Our family moved to the seashore when our daughter was three and for several years my life revolved around the constant ebb and flow of the tide. Early each morning my daughter and I would walk on the beach to see what “gifts” the ocean had brought to us. Sometimes we would find shells or smooth pieces of glass, while other times we would find interesting seaweed, a broken toy, or parts of an old boat. We would collect our treasures and head home for breakfast.
Over our morning meal, we would make up stories about where the different treasures had come from, and how they ended up in the ocean. It was great fun, each story becoming more elaborate than the one before. In the late afternoon, at low tide, we would hide gifts in the sand or build a castle using the treasures we had found in the morning. Then the following morning we would run like children on Christmas day out to the beach to see what was taken and to see what was left behind.
The ebbs and flows of life can rip things from our grip in a second, but they can also bring us unexpected gifts—just as the ocean does. Sometimes when our view of life becomes too fixed or limited, it takes a major force of nature to release us from what we no longer need (or need to be) and in its place leave us with new life opportunities.
In order to see the new opportunities as a gift instead of being caught up in being distraught about what we have lost, we need to be mindful, and have an inner clarity, and resilience. The development of these qualities begins when we are very young.
While we are growing in our mother’s womb her experience of life is chemically passed to us. If she feels loved, safe and is adequately supported we too benefit from that experience. We receive the belief that life is good and our needs will be met. On the other hand, if she doesn’t feel loved, safe and isn’t adequately supported this sets up a completely different belief and pattern. We can begin life with the belief that life is a struggle and we probably won’t get what we need. This perspective puts our body in a constant state of stress.
Working with preschool teachers over the last three years I am constantly reminded of how critical this time is in a person’s life. The patterns, beliefs, and behaviors we acquire during this time set a template for the rest of our life. (Remember our mind will work hard to make sure reality reflects the data we acquired during this time until we change those beliefs, perceptions and/or patterns.)
Working closely with so many wonderful teachers I am really beginning to digest the implications of teaching the ICWIB program to children at this age. If a child at this age can learn to identify when their system is stressed and restore balance with something as simple as scribbling or drawing circles and lines, it means they don’t have to be shackled by the patterns, beliefs or perceptions of their parents or families. This is huge, but is it really possible?
The teachers I taught last year have had no behavioral referrals since they implemented the program into their classroom and the teachers I taught this spring are already seeing amazing changes in their students.
I am excited when I hear about a child who normally was not able to be focused enough to participate in a group, and now is able to stay engage throughout the whole circle time. I am happy when I hear about a child who normally has difficulty waiting being able to now wait his or her turn, and then stand in front of the whole group and share their story. It thrills my heart when I learn about how a child was able to soothe his or her self with the scribbling, and then join the group; or how a child who normally has had difficulty calming down after being angry and now is able to do it quickly with the scribbling.
Each one of these changes tells me the child is gaining a new and more effective way to restore balance in their biology, and in the process is learning to be mindful. This in turn develops into inner clarity, and resilience.
In these difficult times, when the ebb and flow of life can be unpredictable and harsh, I feel it is important to prepare our youth not only with reading, writing and math, but with ability to trust themselves, speak their truth and to give them simple and effective tools that will help them work with the unpredictable changes of their future. Daniel Pink in his book, The Whole New Mind, says the world currently has a great need for creative, right brain thinkers. He is talking about the same thing. We need to focus now on helping our youth find ways to restore balance in their systems, thus gaining an inner clarity and sense of purpose because that creates resilience—which translates into the ability to weather the storms or changing tides of life.
ICWIB is one way to provide this to our youth. Historically this has been accomplished through creative expression and returning to nature. So, take the time with a child to step away from electronic devices and plastic toys and do something creative. It can be as simple as going for a walk, playing at a park or drawing together in your apartment. Whatever you do, notice how that activity changes your behavior or a child’s behavior. It is that simple.
We might have been given poor and ineffective patterns,
but we don’t have to live with them our whole life.
If you are interested in learning more about the I Create What I Believe! (ICWIB) program, this upcoming event is open to the public.
Introductory ICWIB presentation
Date: Wednesday April 30th
Location: NHSA in Long Beach, CA
Presenters: Nancy Marie, Kate Ashbey and Cathy Scott
For more information about the conference or the presentation view the conference website: http://www.nhsa.org/?e=events.detail&event_id=108
For more information about the I Create What I Believe! program: www.icreatewhatibelieve.com