Showing posts with label mindfulness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mindfulness. Show all posts

Monday, November 13, 2017

Five attempted suicides in five days in a school! What next?

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               We were waiting with our team in the lobby for a principal and teachers meet to discuss the importance of emotional quotient in today’s children’s life. Since it was a famous school of Mumbai with a lot of students, mild chaos was always expected. We saw an anxious crowd of mothers weeping outside the principal’s office. Not able to understand what was going on and the intention not to interfere in the school activities, we continued our scheduled meeting. As we came out after the meeting we saw a mother weeping profusely outside the office. We were simply overwhelmed on seeing her state .So, we went up to the mother and offered her a glass of water and told her to calm down .
        The lady narrated that she was  the parent of a ten standard student of the same school who was suspended by the school. Her son had attempted a suicide along with four of his friends in the school bathroom. They had used a sharpener blade and were caught by other friends on seeing the marks on their hand. It all started when a teacher humiliated a boy in the class for some trivial issue. The boy attempted a suicide and was suspended by the school authorities .
          After a couple of days the other  four kids followed the same. The mother couldn’t believe that her son could have attempted such a dreadful thing. She was devastated .Although the principal along with their team of psychologist were attempting to solve the issue. We were discussing emotional intelligence with them and here we find a group of children behaving so irrationally .Soon the father came  with a puzzled look on his face. We can never forget the helpless face of the mother and the father and the questions they were asking. “Where did I go wrong, she was asking us? What if he was successful in doing what he wanted? How to deal with him when I couldn’t understand why he did this”. They told us not to reveal the identity as that would spoil their child’s future. Hence I am not naming the school but only trying to highlight the problem. This might be happening in many schools which we do not know but dealing with the situation seems to be a better option for school rather than introducing regular interventions to prevent this catastrophe.
       This anxiety will be seen in most of the parents including me if we were in their place. Dealing with a child attempting suicide  and  helping them to overcome emotional problems in the wake of an emotional turbulence is a considerable task for parents, teachers, and mental health professionals.
When family members become anxious and frightened, a child's fear is magnified. When possible, adults need to deal with the situation in a way that will help children to manage their impulses. Adults need to support each other so that they can be emotionally available for their children. When they cope well under extremely difficult conditions, there is a good chance the children will make a positive adjustment. Support for these children is necessary to avoid long-term emotional harm. They need to know that their fears are normal.
Warning signs parents need to look out for depression in a child

  •    Kids having intense emotions and being unwilling to discuss them with their family.
  • Kids having reduced appetite and sleep disturbances.
  • Kids experiencing flashbacks or nightmares.
  •    Physical problems such as rashes, digestion problems, asthma or weight gain or loss.
  •    Frequent headaches.
  •      Fear of leaving home.
  •      Feeling guilty for not doing more.
  •       Withdrawing and losing interest in school and/or peer interactions.
  •       Avoiding school and academic work.
  •      Having a decreased energy level.
  •     Feeling indifferent, agitated, hopeless and/or depressed.
  •      Having suicidal thoughts.
  •      Rebelling against rules.
  •     Exhibiting risk taking behaviors

How can parents Intervene?
  •     Help them feel in control by having them make some decisions.
  •   Reassure them that they did all they could at the time.
  •    Foster participation in social activities and/or athletics with peers.
  •     Provide extra attention and comforting.
  •    Provide a routine but be flexible.
  •    Relax expectations for a time.
  •   Encourage participation in rebuilding efforts.
  •    Take time to prepare yourself emotionally, especially if it is affecting you personally.
  •    Let children know that it is normal to feel upset and fearful after being exposed to an incident like this.
  •  Provide an opportunity for children who want to talk about the event to express their thoughts and feelings.
  •  Respect the right of children to avoid any discussion.
  •   Avoid repeated dialogue concerning the event that may be disturbing to some children.
  •   Answer their questions with honesty, yet be brief using words that children easily understand.
  •  Speak in hopeful terms.
  • Understand that some of these children may be extremely angry, withdrawn or sad.
  •   Realize that it will take time for the students to adjust.
  •    If deemed appropriate share stories that demonstrate resiliency and that have resulted in a return to a “new normal.
  •  Offer opportunities for children to draw pictures of their choosing and perhaps pictures that represent their future hopes.

