Blog-Publications

Mindfulness Practice for Sleep: Encouraging restfulness for the whole family.

“Of all the things we do on a regular basis, sleeping is one of the most extraordinary and least appreciated.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn (founder of MBSR)

Sleep is extremely important for our mental and physical health and yet so many people have trouble falling or staying asleep. We can’t force ourselves to go to sleep; it’s a state that we have to let go into. Everyone is different and each of us needs a different amount of sleep to be at our best. “Contrary to popular opinion, older people don’t need less sleep than the average person. In fact, adults require about the same amount of sleep from their 20s into old age, although the number of hours per night varies from person to person”. (WebMD). 

Sleep plays a very important role in the development of young minds. Sleep directly affects our feelings of happiness, alertness and attention as well as cognitive performance, mood and memory. “Sleep also has important effects on growth, especially in early infancy.” (Sleep Foundation)

Mindfulness can help us enjoy deep and restorative sleep and the practice that encourages this is a “body scan”. In a body scan, we are guided to place our attention on the body, slowly and sequentially by noticing one area at a time. For children, this may be done with the aid of a visual, such as a butterfly that lands on the body and when it does that part of the body is allowed to relax. For adults, it may be just noticing each part of the body in turn, being curious of the sensations there and then breathing into the area. 

I like using a recorded yoga Nidra or an MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) body scan. Mindful Frontiers has some on our Youtube channel as well as on our Insight Timer page. The following practice is one that can be done as a family at the end of the day or when a parent is helping a child fall asleep. When done together, a member of the family such as an adult or older sibling may read the script. Then, I suggest recording and reusing it so that everyone can relax together. If all members of the family fall asleep, that’s even better! 

Body Scan Meditation for Restful Sleep

  1. Begin the meditation by noticing the sensations at the top of your head. Simply note what you feel. There may be itchiness, warmth or tension.
  2. Focus your attention on your skull as it makes contact with the bed or the pillow. Allow curiosity in the sensations present and breathe into them.
  3. Scan your face area, forehead, eyes and nose. Notice tingling, temperature, tightness; let it all be there. 
  4. Now bring your attention to your upper body. Breathe gently, directing the breath and focus first to your shoulders.
  5. Notice your left shoulder and then your right shoulder. Notice how they feel.
  6. Allow your awareness to move down your arms and all the way to your hands and fingers. Allow all of this area to soften and relax.
  7. Let your attention now go to your back. Imagine a zigzag movement across your back as you breathe into this area and notice what’s there.
  8. Notice your upper back, your mid-back and the sensations in your lower back. Allow any pain or tightness to ease with the breath.
  9. Now, notice your pelvic area and the places where your body has contact with the bed. Feel whatever sensations are present and welcome relaxation. 
  10. Bring this kind and curious attention to your legs, knees and calves. Notice whatever sensations are present: vibration, tingling, temperature, heaviness. 
  11. Lastly, bring your attention to your ankles, feet and toes. Breathe deeply and let relaxation reach these body extremities.

Now that you’ve scanned your body once, you can start again. This time, you might start at your feet and go back up through your body until you get to the top of your head. Feel free to scan your body up and down as many times as is helpful for you to fully relax.

(Adapted from mindful.org)

Published in The Taos News, May 12, 2022

Families Meditate Together

Mindfulness in Daily Family Life: Anything Can Be Done Mindfully

“We have the ability to work wonders. If we live mindfully in everyday life, walk mindfully, are full of love and caring, then we create a miracle and transform the world into a wonderful place.”  — Thich Nhat Hanh from Moments of Mindfulness, 2013

Mindfulness can be brought into our daily activities so that anything we do becomes meditation. Doing the dishes, cleaning the house, driving the car, drinking coffee or tea, and walking with a pet can all be done mindfully. 

Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, and peace activist, wrote extensively about mindfulness in daily life. “Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment. It is the continuous practice of touching life deeply in every moment of daily life. To be mindful is to be truly alive, present, and at one with those around you and with what you are doing. We bring our body and mind into harmony while we wash the dishes, drive the car, or take our morning shower.” Thay (as he is referred to by his followers), taught that anything we do can be meditation. 

When we engage in an activity mindfully we slow down and REALLY pay attention with applied concentration and open curiosity. I have noticed that when mindfulness is brought to an activity it becomes really enjoyable and imaginative. When the activity is partaken by a group, everyone has a different experience and it is meaningful to all.

When I teach mindfulness to children and families, we engage all the senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch. What do we see right now? What do we smell, touch, taste, and hear right now as we are doing this together?

Another thing we can do is recite a gatha or phrase while we engage in an activity and it brings the mind and body together with a calm and clear mind.  Here are a couple of gathas to consider: “Brushing my teeth and rinsing my mouth, I vow to speak purely and lovingly. When my mouth is fragrant with Right Speech, a flower blooms in the garden of my heart. Before starting the car I know where I am going. The car and I are one. If the car goes fast, I go fast.” (From Plum Village website)

This month let’s really pay attention to activities we engage in together. The following practice can be used during any activity to bring mindfulness into the shared experience.


Mindfulness in Daily Life family practice

Choose an activity to experience mindfully: Washing the Dishes, Walking the Dog, Driving to School. You choose the activity. The practice is the same.

  • Begin by consciously identifying what you are doing right now together. 
  • The practice welcomes all the senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. The leader in the practice asks the questions one at a time, allowing for individual experience.
  • What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? What do you feel? What do you taste? For example, if we are washing the dishes, we identify the dish we are washing and notice its texture, color, and design. What sounds do we hear as the cloth rubs the surface or the dishes touch one another? How does the water temperature feel on our hands? What does the soap smell like and is there a sense of taste? (Sometimes smell and taste are related in the body)
  • Each sense is invited and a quiet moment is allowed for everyone to have their experience. We invite patience and awareness and don’t hurry to the next sense.

Walking is also a great activity to do mindfully. Consider this if you walk a pet regularly. While walking, invite all the senses just as was suggested above.

Published April 21, 2022 in The Taos News

Equanimity Practice to Cultivate Non-Reactivity and Freedom

This month I’d like to share with you the practice of Equanimity or Non-Reactivity.  In Buddhist psychology, there are the Four Divine Abodes. These are loving-kindness, compassion, joy and the most important, equanimity. During times of challenge, it is helpful to have a tool we can use to navigate the emotions we are experiencing from exposure to a conflict-filled and struggling world. This month’s practice focuses on non-reactivity so that we can view what is going on around us with care. Equanimity is an inner refuge that brings freedom and acceptance.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. 

In that space is our power to choose our response. 

In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” 

(Victor Frankl, author & Holocaust survivor)

In the words of Tara Brach, a Buddhist-trained meditation teacher who blends Western psychology and Eastern spiritual practices, “If we want to bring our intelligence, creativity and love into our relationships and world, we need to be able to access an inner refuge of presence.” The family practice I’m sharing with you explores how to bring equanimity (inner balance and non-reactive awareness) into our responses to what is going on around us. The practice uses the mantra, And This …, which allows space for the changing experiences of life to be acknowledged and move through us as we ground in the present moment.

When life gets busy and overwhelming, a powerful antidote is to pause, take a breath, notice what’s going on and then choose our next step. The freedom that comes from the pause is powerful. In the pause is the spaciousness of presence; it allows us to be aware and non-reactive. And when we’re able to rest and notice what is going on in the moment, we can find peace in our hearts. When we think with the heart, the mind will follow. 

Equanimity / Non-Judgment of the Present Moment practice using AND THIS…:

– Start by finding a comfortable place to sit in meditation as a family and choose a leader who will read the step-by-step practice that follows. If there are young children, I recommend bringing out some blank paper and coloring materials so they can participate in the AND THIS… activity using creativity. 

