My only resolution for 2014 is to mindfully self-regulate – every 30 minutes! I have my phone chime set to remind me. When I hear it, I drop into ease and align with enjoyment. Regardless of what I’m doing, I decompress, widen my focus, open my heart, and become more present. Because I practice yoga and meditate regularly, usually, the shift takes only seconds and leaves me smiling. Sometimes, however, I recognize that I need to do something more, so I take a few minutes to breathe, stretch, walk around for a bit, or do a handstand (one of my favorites for attitude adjustment and re-energizing). Why?
1) Because it feels great!
2) Because It makes me a better person, parent, partner, teacher, writer, leader, professional.
3) Because, per all the recent research on optimal human function and development, I see that nurturing my own nervous system, managing the vibrational quality of my mind-body state, is the bottom-line for creating the kind of life I want.
4) Because it empowers me to choose how I respond to events and people, not react.
Self-regulation embodies respect, caring, and kindness to oneself. This translates to also being that way with others. It enables me to have clear boundaries, curiosity, and compassion. I am more open and less judgmental. This creates the space for emotional safety and allows me to generate healthy relationships, honest communication, creativity, executive function, ease of learning, group harmony, productivity, and achievement.
I create movement and mindfulness resources for schools for all the above reasons, which were validated in Dr. Chen’s recent 3 year study of the use of simple yoga tools in classrooms:
Since yoga is hailed as a mindfulness exercise (Burke, 2010), it enhances one’s self-awareness including breathing, posture, diet, and behaviors, and it has the potential to influence the whole person. Research with adults and limited research on children has provided some evidence that yoga practice leads to improvements in one’s life in all the areas examined in the student questionnaire. Yoga practiced by adults reduces anxiety (Brown & Gerbarg, 2005), improves relaxation (Smith, Hancock, Blake-Mortimer, & Eckert , 2007; Waelde, Thompson, & Gallagher-Thompson, 2004). A recent review of research on the effects of yoga practice on children produced moderate evidence suggesting benefits for cardiovascular health, physical functioning, and behavior (see Galantino et al., 2008 for a review). Yoga research on children also points to the improved attention and emotional control (Jensen & Kenny, 2004).
But I also realize these tools are only as effective as the teacher or parent using them. If you are not practicing mindfulness and self-regulating, neither will your students or children. In her new tele-course on being a better parent, my friend and colleague, Hala Khouri, MA, somatic psychologist, yoga teacher, and educational consultant, writes: “ If you are not able to embody that which you wish to teach your children, you will be fighting an uphill battle. This doesn’t mean you have to be perfect- but it does require you to be AWARE.”
She, too, focuses on self-awareness and self-regulation tools to help parents/teachers deal with the “messiness” of the growing up process. “Kids have big feelings and impulses that they have a hard time controlling. Our job, as parents and teachers, is to understand why and give them the tools to deal with them.” Mindfulness practices, yoga techniques, self-regulation skills – are simply the tools we ALL need to deal with our feelings and manage our behaviors. They help us resource ourselves and thus, be “better”. As we resource ourselves, we help our children develop their own inner resources and “better” selves.
I am prioritizing self-care such that I can be the BEST ME I can be in 2014. It’s my way of “being the change”.