        Apart from counselors, the schools and educators can introduce interventions to develop the resilience and emotional quotient of children who are exposed to various unwanted situations so they are able to deal with them in a rational way. Preventing a situation should be the aim but reacting to a Disaster has become a norm. Schools and education need to change the narrative so we can have a more resilient and empathetic generation
        The alarming rise in attempted suicides makes it all the more necessary that parents reach out to the children and help them control the raging emotions and impulsive behavior which can harm them. One of the research proves that 70 percent of people committing suicide in the adult life have attempted suicide in their childhood. My vision and my dream  is that we can introduce socio emotional interventions into the school and college curriculum like Cognitive based Mindfulness and prevent these unfortunate incidents and have a more happy world.
Along with growth of Artificial intelligence we are able to grow the emotional intelligence for our future generation. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Why be mindful

In a forest, a pregnant deer is about to give birth.

She finds a remote grass field near a strong-flowing river.

This seems a safe place.

Suddenly labour pains begin.

At the same moment, dark clouds gather around above & lightning starts a forest fire.

She looks to her left & sees a hunter with his bow extended pointing at her.

To her right, she spots a hungry lion approaching her.

What can the pregnant deer do?

She is in labour!

What will happen?

Will the deer survive?

Will she give birth to a fawn?

Will the fawn survive?

Or will everything be burnt by the forest fire?

Will she perish to the hunters’ arrow?

Will she die a horrible death at the hands of the hungry lion approaching her?

She is constrained by the fire on the one side & the flowing river on the other & boxed in by her natural predators.

What does she do?

She focuses on giving birth to a new life.

The sequence of events that follows are:

- Lightning strikes & blinds the hunter.

- He releases the arrow which zips past the deer & strikes the hungry lion.

- It starts to rain heavily, & the forest fire is slowly doused by the rain.

- The deer gives birth to a healthy fawn.

In our life / business too, there are moments of choice when we are confronted on αll sides with negative thoughts and possibilities.

Some thoughts are so powerful that they overcome us & overwhelm us.

Maybe we can learn from the deer.

The priority of the deer, in that given moment, was simply to give birth to a baby.

The rest was not in her hands & any action or reaction that changed her focus would have likely resulted in death or disaster.

Ask yourself,

Where is your focus?

Focus should always remain on being in the present moment... Be mindful

4 Monks teaching the secret to success

*The Silent Retreat*

Four monks decided to meditate silently without speaking for two weeks. They began with enthusiasm and no one said a word the whole day. By nightfall of the first day, the candle began to flicker and then went out.

The first monk blurted out, "Oh, no! The candle is out."

The second monk said, "Hey! We are not supposed to speak!"

The third monk said in an irritated voice, "What is this? Why did you two break the silence?"