– Begin with a couple of deep breaths in through the nose and out the mouth. This relaxes the mind and body and engages the parasympathetic nervous system.

– Settling into the natural breath we notice the in and out rhythm and we also notice how the body is feeling. Is there tension, emotions, restlessness? Name what is felt and where it is felt in the body. Young children are encouraged to name what they feel in any way they wish.

– Next, we conjure up a difficult situation in the world: conflict in Ukraine, famine in Africa; whatever the family wishes to focus on. As we visualize the difficult situation, we see the suffering, the injustice and the pain in our mind’s eye. Each time we come back to noticing our breath and introduce the mantra, AND THIS _________.  We notice the feelings and allow them to be here, labeling them with a word: AND THIS sadness, AND THIS pain, AND THIS fear, AND THIS … For young children, we can have them draw what they are feeling about the situation. 

– Again and again, we bring ourselves back to the moment as it is with nonjudgment. No need to label it as not good, not bad, not even neutral, just life unfolding with us in it, just the here and now reality; and this, and this, and this. Young children may need to express what they are feeling with words and this is where the drawing comes in. Encourage them to put whatever they are feeling into their drawings.

– When ready, bring everyone’s attention back to the breath going in and out, allowing it to slow down, feeling your body settling back into the sitting posture. Open your eyes and gaze around the room, reintegrating the mind and body. Everyone can notice something in the room that has a bright color and shape and as we pay attention to it, we wake up from the meditation. 

– If there’s time, a family discussion can be invited to share the experience, the drawings and how the meditation went for everyone.

– Equanimity meditation can be done anytime something affects us emotionally. Take a few calming breaths, notice how the body feels, repeat the AND THIS … mantra as many times as desired, inserting a feeling word. When ready, we can move on with the day enjoying the freedom that comes from taking a pause.

Anne-Marie Emanuelli is founder and Creative Director at Mindful Frontiers LLC, an education-based mindfulness meditation center offering workshops, classes and coaching for children, families, classrooms and individuals. For more information please go visit the website MindfulFrontiers.net.

Published March 10, 2022 in The Taos News

Self-Compassion (Karuna) Meditation for Parents

February is the month of red hearts, roses and chocolate. Valentine’s Day encourages us to express our love to others with cards and gifts. This custom is said to have started in the 1500swith commercial cards appearing in the 1700s. 

Usually, in this column, I share meditation practices for the entire family to do together. This month I’d like to invite adults in the family to practice unconditional love for themselves. The practice of Karuna is one in which we generate compassion for ourselves. In the book “Self-Compassion for Parents: Nurture Your Child by Caring for Yourself,” Susan M. Pollak writes, “…have you ever had the wish that a wise and compassionate person would show up at your doorstep just when you needed it the most – when your toddler has a meltdown, when your daughter gets bullied in high school, when you disagree with your partner about parenting, or when you’re just plain overwhelmed?” The following meditation practice encourages us to take on the role of this wise and compassionate guide. Self-compassion, or Karuna, gives us permission to offer the comfort we would share with a friend or loved one to ourselves.

Kindness and Self-Compassion practice for parents:

