Meet Abby Wills, and learn about Shanti Generation, Guiding Teens to Bring Mindfulness to Life

Abby Wills co-founded Shanti Generation in 2009 to provide greater access to yoga and mindful practices to children and young teens. At the time, there were many resources for young children and families to explore mindfulness, but very few for older children and teens. She wanted her students to have resources to continue their practices beyond the classroom. She also needed an organization to support more immersive practice experiences off campus. Shanti Generations’s Youth Peacemakers Program now brings teens ages 14-16 together for 15 months to practice yoga, mindfulness, compassionate communication and conscious social activism.

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Susan Kaiser Greenland
Meet Dan Siegel, and read an excerpt from his latest book, "Aware"

Dan has gently, yet tirelessly, insisted that contemplative practice be viewed as a powerful vehicle for developing healthy attuned connections – not just with other people but also with ourselves. In book after book, keynote after keynote, and workshop after workshop, Dan’s taken this message to the streets – not just to the mainstream audiences of countless parents, clinicians and educators who rightfully adore him, but also to meditation centers where the connection between mindfulness and relationships hasn’t always been prioritized and is sometimes missed entirely.

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Susan Kaiser Greenland
Meet Gina Biegel, Author of "Be Mindful & Stress Less"

Mindfulness is about being present and aware of your life as it is unfolding moment by moment, whether those moments are awful, wonderful, or neutral. When you are mindful, you become more aware of and in tune with both your physical and mental health and your needs, and whether your self-care gas tank is full or empty. Mindfulness helps you know just how well you are doing from moment to moment with taking care of yourself. Every morning you can assess how you are feeling, what your mood is, and what your needs are, and then make adjustments to get to the balance point of what feels best to you in terms of engaging in self-care. 

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Susan Kaiser Greenland
Meet Mark Bertin, and read an excerpt from his book "How Children Thrive"

Mark’s Bertin's new book How Children Thrive is a smart, readable, and immensely valuable guide to the development of executive skills.  It’s exactly the type of book I was looking for when my children were growing up. I'm delighted to post an excerpt as this month's shout-out along with a Q & A where Mark talks to Aviva DeKornfeld about how he came to mindfulness, moving out of autopilot, and stumbling blocks parents who are new to mindfulness generally face.

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Meet Chris Willard, Author, Psychologist, Educator, and Thought Leader

The recent launch of the International Mindfulness Teachers Association (full disclosure, I'm on the advisory board) has sparked both conversation and controversy over how best to certify teachers and professionalize the mindfulness field. In a guest post, Chris Willard offers seven ethical guidelines for teaching mindfulness to children and families. Chris talks with Aviva DeKornfeld about what moved him to write this piece in May’s shout-out.

The ethical guidelines and Q & A together are a long read. Still, I encourage you to invest the time and carefully consider this argument for best standards from one of the field's thought leaders. 

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Meet Leah Weiss, and read an excerpt from her book “How We Work: Live Your Purpose, Reclaim Your Sanity, and Embrace the Daily Grind”

Emotions may seem like a liability much of the time, especially at work, but in fact, our emotions are an asset: they contain information and wisdom that can help us interpret and address when something is not right, in the workplace and elsewhere—if we are paying attention. When we pay attention to our bodies, we can catch emotional information as it heads upstream, before it hijacks our whole system. Once again, we’re flipping the dialogue. This is an extension of the idea of knowing something in your gut—and in fact, recent research has offered evidence that feelings can “begin” in the gut. Indeed, our referring to the gut as our “second brain” comes from the fact that it has more than two hundred million neurons and contains three-quarters of the body’s immune cells. Interviewed by Aviva DeKornfield

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Susan Kaiser Greenland
Meet Suzi Tortora, Dance Movement Therapist and Infancy Mental Health and Development Specialist

If you take a class with Dr. Suzi Tortora, you might find yourself crawling around on the floor, wiggling around in mirror with your infant, or dancing around with your eyes closed,  engrossed in your bodily experience. No matter what you do, the goal is to find yourself more in tune with your body and the way you communicate without even knowing you’re doing it.