The fourth monk smiled and said, "Wow! I'm the only one who hasn't spoken."

~~~

Reflections:

Each monk broke the silence for a different reason, each of which is a common stumbling block in our inner journey. The first monk got distracted by one aspect of his experience (the candle) and forgot what was more important - *the practice of witnessing without reacting.* The second monk was more worried about others following the rules than in actually practicing himself. The third monk let his anger towards the first two monks affect him. And the fourth monk lost his way because of pride.

Why did the fourth monk speak at all? He could have simply maintained his silence and he would have been successful in his endeavor. But if he had, chances are, the other three might have continued to argue and not even noticed his silence. Some people are like this. Their motto is "If I'm doing something good, but no one notices, I might as well not be doing it at all." They believe that the reward is not in the effort, but in the recognition.

There is a beautiful quote, "It is the provence of knowledge to speak; it is the privilege of wisdom to listen." *As we learn to truly listen, witness and observe without impulsively reacting with distraction, judgement, anger and pride, then we understand the true meaning of silence.*

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Mindfulness in Political Turmoils in Todays World as in Year 2017

          It was not a routine Sunday  for Ravi an engineer working in an esteemed corporate company. He had been preparing for this day since the last 3 months. This was the only time he was going to spend after a good long 17 years with his school friends.He was excited to meet them and share his highly successful journey of 17 years.It gives you ultimate satisfaction when you are appreciated by people who know you since the time you have learned how to tie shoe laces. It was also special since he had just cracked on  an impossible deal with a Japanese company after a real stressful 3 months.
As soon as he saw his mates, he got nostalgic of the times spend in the good old days.Each one spoke about their achievements, their analysis and their journeys in the last 17 years. Ravi just couldn't believe that he was actually reconnecting with those chaps and realized that he should have met sooner before.Anyways as they sat for lunch in the afternoon, cracking jokes about their teachers and principal,the conversation shifted to the an activist turned political leader "Maku" who was in the news recently.
 Most of his Friends started making fun of "Maku" and laughing at everything, his clothes, his speech to his personal life. It was very evident to Ravi that most of his Friends were supporting the  leader of the rival party. He felt an uneasiness and uncomfortable sensation in his heart but he decided to not to get into the conversation for his own mental peace. He was happy that the discussion was shifting back to girlfriends and the time they spent on college campus. Usually this an area where most of the middle age men get highly charged up discussing about the love life,their Ex and their breakups. 
One of his Friends suddenly  passed  a comment that "Maku" must be so lousy and impotent in his college days that he must have hired people to make his wife pregnant. This was the breaking point for Ravi. He could not control the explosion in his mind. He lost his mind and said something obnoxious to his friend about his personal life.Suddenly the mood in the room became very serious .What started as a friendly conversation became a ferocious argument between friends.
Ravi lost his mind and slapped the guy who had passed the comment. He could feel the anger in him growing more as others were hurling abuses at him. He picked up an ash tray and threw at them. It hit one of his Friends and he immediately lost his consciousness . Ravi couldn't believe what he had done. Cops were called and his friend was hospitalized. Ravi was convicted and found guilty and was sentenced to 6 months of imprisonment. People who knew him told that this was the first time Ravi had ever hit anyone , got in a quarrel oreven raised his voice.
          This has become a common scenario which we have been witnessing of late, not only on news channels but also in clubs and parks.Although not all issues end up with a brawl but definitely create distances in relationships ,all in the name of politics.It is really suprising how in the last  few years people have raging emotions for politicians and political parties where they forget their own personal relationship and come out with daggers if you dare speak something about a politician or at times even their policies.
            Let us try to understand why this kind of responses from the not so agressive people or people who werent so actively following politics like Ravi.Political parties and politicians were doing the same agressive and inflammatory campaigns in the past also but they failed to invoke such reactions from people.What has changed in todays world that has led to this kinda behaviour from people globally.
One of the reasons is the frustration because of the slowing economy leading  to unemployment and on the otherside there is growing greed  and competitiveness for more and more materialistic acquisitions.One thing we have  to accept that inspite of technological advances which were supposed to ease out peoples lives,it became counterproductive and has started creating more stress and indivisuals with charged up nervous systems. Everyone seems to me too obsessed to prove  a point and rather than accepting the present moment.They live most of the times either  in the past or the unseen future.
     These gives these politicians or parties the fodder to infuse in our minds and manipulate and evoke these unbelievable responses from people.Inflammatory speeches,personal attacks and absurd illogical reasoning seems to be the norm of the day.
