Have you ever heard the expression Bell of Mindfulness? Although this writer didn’t invent the expression, he recognizes it in his common language with regularity.
Many moons ago, my first inspiration of this meditative expression arrived when reading, At Hell’s Gate: A Soldier’s Journey From War to Peace, by an American Zen Buddhist Monk and Vietnam veteran named Claude Anshin Thomas.
Whatever your trauma, if you are a survivor and have put in the work, you know the journey from suffering to inner peace.
But when you work with that, it isn’t without its moments of struggling.
And if you are doing the work, you already know these journeys are not always linear and sometimes intersect and coexist with each other seemingly simultaneously.
Of course there is a tension of opposites, like when we were kids playing on the teeter totter.
Heaven and hell are inner states of consciousness that reflect back to us in the outer world.
Shamans called the current state of affairs a collective nightmare that we see playing out on the fiery Planet today.
Prophesies of a Golden Age are a co-creative New Dream. Remember that out of the ashes, the Phoenix Rises!
Truly, we all have what Taoists call the Chattering Monkey Mind, and this anxious mind can dominate our lives if we let it.
For example, chasing, clinging or indulging in darker thoughts (or any thoughts) are part of being human. It’s how we approach them that really matters.
Do we respond with mindful consultation with our Higher Self or do we react to the provocations of our lower self?
Do we resist and fight our shadowy thoughts or do we gently let them pass till an awakening of clearer thoughts emerge? We all have emotions and feelings that tend to accompany our thoughts. It is wise to take personal inventory of them through the light of loving compassion.
A New Moon in Virgo will happen on August 27, 2022. Feeling safe is connected to order, clarity and emotions right now. Perhaps there is a need to organize everything chaotic and disorganized.
Working Virgo energies in the positive tempers the self-critic with self-acceptance and finds self-expression of its soul purpose through service. In this way, you are more likely to take care of others if you are taking care of yourself. The inner critic is leveled by an internal state of acceptance. The situations are what they are. We might as well say yes to them on the inside, instead of meeting them with resistance (what we resists, persists!). From there, we can take corrective action if necessary.
Inner peace is a practical replacement for going to war with yourself (or others). It’s easier to replace with inner peace than it is to extinguish going to war. More inner peace replaces the likelihood of going to war.
Virgo stands on mutable ground to teach us that it is healthy to give consideration to being more tolerant and accepting about life’s imperfections. It is better to trust life and let it run its own way. Not everything must be according to our expectations or controlled. The Japanese spiritual tradition of Wabi Sabi reflects this way of being. Beauty exists in taking risks and making mistakes. It’s very Growth Mindset.
In many ways, we live in a Virgo world. It’s easy to get caught up in the do’s and don’t and should and should nots and consumed by fixing problems and perfectionism in the material realm. Chaos is especially hard on Virgo. But there is order in chaos and disorder is part of balance. Movement into the New Aquarian Age awakens possibilities that might be hidden or unseen to the predictable mindset or preoccupation with the headlines.
Energetically, Autumn is a good time of year to practice letting go. Tis a good mantra to Fall back on, if you’ll pardon the pun.
September’s Full Harvest Moon will peak on September 10, 2022. This Full Moon always happens closest to the Autumn Equinox on Thursday, September 22nd.
In Ojibwe, the Full Moon during this time of year is called the Falling Leaves Moon. Watch the leaves falling and observe their process of changing colors. Seasons change no matter what we are doing or not doing.
Furthermore, feminine and masculine energies are equal around the Fall Equinox. Meditation on balance of the yin and yang is in perfect equitable alignment with Nature at this time. Give this special consideration when you see people struggling with their identity issues, like sexuality and gender identifications. Appreciate the confusing times we are living in with open hearts and minds. In much the same way as race, disabilities, religion and ancestry, these are key Civil Rights issues to be mindful of in the here and now.
Reflections on the Harvest Moon, invites looking back at when our ancestors farmed the land before artificial light existed.
Back then, their work day depended on the natural cycles of the sun and the moon. They were more active and slept less during warmer weather and brighter days. Conversely, they were less active and slept more during shorter days, colder temperatures and darker nights.