  • Start by finding a quiet space where you will not be disturbed. Your bedroom, the bathroom, a closet or even the car works. If the sun is shining through the window, that’s an added bonus.
  • Sit in a comfortable position on the floor or on a cushion or chair. Close your eyes if that feels ok. Otherwise, just stare at a neutral spot in front of you.
  • Begin by noticing your breath going in and out of the body, either at the nostrils, the chest or the belly. Using curiosity, follow the flow of the breath from the very start of the inhale, all the way through to the exhale. You can experiment with pausing a couple of seconds at the end of the in-breath and at the end of the out-breath. (This is a form of box breathing). Slowing down the breath activates the parasympathetic nervous system and welcomes calm and tranquility.
  • Once you feel relaxed, notice any emotions or feelings. Is there tension in the neck? Do you have a headache? Is there residual anger or fear? Are you hungry? Thirsty? Tired? See if you can identify and label the feeling or emotion. Usually, when we slow down and get curious, something comes to the surface that needs our attention. 
  • Now, allowing that emotion and sensation to be as it is, start rocking the body in any direction that feels right. Just as you rock your baby to sleep, you are rocking your emotions to stillness. You may like to put one or both hands on your heart, calling in warmth and compassion.
  • Now, ask yourself these questions: “What do I need?” “What does my body need?” Pause and listen for a response. 
  • Take a few minutes to be open to whatever comes up, without judging or censoring your response. You may choose to write this down on paper or just sit with it for several more breaths.
  • With this information in mind, create a mantra for yourself for the rest of this meditation using the following phrases. May I be … May my body be … (fill in the blank for yourself)
    • (For example, May I feel loved. May my body relax. May I feel safe. May my body be at ease.)
  • Repeat your mantra while breathing slowly for as long as you can before ending your meditation with a smile and a sense of gratitude for taking time for yourself.

A quick version of this can be used when you find yourself caught up by emotions or reactions during the day. Stop, take a few slow breaths, ask yourself what you need and create a mantra to repeat. Try it anytime you need some self-compassion.

published in The Taos News, February 10, 2022

Welcoming a Mindful New Year: How to Bring Meditation into Your Family’s Routine.

It’s a new year according to the construct of our human-made 12-month calendar. However, it is not just a new wall or desk calendar. “A new year starts when Earth has made one orbit around the Sun. This takes roughly 365 days, so every new year on the last day of December, we are at the same location around the Sun as last year.” (Astronomicca.com) 

As we get ready to start a new year, many people will resolve to make changes in their life. Most New Year’s resolutions start with honest determination and end within a few weeks or months with lassitude. In this month’s column, I’d like to explain how to bring mindfulness and meditation into your family’s daily routine and make it stick. It isn’t difficult and like any change, it takes willingness, vulnerability, and practice. Meditation is called a “practice” for good reason: it takes repetition, just like an exercise routine, to make it part of our schedule. So how can a family bring mindfulness meditation into an already-busy schedule? It’s as simple as one breath, one present moment at a time, and practice.

The reasons for bringing mindfulness meditation (also called vipassana meditation) into your family’s life are well researched and proven. 

  • Families learn how present-moment mindfulness awareness can bring relaxation and social-emotional wellbeing into their home.
  • Children learn that they aren’t judged by their thoughts, sensations, and feelings.
  • Mindfulness is a way to feel good about yourself, just as we are in this moment, and it settles the nervous system in the process.
  • Parents model what it looks like to be confident yet relaxed; to be happy and at ease, while accepting that life is never perfect.
  • Families build strong bonds through a shared activity; the time spent together is an investment in compassionate relationship-building.

Five ways to bring mindfulness into your family’s daily routine:

  • When the family is gathered at the dinner table, mindfulness can be incorporated in the first few minutes before eating. Whether you say a prayer or express gratitude for the food being shared, mindfulness can be as simple as a couple of minutes of noticing the body, the food, the colors, and acknowledging all that came together for the food to be available at this moment. In my family, we say a prayer and when it’s my turn, I start by having everyone feel their feet on the floor, head reaching the sky, sitting area on the chair, and what is felt at the heart center. Then, we thank all life forms for the food on the table and all those who had a part in bringing the meal to the table.
  • When the family is driving to and from school or another activity, we can notice sounds, sights, feelings internally and externally in our environment. Electronic devices are put down for a short period of present-moment mindfulness. 
  • When picking up children from school, parents generally ask, “How was school today?” Often, the answer is a basic, “Fine”. We can encourage more discussion by asking the question, “What is something that happened today that felt good, brought joy, made you laugh?” Then, we can ask, “How did that feel in your body?” It may be harder for younger children to tap into this and they will learn how with practice.
  • During an active time of the day, we can do some mindful movement. Dancing, yoga, walking, and just jumping around can be an opportunity for mindfulness. Encouraging children to notice what their body is doing, how it feels in the different limbs to move, what sounds are generated by the activity, and if this is happening outside, noticing nature is a great mindful activity.
  • Before settling in for the night, the parent can lead a body scan to bring mindful relaxation to the bedtime routine. Bringing attention to each part of the body, starting from the feet or the head is very relaxing. Imagining a butterfly landing on each part of the body can add visualization to the body scan.