Mind it!It is not the fault of the politician of the day.They are speaking what  people want.The ones who are winning are better connected to the peoples wishes and desires. The problem arises when we start judging the political leader or their rival.The negativity in any political campaigns is evident and people and their relationships get dragged into these mindless conversations.People come all out ,in their leaders defense and fight for them or criticise them for simply satisfying their ego.
Politicians are successful in creating a divide amongst the mass and make use of this divide to the fullest.They can easily bring in policies which suits  to their needs and advantage.People fight for people whom they have never met or have any direct experience but start judging them and at times hating or loving them to the core.When indivisual voices become group, then a mob ,it leads to bullying serving the purpose of any politician or governing head.
What actually is the matter of concern it affects the mind of people with negativity and seeps into their relationship.This nature of judging people on basis of half truth is not only dangerous but also harmful for any nation.
Mindfulness is living in the present moment.Extensive research has shown that it has a positive effect on prefrontal lobe of the brain and enhances its function.Prefrontal lobe  is responsible for the regulation  and control of  emotions  like anger,sadness irked by amydala which is the centre of emotions.In lay mans terms, mindfulness makes you smarter and gives you a moment to think before reacting to any given situation.Mindfulness has been used extensively in many fields ranging from medicine, education,corporate world  for its benefits.
Mindfulness makes you realise the folly of getting so overattached or involved with the manipulations by politicians and media at large.When you come in the present moment you realise what judgements you are making of the politician( pre or post elections) are based on the views presented  in the media or the rival which will fuel only negative sentiments.It makes you realise that any judgement is not based on one on one conversation or direct scrutiny of the work done by the politician.
Also the next question arises if the politician has not much of work to show ,it becomes even more easier for the rival to manipulate your views about him.Practicising mindfulness also makes you realise that in a democracy what matters is the number supporting any views by the politician whether you like them or not.Anyone practising mindfulness knows views that are forced or manipulated do not last for long and has a limited life. People want to live in harmony  with each other irrespective of their desire to suceed at large.
           So being mindful of the moment makes the person respect as well as form an opinion non judgementally about people who contradict them in their self interest.Even if there is disagreement as it happens many a times,there is still an options to protest in democracy without actually having to evoke emotions of dissapointment,anger or frustration.Mindfulness practice makes it easier for you to come at terms with the turmoils of the changing political scenarios and forming opinions which are not influenced or forced by anyone.Also it gives the person a sacred pause where he decides how to react to a given situation which may not be agreeable to him.His reactions takes into consideration about the present which involves the people whom he is talking to and what relationship they are sharing.For instance he can think about protesting or writing blogs rather than fighting with people verbally or venting out the dissapointment.Overall practicing mindfulness makes you a bit selfish about mantaining the homeostasis(calmness) in your mind inspite of the political turmoils.
A mindful person knows that in democracy there may be many leaders good  or bad but the power ultimately rests with the people so why waste time in reacting !
(Disclaimer:the author does not have any affiliations to any political party and gives as neutral position as possible)


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Why mindfulness is necessary for Indian Children

Mindfulness is the talking point all over the world in the last few years. It's benefits to all age groups have been thoroughly researched since last 30 years . probably this is the reason big corporates companies like Google, Twitter, Intel, Aetna, Target  are training their employees. Most of the universities and schools globally have introduced mindfulness programs mainly Oxford University, Stanford University etc. What started as a stress Clinic by John Korbat Zin has become a revolution in today's fast moving world. The results in children have taken the world by surprise specially in remarkable increase in focus and concentration.
        "Rahul behave yourself. Is this the way you talk to your friends" or "You are not concentrating on your studies, that is the reason you get less marks".These are the most common discussion in most of the households in major metro cities . Today the most talked about topic in India is Digitalisation and Globalization. India is talking about 4g network and high speed internet. Internet was first accessible only on the computer, then on laptop and going further on tablet. Today is the world where we are talking about high end smart phones with powerful processors.
           So a lot information is continuously fed in our mind from the print as well as social media. This information is also available to young children who are at their developmental stage. In a study it  has shown that kids playing games on phone have developed stronger analytical skills but the socioemotional learning suffers a great deal. This is why see more aggressive behavior by most of the kids.
            Also the distraction from most of the learning activities is a common problem in most of the school going kids. Morality and religion have a strong foundation in India and is the only way parents can make their kids realize their mistakes. The high exposure to the media can at times make it difficult for today's generation to understand this. Most of the parents and teachers will agree the conventional disciplining  doesn't work with most of the kids now days.
