Tag Archives: Practiicing kindness

Walking to Calmness

To strengthen a child’s #emotional intelligence, teach self-soothing skills,  Walking meditations are a good start.

Mott Haven Labyrinth

Emotional fitness thoughts

I first walked a labyrinth at the Quaker Meeting House in Purchase, New York.  What impressed me most was how the children loved it. When I had some money to spend in the  mental health programs I directed in Mott Haven, the meanest part of the South Bronx, I built labyrinths.

That’s a picture of one I built on donated land behind a housing project . Well, I didn’t actually build it or any; I paid to have them built. The one above was one my staff, the families and children we partnered with, and Ariane Burgess, our labyrintista build.

If you saw the movie Bonfire of the Vanities or have read Jonathan Kozol’s book Amazing Grace, you know about how bad things were in Mott Haven not so many years ago.  I wanted  those who had to live, particularly the children, to add to their strength by learning lots of what I call emotional fitness skills.

Self-soothing is one of six skills that help strengthen emotional intelligence. It is the  most immediately helpful to all the skills.

I saw labyrinths as a way to interested both grownups and kids in meditation and not just the families I worked with, but all those living in Mott Haven. I had the grandiose idea of making Mott Haven the labyrinth capital of the  USA or at least of the New York area.  I wanted to bring tourists to a part of New York City I had learned to love.

What is a labyrinth?

A labyrinth is not a maze.  Mazes are designed to confuse and frustrate with blind turns and dead ends.  And, yes getting safely in and out of one does provide a rush of pleasure.

However, a labyrinth has no dead ends, nothing to confuse, or frustrate. You walk in the entrance,  then you walk to the center, and when you are ready to leave,  you walk out.

At the time, I was working for the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY) and directing several mental health programs including a family support team and respite team.  Those two were the programs I involved in  building the labyrinths.

As you see, the one above was built of re-cycled logs and was designed to serve as a small arena. Performers, mostly story tellers, did their thing in the center, while their audience sat on the logs.

My Mott Haven programs were part of a large federal grant called The Mott Haven Project.  The grant sought to involve various agencies in providing  what the grant makers called a System of Care (SOC) for seriously emotionally troubled children.

The grant gave me some money to use not for individual families, but to improve the community. The grant also linked me to a number of community activists. One was a labyrintista, Ariane Burgess.  She designed and built the labyrinths that I was able to sprinkle around Mott Haven.  We called our labyrinth programs the Camino de Paz Project.

Here’s another picture  of one of the labyrinths.  This was a temporary one put up at a health fair.

MVC-004F

In time, I also was able to get two portable canvas labyrinths made.  These were taken to health fairs and school fairs.

Although I was very pleased to have brought labyrinths to the community of Mott Haven, once I was no longer  directing the VNSNY Mott Haven program, interest in the Camino de Paz project slowly died.  Living in Colorado now, I have no idea if any remain.  I think a more permanent one was build on a housing project play ground. I hope that still stands. A plan to build a permanant labyrinth at Brooke Park died.

My big dream did not come true, but I take comfort in knowing that at the time, people found a bit of peace through the Camino de Pas Project. The peace in one heart moves the world toward peace for all.

One aspect of the Mott Haven Labyrinth Project does live on and may do so for years, but not in Mott Haven.  Where then? In New York City’s Battery Park.  I wanted more for Mott Haven, but do find some satisfaction in knowing that in a small way I contributed to this more permanent meditation path.

STAYING STRONG PARENTING TIP

Labyrinths are more common than they once were. Plan a family trip to one.  As always learn what you want to teach first.  Here is a link to more about walking meditations.

When I am angry, I use a variation I call Stumping Out Anger. I walk with my anger, stumping, making angry face, tense body and angry fists.  I  say to myself “Take that” with every step.

In time, I find I am not stumping so hard, Then I take some calming breaths, make soft face, strong body and change my self talk to “It’s all all right.”  It is you know, if not for me for someone else or a higher power’s bigger plan, We all can only do so much, but if we do what we can when we can our efforts to make the world better are not in vain.

Thank you for all you do, practice kindness, like, share or comment.

A bit of blog business.  I am on the road visiting friends and family.  I am trying to post a blog a week.  Not sure even that will be possible, so if you don’t see one from me for a while, know I am remembering what matters and that means enjoying the company of those I care about and who care about me.

As always, thank you for all you do particularly for liking, commenting and sharing those of my posts you find helpful.

