The Therapeutic Power of Play to Heal Shame in Children

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The Therapeutic Power of Play to Heal Shame in Children

The nature of shame is to hide. It keeps pain hidden, the dark corners of our psyche concealed from the masses, too unbearable to share with others, too unbearable to be seen. Look at people with tremendous shame and their head tilts down, their eyes avert contact. Many even have a hard time looking straight into a camera. They must look away. The pain of shame and blame runs that deep.  Children are, of course, not immune to shame. Raised in abusive, neglectful, toxic environments, shame inevitably buries into their psychophysiology. Beliefs such as “I am wrong”, “I am bad”, “It’s my fault” are common amongst children who experience chronic failures in love; who grow up not feeling emotionally or physically safe; who come to […]

A Love Whose Time Has Come ~ Healing the Disembodied Human and Our Ravaged Planet

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A Love Whose Time Has Come ~ Healing the Disembodied Human and Our Ravaged Planet

“A person suffers if he or she is constantly being forced into the statistical mentality and away from the road of feeling.“ ~ Robert Bly We are a disembodied species, deprived of the weighted feeling of being in touch with our senses, attuned to the murmurings of our heart, the pleasures, ecstatic and intimate, that go with rootedness. We have lost touch with the once innate feeling of connectivity to strangers, the delight in a butterfly, the awe when struck by the glowing moon’s presence. We have squandered the feeling worlds of imagination and creativity born in pause and even boredom.  And we’ve lost touch with the inborn capacity to feel profound sadness and anger, fear and pain, to be unbridled in our emotional expression, […]

12 Questions Kids Need and Long to Hear ~ The Consent of Inquiry and How it Cultivates Self-esteem, Trust and Respect

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12 Questions Kids Need and Long to Hear ~ The Consent of Inquiry and How it Cultivates Self-esteem, Trust and Respect

“Trust children. Nothing could be more simple, or more difficult. Difficult because to trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves, and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.” ~ John Holt 12 Questions (Scroll to the bottom for 6 follow-up questions) What do you want? What do you need? What do you feel / think? How do you feel (about that)? What does your heart / intuition / gut say? What feels right / true to you? What brings you joy? What’s your dream? What would feel like fun? What would you love to do? What matters to you? What do you hope for? Jack’s story “One major study of 700 preschool classrooms in 11 states found […]

Banks of a Wild River

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Banks of a Wild River

In play, children remain in a fluid, flexible state. Moment by moment they open to greater, more creative versions of themselves. They touch and bloom the seed of potential in their heart. Children, in their mischief, imagination and spontaneous explorations, don’t try to become someone. They are someone already. They know this without knowing it. They feel the larger instinct of life pulsating through their veins, calling them to reach and spiral into infinite potential. Be sure in educating and parenting our most precious little ones, you do not shape this natural unfolding into what it doesn’t want to be. Instead, give it space to breathe, to run freely. Let any rules and structures you use be like banks of a wild river, guiding children […]

How Better Attunement to Children Co-arises with Empathy and Care for Mother Earth

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How Better Attunement to Children Co-arises with Empathy and Care for Mother Earth

As we better attune to the needs of children, we cannot help but feel the needs of Mother Earth more deeply. And vice versa. This ripening sensitivity reveals what indigenous people have known for millennia: that children, we, are not separate from our environment. For generations, however, this awareness, empathy and care has been marginal, at best, in western culture. We’ve lived and treated our environment, including its inhabitants, as distinct from our body. And historic attachment disruptions with children have co-existed as expressions of this fundamental disconnect from the land and its manifold creatures. Colonizing hearts, minds and lands While indigenous cultures have long placed the child at the centre of the circle around which the family and community extends, western culture has built […]

4 Reasons I Take Issue With Teaching Children Meditation in School

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4 Reasons I Take Issue With Teaching Children Meditation in School

I take issue with teaching children meditation in school, particularly when done without a wider view of the systemic causes for child dysregulation and a more thorough understanding of trauma. Yes, meditation has been proven to be effective with young ones. I know the research is there backing it up. But… Take a moment to consider the four points below, and ask yourself: What is the real issue at hand? What do children fundamentally need? And if we addressed the issues I lay out, while better meeting children’s core biological needs for love and safety, would we still need to teach meditation? Or wouldn’t the desired result of meditation—calm—arise more organically? 1. Anxious systems The problem is not the child, but rather the systems they are […]

Transforming the School System Begins With Feeling its Heartbreaking Impact on Children, Past and Present

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Transforming the School System Begins With Feeling its Heartbreaking Impact on Children, Past and Present

Note to the reader: If you require a brief history of education to provide context for the first few sections, scroll further down to “A brief history of school”.    “Be confused, it’s where you begin to learn new things. Be broken, it’s where you begin to heal. Be frustrated, it’s where you start to make more authentic decisions. Be sad, because if we are brave enough we can hear our heart’s wisdom through it.” ~ S.C Lourie At the beginning of many of the talks I lead, the organizer of the event takes a moment to acknowledge the traditional and ancestral territory we stand on and the people it belongs to. It’s a brief period of time in which I pay my deepest respect and […]

Resting in Connection ~ Slowing Down Enough to Heal and Form Secure Attachments

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Resting in Connection ~ Slowing Down Enough to Heal and Form Secure Attachments

Healthy relationships require us to rest in connection. In resting we come home to ourselves and into the arms of another. We soften enough to open our hearts and trust and receive the love we long for. This resting state is experienced to the extent that our nervous system allows for it. Our parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for calming) must be engaged and our sympathetic system (responsible for arousal and mobility) must be disengaged enough to allow for what Peter Levine calls “homeostasis” or “relaxed alertness”. In other words, resting in connection depends on there being a “smooth back-and-forth shifting between moderate levels … of (nervous system) activity”, or a “flexible seesawing” between parasympathetic and sympathetic systems, which enables us to be balanced, centered and […]

Most of What Kids Learn in School They’ll Never Use ~ Making Room for Wonder, Intrinsic Motivation and People Skills

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Most of What Kids Learn in School They’ll Never Use ~ Making Room for Wonder, Intrinsic Motivation and People Skills

“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” ~ Oscar Wilde A few months back I was walking along the streets of Kitsilano when I happily ran into one of my favourite people—Sandra, a grade 9 student. I hadn’t seen her since she began year two of high school so I seized the moment to ask her how it was going. A sour look fell upon her face, followed by, “It’s boring. We’re learning how to measure the circumference of a circle.” She then went on to say with a little bit more bite, “Like we’re ever going to need to know how to do that in the world!” […]

Connection Precedes Learning and Self-regulation ~ Why Relationships are Foundational in Education and Life

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Connection Precedes Learning and Self-regulation ~ Why Relationships are Foundational in Education and Life

Note to the reader: If you have already read my previous articles on connection and the right brain, you may wish to skip further down to the section on co-regulation. Connection precedes learning How often and in how many ways do we make learning far more important than connection? The school system has been designed to make learning paramount and so often at the cost of the core biological need to bond. This breaks the hearts of so many teachers I present to, leaving them in tears, angry, frustrated. They dearly want to connect with their students, but find it extremely difficult given the expectations of the institution and classroom size. They dearly want to listen to and connect to their own hearts, and do […]