five senses as they take a bite of a piece of fruit or a cracker. It can also be explored. While out in nature, inviting children to tune into their sense of smell, touch, sound, sight, and taste (each where appropriate).

3. Emotion Exploration: Exploring emotions is a powerful practice that is useful for both children and adults (and those in-between). When emotions are strong, we can invite our children (and ourselves) to explore where these feelings are present in the physical body. And what they might be saying about who we are at present. Becoming inquisitive when emotions arise is a practice that will foster healthily relationships for children. Especially, as they grow up and as their relationships become more intimate and complex.

MINDFULNESS MULTIPLIER EFFECT™

Mindfulness is a gift that you can offer yourself. By first giving the gift of Mindfulness to yourself you can then watch it spread to others. From Mindfulness with yourself, you inherently bring Mindfulness to everything you do and everyone you meet. This is the Mindful multiplier effect ™.

This ripple effect has no logical end because we’re dealing with intangible emotional & spiritual energy. The closest to the ripple being your family & loved ones. When you are mindful and positive, everything arounds you blooms and feels the energy.

SEVEN DAYS SEVEN WAYS OF Cultivating Mindfulness with Family

Day 1: Sun Breathe Mindfulness

 

Sun Breath mindfulness is a dynamic sequence that focuses on the flow of arms with the breath. The breathing pattern (inhalation-hold-exhalation-hold) guides the movement of the arms that acts as a tool to bring more awareness to the body and breath. People who are new to yoga can be introduced to this kind of breathing, which helps them make faster connections to the sensations, feelings, and emotions felt during this dynamic Sun Breaths practice.

The seated position adds to the grounding practice, whereas the act of engaging the arms adds to the energy in the body-mind connection. In this practice the conscious breathing builds energy and with the simple movement of the arms it opens the heart which can release tension in the chest region to allow free flow of breath.

Sun Breaths flow can bring very subtle yet noticeable differences in the body. Some of the benefits of this practice are:

  1. Stretches and Strengthens: Sun Breaths can be done to gently stretch and strengthen the muscles of the chest, arms and shoulders. The dynamic movement of the arms when coordinated with the breath, helps to lengthen the spine when the arms are stretched upwards, lifting the torso from the base of the spine. This when done repeatedly can also strengthen and tone the shoulders and upper arms. The conscious efforts of broadening the shoulders and chest can also help with the confidence in oneself as it signifies being strong internally and externally.
  2. Chest and Breath: Sun Breaths is a gentle heart opener and opens the muscles in the chest region. This in turn expands the lungs and encourages the practitioner to take deeper and longer breaths. The quality of the breath can make a huge difference when it comes to healing or alleviating the symptoms of psychosomatic illnesses (physical illness due to a mental factor, such as hypertension, heart disease etc).
  3. Awareness and Focus: A dynamic flow like Sun Breaths, though simple, has the ability to hold the focus of the practitioner with the integration of breath and movement. Unlike the static poses where one can lose the awareness and focus during the counts, this pose keeps the body and mind alert throughout the practice. This can act as a wonderful foundation when practiced in the beginning of a yoga class by helping the students to forget the worldly worries and woes.
  4. Relaxing and Rejuvenating: A calm mind creates a calm body. Sun Breaths helps to calm the excess nervous energy in the mind by activating the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). PNS is responsible for the “rest and digest” function of the body. It can help to gently boost energy in those who feel lethargic, dull or have depression. It can also help to reduce the anxious thoughts in the cases of anxiety, by encouraging to focus solely on the movement and breath combination. It must be noted that in chronic cases an expert medical diagnosis and treatment is necessary in order to heal.

Day 2: Setting Intentions

 

An intention is a guiding principle for how you want to be, live, and show up in the world — whether at work, in relationships, during your meditation, or in any area of your life. Ask yourself, what matters most to you? Your answer could form a powerful intention, for which you can align your thoughts and attitude for the day ahead. Having a clear intention with you at your fingertips can help guide your actions as you move through the day.

