universal Themes

The universal themes (together with the practical life skills)  that we explore practicing mindfulness and meditation help us develop attention, balance, and compassion- three qualities that help people navigate life’s challenges with more wisdom and compassion.

In the following table of themes, I included the phrase “I remind myself” in each description as a nod to the remembering function of mindfulness. Reminding children of the themes appreciation, attention, or acceptance, for example, feels more consistent with the practice of mindfulness and meditation than then telling them to speak and act in a particular way.

 
acceptance I remind myself that I can’t know or control every cause or condition that leads up to this moment. My motivation is one thing that I can control, though, and I can do my best to speak and act in a way that’s wise and compassionate.

acceptance

I remind myself that I can’t know or control every cause or condition that leads up to this moment. My motivation is one thing that I can control, though, and I can do my best to speak and act in a way that’s wise and compassionate.

appreciation When I remember to appreciate my relationships, health, good experiences, belongings, and the natural world, I see that appreciation is a cause and effect of happiness.

appreciation

When I remember to appreciate my relationships, health, good experiences, belongings, and the natural world, I see that appreciation is a cause and effect of happiness.

attention (the floodlight) I remind myself that I can hold back from reacting to what’s happening within and around me so that I can investigate it with an open mind.

attention (the floodlight)

I remind myself that I can hold back from reacting to what’s happening within and around me so that I can investigate it with an open mind.

 
attention (the spotlight) I remind myself that I can choose where to place my attention, and I can keep it there.   

attention (the spotlight)

I remind myself that I can choose where to place my attention, and I can keep it there.   

attunement I remind myself that I can watch, listen, sense, interpret, and respond to what other people say and do so that I can see and understand them, and they can feel seen and understood.

attunement

I remind myself that I can watch, listen, sense, interpret, and respond to what other people say and do so that I can see and understand them, and they can feel seen and understood.

cause and effect I remind myself that what I do and say will affect other people and the planet, and what other people say and do will affect the planet and me.

cause and effect

I remind myself that what I do and say will affect other people and the planet, and what other people say and do will affect the planet and me.

 
clarity To see what’s happening within and around me clearly, I remind myself to step back and take a look at the big picture with an open mind and without jumping to conclusions.

clarity

To see what’s happening within and around me clearly, I remind myself to step back and take a look at the big picture with an open mind and without jumping to conclusions.

compassion I remind myself that I have the capacity to understand what something looks and feels like from another person’s perspective, and to respond to him or her wisely and with kindness.

compassion

I remind myself that I have the capacity to understand what something looks and feels like from another person’s perspective, and to respond to him or her wisely and with kindness.

wise confidence I remind myself that I can tolerate uncomfortable situations and feelings and that I can stay clearheaded and warmhearted in any situation.   

wise confidence

I remind myself that I can tolerate uncomfortable situations and feelings and that I can stay clearheaded and warmhearted in any situation.   

 
discernment Before responding to or judging a complex situation, I remind myself to consider whether what’s happening and my possible response are helpful to other people, the planet, and me.

discernment

Before responding to or judging a complex situation, I remind myself to consider whether what’s happening and my possible response are helpful to other people, the planet, and me.

empathy I remind myself that I can step back from any situation, view it from another person’s perspective, and imagine how he or she feels.

empathy

I remind myself that I can step back from any situation, view it from another person’s perspective, and imagine how he or she feels.

everything changes I remind myself that everything comes, everything goes, and everything is in flux.

everything changes

I remind myself that everything comes, everything goes, and everything is in flux.

 
interdependence I remind myself that what’s happening in this moment is the result of countless interdependent factors, some of which I know, some of which I don’t know, and some of which are entirely outside of my control.

interdependence

I remind myself that what’s happening in this moment is the result of countless interdependent factors, some of which I know, some of which I don’t know, and some of which are entirely outside of my control.

joy I remind myself that the conditions for joy and happiness are here all the time, happening all by themselves, and I that I can tap into them at any time.

joy

I remind myself that the conditions for joy and happiness are here all the time, happening all by themselves, and I that I can tap into them at any time.

kindness I remind myself to focus more on the goodness of what I’m doing than on the results.

kindness

I remind myself to focus more on the goodness of what I’m doing than on the results.

 
motivation I remind myself to reflect on why I’m about to do or say something before I do or say it, to make sure that the my purpose is wise and compassionate.

motivation

I remind myself to reflect on why I’m about to do or say something before I do or say it, to make sure that the my purpose is wise and compassionate.

an open mind I remind myself that even things that seem different from one another have something in common and that there is more than one side to every story.

an open mind

I remind myself that even things that seem different from one another have something in common and that there is more than one side to every story.

patience I remind myself that it often takes time to see the results of my own and other peoples’ efforts.

patience

I remind myself that it often takes time to see the results of my own and other peoples’ efforts.

 
present moment I remind myself that I can resist getting sidetracked from the present so that I can observe, listen, and be fully engaged in what’s happening right now.

present moment

I remind myself that I can resist getting sidetracked from the present so that I can observe, listen, and be fully engaged in what’s happening right now.

restraint (behavioral) I remind myself that I can compose myself even when I feel stressed, overly excited, or upset, and I can hold back from reacting to a situation before thinking it through.

restraint (behavioral)

I remind myself that I can compose myself even when I feel stressed, overly excited, or upset, and I can hold back from reacting to a situation before thinking it through.

restraint (contemplative) I remind myself that I can tolerate strong emotions and hold back from reacting to my thoughts, feelings, and sensations.

restraint (contemplative)

I remind myself that I can tolerate strong emotions and hold back from reacting to my thoughts, feelings, and sensations.

 
self-compassion I remind myself to view what I think, feel, say, and do through a wise and kind perspective, and respond to my own thoughts and feelings with wisdom and kindness, too.

self-compassion

I remind myself to view what I think, feel, say, and do through a wise and kind perspective, and respond to my own thoughts and feelings with wisdom and kindness, too.

 
 
 

We learn that focusing on a long out-breath can help us feel more relaxed and calm.