        The basic neuroscience behind mindfulness has been extensively researched and it is found the prefrontal lobe in the brain in human child actually develops by the age of 18-20 years. This prefrontal lobe is the one responsible for regulation of our thoughts. So in school going children the emotional instability like anger, ADHD and impulsive behaviour are unchecked, hence at times children do not listen to the elders. Humans are the only mammals who have to depend on the guidance of the elders for such a long time.So there is a need to intervene and impart skills to the kids specially to deal with behavioral issues and skills of focus, Concentration, conflict resolution etc .
Mindfulness is being aware of what is happening now. Another way to describe it is to  consciously bring our attention to the present moment .It can be practiced anywhere unlike meditation where you need a particular place and posture. It can also be described as "a skill beyond meditation" . Since mindfulness is secular, it does not interfere with anyone's religious beliefs. Also basic morality for man kind like gratitude, compassion and empathy  should be taught to modern day children.
There has been extensive research done  all over the world on its effect on young minds. The results beyond doubt has showed marked improvement in focus, Concentration, conflict resolution and emotional stability in all age groups. Most remarkable findings are improvement in their self esteem and decision making abilities.
Kids are less insecure and are more aware of their emotions.
Mindfulness gives them the freedom of choice to refuse or accept the situation which is best suited to them.Every child deserves the choice to choose his reaction before any conflict so he can respond with confidence.
   

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

'Ego' My oldest friend vs Mindfulness

​We all believe that when we were born,  we were born without any self ego. Then as we grew up this 'ego' named friend came with us. It would stay with us when we were happy, when we got good grades but we needed it the most in our failures .It would really defend us from all the negativity and criticism. It was one of the oldest and best friend which the world gifted us. 
It would be interesting to know how ego has developed as we grew up. Ego has subconsciously being used by one and  all at times to discipline us and some times to encourage us to overcome our limitations  . "Why are you crying like a girl, boys don't cry"or" "You are now 10 years old you should not behave like a child".Many times our teachers  have told us you you need to do better  than the other class  or batch or this class is the worst class. So we have learnt to live with this ego which helped us to overcome many of our difficulties and challenges as we grew up. We never realized how much we let it rule our lives. 
Mindfulness is being aware of what is happening now. Another way to describe it is to  consciously bring our attention to the present moment. Our friend ego also has a major role to play when we strive to be mindful. 
Let's see how.... Arjuna used to meditate everyday for 30 mins. Yesterday he had a terrible fight with his wife and he was very upset. He got up in the morning  and tried to meditate but he was too disturbed. He had recently gone for MBSR retreat and he decided to be mindful about his negative emotions. But he was finding it extremely hard as he was worried how his wife will react when he comes back home? Whether she will forgive him for coming late and forgetting her birthday.
Throughout the day Arjuna was surprised how hard he was finding it to calm down and focus on his work. He felt whatever he learnt in the last 2 months was not working . He tried to be aware of the raging mind but he was not able to focus his attention. May be he had not learnt it properly. He was extremely disappointed and depressed and this simply added on to his problems.  
 This is one of the situation people come across during  the practice of mindfulness. There are moments we feel that  we are "failing" or unhappy that we are unable to be mindful. This  is being very hard on our self  and  being judgmental about our practice.
The only thing active when we judge ourself specially when we are emotionally disturbed or under stress is the "Ego" which makes us Judgemental about the success or failure of our practice. Everyone who practices mindfulness have had difficulty in getting back the 'rhythm' and it is  quite normal.We all strive to be in rhythm most the times in the day but being out of rhythm is also a part of being mindful 
Mindfulness is about being at ease with all the positive and negative emotions.Accepting that there are many situations and events not in our control and they are bound to create enough turmoil in our mind. This will make our mind  go out of rhythm. It is the nature of the mind to wander and be mindless. 
Say for instance in a fit of rage, We may have said something nasty to a friend. Rather than being angry or upset about why we said those words and failed to be mindful of the  aggression,it is more important to be compassionate to our mind which had to go through this turmoil.Of course the next thing would be to correct what we did wrong. But  if we judge our self,  which is the normal tendency it will make it more difficult for us to realize our mistake and be mindful about the raging emotions in our mind. 
We need to be more compassionate to our self and our mind which has to go through this every day.Mindfulness without self-compassion is incomplete.This  will make it easier for us to get our focus back and be mindful with our dear friend "Ego". 

Distractions in Self-Study: What Exactly is the Problem (and how can we fix it)?

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