This is the only Full Moon that rises at nearly the same time for multiple days, giving farmers several evenings of extra moonlight to finish their harvests before the arrival of fall frosts. Abundance is in the sky and on the ground. The harvest is in and yields its bounty.
Today, it is wise to pay attention and return to these natural rhythms and cycles. There is a time to do and a time to rest. Meaningful work is good for the soul. So is play.
As I sit here writing this post, this writer took a moment to hit the pause button to reflect on a meaningful, mundane transaction on today’s to do list. Specifically, I shuttled our teenager off to their final early morning summer cross training workout.
It’s not cool to call things like that day camp or playdates anymore (all too tempting). And you don’t call it practice, it’s now called training.
To wit: it’s hard not to hear George Carlin’s spirited questionable assertion, was it ever cool to call getting together with peers or friends playdates?
A vocational internship, community service hours, college tours, soccer season and the beginning of a new school year are all happening and on our household’s horizon. With a kid in school and dad who works in them, that’s what’s up. It’s a process many parents and caregivers have experienced before.
As parents, we’re trying to be mindful of our approach, because like any responsibility, it’s easy to fall prey to the doing, become robotic, and lose sight of the sacred moments along the way. That can happen in all aspects of life, if you’re not careful.
Speaking of transitions, the one constant is change along the trails of life. Are you noticing the subtle hints of Autumn are in the early August air?
These sense experiences mix alchemically with the microscopic, minority radiance of vibrant hues of leaves turning, whilst offering an early prequel to a backdrop to Nature’s theater. May we bear witness to everything old beginning anew again.
It won’t be long till the Equinoxes are here in later September, where light and dark are equal again, and peak foliage colors the tree lines again, if only for a brief moment in time. Ah, the yin and the yang at play!
Looking ahead, our days will get shorter until the darkest day of the year on the Winter Solstice in December. However, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, Spring is springing, and it will be the Vernal Equinox at that time. Those days will get longer until sunlight peaks on their Summer Solstice.
For the rest of us in the living moment, a Full Moon is waxing and will fully reveal itself in the second week of August. Historically, Full Moons go by different names. One of the traditional names, as indicated by many of our ancestors, is the Full Sturgeon Moon.
These mighty freshwater fish still thrive in the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain regions in the Middle of the Americas. Like turtles, sturgeons have been around at least as long as when dinosaurs roamed Mother Earth.
In much the same way as everyone else, these fish are at risk in today’s changing tides. And yet, these living fossils are still around. Moreover, sturgeons reflect the power of survivors, and as such, are symbolic of resiliency. Like the murky waters these fish stir up, we need to swim through them with resiliency in our tackle box, if you’ll pardon the pun.
But what is this resiliency we speak of? After nearly two decades of social work practice in Public Schools, it is a dream come true to see that we are paying more attention to building resiliency in school community settings.
It’s no secret that we humans come into this Earthbound experience with our own unique, prewired blueprints. While our core temperaments don’t change, our personalities are an evolving process over our life cycle.
Resiliency is something that we are equipped with, and have an aptitude for- some more than others. But we can all build resiliency, which has a positive ripple effect on each other.
Systemically, one way we can all develop our capacity for resiliency is to create and follow a self care routine. I’m a big fan of the Keep It Simple Sweetheart (KISS) model.
Like any healthy self-care routine, building resiliency starts with yourself and invites an intention and commitment to a daily routine of mindful attention.
For example, teaching more meditation, mindfulness and social emotional learning (SEL) as part of the school curriculum supports resiliency and facilitates the challenging process of learning how to be human.
Strategies like focusing on peaceful, calming thoughts, positive self talk, mindful belly breathing, relaxing our judgments and learning to be gentle on ourselves are healthy ways to build an internal state of resiliency and harmonize with our environment. Of course drinking mostly water, emphasizing consumption of plants and being more meat minimalist doesn’t hurt.
Remember that saying yes to self care means that you are saying yes to your own mental health and well being. The rising tide of Inner Peace awakening increases as the more of us become living role models of these behavioral changes. Further, the more we make waves in this dimensional shift, we will collectively see ourselves becoming the change we want to see in the world.