I suggest experimenting with one of these for one week at a time and then discussing with your children which ones they enjoy. Then, rotate between these mindfulness activities from time to time to keep the experience fresh. Children (and parents) like having a predictable routine and yet can get bored with the same thing after a while. Although meditation is about practice, our minds need variety, too.

published January 13, 2022 in The Taos News

Wintering

I was on a bike ride today, listening to an On Being podcast, KATHERINE MAY – HOW ‘WINTERING’ REPLENISHES, referring to her recent book entitled, “The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times” (Link below), and I felt inspired to share my thoughts on the idea of “wintering”.

First, a summary of the interview: “In so many stories and fables that shape us, cold and snow, the closing in of the light — these have deep psychological as much as physical reality. This is ‘wintering,’ as the English writer Katherine May illuminates in her beautiful, meditative book of that title — at once a season of the natural world, a respite our bodies require, and a state of mind.”

My thoughts to share: I have a hard time letting go of the green seasons (Spring and Summer). Although I appreciate the beauty of Autumn and cherish the spectacular changing of the season with the bright and sunny leaves, and “Indian summer” warmth that signals the transformation, I grieve. It takes me several weeks to settle into the change as I experience the hibernation of plants, the drying of flowers, and the shedding of leaves. By mid-November, when the brown season has settled in, I’m better, looking forward to snow and wearing cozy sweaters. Still, in my heart, I acknowledge a deep love of the green seasons.

The podcast interview with Katherine May helped me understand going inward, being contemplative, and slowing down during the wintering time of year. And right now in December, we are in a “quiet season” when we let Mother Earth rest. So I’ll rest with her until the Winter Solstice signals a promise of light returning. The days will get one minute longer each day as we cross the bridge of mid-winter. It will still be cold, brown, quiet, and introspective for a few months, and my heart will be sensing that the green seasons are not too far away.

Our life is one of cycles (seasons, rituals, celebrations), writes Katherine May, and we can allow ourselves to be part of the cycles without judgment. Staying present in each moment with equanimity is how we find solace and stability in the cycles of the seasons. In the words of the interview, “the framing of Wintering, of the understanding of the seasonal, cyclical, of the rhythmic nature of these things, gives you a frame actually to live with it.”

What are your thoughts on the change of seasons? Please share.

Katherine May — How ‘Wintering’ Replenishes | The On Being Project

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Small hearts can hold lots of gratitude

Mindful eating practice for families

Gratitude is the theme for November with Thanksgiving and Chanukah holidays coming up. Practicing gratitude is an extremely important skill because it brings joy and appreciation to our life through the power of the heart. It’s mental health and a daily attitude that helps us connect with that which brings us joy. Mindful eating is a perfect mindfulness activity for the month of November and one that can be practiced any time that food is available.

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” 

– A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Appreciation through kindness

Gratitude is defined as “readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness” (Webster online dictionary). What’s important in this definition is the willingness to appreciate and to incorporate kindness. We may be appreciative of what we have, what we don’t have, how we feel, or how we are experiencing life and we relate to this with kindness. Being grateful helps us alleviate suffering by bringing our awareness to the positive instead of the negative. It is also a way to practice open-hearted kindness towards others and ourselves.