Suzi Tortora is a board certified dance movement therapist and expert in early childhood development, and a Laban Nonverbal Movement Analyst. She has a private dance movement psychotherapy practice with two locations, one in New York City and one in Cold Spring-on-the-Hudson, New York. She also teaches courses and lectures on dance therapy and movement analysis. Profile by Ellie Duke.

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Susan Kaiser Greenland
Meet B. Alan Wallace, Tibetan Buddhist teacher and read an excerpt from “The Attention Revolution"

B. Alan Wallace is president of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies. He trained for many years as a monk in Buddhist monasteries in India and Switzerland. He has taught Buddhist theory and practice in Europe and America since 1976 and has served as interpreter for numerous Tibetan scholars and contemplatives, including H. H. the Dalai Lama.  He has edited, translated, authored, and contributed to more than forty books on Tibetan Buddhism, medicine, language, and culture, and the interface between science and religion. He talks to Ellie Duke about Buddhism, the difference between Buddhism and secular mindfulness, and attention.

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Meet Sunny Wight, Founder and Executive Director of Mindfulness First

Before October 2013, Mindfulness First Founder and executive director Sunny Wight felt that a crucial component of child development was absent from the curriculum of central Arizona elementary schools: the concept of mindful awareness and social-emotional learning. Luckily, that month was the turning point — by the end of the year, the nonprofit Mindfulness First had kicked off its campaign of shifting the area’s educational standards toward an approach that favors the “whole child,” shaping kids to be more well-rounded, emotionally mature, and self-aware. Almost four years later, by the summer of 2017, Mindfulness First has achieved far-reaching, well-documented success in the Balsz school district of Phoenix, and this is just the beginning of a promising future, not only for the organization but also for students across Arizona.

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Meet Daniel Rechtschaffen, Author, Mindfulness Teacher, and Founder of the Online Program Mindful Education

When he is not busy traversing the country and hopping the globe to teach, Daniel is known for putting together the Mindfulness in Education Conference and Teacher Training at the Omega Institute each year, as well as for founding and directing the Mindful Education program. Designed for educators to expand their skill sets with understanding, mindfulness, and social-emotional learning, the Mindful Education system boasts a host of big names in its faculty and an innovative approach to teacher training. In addition to all this, Daniel released a documentary film a few months ago that captures his past experiences mentoring and collaborating with young students. Fortunately for us, Daniel kindly paused it all for a moment to provide his thoughts and observations on the mindfulness field.  Interviewed by AJ Urquidi

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Meet Theo Koffler, Founder of Mindfulness Without Borders

Before founding Mindfulness Without Borders, Theo Koffler was a successful young entrepreneur in the healthcare field for 20 years. After being diagnosed with LUPUS she was forced to leave her career to restore her health. After years of personal healing work, her second career has been spent developing programs focused on mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and mental health. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Mindfulness Without Borders is active in 15 countries around the world and operates youth programs, professional development programs, and online courses.

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Meet Sharon Salzberg, and read an excerpt from "Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection"

Sharon Salzberg is a teacher of Buddhist meditation practices and author of ten books, including the New York Times bestseller Real Happiness. She is the founder, with Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield, of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and the co-founder with Joseph Goldstein of the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies and the Forest Refuge meditation retreat center.Sharon’s most recent book is entitled Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection.  Sharon speaks here about “real love,” followed by a short excerpt from the book.

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Susan Kaiser Greenland
Meet Sumi Loundon Kim, and read an excerpt from "Sitting Together"

When my own two children (now ages 9 and 11) became preschoolers, I had a deep desire to instill the same values and spiritual skills that had so fortunately been shared with me. I feel that learning a spiritual language of any kind is key to articulating a meaningful and purposeful life and that the sooner one can learn that, the more fluent, creative, and playful one can be. From my own experience, I knew that spiritual growth needs the soil of community. As such, I started a local meditation group for families here in North Carolina, which in time became a fully-fledged parent and child program called the Buddhist Families of Durham (not very Buddhist, in fact — more of a Buddhist-inflected mindfulness program).

