“So what is the one action from today’s discussion you will put into practice,“ I asked a group of parents toward the end of a discussion at The Village School in Houston.
I was there as part of an initiative with their Middle School where the Yoginos: Yoga for Youth® (YYY) program MOSST (Mindful and OHMazing® Strategies for Students and Teachers) is being integrated into classrooms and administration. One of the commitments of the program is to develop a common language among the community of students, teachers, administrators and families. For example, and similar to how we support children learning how to read, a teacher facilitates a mindful exercise, like Flower Power, first in a group setting and then encourages students to practice individually. Then we want parents to know these tools so they can follow up beyond the school day.
When I posed the aforementioned question to the parents—what is the one action from today’s discussion you will put into practice—and after they shared with a possible accountability partner, these are the 3 empowering take-aways from our discussion: exhale slowly, create mindful moments, connect with others. (If you are a learner who prefers to listen or watch rather than read, check out the live video on our FB page.)
I often half-joke with people, especially during our YYY Yoga Teacher Trainings, that we would do well to say “exhale slowly” instead of “take a deep breath.” Now don’t get me wrong; I do want everyone breathing! Annnnnnd consider that breathing in is energizing or fiery while breathing out is calming or cooling to the nervous system. So next time you or someone you know is agitated, frustrated or not feeling their best, consider offering the action, “exhale slowly.”
Create Mindful Moments
While I am a big fan of meditating for 10-30 minutes every day, I also get that time-span can seem like a lifetime for newbies and when we are already on-the-go in our day. Many of the mindfulness strategies I shared with the parents are ones they can do anytime, any place, including Flower Power breath, hand-hat, counting breath, engaging marma points, and more (for more information on these check out our online resource site, The OHMazing Way). “I had no idea how easy it could be to drop in,” one parent exclaimed with nodding heads bobbing around the room.
Connect with Others
Unlocking my car to head back to the office I heard a parent call my name. Turning around I was greeted with a huge smile. With visible joy, this mom thanked me for “leading the discussion as a… well…. discussion… where people came to feel safe revealing personal stories” to which I weaved in offerings about theories and practices that could make a difference. The participant continued to share that she and another mom who had never spoken before were now exchanging numbers, planning to meet for coffee, and support one another as they managed depression. “This all happened because she felt safe to say she experienced depression. You created that,” the parent said and hugged me.
It’s true: I may have intentionally tried to create a safe space annnnnnd they showed up. They did the work. And now they are practicing mindful actions.
What possibilities will you take today to practice mindfulness?