Daily gratitude practices can be a way to focus on the positive

During this global pandemic, mental health has been affected by stress, worry, and a general malaise that we are all experiencing. As a long-time meditation practitioner and teacher, gratitude practice is a staple in my daily routine. I keep a gratitude journal in which I write what I’m grateful for either at the start or end of the day. I find that practicing gratitude brings present-moment awareness and a way to wind down the mind.

Parenting is challenging so gratitude is a family activity that reaps benefits for everyone.

As a parent to a teenager, I try to model being grateful to remind my family of the benefits of this practice. We often ask each other what we are grateful for at the dinner table or before retiring for the night. We say a gratitude prayer before we eat, thanking all that had a part in the meal. My daughter and husband are getting better at training the mind to focus more on the positive aspects of the day. My family has learned about the power of attraction and when we think positive thoughts, we attract more gratitude and positivity and feelings of well-being. It doesn’t take a lot of time to practice this and can be as simple as pausing, taking three long deep breaths, reflecting on the present moment, and then choosing something or someone for which to be grateful. The practice does take repetition to become routine and it is well worth the effort.  That’s why it is called “a practice.”

Some aspects of life for which we can be grateful:

  • A place to live
  • Work that sustains
  • Food that nourishes the body
  • Feelings that bring awareness to the self
  • Pets who bring unconditional love
  • Family with whom we can communicate 
  • A mind that can choose what to think about
  • A heart that can be open to compassion and empathy
  • A body that is healthy and able to move freely
  • Open spaces in which to exercise
  • Talents we can share with others
  • The present moment in which reality is positive

This gratitude practice is inspired by Thank the Farmer from Mindful Games by Susan Kaiser Greenland and is a mindful eating practice that is perfect for the holiday season. 

Choose a person to “lead” the meditation practice. This person will read the instructions as well as participate. This is a slow practice so make sure to take your time.

  1. Start by picking one item of food. A raisin is commonly used. I have also used popcorn or a piece of cookie. It must be small as this is not a meal or even a snack. It is a mindfulness practice and using our 5 senses, we will explore the story of this food.
  2. With the food in your fingers, notice what it feels like. Smooth, rough, squishy, hard, etc.
  3. With your eyes, notice what it looks like. A cloud, a shape, a bumpy glob, etc.
  4. With your nose, notice what it smells like. Sweet, strong, weird, etc.
  5. With your ears and fingers, notice what it sounds like. Crackles, squeaky, etc.
  6. With your mind, consider where this food grew. A farm, a forest, a garden, etc.
  7. Consider who picked this food? A person, a machine, a family, etc.
  8. Ask yourself how it gets to the store? A truck, a car, a person brings it, etc.
  9. How did it get from the store to your home? Your parent, friend, sibling, etc.
  10. Now, we take a moment to feel gratitude for having this food to eat. Say, “thank you” to everyone who had a part in growing and bringing the food to your home. The farmer, the picker, the truck driver, etc.
  11. Now we put the food on our tongue and notice what it tastes like, before actually eating it. Don’t chew yet! Just let it sit there momentarily.
  12. Finally, we get to chew it… what does it taste like now, after all that mindful awareness? 
  13. Have you thought about your food this way before? Do you think it tastes differently now?

Thanks for trying out this practice. I’d love to hear what your family experienced. Email me at mindfulfrontiers@gmail.com.

Anne-Marie Emanuelli is the founder and Creative Director of Mindful Frontiers LLC, an education-based mindfulness meditation center in northern New Mexico offering classes, workshops, and coaching to children, families, and individuals of all ages and meditation experience. Anne-Marie’s credentials are from Mindful Schools and Sage Institute for Creativity and Consciousness as well as an 8-week MBSR course. She is a retired NM level 3 licensed classroom teacher and has taught mindfulness to students since 2016.

For more information on Mindful Frontiers and meditation, see our website at MindfulFrontiers.net.