Here is a practical self care/SEL demonstration below in the form of the The Mirror of the Mind meditation. Regular practice of this powerful strategy will support sound mental health and well being in your daily life:
Thanksgiving gives us time to pause and reflect on the spirit of the season, count our blessings, and meditate on gratitude. As a fellow human, I feel especially thankful for our home, Mother Earth. At times, I have taken Her for granted and I am sorry for it. If it wasn’t for Her presence in our lives, none of us would be here. And if I hadn’t been given the gift of Her presence in my life, my experience here would have been very different, and not as enriching to say the least.
Contemplation on how my life would be different in Earth’s absence yields a plentiful harvest of gain in my appreciation for Her bounty. It also deepens my feelings of gratitude for this lifetime living on this planet. As spiritual beings having human experiences, we are expanding souls so it is natural to desire abundance in its variety of forms. But we miss the boat when we forget to acknowledge our blessings and gratitude for what is.
How might your life be different if Earth had never entered into your lives, or had certain people, places or things not entered into your experiences?
I’ll admit it, I have my moments of heaviness at times. Even though I have been looked upon as a brother from another planet, like the rest of you, I have my fears and worries. It’s so easy to time travel to the past or back to the future, and get lost in those projections. How does one not get stuck in the intersections between the voices of trauma, resentful bitterness, rose colored glasses or nostalgia? Our suffering is in the clinging for one state over another. We wish this misery would be over or this happiness would never end.
Thanksgiving is no exception, as it is a holiday that serves up a feast of mixed messages and conflictual emotional memories. Personally, Thanksgiving is my favorite mainstream holiday. But I don’t deify or demonize the Pilgrims or minimize, gloss over the genocide of Indigenous people, ignore the existence of this land before the current occupation, nor the slavery that existed then or the other forms of oppression that exist today. An authentic look at this holiday and still feeling gratitude for its totality is a lot to digest, and get be both bitter and sweet to the taste, depending on your attitude.
Admittedly, I welcome the relatively less emphasized market driven consumerism of Thanksgiving – at least compared to some others. Specifically, I’m learning to tame my own gluttony at the annual feast without defiance. Every year I walk away from the table pleasantly full even after eating less than the year before. It has taken me a long time to realize that softening the will is not about going hungry or selling out. Thankfully, I’m turning a corner on that front.
Beyond its polarities, Thanksgiving is about the intrinsic spiritual alchemy of being mindful of having an attitude of gratitude for what is and the gift of presence. When we are in this place, we win on the inside and everyone one around us is impacted in a positive light. And yet, this real realm of personal discovery is not without a new world of anxiety because anxiety is a fact of life. When I think of Thanksgiving and Turkey, I think about the spirit of shared blessings that feathers a ripple effect of reciprocity.
In my own experiences with anxiety, I would be lying if I denied that they sometimes ruffle my feathers. These days, my own OCD experiences have evolved (or devolved depending on your perspective ) into being mindful of my breath, and cracking puns – sometimes at oft color times of heightened nervous woodland creature energy. In fact, the puns fall quite autumnatically like acorns during this time of year or rise like the tides on Full Moons especially. Like most people, it’s pretty impossible to not find myself preoccupied with much ado about nothing, if only fleetingly, in the theatre of life. The trick is to not hang out too long in that space or chase thoughts with overly indulgent reactions.
For certain, you could charge me with being guilty of a coyote like subtle (or not so subtle) wry grin on my face, even when I should mirror a more serious affect or otherwise apropos facial expression to match the situation at hand. It’s hard not to be provocative when you are naturally wired for having a propensity for the theatrics or know when to say when during the interplay between wisdom and folly. Tricks that were once treats no longer work anymore. Some call it growing up, while others say they’re younger than that now. Awakening is a process, as is supporting the awakening of others.
Truth is, it isn’t always easy to differentiate between where con artistry begins and true wizardry ends – whether it’s working with adolescent girls or my own observational self-examination. But that’s OK, communication with Blue Jay reveals a general sense of acceptance and non-judgement in this area of personal growth. Besides, the royal road to authenticity is paved with fool’s gold in footsteps that have a tendency to fake it till you make it. Walking the line isn’t about being perfect. It’s about floundering, making mistakes and failure. These are elements of Growth Mindset. Nature is such a powerful teacher. That’s why psychologists agree that the best laboratory is the naturalistic environment. May we embrace our imperfections.
