Kids User Guide to a Human Life

a book series offering 9 to 12 year-olds fun, practical information on how to live a life with less stress and more joy

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Mindful Monday :: Mindfully Working With Your Mind, Brain & Nervous System

The good news is that you can mindfully work with your own mind, brain and nervous system.

When your Chattering Mind is unconsciously grasping, an ongoing loop is created with the physical responses in your body. They begin to feed one another, looping continuously, and can lead to anxiety, obsessive thinking or depression.


However, when you are consciously using your Inner Attention and awakening your Open Mind, you are activating your parasympathetic nervous system and prefrontal cortex.

You are creating a biological environment within your body that supports your Open Mind. In turn, your Open Mind deepens the well being within your nervous system and body, creating the space for you to have a conscious relationship with your Chattering Mind.

Practice :: This week, practice the Breath, Body, Quiet Meditation.

As you move through each day, remember to return your Inner Attention to your breath, body or silence to awaken your parasympathetic nervous system, prefrontal cortex and Open Mind. Pay Attention to how this changes your experience of  situations, challenges, relationships and self.

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Keep It Simple, Adventurous Ones :: Deepen Your Breath

When in doubt, deepen your breath.

When in doubt, Adventurous Ones, Deepen Your Breath.

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Mindful Monday :: Mindfully Working With Like And Attachment

However, when what you Like is met from your present Open Mind the feelings that naturally follow are joy, kindness and generosity.

Imagine being present and open when your sister explains that your favorite outfit would help her breeze through her presentation with confidence and ease.

Chances are you would feel the grasping of wanting to hold on to your outfit, but at the same time recognize that you would enjoy helping out your sister.

This conscious “stepping beyond” also creates a chemical change in your body.

As you bring your Inner Attention to your Open Mind and deepen your breath, you are able to move your diaphragm fully, thereby activating the vagus nerve, which in turn activates your parasympathetic nervous system.

From here your heart rate slows down creating a deeper sense of ease, blood vessels dilate oxygenating your blood and lungs, digestion is activated releasing nutrients into your body and energy is restored.

At the same time, your prefrontal cortex becomes accessible.

Your prefrontal cortex, when activated, suppresses negative emotions, quiets the reactionary part of the brain called the amygdala and increases your ability to think clearly.

You may decide to not share your outfit, but chances are you will be open and kind, creating space for you and your sister to find a resolution.

You remember how nervous you get when you have to present in class and you would like to ease that discomfort for your little sister.

You’ve got plenty of other great clothes anyway or maybe an even better outfit to share.

Because of staying connected to your Open Mind you are able to bravely be with your own Attachment and clinging and then step beyond it and open to the truly kind Adventurer you are.

Practice :: This week, when you notice yourself caught in grasping, bravely let your Inner Attention come back to your breath and body. Remember you’re ability to meet challenging situations and interactions with an Open Mind and Open Heart.


Mindful Monday :: Like, Attachment and Emotions Part II

Emotions and thoughts such as greed and fear also change the chemistry of your body by turning on the stress response.

When the stress response is activated, your brain quickly sends signals down your spinal cord, through your nerves and to your adrenal glands telling them to release the hormone adrenaline.

When released, adrenaline increases the amount of sugar in your blood, increases your heart rate and raises your blood pressure.

Your brain’s remarkable hypothalamus simultaneously signals your pituitary gland to stimulate your adrenal cortex into producing a stress hormone called cortisol.

Cortisol keeps your blood sugar and blood pressure elevated to give you energy to escape from danger.

So here you are—your actions, thoughts and subsequent emotions over your sister’s desire to wear your outfit have now created an entire biochemical response in your body.

Stress hormones, high blood sugar and rising blood pressure now have to run their course.

Unfortunately, this is physically, mentally and emotionally uncomfortable.

And many times your Chattering Mind’s grasping creates an ongoing loop with the physical responses in your body.

They begin to feed one another, looping continuously, and can lead to anxiety, obsessive thinking or depression.

Practice :: This week, if you find yourself caught in the above loop, try one of our free guided mindfulness mediations. Find a quite place to sit and spend twenty minutes calming your breath and body and remembering your natural capacity for openness.

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Mindful Monday :: Like, Attachment and Emotions

When you Like something—a thought, a person or an experience—and you are functioning from your Chattering Mind, you Attach or cling to that experience.

Imagine your favorite outfit.

You love how it fits, looks and feels.

You wear that outfit at least once a week.

It feels like a true reflection of your style and personality.

Now imagine that your younger sister has asked to borrow this outfit on the same day you plan to wear it.

She has a big presentation in science class and wants to look her best.

Reacting from your Chattering Mind, you quickly and aggressively say, “No Way! That is MY outfit!” As your sister leaves your room defeated, you think, “How could she even think for a minute I’d give up my favorite outfit? I need this outfit!”

Attachment and clinging give rise to feelings of greed, fear and possessiveness.

When you are not mindful of Like leading to Attachment and clinging, these are the emotions that naturally arise and influence your perspective and behavior.

Even though you succeeded in thwarting your sister’s attempt to borrow your clothes, you are left with these feelings swimming through you. And no Adventurer ever feels at home when greed and fear lurk within.

Practice :: Start to get to know what Like and Attachment feel like in your body and mind.

Open your Inner Attention to all of the sensations in your body when you notice that Like and Attachment are present.

Feel your breath and listen to the stories and emotions that are bubbling up.

Do you see a pattern – in how you hold your body, which stories you tell yourself, what emotions follow?

Is there some space or openness when you allow the sensations, thoughts and emotions to flow through you without getting your Inner Attention unconsciously caught up in them?

What happens if you place your Inner Attention into the space and openness in your mind instead of the sensations, thoughts and emotions of Like and Attachment that are flowing through?

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Mindful Monday :: Body Awareness

The sensations of your body are always unfolding in the present moment.

Your beating heart, the feeling of your feet in your shoes on the ground, the texture of your clothes on your skin are all bridges to bring your Inner Attention out of your Chattering Mind and back into the present moment.

Practice :: When you “wake up” to the fact that your Inner Attention is lost in your Chattering Mind, kindly invite your Inner Attention to the feeling of your whole body.

Feel your feet in your shoes placed firmly on the ground.

Feel the wind and sun on your skin.

Feel the sensation of your palms resting on your legs.

As you experience the feeling of your body, stay grounded in the openness of your Open Mind.

Bravely live into, with your Inner Attention, the spaciousness of your Open Mind.

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Mindful Monday :: Cultivating a Brave Relationship with Feelings and Emotions

Attachment, Resistance and Checking Out happen countless times each day.

However, when your Chattering Mind is unconsciously Attaching to the experiences you Like, Resisting the experiences you Dislike, and Checking Out during the experiences that cause Indifference, you are unknowingly solidifying a small, solid-feeling sense of self.

Lost in your small self, you begin to forget the awake, aware and dynamic Adventurer you really are.

Like, Dislike and Indifference are also the starting point for all of your emotions.

When you consciously allow emotions to flow through your own Awake Awareness and Open Mind, they bring clarity and connect you deeply to your life as it unfolds moment to moment.

When you are unconsciously lost in emotions, they tend to reinforce the small sense of the Chattering Mind. And being lost in the small self is uncomfortable at best and painful at worst.

Seeing this more clearly will give you a greater understanding of your emotions, allowing you to have a brave and courageous relationship with them.

And beginning to have a brave and courageous relationship with your emotions will lead you closer to answering, “Who am I really?”

Practice :: This week try one of our guided meditations to help you remember your natural ability to open to the flow of thoughts, feelings and emotions that are moving through you.


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