Welcome!

Sincerely, Thank you for visiting my blog!!

I envisioned this blog journey over 2 years ago when a friend encouraged me to share my mindfulness experience.  So just for fun, I started querying open domain names, and when I typed in mindful buddies, both the .com and .org were  available.  I had an overwhelming feeling that it was meant  be and I had to purchase it.

Then, Life happened and the ‘blog-to-be’ became less of a priority.  And, to be honest, I was also intimidated by the back-end work of the blog itself. As an educator, I teach subject areas where I have a lot of knowledge and professional experience.  As a wanna-be blogger, I have no clue what I am doing.  I have watched videos, looked at other blogs, but have come to realize, you just have to do it.

As I continue to teach workshops and courses in mindfulness, I want to create a community where participants can connect and have resources  & support to continue their journey. And welcome all other mindfulness explorers too.

So, I am finally taking that leap of faith, still feeling clueless about blogging itself, but ready to hit that publish button.

This blogging newbie welcomes any advice and feedback.

 

 

 

ISO Free Entertainment for the Kids?  Take a Hike!

You can Start your Adventure before you leave the house.

Look at a map. Plan your route. (I suggest the AllTrails app)

Research wildlife, plants, flowers you may see. (Try Plant Snapp, Leaf Snap or Flower Checker)

Up your game and Create a Scavenger Hunt.

Be sure you have proper footwear, hydration & snacks, sunscreen and protection against ticks and other insects.  A note about Snacks.  Do Not Forget them (and of course, leave no trace).  On our first day-long hike with the kids (they were about 5 and 7), we brought water and lunch, but left the bag of snacks in the car. I’ll spare you the details, just learn from our mistake.  Do Not Forget Snacks!!

On the Trail.

Listen. Spot Wildlife. You will be Amazed by your entertained and Quiet! kiddos. On a recent hike, we were still and silent for a good 5, maybe 10 minutes.  Why?  We were watching and taking pics of this squirrel eating a nut, lol. Yup, that’s all it took.

My kids love hiking Maine in July. Thanks to endless Blueberry bushes on every trail.  Such a treat on hot days! If hiking in areas with edible plants, do your research. Do not eat anything that you are not 100% sure on.

Rocks, roots and boulders, oh my!

Hiking helps kids slow down without even realizing it since they need to be mindful of where they step.  Create adventures around the “treacherous” terrain. When my kids were young, this entertained them for hours.  They made up their own characters and stories, most of the time involving “hot lava” of some kind as we walked the trails.

Have a budding photographer?  Bring along an old (or new) camera or phone (for pics only)  to allow kids to explore their creative, artsy side.   This is how my daughter enjoys her time in nature, capturing its beauty.  My son, he is the trailblazer; a Boy Scout with the map & compass.

So, grab your map, your repellent, maybe your camera and definitely your snacks, and hit the trails!!

 

 

 

Simon Says, “Belly Breathe like Elmo.”

First time.  Teaching 5-8 year olds and their moms, and I am truly inspired by their willingness and fun-loving spirit.  Some bringing enthusiasm from the start and others, somewhat timid or anxious, too shy to introduce themselves.  By the end of our time together, everyone raised their hand to volunteer a turn as Simon in our mindful listening game of Simon Says.

Seems like ages since my kids were between 5 and 8 years.  I teach mindfulness almost on a daily basis during the academic year, and the students are considerably older.   So, it was a bit daunting, at first to create a brand-new lesson.  Usually, I can adapt parts of one workshop to serve another cohort of students.

For these kids.

I needed to start from scratch.

and think, F-U-N!!

And F-U-N, it was!

FUN.  to go down memory lane when my kids were younger.

FUN.  to pull together some old resources and find new ones.

and a BLAST to teach mindfulness to this group of engaged and joyous kids so eager to learn and play.

BONUS! having my 11-year-old son by my side as my teaching assistant to help set up and share his insight and wisdom with the group. After the workshop, he and I brainstormed ways to infuse even more FUN into other workshops.

 

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Walking Meditation_kids’ style

I have had many wonderful experiences with walking meditation: alone at retreats, in nature, with my sangha (meditation group), to name a few.  Two of my most memorable have been walking with Thich Nhat Hanh & monks from the monasteries. Several years ago, I walked with him surrounded by young children at Blue Cliff Monastery as thunderstorms rumbled in the distance and recently, during a Day of Mindfulness, with monks and other practitioners as part of https://pathofhappiness.org/

Now, my 3rd most memorable mindful walk occurred many years ago on a rainy day with my then young children. Memorable, but not. at.  all.  in the same way…haha.

Here is an excerpt from that original journal entry:

Today, I introduced my kids to walking meditation…who knew it could be so complicated?

First, how we would line up?  Who knew this could be an issue?

Since both wished to go first,  we eventually chose my  7-year-old son to lead us.  We were in a small room as it was raining outdoors. Walking too fast, walking into each other…lots of giggles.  Which is good.  When I would try to guide them or slow it down, the result was push back, “Why do we have to do this?”

So, I decided to use visualization to slow the pace down and focus. 

“Let’s pretend we are in a foot of snow as we carefully place our footstep.” I created the scenario of being playing in the snow after a blizzard and guiding through a kid-friendly walk to an imaginary winter wonderland destination.

That worked, Success!   We were slowly and mindfully walking and everyone was happy.

Next, I let them choose a scenario.  They chose- “Hot Sand.”   Yup.  Hot. Sand.