These days, it can be more challenging for the Ordinary Joe not to get sucked into his own alternate realities, escapism, carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders or the dramas of others. The dying stages of the systemic patriarchy makes it hard not to do that. You all know about the impact of FOMO, peer pressure, social media profiling, and the garden variety of distractions. Today’s outer distractions have more bells and whistles. But at the end of the day, we have the power to turn the background noise into bells of mindfulness.
Remember that the world is a reflection of art imitating reality. Today, it’s probably easier to play the blame game, considering the myriad of conveniently inconvenient excuses flitting out and about in this world of 10,000 things. We are conditioned to point our fingers at targets of our own suffering. Alas, we shop around at those deeply engrained establishments, fixed ideas notwithstanding!
Learning to be human has never been easy. We all need good strategies.
But in this pandemic, have we forgotten how to be human in the social environment?
Speaking of Target, if you find yourself in a situation where there isn’t a prepackaged box readily available on the shelf, is this an apparent invitation for throwing a public temper tantrum, having a panic attack over the missing object of affection, serial text people to come to your rescue, or perhaps indulging in a private negative self talk episode?
Might these moments otherwise be worth self reflecting on as an attachment to a desired outcome, and could instead become a playground for spiritual growth?
Are they repetitive, unconscious behavioral traps or an awakened state of awareness that are just waiting to come out and play in the sunlight?
The reality is that we have to work at our wellbeing, mental health and social emotional learning. Yeah, you can argue that you have the right to be rude to a grocery store worker because they mixed up your items and placed them in the wrong bags, cite that you are a paying customer, and therefore justified in the attitudinal feast you served up to the grocer. However, that is an entitled position that eats a hearty plate of suffering by being part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Being entitled is a form of victim consciousness. You lose from that perspective because it is a recipe for more suffering.
For example, just look at the profiteering of this nuance in the popular culture and so called alternative media forms. There’s a romantic libertarian defund the police sentiment, a welfare state of dirty energy, liberal greed in the marketplace and conservative fighting over the people’s right to quality healthcare, which includes preventative care, mental health and substance abuse/addictions treatment. There’s a constant slugfest between philosophical differences or belief systems. Whether it’s Critical Race Theory or Civil Rights Team – some people are triggered by the CRT acronym. Take the fight out of it folks. Give inner peace a chance. There is enough and we can all win.
Instead of challenging, connect. We need connection now more than ever on our Planet today. It would be wonderful if Divine Intervention happens. I do believe a faction of extraterrestrial beings and highly spiritually evolved multidimensional beings are concerned about our survival and are doing their part to support our transformation, and probably planning something more exponential as we speak. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if the powers that be are plotting and scheming to counter that with commercials that attempt to hoodwink us into buying into a feigned invasion that fronts as an alien takeover. But in reality, the Military-Industrial Complex’s potential smoke and mirrors campaign will likely be orchestrated and manufactured from our own advanced engineering of foreign technology. We shall see.
What can each of us do in the meantime?
What kind of energy do we want to attract?
Clean energy on the inside is a parallel process to clean energy on the outside. Developing a meditation practice helps bring equanimity into your soul and the collective soul respectively. If you don’t see empathy in the world around you, become the change of empathy you want to see in the world by seeing it in your mind and feeling it in your heart. See it in yourself and see it in others, especially in your so called enemies. Some have to work harder at this than others.
Connect with the animals, nature and your fellow humans. Connect with you Higher Self. Connect with Spirit. Connect with your Spirit Guides. They all want to connect with you, and we all need connection.
We humans cannot afford to take each other for granted anymore or view ourselves as separate from each another. The only real way out of our suffering is through a meditative mindful way of life. It is only through this inner work that we can heal our soul wounds that manifest in our outer world. At the end of the day, everything else is just cosmetic. Easier said than done.
Awareness is the first step. We have to acknowledge whatever it is that needs to change by starting with ourselves. That takes courage because, in doing so, you will experience what psychologists call cognitive dissonance. Through meditation, we can learn to sit with the tension of opposites, or the interplay between what we call preferred and non-preferred experiences.