But an intention shouldn’t be confused with a goal — it’s not something you attach an expectation or evaluation to. It is something you want to align with in your life. It’s an aim, a purpose, or attitude you’d be proud to commit to.

Intentions must come from your heart; they are not the tangible “boost sales by 25%” or “get a promotion” kind of smart goals that you set at work. They are heart-driven and evoke feeling and purpose, like “practice being non-judgmental of myself and of others,” “send compassion out to the world,” “open my heart,” and “let go of fear”. Setting an intention is a way to bring your heart and mind into alignment.

Why Set Intentions?

Setting an intention at the start of a new year, on your birthday, when a new month begins, or at the beginning of your day or week can be a powerful practice because it’s the first step to embodying that which you want. Wayne Dyer said, “Our intention creates our reality.” And how many times have you heard “What you think, you become,” or “Thoughts become things”?

If you’re focusing your mind on a specific intention during a meditation, you are bringing it to your focused mind, your thoughts, your heart and in turn helping to bring it into your reality.

Here are some thought-starters to help you get started in forming an intention:

  • What matters most to you?
  • What would you like to build, create, or nurture in your life?
  • What would you like to let go of?
  • Who would you like to forgive in your life?
  • How do you feel when you are your happiest self?
  • What makes you proud?
  • What word(s) would you like to align yourself with?
  • What fears would you like to release?
  • What are you grateful for?
  • What are your wildest dreams?

Day 3 Happy Place Mindfulness

 

Happy place meditation technique focus your mind to take you to a place where you can they feel happy, calm and at peace in times of high stress or anxiety, a stress management strategy that would give some control over your thoughts in a time where you feel nothing but out of control.

Using the five senses; Sight, Sound, Touch, Smell & Taste you can envisage a time or place where you felt totally calm and at peace and can take yourself back to that place whenever you need to, in any environment, at school, home, in the car, during a test, at your work place or at a medical appointment.

How and When to Use Happy Place

Regular Daily Practice

– Set aside 5-10 minutes at a regular time in the morning or evening, or both to practice
– Practicing every day at regular times, will give you faster, easier access to your “safe place” at other times in the day.

Throughout the day

– Go to your “safe place” to calm you throughout the day: on the subway, waiting for an appointment, in the dentist chair, etc
– Find your own times and places to go to your “special place”

In stressful situations and/or emergencies

– When you find yourself starting to feel tense or anxious or in pain, close your eyes, and imagine yourself in your special place.

Day 4: Rework your surroundings

 

Being aware of what we are experiencing at a given moment, our sensations, thoughts and feelings, has been shown to enhance wellbeing.

Although our thoughts are important for productivity and it’s natural to respond to stressors by thinking about them, learning to focus on the present moment can help lighten negative thinking patterns and maintaining a level of calmness. When we focus on the present moment, we can step back from our thoughts to see their patterns. We can train ourselves to recognize when our thoughts are taking over and learn to let go of patterns that are not helpful.

Being present and taking notice should be something we do daily. Observing our surroundings and reflecting on our thoughts without getting lost in them are small ways we can be mindful. Take a look at the simple suggestions and local opportunities for ideas on how to take notice and be mindful.

Simple Suggestions to rework your surroundings

  • Try “Stop – Calm – Rest – Notice.” Stop, take 10 mindful breaths, and rest while you notice the sights, sounds, and smells around you and the feelings within you.
  • Walk around your neighbourhood and look to discover something new.
  • Take pictures with a camera or try drawing or painting what you see.
  • Write in a journal.
  • Pick a regular time each day to stop or walk and pay particular attention to your surroundings.
  • When engaging in the other “ways” to wellbeing, stop to notice how you’re connecting, being active, learning, or giving and reflect on how these activities make you feel.
  • Spend time outside and enjoy nature.
  • Try keeping a gratitude diary where you take a few minutes each day to appreciate small moments, things or people in your life.
  • Sit quietly in a busy place and notice the interactions around you.

