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

March 7, 2016
by kidsuserguide
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Mindful Monday :: Indifference, Checking Out and Emotions

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Similiar to Like and Attachment and Dislike and Resistance, when you are Indifferent to Life as it moves through you, you tend to Check Out and disconnect from the moment, living mainly in your Chattering Mind.

If you pay attention the next time you are doing your chores, you will notice this tendency.

Most times, while cleaning your room or taking out the garbage, you are just trying to get it done so you can get onto the next thing.

This moving mindlessly through your moments gives rise to feelings of boredom, spaciness and non-presence.

However, when you bring your Open Mind to the activities you are Indifferent to, you brighten your own presence and awaken feelings such as peace, contentment and aliveness.

Practice :: This week while performing the tasks that fill up your day, start to pay attention to the details of your life unfolding moment-to-moment.

For example, while brushing your teeth, really feel the weight of the toothbrush in your hand and the slight sting of the mint on your gums.

As you eat your food, pay close attention to the texture of each bite, the different tastes unfolding as you chew and the feeling of your meal filling your belly.

While taking the garbage out, closely pay attention to the graceful movement of your feet as they move, the cool night air on your skin and the mystery of the stars in the sky above.

As you consciously take in each moment, notice the feelings of peace, gratitude and contentment that start to awaken.

February 29, 2016
by kidsuserguide
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Mindful Monday :: Dislike, Resistance and Emotions

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Emotions and the physical changes they create come when you Dislike something as well.

Normally, when you Dislike something and you are functioning unconsciously from your small, habitual Chattering Mind, the tendency is to Resist.

Imagine summer has just begun and you take a fall on your bike and break your arm. You experience immense pain from the break and great discomfort from the cast. And now you learn that having a cast means you can’t go swimming for six to eight weeks!

You are simultaneously fuming and devastated. You do not want this to be your summer! You spend your days lost in your own mental anguish over your ruined summer.

This Resistance gives rise to feelings such as fear, anger, depression and anxiety.

When you’re not mindful of Dislike leading to Resistance, these emotions arise and influence how you see yourself, your situation and the world.

The stress response is signaled to kick on, leaving you with the pain of your initial hurt and your painful Resistance and now your nervous system is working from a heightened state.

Not only have you broken your arm, but now you are so upset that you can’t find any pleasure in anything. The summer looks like a long empty expanse ahead.

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However, when Dislike moves through you and you open bravely to it, instead of closing down around Resistance, emotions such as acceptance, clarity and compassion begin to arise.

You’re bummed about your broken arm, and from your own Open Mind you are able to meet that disappointment with compassion.

Your own compassion grows towards all the other kids who are hurt or sick just like you this summer.

You are also able to see that although being hurt is not ideal, there is still a lot of fun and adventure to be had.

Your awareness of how Dislike brings Resistance helps to support the activation of your parasympathetic nervous system and prefrontal cortex.

And this mentally and physically sets you up to courageously step beyond your Resistance and accept the reality of your situation.

February 22, 2016
by kidsuserguide
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Mindful Monday :: What Does It Mean To Be Present?

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When you are present you are connected to the qualities of the moment, like openness and aliveness.

When you are present, you can see clearly what is happening before you and make the most intelligent choice in that moment.

When you are present, you are connected to deep courage, bravery and patience—giving you the ability to open to all of the joy, sorrow and challenge this human life will surely bring.

Being present is a natural capacity you are born with that can be strengthened with practice.

Practice :: This week, set an intention to be more present.

When you notice your Inner Attention is caught in your Chattering Mind and you are not present, consciously shift your Inner Attention back to the moment.

Start to cultivate this as an ongoing habit—all day, every day. Practice in the shower, while you’re eating, talking with friends, driving in the car—wherever and whenever you remember you ability to be present—shift your Inner Attention out of your Chattering Mind and back to what you are doing.

Each time you do, you are strengthening your natural capacity to be present!

February 8, 2016
by kidsuserguide
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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.
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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.

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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.

February 5, 2016
by kidsuserguide
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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.

February 1, 2016
by kidsuserguide
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Mindful Monday :: Mindfully Working With Like And Attachment

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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.

January 25, 2016
by kidsuserguide
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Mindful Monday :: Like, Attachment and Emotions Part II

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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.

January 18, 2016
by kidsuserguide
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Mindful Monday :: Like, Attachment and Emotions

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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?

January 11, 2016
by kidsuserguide
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Mindful Monday :: Body Awareness

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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.

January 4, 2016
by kidsuserguide
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Mindful Monday :: Cultivating a Brave Relationship with Feelings and Emotions

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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.