Remember, we are all mirrors for each other and the signs are there for you to see if you take notice. I have a coworker friend that just bought a new sweatshirt that says, “HEAVILY MEDITATED.” That’s a nice playful, light-hearted mantra to sport on an article of clothing.
Together, may we learn to live in the present moment, regardless of how unknown or uncertain it is. Besides, there are no guarantees, so we might as well come down into our souls and take up residence in the here and now. May we give thanks for that.
As a boy, I remember when Grandmother used to empathize with my complaints about teenagers by saying to me that “they were like a different species.” With no disrespect to our child who is a teen now or the teens that I work with in school, I’d say that Grandmother’s empathic statement was a spot on characterization of this unique stage of human development. Not long thereafter, I became a teenager myself, but she didn’t stop loving me or stop making me feel like I belonged. How she raised five kids of her own, especially coming from abject poverty, a significant trauma background, and no idea about how to be a parent is beyond me. But the woman had a strong survival instinct and stamina, as she had a household of five teenagers, back during the turbulent ’60s no less. Grandmother’s teenagers gave her and Grandfather a run for their money, especially by challenging the conventional cultural norms of the time. Before she could bat an eye, they all embraced the counterculture to varying degrees. Long hair, left wing politics, sex, drugs and rock and roll were all on the conversational table. Religion, conventional norms, and the Establishment were all being questioned, discussed, and protested at the family dinner ritual. By the time I came along, I thought all that was normal. And while it was natural, it wasn’t normal back then. Looking back in my time travels, I have never met anyone who would want to go back to their Middle School years again. Usually, there are other ages people fantasize about traveling back to, but not that time period.
Recently, a coworker friend inquired about what podcasts or other resources I might recommend for adults that are struggling with the challenging behaviors of the teenagers in their lives. In short, try to stand in your own personal authority, and stay away from power struggles. It’s your approach that matters. Easier said than done. Someone wise once said about parenting, “it doesn’t get any easier, it just changes.” Your kids might leave the roost, and then come back to live with you again. Before you know it, they might be changing your diapers someday. Might as well “teach your children well”, like the Crosby, Stills & Nash song posits. Nothing against having a sympathetic perspective toward someone else’s plight. But consider the power of empathy over sympathy, as captured in the following short Brene Brown cartoon vignette:
More importantly, parents and primary caregivers have a lot more power than we realize. At the end of the day, all we can really do is arm our children with the coping skills and strategies to build their resilience, and live their lives effectively. So it stands to reason that it is incumbent on we parents, caregivers, teachers, coaches and mentors to be good role models of those coping skills and strategies. When we do that, we are co-creating a safety net together to catch kids being good, and helping them bounce back when they aren’t. Self-care is a powerful way to be a good role model, and good replacement strategy for neglecting your own needs as an adult. Are you taking care of yourself? If the kids in your life are seeing you taking care of yourself, then they are more likely to pay attention to you when you instruct them to take care of themselves. Building in a commitment to a self-care routine in your life requires us to move beyond the entitlement of excuses that prevent us from making the wellbeing of our own souls a priority.
Just being honest, most parents who are struggling with their teenager (who isn’t) are also dealing with their own mental health issues because a teenager that is acting out impacts the mental health and well being of a family system. If this is the case, a parent might want to consider discussing their concerns with the family doctor. I know a wise psychiatrist who was very vocal about encouraging parents to push their doctors to do primary care, because mental health is part of primary care. Your primary care doctor might have some ideas to help you strategize about what steps to take. I have a coworker friend who informed me the other day that her doctor’s first “go to is are you meditating”, and has a chakra chart in their office. This doesn’t glorify the medical model. It just recognizes that our healthcare system is a support system, albeit not without its limitations. It is an embarrassment that the US does not have a universal single payer health care system yet (including mental health and substance abuse/addiction treatment). But to quote Bernie Sanders, “that’s a different conversation entirely.” However, by bringing up your concerns with your doctor, you become a catalyst for change, and a good role model for it. Also, as a parent/caregiver, perhaps accessing your own counseling or a family therapist is the prescription you need to take back your hearth. Let’s face facts here – you get an oil change for your car, don’t you? As a human being, shouldn’t you get at least the same level of care as a machine?