Moods Change Like the Weather: A gratitude practice for families

(A similar version was published in The Taos News, October 14, 2021)

The human brain seems to have a natural tendency to remember negative experiences more than positive interactions. Psychologists refer to this as negativity bias. “Our brains are wired to scout for the bad stuff and fixate on the threat”, says Rick Hanson, Ph.D., a psychologist, Senior Fellow of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center.

Our brain is by function and development a very “old” organ. The part of our brain that is the least developed is the amygdala and is responsible for the fight, flight, freeze reaction to emotional experiences. This inner brain was very important when we were hunter-gatherers because we needed to be ever vigilant of threats to our survival. 

Gratitude is a powerful meditation tool for dealing with our changing moods which I describe as our internal weather patterns.

— Anne-Marie Emanuelli

As humans have evolved, this part of the brain has remained essentially undeveloped. On the other hand, the largest part of the brain, the cerebral cortex, has evolved and continues to develop. This frontal area is responsible for many higher-order functions such as perception, sensation, memory, and interpretation. Meditation and mindfulness stimulate this area of the brain as well as the parasympathetic nervous system that originates in the brainstem and is responsible for relaxation. 

Gratitude is a powerful meditation tool for dealing with our changing moods which I describe as our internal weather patterns. When teaching young children about emotions, I encourage describing them as weather such as stormy, cloudy, rainy, and sunny. Young children understand how the weather feels much easier than describing their emotional state. They know “mad, glad & sad” and it’s more challenging for them to describe how they are feeling with more subtle and specific emotional words. Each child perceives their mood differently so “cloudy” for one child may mean feeling introspective while for another could mean lonely. It doesn’t really matter. The point is that by labeling emotions we move the experience out of the amygdala to the frontal cortex which makes it possible for us to bring mindfulness to the emotion. When we practice gratitude we feel kindness and appreciation for our life experiences. Mindfulness can help us notice thoughts and sensations in the present moment.

The more one welcomes gratitude, the more comfortable one can be with feeling emotions. With practice, the change of moods will settle as the heart fills with kindness. The following practice is intended to help children notice moods & emotions, to bring gratitude and awareness to them, and feel a lifting of internal weather patterns.

Family Meditation Practice: This practice uses gratitude and mindfulness to notice and allow emotions to transform.

First, find a comfortable place to sit together as a family. A circle is a nice configuration that generates unity and attention. Choose a person to “lead” the meditation practice. This person will read the instructions as well as participate.
1. Once everyone is comfortable and still, start with some quiet breathing. Can you feel the rhythm of your breath as it flows in and out of the body?
2. While being aware of your breath, bring attention to your heart center. If you’d like, you can put your hands on your heart. Then, notice how you are feeling inside your body.
3. Each person takes a turn sharing how they are feeling today. What kind of weather describes how that feels? Cloudy, sunny, rainy, stormy, windy, etc. Try to visualize the weather swishing through your body. Everyone gets to share what they are feeling and what kind of weather it is.
4. Now everyone gets quiet again and notices their breathing. After a few calming breaths, imagine/visualize something in your heart like a person, a flower, a stuffed animal, or a special place that brings you joy. Continue breathing in and out while you silently feel gratitude for what you have in your heart.  You can say, “I love you” to that image.
5. Continue visualizing the gratitude image while also noticing the weather going around your body.  The weather is swishing around with the gratitude image in the center of the heart.As we continue feeling the “weather pattern” and visualizing the gratitude image, notice how they merge together into something else, like a sunny day or a quiet, cloudy day. Stay curious about what is happening inside. 
6. When it’s time to close the meditation circle, have everyone describe what they are feeling now. Maybe a word, weather, or a picture can be used. Then, everyone takes a big, deep breath together.
Thank you for trying this meditation.

