One of the first books I read that truly began transforming my way of thinking and teaching was The Whole-Brain Child, by Dan Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D. While I could talk for hours about this book, one specific chapter came to mind the other day while I was noticing the world's obsession with this global pandemic. So, I opened up the book to review a tool called "The Wheel of Awareness" and remind myself of how this is all having an affect on our brains. Regardless of how this pandemic is impacting your life or what you feel is right or wrong at the moment, I wonder if we're all just "stuck on the rim", an analogy presented in the book. Picture your mind as a bicycle wheel - rim, spokes and hub. "The rim represents anything we pay attention to or become aware of: our thoughts and feelings, our dreams and desires, our memories, our perception of the outside world, our connections to others, and the sensations from our body. The hub is the inner place of the mind from which we become aware of all that's happening around and within us. It is from this hub of awareness that we send out a spoke of attention to focus on the various points on the rim."
You can learn how to use this tool on his website and dive much deeper into this work. But, for those who'd like the cliff notes, it's really about balancing ourselves and maintaining a full perspective.
Placing all of our attention on one point of the rim (guilty - Covid-19!) impacts our psyche and mood, and our very brain itself. The good news is we can learn to shift our focus and train our brains. Look, I know it isn't easy right now as the world feels like it's crumbling before our eyes. It's a constant work-in progress over here. Just sharing this with you holds me accountable. We have a choice. We can choose to go down the path of anxiousness and stress and our brain will build neural pathways that link negative associations to our problems and therefore, anxiety and stress will just become a natural reaction. OR As soon as we become aware of the negative feelings, we can begin to shift our attention to positive aspects of our lives. If we do this, we will literally be strengthening our brains ability to automatically go to a positive place when stressful thoughts begin. This doesn't mean ignoring the unpleasant stuff, it's simply an awareness that allows us to find peace back at the hub. So, how do you get back to your hub? Well, that's different for everyone. It could be meditation, reading, exercise or family time. That's for you to explore this week:) And, don't forget, this all holds true for your kids and students too! They're experiencing a range of emotions as well and are looking to you for support. Wanna chat about all of this and more?
I'll be co-hosting, Mindfulness for the Family While Safer at Home, this Thursday, May 21 at 1pm PST with my good friend and colleague, Rachel Rush. Beach Cities Health District, in partnership with the Student Mental Health Provider Task Force and South Bay Families Connected, is launching the virtual “Talk About It” FREE Small-Group Parent Workshop Series. Click here to register and view other upcoming topics.
And, if you can spare a bit more time that day, there is a global meditation taking place at 11am PST!
Sending love and light. xo Joanie Plake Founder of B&L | M.A. Childhood & Special Education | E-RYT 200 www.breatheandlearn.com p.s. Weekend Family Yoga - Saturdays at 9am! Join me for some breathing, movement and relaxation. Donation based - Zoom link here. Venmo - @breathe-learn B&L Summer Camp is still on the books. We're working on a flexible, virtual schedule. Stay tuned! New B&L Weekly Drop-In Class Schedule coming your way in June.