Furthermore, the point is that you are not alone, and it does take a village because the power of the community matters. But the parents should be calling the shots, not the other way around. Youth empowerment and child rights are about our youth finding and having their voice. But our youth still need the guidance of trusted adults to show them the way. When a child runs the show and has too much power, that’s scary for them and they can’t handle it. When adults are scared, that’s scary for kids. And given the times we are living in, coupled with the pandemic, that’s a common denominator for all of us to be sensitive to and appreciate nonetheless. Meditation helps you sit with what is in less reactionary ways to what is going on around you.
For example, a parent can be a good role model by being humble and vulnerable by reaching out to a teacher, school social worker or school counselor and starting a conversation about their concerns. At the Middle School I work at, we have a multidisciplinary team that consists of our building Principals, School Resource Officer, School Counselors, Nurse, Social Worker, and other supportive staff in our building. Our job is to discuss the students that are surfacing as the most vulnerable, which typically stems from issues going on outside of school, and typically within their family systems. Our collaborative work together comes from a trauma-informed, positive behavioral/restorative justice oriented lens. Our Civil Rights Team Co-Advisors facilitated a “Diversity in Unity” conversation at our last monthly staff meeting. It isn’t easy work, but having a multidisciplinary team that affords a sacred space for group process is a helpful constellation to any organizational structure.
Moreover, these days, we are living the turbulent 60s on steroids, for better and for worse. A lot of good came from that time, opening up consciousness, examining racial, gender, sexual identity, and class disparities and equity. But we didn’t finish the job, and there is work to be done. You can run but you can’t hide. Nowadays, things are so divided. On the one hand, you have parents that want to rule the roost, and have their children obey their command. On the other side of the coin, there are parents that buy into the anything goes mentality without question, and overly rely on the child’s perspective. There’s more than one reality. Keep in mind the one of the “Qs” in the LGBTQ + movement is “questioning”, as in it is in our right as adults to also question what we don’t understand, and question our children about what they understand about themselves and their world. This is a key dynamic in youth empowerment. The + sign means that diversity in unity is about us respecting and honoring our difference but at the same time, seeing that we are all cut from the same cloth. There is always a ripple effect, and the parent/child interaction is a mutually influential process of interaction and learning.
Looking back on the past 15 years of working primarily in the Middle School level (Preschool-High School experience) with students in the 6-8th grades, what a long, strange trip it’s been. This time in human development is differently unique, and I’m not just talking about the kids. As a social worker in schools, we have a unique lens that is a minority perspective. We generally view ourselves as educators in a different light, and we see learning that way too. For us, our bias is toward improving systemic, and equal access to resources in mental health, wellness, and social emotional learning. We tend to think about systemic problems in our work, and ponder what we might do to affect change on that level. It’s what our line calls “mezzo” social work, a unique hybrid of “macro” and “micro” practice. Our practice includes direct clinical work, we do some case management, and work with other systems of care, including getting on various committees with a keen eye on political activism, as it is part of our code of ethics to advocate for the poor, oppressed, and other vulnerable and disenfranchised populations. Most of us have a background in trauma, so we tend to notice how the adults in the lives of our population reflect what our students are acting out. Some of the adults are more awake and aware of these nuances and see themselves as part of the solution, or at least wanting to be. Others don’t and seem to want to keep the blinders on or bury their heads in the sand. And then there are those that expect us to wave a magic wand and fix the problem. We can make easy targets that way. We’re not good at pleasing everyone, which is OK, because that helps many of us like me that are wounded healers sober up to our disease to please, and lick our own wounds. Besides, it’s not our job to medicate people. We give a lot more thought to boundaries than other professionals, we have a sensitive understanding of power in relationships, and our idea of professional supervision is radically different from other workplaces.