Day 5: Let’s get Fruity

 

Fruity mindfulness is a way to practice mindfulness in order to overcome negative thoughts and feelings. The following simple exercise teaches us how eating fruit can help us to be more mindful and invites us to bring mindful awareness to activities we may already do in everyday life.

Take your time doing this mindfulness practice, noticing whatever you notice and experiencing whatever you experience. Don’t worry, it’s impossible to get this wrong!

We talk about practising mindfulness because our ability to be mindful is always developing. It is really important to remember that when we shine the torch of our awareness, we are not trying to change the detail of what the light picks up; just the direction of the beam and how broadly the torch beam spreads. We are choosing the focus of our attention and the detail of our experience that we are opening our awareness to.

Day 6: Shoot for your dreams

 

Mindfulness / Meditation is a proven method of relaxing both the mind and the body.
In order to meditate, all you need is:

  • a safe space,
  • proper breathing,
  • a mental point of focus,
  • and the ability to think of nothing else but the present moment.

Anyone can do it. Taking some time every day to quiet your mind, take a deep breath, and center yourself through a skill as old as humankind itself.

Mindfulness, brought into your daily life, can help many of life’s stresses and struggles that modern life can throw at us.

Troubles can come at use so fast that it can be very difficult to cope. It is sometimes so very easy to get swept away in a tornado of negativity. Without a daily practice to bring us back to a calm centre and clear my mind life can become very difficult. That can lead to low self esteem, depression , addiction and much more.

Mindfulness encourages you to aim for your dreams and shoot with all the positivity you have.

The process of mastering the bow is more than just getting good with a weapon. In order to achieve perfection, one must be able to focus, clear their mind, and concentrate on the simple movements involved. So when it comes to archery remember that if what you are doing is instinctive, devoid of analytical thought, and pure in intent, then you are practicing a form of meditation.

Breathing and concentration are paramount with the old stick and string. You have to keep control of your breath as it’s important not to let the arrow go when you exhale, as it could collapse your shoulders and throw off your aim.

When you shoot an arrow the whole world disappears. You think about your form, the arrow, and the target. Your vision narrows until your staring at a tiny dot on the target.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Inhale.

Day 7: Gratitude Mindfulness

 

We say “thanks” a dozen or more times a day: when someone holds a door open, bags our groceries, puts a report on our desk. It’s a reflex, an almost knee-jerk reaction to simple daily transactions. We mutter it, often without really acknowledging the person we’re thanking.

Yet as easy as it is to engage in the quotidian “thanks—no problem” exchange in our daily routines, we’re often left, in moments of larger generosity, feeling unworthy or embarrassed by what’s being offered. If you’ve ever thwarted a friend’s attempt to treat you to dinner or received a gift that you insisted was “too much,” you may be struck by that thankfulness gap.

Practicing kindness and gratitude is one of the most direct routes to happiness: Research suggests that kind people tend to be more satisfied with their relationships and with their lives in general. We all have a natural capacity for kindness, but sometimes we don’t take steps to nurture and express this capacity as much as we could.

Building your capacity for gratitude isn’t difficult. It just takes practice.

The more you can bring your attention to that which you feel grateful for, the more you’ll notice to feel grateful for! Simply expressing gratitude may have lasting effects on the brain, noting that practicing gratitude can lead to greater sensitivity to the experience of gratitude in the future.

  1. Start by observing. Notice the “thank you” you say. Just how habitual a response is it? Is it a hasty aside, an afterthought? How are you feeling when you express thanks in small transactions? Stressed, uptight, a little absent-minded? Do a quick scan of your body—are you already physically moving on to your next interaction?
  2. Pick one interaction a day. When your instinct to say “thanks” arises, stop for a moment and take note. Can you name what you feel grateful for, even beyond the gesture that’s been extended?
Ivy Child TeamCultivating mindfulness in family
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Mindfulness in Community

Although mindfulness begins as an individual practice, when mindfulness is shared among group members, a community is more likely to thrive. Individuals become aware when their personal agendas and motives might not be in alignment with collective goals. With awareness, individuals are able to challenge their own beliefs to root out attachments, defenses, and judgments. The beliefs and ideas held by individuals then reflect those in the collective consciousness, meaning the shared beliefs and social norms of the group. These shared beliefs become the guiding force in making community decisions.