Well…do I even need to share the quick downward spiral that occurred. As the pace picked up, we first started with giggles, ok, that’s positive.  Then, the running started. Into each other as often as possible.  I lost them. Totally lost them. As they ran around pushing each other.

We went from Calm to Chaos within 10 minutes.

This is a Learning Experience, still evolving.

Below are some of my improvements to this activity.

Process:

  1. Ask the kids to think of an ooey, gooey, sticky material that would be hard to walk through, yet lots of fun. (You want them to go slow)
  2. Once they pick their gooey stuff, we then create the scene. This can be done as a group or allow time for students to visualize their personal mission.
  3. Pick a physical focal point in the room or visualize a “Destination” to walk to.
  4. Walk mindfully and slowly through the “goo” to that focal point or

Frame it as a “mission” where we walk 5 steps to the Destination and then 5 steps returning back to home base.  You can pick the number of steps that works best for your child or situation.

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Student Reflections

Kicking off this section with student reflections.

In all of my courses, we start the class period with a Mindful Minute. It is a short period of time to transition from the hustle-and-bustle from another class, an exam, work or just finding a parking spot.  During this minute, I teach and guide them through a mindfulness exercise, sometimes we will pick from a deck of mindful cards that have a short activity.  Just a moment to sit, breathe and clear & calm our minds.

For those who want to explore more mindfulness, they can enroll in a 10-week course. These videos are student reflections after completion of this course.

A huge shout out to  Dotte Brown Jr., Samantha Chubenko, Amresse Farrow and Andrew Luther for taking the time to film these clips and allowing me to share their thoughts with all of you.

***If you are prompted to enter a password, please enter “mindfulbuddies” for either video below.***

Click the link below to view a 2-minute student reflection on how  mindfulness helps them in everyday life.

https://vimeo.com/270894412

Click the link below to view a 1:32 minute student reflection on how  mindfulness helps them with their academics.

https://vimeo.com/270894753?utm_source=email&utm_medium=vimeo-cliptranscode-201504&utm_campaign=29220

3 steps to Start your Mindfulness Practice

If you are just starting a mindfulness practice or looking to sustain or rebuild one,

there are so many wonderful practices and nowadays so many resources to help you on your journey, but…where to start?

I am sharing my 3-prong approach (in no particular order): 

support of a group, education, personal practice  (small nuggets, explained below)                                        

  1. My first gateway was through group experience (t’ai chi and yoga classes).     I learned the physical form from teachers and fellow yogis while having their emotional support and guidance.  Today, my group involvement comes in many forms with Kundalini yoga classes, meditation & spiritual discussion groups. I belong to three different groups which meet on a weekly and some on a bi-weekly basis.  The experiences and friendships formed in these groups have been so important to me.  I suggest finding similar meetups in your area.  How? I found two of them through yoga studios and the other through meetup.com.

And, my hope is that this blog will create a community to support you.

2.  Find a teacher that speaks to you.  As I practiced more in a group, I wanted to learn more about the different practices, teachings and philosophies. I have read,

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“POP!” go the ugly thought bubbles

I had just returned from a five-day training when I heard the shrill, the scream from Sage’s room.

She had found her partly decomposed dead fish. My heart broke and I knew instantly, an epic mom fail needed to be salvaged.

My fail?

Yup. While I was away, my husband texted about the fish. I checked my phone during breaks, meals and bedtime and this one came in on an intense day and slipped my mind.  I figured he was on it, and then it also slipped his mind as he prepared to take our son on his first overnight Scout camp. So maybe  a parent fail,

but either way, I now needed to fix it.

Back to the screaming and crying child,

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No more Morning Mayhem! OK…well, less of it.

I am NOT a morning person and I do not drink coffee or caffeine. (gasp!)

Always go to bed later than I planned.  And the alarm always goes off too soon.

Once I accept, I must indeed “Get Up!” ,  my mind naturally switches to               “Go” mode:  Wake up kids. Make Breakfast. Make lunches. What’s the weather? What we they wear? What will I wear? and so on.

How I respond to these thoughts sets the tone for the day.

Take this one morning (several years ago at this point) that we were behind schedule from the start and I then noticed that one child’s hair needed a wash.  I arrived home from work after the kids were in bed . Hubby on nighttime shower duty. The one time he forgets to check and our child is going straight from school to a sleepover.

With the pressure of the bus arrival, I react, forgetting to take a deep breath and go from “0 to 60” quickly. First, I feel the need to yell my frustrations.  After a minute of being lunatic mom, I catch myself and engage the power of  mindfulness.  I take a few Deep Breaths and shift into an extra gentle voice, work with my husband as a team to calmly help her get showered and everyone out the door, believe it or not, a few minutes early?!

All thanks to the transformative powers of mindfulness.

Yup. There are  simple solutions to lessen the stress of morning prep, like just get up earlier or prep the night before. I’m usually too exhausted and decide to wait ’til tomorrow.   This sets me up with a higher probability of waking in a “reactive” mode.  To reduce this probability and not repeat the story above, give my simple routine below a try.

3 minutes.  Hear me  out!

I have found 3 minutes is  my absolute minimum to really clear my head of any baggage from the day/night before. It also allows me to set an intention for the day.

Getting Started.

 Meditation does not need to be sitting cross-legged and formally meditating.

Some mornings, I’m just not ready when the alarm goes off to get up or formally practice yet.  Sometimes, I just lie in bed and slowly bring myself to the present moment to focus and wake myself up.

Sample Outline for your 3 minutes

Here is a  5-minute sample recording of the below steps. 

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