Reflectively, it’s harder to be a parent and a kid today. Learning how to be human has never been easy. Yet paradoxically, in some ways, our world is far safer than back in the days of saber toothed tigers looking for food with us on the menu. Today, our evolution is more about our brain development, which is why mindfulness/meditation is probably the most important factor in the human life cycle. We need to support our capacity to co-regulate with each other so that we can learn to effectively manage ourselves so that we can function at home, school and community. If a child doesn’t feel safe at home (or school/community) then it isn’t very realistic that a healthy approach to learning will take place. All children (and adults) do better when resiliency is being appreciated, cultivated and supported. We all can benefit from learning how to make the shift from our “downstairs” brain to our “upstairs” brain or communicate from our amygdala to our prefrontal cortex. It’s when our brains get tripped up offline that we experience a system failure, if you’ll pardon the pun. As adults raising, working, and interacting with teens, our best tool in the toolbox is to be good role models. It’s hard to teach mindfulness if we don’t have our own meditation practice. As adults, this requires that we move beyond a position of entitlement. Those that are hardest to love need it the most.
Encouragingly, the kids are really eating this meditation/mindfulness stuff up. In fact, teens are at a uniquely receptive age for an advanced meditation/mindfulness practice due the stage of their brain development. Ask them about it. When I was a guest speaker at an Elementary School, it made my heart sing when a young boy stood up and said that his dad started listening to a meditation app to learn how to calm down when he was angry. In that, the boy recognized that his dad was becoming a happier person and better parent, as well as learning to have more self control. As a social worker, many of my regular students I see feel like a burden to their parents or caregivers. Some are oblivious and could care less. Others recognize their privilege, and want to be a good ally to their peers in need, even if they aren’t friends. In my Civil Rights work, it is beautiful to see our students becoming empowered, and playing a lead role in creating a more welcoming school (and community) for everyone. It’s a sign of a good coach who draws up the play, allows the quarterback to call the play, hand the ball off to the running back and let him (or her) run with the ball. They all have to trust the linemen and rest of the team to do their job if the play is going to work. Football is the epitome of teamwork and group work in action. You have to practice the fundamentals on the field and put in your time and do your homework off the field. It’s about working smarter rather than harder. But when you get knocked down, and don’t get your way, you suck it up buttercup, and get back up.
What is more, challenging behavior and addictions are not unique to teenagers, or “screenagers” as they are sometimes called, given their penchant for screen time. Talk about a normalized addiction in today’s world. It reminds me of growing up in a family of cigarette smokers during my youth, who would seemingly all light up at once at extended family gatherings, and I’m not just blowing smoke, if you’ll pardon the pun. And while marijuana might be legal in Maine today, when asked by parents/caregivers, my consultation about it hasn’t changed since when it wasn’t. Like Willie Nelson says, it’s better to stay away from substances, and tell your kids to as well. But if you are going to indulge, it’s better not to do it habitually around your kids or alone either really. Repeated exposure to wellness and making healthy choices is more likely to result in teens learning healthy lifelong routines. Probably the best medicine is to learn self-control, self-regulation, and remember to breathe consciously in the living moment. As adults, if we are focusing on positive self talk, being mindful of our breathing, picturing peaceful, calming thoughts, then we are more likely to be teaching our children how to do that. If we are treating them with dignity and respect, then they are more likely to show it to us. If teens are being defiant, struggling with paranoid thoughts, obsessions, or other deeply ingrained behavioral patterns, like gaming, smoking, drinking, drugging, cutting, bullying or other addictive behaviors, then we should respond to these issues with a restorative approach rather than punitive measures that just teach more work avoidance and apathy. In short, “tough love” is about teaching cause and effect, as gently and softly as possible. Again, as an adult in their life, you might as well start with yourself. You can’t control everything they do, but you can control how you respond to it. Yeah, there is a fear based respect that comes with ruling with an iron fist. But there is a different quality of respect from doing it Dr. King’s way.
