The Blossoming After the Bullying (reposted from Garrison Institute)

The Blossoming After the Bullying (reposted from Garrison Institute)

...a few months back, something was different. Max showed up not with his classic jittery anxious energy, but with a heavier weight on him, something like shame. It turned out, as his mother explained, his once-best friend at school had turned on him...

Read on for how a simple breathing technique helped this boy...

7 tips for Election Equanimity: Surviving Tonight’s Political Smackdown

This year’s presidential election has devolved into something that feels disturbingly like a pro-wrestling match. 

While we may feel powerless to affect the outcome of the election (beyond our vote), we can empower ourselves to affect our reaction to it, in turn helping those around us. Tip O’Neill once said, “All politics is local.” Mahatma Ghandi urged, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” These two men could hardly be more different, but consider the commonality – their belief that change starts here, with us. And while few of us will escape 2016’s presidential slugfest with total equanimity, here are seven mind-body trainings that offer us a fighting chance.

Read on for the seven trainings:

How Kids Can Learn About Mindfulness in Fun, Easy Ways

When we think about the crazy idea of teaching kids mindfulness, it can help to think about how do we teach kids anything? And the answer is simple—make it easy, make it short, and most of all, make it fun. But getting kids to sit or stand still? How is that fun?

Lev Vygotsky, noted child development researcher, once did a little experiment trying to see how long he could get a group of eight-year-olds to stand still. The result was about as effective as anyone else trying such a feat. But then he decided to suggest they stand still imagining that they were guards at a factory, with the result that the kids were standing still almost four times as long as the simple instructions he’d given them earlier. What can we learn about teaching, and about teaching stillness?

Read on for more about using fun to teach mindfulness.

How My Son Taught Me to Live in the Moment

A few months before my first son was born, I went to check in with my meditation teacher. How am I going to keep practicing mindfulness after he’s born? What do people do?

“Forget the cushion,” she laughed. “Just focus on mindfulness in your daily life and on living your values to be present for your son.”

And it’s true. Since my son was born, it’s almost impossible to be truly in the present moment, when part of my heart and mind are always with him. And focusing on my values has been a rich and rewarding experience.

Read on for more about my experience living in the moment with my son.

10 Ways to Teach Mindfulness to Your Kids Without Even Trying

Mindfulness with kids doesn’t have to mean 20 minutes of quietly sitting on a meditation cushion. In my time as a teacher, therapist, and parent, I’ve seen hundreds of kids of all ages and backgrounds practice mindfulness, and each kid’s mindfulness practice looks as different as the kids themselves.

For 7-year-old Jackie, who struggles with ADHD and divorcing parents, it means playing with stuffed animals on the floor until either she or I ring a bell, and then we both take three mindful breaths. With Alexa, a curly-haired teen who struggles with food, mindfulness means tuning into her body’s signals, so she can respond to what her body, not her emotions, tells her she needs to eat. For burly Jared, an athlete who fears panicking on the lacrosse field, it means doing a quick body scan during a game and bringing his awareness to the soles of his feet when he senses his anxiety rising.

Read for more ways to teach mindfulness to your kids without even trying.

Help your child combat the homesick blues during sleep-away camp

Like that first day of kindergarten, it can be hard to know whom sleep-away camp drop off is most difficult for — us parents, or our quivering offspring, suddenly thrust into independence and all that comes with it. And these days, the disconnection is even more abrupt. Our phones allow us stay in touch during the regular school year, making even a few hours without contact tough. When I was young, it wasn’t unusual to spend a day without seeing or talking to my parents, and if a parent was away, we had to settle for a long-distance phone call every few days. These days we are blessed (or cursed) with the ability to keep in almost constant contact.

At camp, traditions die hard, and the connections to home — physical and digital — are meant to be severed, if temporarily. That digital umbilical cord known as a cellphone is suddenly and unceremoniously cut, leaving kids feeling homesick, and more often than not leaving us a bit kid-sick. Research shows  that homesick kids fall into two groups. Eighty percent of kids have a constant low-level homesickness, while the remaining 20 percent start with high levels that then increase. Even for those children, though, the pangs appear to get better a few days before pickup.

Read on for tips to make separation easier for kids and parents.

How to Create a Glitter Jar for Kids

Children, especially struggling ones, tend to act out their difficulties rather than share them in words. We adults are often only marginally better. When words are unavailable, it helps to find other ways to demonstrate the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

A snow globe or glitter jar is one of the most powerful visual metaphors for that connection; it illustrates how mindfulness—the cultivation of stillness in the face of swirling chaos of life—affects us. In this practice, you can actually make a glitter jar. At first I used to do this practice only with young kids, but I’ve since found that even teens enjoy it.

Read on for directions on making your own glitter jar.