When groups operate from the collective consciousness, they are better able to identify conflicts more quickly. They can then acknowledge differences more easily, and take actions that are best for themselves.

What is Mindful Community?

Mindful community building happens through the committed action of individual “builders” working as a group to create a viable organization. Here are ten ways to intentionally maintain a strong, mindful foundation of community and to create healthy community change:

  • People support what they create.
  • People act responsibly when they care.
  • Conversation is the way to bring cohesion.
  • To change a stymied conversation, change who is in it.
  • Expect leaders to come from anywhere.
  • Focus on what is working to generate energy and creativity.
  • The source of wisdom is internal.
  • Everything is a failure in the middle.
  • Humans can handle anything when in a community.
  • Generosity, forgiveness, and love are the glue of community.

Mindful Community Practices

Any of the mindful practices can be either formal or informal. A formal practice can anchor us into awareness, creating a framework for us to live in increased mindfulness. Informal practices, can occur simply by pausing – we stop whatever we are doing and turn our attention within. This may happen whenever we feel unsettled, or at any time we feel the impulse to do so. We may notice our breath, count our footfalls, take a short walk, or explore the roots of a thought to discover what might be triggering internal or external conflict.

Some examples of mindful community practices include:

1. Sedentary practices, including sitting meditation, grounding, and centering.

2. Active practices, including tai chi, yoga, and walking. A contemplative walking practice might involve walking on a fixed path such as a labyrinth, or ordinary walking outdoors.

3. Practices connected with activities of daily life, such as mindful eating and exercise

4. Creative practices, including painting, drawing, journaling, writing poetry, and creating music

5. Combined practices, incorporating several of these elements

MINDFULNESS MULTIPLIER EFFECT™

Mindfulness teaches you to stay aware of your present moment, but this practice effects more than just yourself. Presence is a gift that you can offer yourself. By first giving the gift of presence to yourself you can then watch it spread to others. From presence with yourself, you inherently bring presence to everything you do and everyone you meet.

This is Ivy Child International’s Mindfulness Multiplier Effect ™.

This process ripples out into the world beyond each interaction and each moment. It can bring more consciousness and peace to community as a whole, increasing the probability of more humans participating in an intentional and peaceful existence.

SEVEN DAYS SEVEN WAYS OF Cultivating Mindfulness in Community

DAY 1: Beach Ball Breathing

 

When we are stressed-out, sad, anxious, irritated, or angry, we typically want those feelings to just disappear. This is natural. It can be difficult to sit with uncomfortable emotions, especially when we feel like there’s no way out. We might try to drown them out with Netflix, work, exercise, or Oreos. Or maybe we try to blast out the blues with positive affirmations or pep talks in the mirror.

One way is to practice mindfulness: the practice of becoming self-aware in the present moment.

Mindfulness allows us to bring a healthy discernment into our everyday experience and identify the elements of our thought, speech, and behavior that lead to suffering and those that lead to freedom. Over time we can strengthen the causes for freedom and diminish the causes of suffering. Once we recognize the necessary conditions for happiness, mindfulness allows us to meet the experience with an embodied presence, thereby truly enjoying the unfolding of each moment

One of the best techniques to practice mindfulness is beach ball breathing technique.

  • Stand with feet firmly planted on the ground. Rub your hands together to warm them up.
  • Imagine holding a beach ball in front of your stomach, keeping your elbows close to your side.
  • Inhale deeply & move your hands slowly apart, as if the beach ball is inflating.
  • Exhale and slowly move your hands closer together, like the beach ball is losing air.