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Meet Lindsay duPont, Artist and Illustrator

Lindsay duPont is an artist and illustrator whose work is undeniably funny and joyful, which she says helps her achieve her own “happiness quotient.” She has illustrated six children’s books and self-published two more. Her drawings are expressive and bold, often colorful and witty, and imbued with the unmistakable texture of Lindsay’s personality. Lindsay is also the artist of the many wonderful little illustrations in Mindful Games and across this website. Raised outside of Chicago in a big family, Lindsay is now a mother of three and lives about 30 minutes outside of New York City, where her studio overlooks the Hudson River.  Interviewed by Ellie Duke

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Meet the Flourish Foundation, and its Executive Director Ryan Redman

From childbirth classes to programs for senior citizens, the Flourish Foundation proudly offers mindfulness to all residents of Sun Valley, Idaho, regardless of their ages. Fueled by its core belief that people’s inner lives determine the way they engage with the world, Flourish has been inspiring systemic change from the inside out since 2010. Ryan is a close friend and core faculty member of the Inner Kids training model, and we’re delighted to talk to him about his work with the foundation. Interviewed by AJ Urquidi

 

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Meet Kelly Barron, creator of the Project Presence program

A former staff writer for Forbes magazine, Kelly Barron brings her journalistic sensibilities into her practice as a mindfulness teacher. She reads incessantly, gleaning information from a wide range of fields to inform her work. Her background in journalism also means she is familiar with stress, and all of the havoc it can wreak on the body. She started meditating in order to deal with that stress, and its benefits were so powerful and wide-reaching that she decided to devote her life to bringing the work to others.Interviewed by Ellie Duke

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Meet Angelike Dexter: a mindfulness and Mindful Self-Compassion in Los Angeles

A former labor and employment attorney in the entertainment industry, Angelike Dexter was first introduced to mindfulness strategies for children in one of Tandy Park's baby groups in Santa Monica. Angelike's daughter found the world to be a challenging place and learning tools to help her find emotional balance was a gift. As Angelike's practice deepened, she was inspired to teach mindfulness to kids other than her own. Interviewed by Ellie Duke

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Meet Ellis Enlow, an educator who has specialized in early childhood for 19 years

Based out of Culver City’s independent Echo Horizon School, Ellis Enlow has embarked on a noteworthy journey, having served as a Pre-K classroom teacher, a visiting classroom mindfulness teacher, an educator of parents, a preschool director, and (albeit briefly) a lawyer. She co-teaches in a holistic program for Pre-K students that she designed years ago that continues to evolve. Given the many professional hats Ellis has worn over the years, it's no surprise that she has plenty of stories to tell and wisdom to share. Interviewed by AJ Urquidi

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Meet Juanita Cabrales, a preschool teacher for over 14 years

Juanita Cabrales, a native of Texas, has been a Pre-K teacher at Momentous Institute for more than 14 years. At Momentous Institute, Juanita has specialized in the development of three-year-olds, guiding and strengthening their social-emotional health in order to equip them for the challenges of their advancing education. Interviewed by AJ Urquidi.

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Meet Kelly Petrie, an independent contemplative educator

Amidst those cold Wisconsin winters, Kelly Petrie brings warmth and energy to her practice of mindful education, bringing out the inner exuberance in all of her students. Before getting her Master of Arts in Contemplative Education from Naropa University, Petrie worked in education as a support person for children on the autism spectrum. She brings the awareness of and attention to inclusivity fostered in her previous career to her work as a mindfulness educator. Petrie strives to create a welcoming community in her workshop spaces, with a particular interest in creating an inclusive environment for students on the autism spectrum, and for transgender and gender nonconforming students. Interviewed by Eleanor Duke.

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