Katherine

TODAY”S FREE EMOTIONAL iNTELLIGENCE POSTER COACH

#emotionalintelligence poster coach teaching soft face/strong body. #parent advice

This post was inspired by this Word Press Daily Prompt  If you could clone one element from another city you’ve visited — a building, a cultural institution, a common street food, etc. — and bring it back to your own hometown, what would it be? My answer of course: Labyrinths.

LINKS OF INTEREST

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SHABBAT SHALOM


May you walk in peace and may the light of love shine in and through you, now and forever.

A QUOTE FOR THINKING ABOUT WHAT MATTERS

“Judaism is a religion of time aiming at the sanctification of time…The Sabbaths are our great cathedrals.”

                                                           Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Emotional fitness building TIP

No matter what your beliefs about a higher power, a day devoted to a simpler life is strengthening.  To me that means thinking about what matters, not spending money, not working on any  commercial ventures,  not using my beloved computer, turning off the cell phone,  connecting with friends, nature, my G-d.

Create your own version, your life will improve.   Try setting  aside one day a week for no (or minimal) travel;  no turning on the tv, radio, or computer and turning off your cell phone.  You will  save gas, reduce your carbon footprint, help solve the energy crisis, and stop the heating up of our planet. Try it you might like it.

PARENTING TIP

Force your kids to hold some time sacred.

STAYING STRONG

And yes, one of my ongoing cranks is how much harder it is on today’s parents to do these things.  David and I were both at home and it was hard enough, but it was during those years our only job.  We became foster parents in order to be at home.

So if you are working at more than being a parent, don’t guilt yourself if you can’t do as we did.  Do try to find some unconnected family time and the same for you.  Start small and spread.  Also if you have found ideas that get your family unconnected and spending quiet or play time together then share.  Also share if you’ve found a way to carve out some of the same for just you.

PRACTICE KINDNESS Share this post with others who might find it of value. Kindness gives to the giver as well as to the receiver.

Katherine

This post allines with this WordPress  DAILY PROMPT . My dream teacher in regards to this post would have been Rabbi Heschel.

cruel.IMAGE BY: adinadesigns.com

SHABBAT SHALOM


May you walk in peace and may the light of love shine in and through you, now and forever.

A QUOTE FOR THINKING ABOUT WHAT MATTERSTake rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.  Ovid

A STAYING STRONG TIP:  Observing the Shabbat has been a major blessing becoming a Jew (I am a convert) bestowed on me.  No matter what your beliefs about a higher power, a day devoted to a simpler life is strengthening.  To me that means thinking about what matters, not spending money, not working on any  commercial ventures,  not using my beloved computer, turning off the cell phone,  connecting with friends, nature, my G-d.

Create your own version, your life will improve and your children will be strengthened.

 Share this post with others who might find it of value. Kindness gives to the giver as well as to the receiver.

IMAGE BY: adinadesigns.com

The Importance of Mission

parenting advice

You have goals for your children, for yourself, and for your family. Good for you. But not enough. Goals are about what you want, where you want to go. So more important questions  are:

  1. Do you have a personal mission?
  2. Do you have a family mission?
  3. Are you help your children develop personal missions?

Missions are about how you want to be as a person as you take your life’s journey. Having a thought about and defined mission gives focus to your life, makes decision making easier and wiser.

Missions are created by thinking about what matters. What the sages  and what those who study such things think is that the healthiest missions  are built on a foundation of kindness, caring, and sharing.

Which leads to this blog post’s Poster Coach.  Remember What Matters:

wmsell

For a free digital download of this poster go to the EFTIstore.

When you are teaching your children to be kind, you are also teaching them to be #emotionally intelligent.

STAYING STRONG

Parenting is hard work and the results not always clear immediately, practice patience is a must and that means patience with yourself as well as with others.

Be grateful for what you have been given, forgive yourself and others for failing to be perfect. No one is. Continue to practice kindness and your efforts  bring forward a more just world for all. You make a difference.

Most EFTI  posters posted on my blog can be obtained at the EFTI Store  Many are free.  Poster Coaches are printed up in color on letter size card stock and used to inspire, teach, remind you to practice #emotional_fitness exercises.

This blog post was inspired by this Word Perfect Daily Prompt.  Obstacle Course: Think about what you wanted to accomplish last week. Did you? What are the things that hold you back from doing everything you’d like to do?

Thank you for all you do and as always stay strong.

Katherine

ARTICLES OF INTEREST

Rob's Surf Report

Mission

Surfing wild, headlong
on life’s wave to unknown ends —
seeking bits of zen.

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