Time to Walk Barefoot on the Earth

Many of my conversations with friends have been about the world and violent events, even when we make every effort to be positive. There is awareness of increased global anxiety, and anticipating and questioning what is next. We talk about what appears to be total insanity. 

I’m aware of our children and what will support them. 
First, even if we don’t turn on the news when they are awake, and avoid anxious discussions when they are around, they are tuned in. Just as I am aware when I walk into a room where someone is silently worried, so are they. We are connected through the brain’s mirror neurons and more, and even babies pick up on what’s going on. 
Just as we can intuit that there is a higher general level of tension, that thing’s aren’t the “same”, so can they.
There’s a lot we can do for ourselves and our children:
  • Make sure you, the caregiver, are caring for yourself. Children in stressful situations do much better when when their parents are well-grounded. This means that parents and caregivers, who have a bigger perspective, hope, and use practices themselves to be mindful, give and receive support, connect within and without to guidance and meaning, create a foundation of safety and security for their children. Stay in the present yourself when possible. Breathe, feel, and notice. Notice what you can control and what you can’t. Lie in the grass and walk barefoot in the earth.
  • Stay with regular routines, and add frequent time to connect with nature…park visits, hikes, sitting under trees, feeling and playing onfather and son in nature the earth. Let kids dig tunnels and play with sand and mud. Santa Fe’s Sandra Ingerman, LISW and shaman extraordinaire recently talked about children and nature. As a starter, guide them to feel “their own tree roots and branches with leaves” growing towards the sun. Let them use imagination to be an animal friend and listen to the help the animal friend gives them. Let them dance with the moon, sun, or the stars. Allow them to use their imagination to get to know and feel the elements. Older children could find discoveries on nature walks that would help guide them.
  • Increase awareness of sensation. When we notice and feel the wind, sun, and water on our skin, we support the nervous system, help ourselves navigate extra stress, and increase awareness. Get curious, and playfully ask children where they feel coldness and where it is warm, where the feeling is the same, and where it is different, where it it tickling and where it’s kind of numb. Make it a game. This can be extended to games about sensations of moving slowly and feeling muscles and bones too. Appreciate the moment, breath, the wind in the trees, the birds singing, the smell of a flower, a bug crawling, or the taste of a blueberry.
  • Support family rituals that remind us of connections, and bring us closer. Hold hands at meals. Regularly express gratitude and appreciation with each other. Savor connections, and, after falling out of connection, appreciate and savor reconnection. Start an evening family walk.
  • Choose love and empowered choice. Both love and choice are the antithesis to fear and worry. When, from our hearts, we do even small empowering actions, or choices, we feel better and move to the side of peace. If concerned about refugees, find an agency with which you align to send a donation. My 6 year-old grandson is concerned about the wild animals and recently tithed his own money from chores to support animals. After Orlando, a friend took her teen daughter to Pride, simply to continue a ritual and take a stand for diversity and fun. 
  • Look for opportunities for media awareness. As caregivers, we help children discern what is presented through media.  When children gain awareness of the impact of advertisements, they are better able to sort out feelings, values, and choices. The same is true about the media’s current role in national and world events. We hear primarily about what is disastrous, not what is helping or of value.  We are told to feel afraid. Older children might hear about events from friends or see headlines in a paper. Support older children with gentle discussions regarding news media awareness, and the impact on them. Talk about what they thought and how they felt when they heard about it, and what feelings they still have. Help them sort out their feelings, and why people might make such choices. 
  • Teens might be open to even broader conversations about bullying; dis-enfranchizement and equity; violence; why people do act in violent ways;  stereotyping; and complexity of history and politics, to name a few. Guide them to identify resources both within themselves, and around them. Help them listen inside to what gives them hope, power and love. There could be favorite music too that helps them feel positive. Explore if there are actions that they can take that support their values.
  • Acknowledge and feel all our circles of support in very part of our lives, family, work, friends, school, and broader circles.  Acknowledge all the people who do care, all the mothers and fathers who keep their children safe, all the children around the world who love to run and play as they do; and the support from nature and spirit.
  • Tell stories that include feelings, challenges, and hope. Find playful examples and metaphors that teach hope, meaning, empowerment, and reconciliation. Weave in the magic that can happen when different “sides” begin to listen to each oner.
  • Last but not least, PLAY!
I know this helps. Writing and visioning blueberries and tree roots, I feel better already. I’m going to a park to lie in the grass and then send out a Keva donation to a woman in Turkey. Love and Blessings to us all.

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