Bio/Attribution:

Anne-Marie Emanuelli is the founder and Creative Director of Mindful Frontiers LLC, an education-based mindfulness meditation center in northern New Mexico offering classes, workshops, and coaching to children, families, and individuals of all ages and meditation experience. Anne-Marie’s credentials are from Mindful Schools and Sage Institute for Creativity and Consciousness as well as an 8-week MBSR course. She is a retired NM level 3 licensed classroom teacher and has taught mindfulness to students since 2016.
For more information on Mindful Frontiers and meditation, see our website at MindfulFrontiers.net

Families Meditate Together Column

The monthly newspaper column in The Taos News publishes on the second Thursday of the month. The purpose of this Families Meditate Together column is to encourage families to explore the benefits of bringing mindfulness and meditation into their daily routine. Each column will focus on a topic of teaching, followed by a practice, which can be done at home or during a regular day of activities.


Welcoming a Mindful New Year: Bringing Meditation into Your Family’s Routine.

published January 13, 2022

https://www.taosnews.com/opinion/columns/welcoming-a-mindful-year/article_c5c282f9-fc14-5ca3-8d4c-94d91c6312bf.html




Meditation brings joy and kindness to family celebrations

Published December 9, 2021

https://www.taosnews.com/opinion/columns/meditation-brings-joy-and-kindness-to-family-celebrations/article_a259a53c-a69e-553b-83f6-bd74c434ba38.html



Small hearts can hold lots of gratitude: Mindful eating practice for families

published November 11, 2021

https://www.taosnews.com/opinion/columns/small-hearts-can-hold-lots-of-gratitude/article_3ae29e8f-271a-522f-8ab0-fde713b1ddf9.html



Moods change like the weather: A gratitude practice for families

published October 14, 2021

https://www.taosnews.com/opinion/columns/moods-change-like-the-weather/article_1cba8c2f-a2bb-5e21-80fe-d7d8a4ff4e58.html



Slowly, slowly: Movement meditation brings mindfulness into daily activities

published September 9, 2021

https://www.taosnews.com/opinion/columns/slowly-slowly-movement-meditation-brings-mindfulness-into-daily-activities/article_d912c87a-1271-11ec-8302-033fdf327ce0.html



Make mindfulness part of your child’s daily routine

published August 19, 2021

https://www.taosnews.com/opinion/columns/make-mindfulness-part-of-your-childs-daily-routine/article_dbb38efb-81e2-549d-b84c-9991a67225ff.html

Swimming and sports as mindful movement meditation.

Conscious Daily Mindful Musings

My first love (as far as sports) is swimming. I began swimming competitively at about eight years old. It’s also how I met my husband. (Another story) Last year, during the first wave of the pandemic, not being able to swim was a mental and physical challenge. Regular walking, jogging, and mountain biking kept me sane and were daily movement meditations.

During the summer months, I love swimming outdoors. The Quail Ridge pool (local tennis and sports club) has been a sanctuary for many years. And this summer, when it closed about a month early due to mechanical issues, I have been swimming at the Taos Spa and Tennis Club. Starting next week, I’ll be moving to the Taos Youth and Family aquatic center; so grateful there are many swimming options in such a small town.

I’ve also enjoyed swimming in the Rio Grande, and have created a workout for myself by swimming upstream for a while and then coming back down to the John Dunn bridge aided by the current. Hoping to swim there for a few weeks more as the water gets progressively more chilly.

During this morning’s pool swim I was reciting mantras as a way to bring present moment awareness to movements while counting laps. (Lam, Vam, Ram, Yam, Ham, Om, + number of laps) and (May I be ….. based on first letter of the number of laps). Combining these two passions of swimming and meditation uses all the muscles of the body including the mind in a wholehearted and harmonious way.

Life is good in the present moment. May we be conscious and healthy as we move about our days. How can you bring mindful meditation to your daily activities?

Mindful FrontiersMindful Frontiers CommunitySAGE Institute for Creativity and Consciousness#meditation#movementmeditation#mindfulnesspractice#swimming#awareness#presentmomentawareness#presentmomentreminder#dailymeditation