Mind Jar for Centering with Kids

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Our minds are busy! Even when we are perfectly still and feeling relatively calm, we find that our thoughts continue to chatter. This is what Buddhists call “Monkey Mind”. One of the reasons that meditation is a spiritual practice is that it can help us become more aware of our thoughts and feelings.

All ages benefit from taking a deep breath and being “mindful” even if it is only for a moment in a busy day. In this way we train ourselves to be able to find a place of calm even in the midst of challenges or overwhelming feelings.

A Mind Jar is a simple spiritual tool. While watching the glitter swirl, sparkle and settle, your mind, body and spirit will feel calmer. As a parent or caregiver of children, making a Mind Jar together is a way to introduce spiritual practice at home.  Download the “Mind Jar Instructions” for what you’ll need, what to do and how to use a Mind Jar.   Enjoy!

Mind Jar Instructions (PDF)

What you’ll need:

  • Mason Jar or Jelly Jar with a top
  • Water
  • Corn Syrup
  • Glitter—size and color of your choice! (Fine glitter stays suspended longer.)
  • Strong holding glue or duct tape.

What to do:

  • Clean the jar and remove any labels
  • For this recipe you will need one part water and one part corn syrup.
  • Before you start, measure the amount of liquid that fills your jar.
  • Heat the water on the stove—do not boil!
  • Once it is hot, stir in the corn syrup.
  • Let it cool.
  • Put the cooled liquid in the jar.
  • Add glitter—at least 2 Tablespoons but as much as you wish.
  • Secure the jar top with glue or duct tape.

How to use:

  • Shake the Mind Jar!
  • Put it down on a flat surface like a table or the floor.
  • Watch as the glitter settles to the bottom.
  • A Mind Jar can be enjoyed any time! You can use it alone, with others or at bedtime for a centering moment.

Special thanks to Kristin Stiles-Hall for sharing her recipe with us (she tried six kinds!) and for teaching Mindfulness in our RE program.   Kristin is a member of First Parish in Concord and is a Holistic Integrative Counselor/Healer.

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7 Ways to Savor the Holidays especially for families with children

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1. Enjoy Traditional Foods

Cooking together is a great way to connect with children. Enjoying special recipes or buying traditional holiday foods is also a fun and delicious way to pass on your family history and culture!

2. Share Stories

The holidays are filled with wonderful stories to share. Take time to tell stories about past celebrations, snuggle up with treasured picture books, and ask children which stories they would like to revisit. Stories give holidays meaning.

3. Practice Rituals

Whether it is saying grace at dinnertime, sharing what you are grateful for at bedtime or lighting a candle with special words, having a centering practice as a family will make this season more spiritually renewing.

4. Spend Time Outdoors

Make sure you take time each day to go outdoors! Children need time to run around and play. Also, going out together in the darkness to see Christmas lights is a magical and memorable way to experience the wonder of this season.

5. Create Quiet Moments

Holidays can be noisy and overwhelming for all ages! Bring peace and comfort into your home by creating “quiet time” to read, draw, write, or simply sit together and share.

6. Give from the Heart

Encourage children to make or purchase thoughtful presents. Instead of spending lots of money, older family members will appreciate original artwork, photographs, homemade treats or experiences to be shared together next year.

7. Service to Others

Generosity is the true spirit of this season. There are many opportunities to be of service including gift drives, caroling in Senior Centers, doing errands for an elderly friend or relative, or decorating a tree with edible treats for the birds. Making service a priority during the holidays models for children the value of helping others.

Above all, do not let the commercialism and busyness of this season crowd out what matters most: Gratitude, Wonder & Love.

Ready, Set, Relax!

Take a moment to consider if you had more room in your life.  What would that mean for you?  How would you like to spend your time?  Who would you like to see more of?  Think of the people who matter most to you: children, partner, parents, siblings, friends, relatives, neighbors or people who you have yet to meet.  How might you make more room in your life for these relationships?

Marcia Marra a mother of three and resident of Ridgewood, New Jersey recognized that her family was overscheduled and exhausted from constantly running from one activity to the next.  Instead of just accepting this as the norm in today’s fast-paced world, she gathered together community leaders, parents, professionals, clergy, and school representatives.  The committee read and discussed national research that established the potential negative effects of over-scheduling on childhood development, family cohesion, and the health of adults.

In 2002, the entire town of Ridgewood declared a Family Night called “Ready, Set, Relax!” with no sports, no homework, no meetings, chores, or classes.  Instead families enjoyed a meal together, played games or just relaxed.  The idea was that having one night in which the whole town shared this experience would motivate people to find ways to slow down and reduce unnecessary pressures from families and children.  This was such a positive initiative that this is now an annual event.

What is even more significant is that reports of this event spread across the country.  The community effort spoke to a longing that many Americans have to foster a balance between work, school, family time, unscheduled time, and outside enrichment activities.

I really like this idea!  This year, my resolution includes monthly gatherings with friends and family.  The first one is this weekend.  Ready, set…relax!

Are you going to have more kids?

Ever since I was pregnant, people have offered me unsolicited advice.  Often it is a pleasure to feel part of a larger family circle as strangers connect with our daughter and share insights with me about parenting.  Many people ask if Liza is our first child and then inquire if we plan to have more children.  My honest response is that given my age (40) and our current job transitions, I am uncertain whether or not to add any more children to our family.

I have been shocked by the number of people who have bluntly told me that it would be WRONG to have an only child!  One woman told me that single children are “unnatural”.  A man said that it would be “unfair” to my daughter not to give her siblings.  Some suggested that she would be lonely and burdened by being the only child in the household.  Others hinted that she would become an odd-ball!

Now, obviously I only want the best for my daughter.  It took longer for me to have a successful pregnancy than I expected just as it took longer for me to find my life partner than I expected.  If the timing had been different, our ideal would have been two children.  However, at this point in my life I am hesitant about becoming pregnant again or adopting.  This decision needs to be made relatively soon. . .

It was a relief to read in the July 19 issue of TIME (The Only Child: Debunking the Myths) that many American families find themselves in similar life circumstances and are opting to have only one child.  I was pleased to have evidence for what I suspected– having no siblings does NOT mean you grow-up to be “selfish, spoiled and lonely”.  That is a myth that in this age when we do not need more children to work the fields should be dispelled!