Finally, natural and logical consequences can be powerful teachers. For example, let’s say that your teen is heavily into the party scene, and running the show at home. If you haven’t already, you could set three basic rules or guidelines that can be visually posted as a point of reference. This is a concrete strategy and takes the fight out of it. There has to be some buy-in to incentivize the game plan, which kids can usually articulate on some level. There should be consequences to when they follow the rules, and when they don’t. Kids are naturally egocentric, so there needs to be a “what’s in it for me?” to promote their motivation to do the right thing. It’s harder to notice and focus on the positive behaviors (and consequences), but that’s what’s most important. If there is a significant pattern of defiance and disrespect, then it might mean a choice between therapy, rehab or getting the police and legal system involved. Accountability is key, and learning to take responsibility for their actions is something that should not be robbed from teenagers, or you’re just asking for arrested development, if you’ll pardon the pun. Cheap for me to say, I do this well professionally but struggle personally at times, as it’s always more challenging to do this at home. It’s hard not to be entitled as a man who is a social worker at home. I’ve put in my time at work, and don’t want to come home and deal with the BS or drama, as it would be easier to just check out. But that is exactly what I am being asked to do by the Universe. So I’m not asking any of you to roll up your sleeves alone here. Grandfather used to say that he couldn’t expect his workers to do that for him if he wasn’t willing to roll up his sleeves with them. Hang in there folks. All you can do is do the best that you can. Try to become the change you want to see in the world. Sometimes, you just limp along with the rapidly or flaccidly firing neurons of the teens in your lives.
Take care of yourselves everyone,
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Refer to the chart above to get a feel for where your Chakras are located in your body so that you can visualize yourself doing this meditation effectively. It might be helpful to look at this chart and practice doing the meditation before you feel comfortable doing this meditation with your eyes closed. That’s totally up to you and your call entirely.
The 7 major Chakras are typically associated with the same 7 rays of the rainbow. While balancing each Chakra, you can visualize yourself basking in each ray of the rainbow with each corresponding Chakra (Red Root/Red Ray, etc.)
The following Chakra meditation is especially powerful, and is inspired by the Andean Shamans of the Americas. Although you can do this meditation anytime, it is especially effective to do when you wake up to start your day or before you go to sleep at night. I do this meditation everyday, usually after I wake up, as a way to start my morning meditation ritual. I also do this meditation periodically when I am alone in Nature or before I go to sleep.
When you are doing this meditation it is natural for thoughts and feelings to come up. Sometimes they might be unwanted, unpleasant or even traumatic. Try to just watch what happens without judgment, stories, clinging or fear. Be as gentle and kind on yourself as possible. Don’t try to grasp or hold on to anything you experience, push them away or throw them in the trash.
Sit comfortably in your inner royalty position, place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth, and make a formation with your three center fingers gently pressed on your thumb like you’re holding a potato chip. Close your eyes, breathe mindfully, and let your belly sink and relax like a feather pillow. Feel your breath come into your body on your in breath, and then leave your body on our out breath.
You can say to yourself, activate spiritual light team or specify any particular guides that you would like to welcome in from the spirit realm for wellness.
Take a moment to visualize a rainbow, and see yourself basking in the energy of the rainbow. Use your imagination to feel yourself taking an energetic bath within the rainbow.
Hover your right hand over your Root Chakra, and move your right hand in a circular counter clockwise motion 10 times, and then squeeze (like you are going #2) to release energetically. Next, move your right hand in a clockwise motion 10 times to balance your Root Chakra.
Hover your right hand over your Sacral Chakra, and move your right hand in a circular counter clockwise motion 10 times, and then squeeze to release energetically. Next, move your right hand in a clockwise motion 10 times to balance your Sacral Chakra.
Hover your right hand over your Solar Plexus Chakra, and move your right hand in a circular counter clockwise motion 10 times, and then squeeze to release energetically. Next, move your right hand in a clockwise motion 10 times to balance your Solar Plexus Chakra.
Hover your right hand over your Heart Chakra, and move your right hand in a circular counter clockwise motion 10 times, and then squeeze to release energetically. Next, move your right hand in a clockwise motion 10 times to balance your Heart Chakra.
Hover your right hand over your Throat Chakra, and move your right hand in a circular counter clockwise motion 10 times, and then squeeze to release energetically. Next, move your right hand in a clockwise motion 10 times to balance your Throat Chakra.
Hover your right hand over your Third Eye Chakra, and move your right hand in a circular counter clockwise motion 10 times, and then squeeze to release energetically. Next, move your right hand in a clockwise motion 10 times to balance your Third Eye Chakra.
Hover your right hand over your Crown Chakra, and move your right hand in a circular counter clockwise motion 10 times, and then squeeze to release energetically. Next, move your right hand in a clockwise motion 10 times to balance your Crown Chakra.
Congratulations! You have just balanced your 7 main Chakras.