DAY 2: Letting Go Breath

 

Connecting with the breath is a tool to help prevent the nervous system from jolting into sympathetic nervous system dominance. But you can still overcome this impulse with the “letting go breath”—a quick reboot you can practice anywhere.

  • Inhale through your nose.
  • Exhale out on a sigh.
  • Repeat as often as you like.

The “letting-go breath” can be performed quietly but it can also be used to create a big sigh of tension out of the body. Notice if you inhale your arms overhead, that as you swoop your arms down and sigh, your rib cage softens.

Breathing, just like singing and chanting, is a powerful type of pranayama. Pranayama is one of ancient part of yoga that we can practice all day off the mat. We can’t change many stressors in our lives, but we can learn to control our reactions to them. The more we shift our attention to mindful breathing, the easier it becomes.

Our breathing responds and adjusts according to the thoughts we are thinking, the feelings and body signals we are sensing, and to what we are witnessing and experiencing. Breathing is intimately connected to our physical and emotional state and vice versa. In other words, when we change how we breathe, we change how we feel.

DAY 3: Wave Pause Meditation

 

For many people, movement (bouncing, running, fidgeting, skipping) is a natural state of being. Many times, when we ask someone to “pay attention,” what we are really saying is “stop moving,” but physical movement has such a positive impact on the emotional well-being of a person.

Mindful movement is a powerful tool to support mindfulness as movement, linked to decreased anxiety and improved mental health. Through movement, stress hormones are processed more quickly out of the blood stream, allowing children who are grieving and often experiencing feelings of increased stress to feel more grounded and supported.

Ivy Child’s wave pause meditation focuses on the same aspect. This is a great activity to do when you are on the move with your friends, family and community. This practice focuses on letting out your inner child and be free from all the restrictions and presumptions.

In this practice, you simulate your arms to make the shapes of waves, and synchronize your breath with movement, bounce or dance until you “Pause.”
Then you pause and take a moment to notice what you can feel in your body — perhaps movement, tingling, heat, shaking, or something else.
You can repeat it as many times as you’d like! It’s a fun way to move around, and to start cultivating a greater awareness of bodily sensations, which is a core component of mindfulness practice.

DAY 4: Body Scan Meditation

 

Body scan meditation is a meditative practice that involves mindfully scanning your body for sensations of pain, tension, or anything out of the ordinary. Developing greater awareness of bodily sensations can help you feel more connected to your physical self and gain greater insight into potential causes of unwanted feelings.

This knowledge can make it easier to address what’s wrong, leading to improved wellness in body and mind.

Why it’s worth trying

Experts have found evidence to suggest meditation can promote physical and emotional wellness in multiple ways, such as:

  • improved sleep
  • Anxiety and stress relief
  • Greater self-awareness
  • Increased self-compassion
  • Reduced pain
  • Reduced cravings

DAY 5: Mindful Listening

 

Mindful listening is a way of listening without judgment, criticism or interruption, while being aware of internal thoughts and reactions that may get in the way of people communicating with you effectively.

When you listen mindfully, you are fully present in the moment, which means you can absorb the speaker’s whole message, and he can feel heard and respected.

By being present, cultivating empathy, and listening to your own cues, you can learn to let go of reactions and other distractions that block your understanding, so that you remain open and receptive to other people’s ideas.

How to Practice Mindful Listening

  1. Being present. When you listen mindfully, your focus should be on the person you are listening to, without distractions. So, how do you do that?
    A. Simplify your surroundings: Workplaces are full of distractions like phones, computers, printers, and electronic devices. Keep your workspace tidy and mute your devices.
    B. Give yourself time: Take a minute or two to clear your mind before you meet with someone. Practice a few relaxation techniques , such as deep breathing and muscle relaxation, before the conversation.
    C. Meditate: Meditation is a way of practicing mindfulness and can be an excellent way of learning how to focus on the moment. When you empty your mind of “clutter,” you can make room for other people’s points of view.
  2. Cultivating empathy. We often see the world through the lens of our own experiences, personality and beliefs. When you’re empathic, you can understand a situation from someone else’s point of view.
  3. Listening to your own “cues.” Our cues are the thoughts, feelings and physical reactions that we have when we feel anxious or angry, and they can block out ideas and perspectives that we’re uncomfortable with. Mindful listening can help us to be more aware of our cues, and allow us to choose not to let them block communication.

