School Days….

It’s almost that time of year – back to the books, back into the classroom (I happen to love the start – and end! – of school!)   Here’s a great resource for students (and teachers) about going into the classroom, mindfully….

Mindfulness-MindMap

 

Click here for the resource > mindfulness x students  (from stressedteens.com)

What’s in your Tool Box?

Today I told some of my students about their personal toolboxes. It was an idea I was tossing around (for clients) and thought I’d “experiment” a bit with some high school teens. After the initial “what the heck are YOU talking about NOW?” they started to listen and pay some attention when it came to topics such as :fights with friends, boy/girl friends, parent relationships, getting good grades, etc. All ears were pretty perked up when some of their “favorites” were mentioned.

The “tool kit” I mentioned, is something you already possess. It’s not something you need to go and buy or collect, it’s there. It’s been there since you arrived here. The tool kit is a collection of tools, resources, within your own self that can help fix any problem. A lot of kids, and even adults, don’t believe that such a thing exists. But once you open your mind to understand that this “kit” is within you and DOES exist, it’s easy to start working with the tools. It’s as if you could skip the woodshop and tech class and get right to work with all of the tools you actually possess. Once you’re open to the idea and have made your discovery, the tool kit almost looks like a treasure chest! It glimmers. You go deeper, find more tools, and even more. You’re able to gather together the things you need to “repair” you. You can’t share these tools, their solely yours. You can encourage others to find theirs, however.

Some teens are willing to step back and open up as to what the tool box is and how it can help them. While others need some time to let it sink in. But what does it all come down to? What is there to “fix?”

Any time an emotional dilemma arises, stress, fear, anxiety, guilt, shame – dig into the tool kit! Feel where it hurts or where there is pain. Locate it, and work on it. Meditate, breathe through it. Question the thoughts that are bothering you. Are they JUST thoughts and you’re believing them? Where do they come from? Why are they there? Did you allow them to arrive AND believe them?

Many times we are so conditioned to feel and think a certain way that thinking and believing our thinking is just what we do. But, take a step back, question that thought and fix it – you have the tools to do it. Do you HAVE to believe all the thoughts that arrive? No, you don’t. You can question them and find some of them to be quite funny, and not at all stressful.

Make some time to find YOUR tool box and discover the amazing tools you possess.

(Much of this work comes from “The Work” of Byron Katie – an amazing coach, teacher and author. For more info go to thework.com)

Grateful Symbols

The word alone, Grateful, is beautiful. I make myself aware, every day, of at least 3 or 4 things of which I’m grateful. I have a gratitude journal , and on my phone, I even had a Gratitude app 🙂   It’s not a new idea, and there are lots of authors and creative types who have directed us to be aware of being more grateful, every day.

Today, after purchasing some groceries, the 16-year old cashier thanked me then carried on a conversation with her buddy at the next register. I could tell there was a certain “odd air” about the store, and it had nothing to do with the rainy day syndrome. The store was closing and soon a lot of “new hires,” would, once again, have to go job hunting for yet another “first job.” However, the girl who rung up my groceries started to talk to her friend, also a teenager, and said, “you know, I’m nice to sales people now, I see what they have to put up with. I’m pretty lucky to have had this job. No, I’m VERY lucky I had this job.”

I didn’t say anything, but I left her with a smile. I was grateful for her words and her wisdom. At 16, this young woman realizes and appreciates the art of work. All too often we take work for granted. “I HAVE TO work,” but so few say, “I LOVE my job.” or “I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here.”

Maybe the words “work” and “job” give off a sour note, for those who don’t enjoy what they do. I know, for me, “work,” is an enjoyable word. I don’t even hear the word, I see it as a symbol. A school. Kids. Adults. Teaching… All ideas, symbols, things I enjoy.

Try thinking in symbols, instead of words. What ideas come to mind? Maybe symbols and pictures leave a better taste about the work you do?

You don’t like your boss? You can’t stand your co-workers? Hours are too long? Your desk is full of paperwork? (I am guilty of the later!)… Be grateful. Haven’t you learned what you like and you don’t like?  Can you define what you DO want more so now? What symbols come to mind with those concepts? Be grateful for learning more about yourself, from work, from others.

Like I said, every day I write down what I’m grateful for. I never repeat things, ever. At times, I draw things I’m grateful for, just because they give me such a better definition.

Try it out – just for a week… Keep a list of 3 to 5 things for which you are grateful. Words , symbols , pictures – whatever works best for you. Don’t repeat items at any time. After a week, look at your lists , breathe , and smile.

ps- don’t forget to listen and be aware… And maybe you too will soon be inspired by someone else, a stranger or a friend, a little “reminder angel” of just what gratitude is all about.

 

 

Fairies, Tales and Noses

As a teacher I often, unknowingly, add a bit of “therapy” into my lessons. Working with teenagers can be a challenge, but, it can also be very rewarding, and a great learning opportunity too.

I was sort of  “forced” to revisit the tale of Pinocchio this week with my students. Carlo Collodi, the author of the original “Pinocchio,” knew in 1881 about the “tales” coming from the mouthes of babes. His story is well versed by almost every child today. When asked “what’s Pinocchio about?,” students will usually says “long noses and lies.” Yes, they know the basic concept and revisiting their (not so long-ago childhood) isn’t something they seem to enjoy too much either.

“Why would Pinocchio fall for that?,” they ask as they watch him dig into the groud to plant gold coins. “That’s absurd! Who would fall for that?” they continue. So, I stop the DVD and ask “Were you 5 yrs old once? Would YOU have ‘fallen’ for that joke from the cat and the fox?” They stop and quickly scan back 10 or so years, “oh, yeah, I see.”

And they do see, but how quickly we forget! Is it not fun to watch a childhood film when you’re 15 or 16? My years of experience have shown that answer is a “no, it’s not so fun.” But why? Answers?:

“We’re not babies any more.” – “That’s so old!” – “We GET it already!” – “This is so boring.” etc…. And yes, while some of that may just be true for a teenager, I ask them to take it a step further, then answer this: “If this were true (blue fairies, talking puppets, etc.)  wouldn’t it be a fun place to live?”  I usually get boughts of silence or an occassional “ok, she’s gone over the edge now!” remark. But I remind them that at 4, 5, even 6 yrs of age, they did live in the fairy tale world and it was wonderful. The fairies were beautiful and the puppets were friends. Talking animals and bugs were fantastic! (the cricket is my favorite in Collodi’s tale – I equate him to a sort of Buddha-Jedi Master!)

It’s a world we all were familiar with – at one time. We let that go as we allow ourselves to believe our thoughts, fed to us by others, and hence, let go of our fairy tale world. It doesn’t mean that world can’t be revisited. Maybe you remember fewer fairies and more butterflies. Maybe the childhood world you recall was full of playmates and friends, animals and waterfalls. But know that , at one point, this happy place did exist and we just allowed ourselves to forget it and leave it behind.

If you take this literally, good. If not, allow yourself to find a quiet time each day and meditate on this idea. Some Reiki Masters and therapists call it “Inner Child” work – it is, and it’s not.  This work, this type of meditating will bring you to your happiest childhood moments and surroundings. It may take some time, and you may not get there immediately but don’t give up. Work on meditating for just a few minutes if you’re new to this, then, gradually, extend the amount of time. Write down some of the memories that come to you after you’re done meditating. If you still find it difficult to locate your land of fairies, think of a favorite color or simple object as you meditate. 

Enjoy and allow the flow of visions to move through you.