DAY 6: Single-tasking Mindfulness

 

We live in a culture that loves efficiency. We’re always looking for a new and improved way to get more done in a shorter amount of time. And for a long time, our answer to this has been doing multiple things at once.

Multitasking, which really means switching from one narrow focus to another – the mind cannot hold more than one at a time in what’s called “working memory.” So interrupting one task with another can mean taking many minutes to get your original focus back to speed.

The opposite of multitasking is single-tasking, the ability to bring our focus to bear fully on just what we are doing. It comes to us naturally in those do-or-die times when a deadline forces us to focus fully. But how can we have that full concentration during the rest of our work life – or our life in general?

Mindfulness is the answer. Mindfulness gives us the capacity to notice bring an even, full attention to whatever is at hand. It gives us the power to move our concentration from place to place as we move through our day.

Focusing on only one thing can be a definite challenge. With our 5 senses constantly being bombarded, it’s tough to buckle down and develop a single pointed focus. Meditation is a practice. Keep practicing and your concentration on one thing will improve. Make a conscious effort to focus on one thing at a time

DAY 7: Walking Meditation

 

Walking meditation is more than a simple stroll in the park. It is usually done much slower than normal walks, and involves either coordination with the breathing, or specific focusing practices. It looks more like meditation than like walking.

Unlike seated meditation, when walking your eyes are open, body is standing and moving, and there is a bit more interaction with the outside world. Because the body is moving, it is easier to be mindful of the body sensations and anchored in the present moment; for this reason, many people find walking meditation easier than seated meditation.

Points to remember

Here are some things to keep in mind, regardless of the “type” of walking meditation you choose.

  • Place. It may feel a bit awkward in the beginning, so you might consider doing walking meditation first in your backyard. If you are walking outside, find a secluded place where you won’t be distracted or disturbed. Ideally, the walking path should be slightly enclosed, so there is less distraction from the scenery, and the mind can more easily go inwards. Stay away from high-traffic and heavily populated walking areas. It’s also important that you feel safe in your surroundings.
  • Length. Ideally practice for at least 15 minutes. Since there is no discomfort of seated practice or of not moving, you can naturally do it for longer periods than seated meditation.
  • Pace. Slow is better. Pace should be steady and even. If your mind is agitated, or your ability to focus is weak, walk very slowly, until you can stay in the present moment with each step.
  • Anchoring. Before you start your walking session, spend a minute or two just standing there, breathing deeply and anchoring your attention in your body.
    • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and balance your weight evenly on both feet. Take the time to feel the stability of the ground.
    • Take a few deep breaths.
    • Close your eyes and do a scan of your whole body, starting at your feet. Make note of any sensations, thoughts or feelings and take the time to explore the sensations fully.
    • Bring your awareness to your body, noticing how your body feels as you are standing, and becoming aware of all the sensations going on.
  • Re-focusing. Just as in seated meditation, whenever your mind starts to engage with thoughts (or any type of mental content), bring your attention back to your walking and your breathing.
  • Attitude. We are not going anywhere. There is nothing to achieve, except mastering our attention and presence. Simply be with the process.
Ivy Child TeamMindfulness in Community
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#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
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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
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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
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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
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Sun Breaths

Sun Breaths is a dynamic warm-up sequence that focuses on the flow of arms with the breath. The breathing pattern (inhalation-hold-exhalation-hold) guides the movement of the arms that acts as a tool to bring more awareness to the body and breath.

Ivy ChildSun Breaths
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