Mindfulness and Holistic Heart Health

2012_03 - Florida 189aWith February being Heart Month, here is my heart health checklist for last week:

~ exercise:  two (kind of short) yoga sessions, one skating trip with the kids, and a considerable effort scraping off the ice from our walk.

~ food intake review:  lots of legumes, steady flow of fruits and veggies, sugar remains a food group most days.

~ love and friendship:  lots (lucky me).

~ mindfulness:  5-10 minutes at school council meeting.

?

But that’s what happened, I swear.  Two teachers came to our monthly parent council meeting and, as part of their presentation on the mindfulness that they seek to bring into their classrooms, they asked parents to participate in a guided mindfulness exercise similar to what our children are doing at school.  Every one of us stood up, closed our eyes or kept them softly focused, and breathed and moved our bodies together.

I don’t know what your school council is like, but ours is active and strong and fueled by passion around holistic education which, as it turns out, means different things to different people.  The energies parents bring to the school are often positive and productive, but as with any concerted effort, we have bumps along the way.

Last week’s meeting was no exception but I’ll tell you this:  breathing and swaying my arms alongside dozens of people who had not convened for this purpose, was a surprisingly powerful experience.  For those few minutes, we were unified:  not just in our hopes for our children’s education, but in our own bodies and minds.  A frequent tagline for holistic education is that it embraces the head, heart, hands and spirit equally, but as parents we still often operate primarily in our minds, especially at meetings.  It was a beautiful thing, if fleeting, to move into our hearts for a change, and to do it together.

My heart health could be improved by more exercise and a better diet, but I’ve got some momentum in those areas, and these things can’t alone create holistic heart health.  Last week’s school council meeting reminded me that what my heart might need most is greater openness and softness, through the mindful practices that keep us grounded and patient and present.  I could cite evidence of the benefits of mindfulness and meditation on heart health, but for now I’d rather focus on how it feels.  Simply, my heart liked it, and so I resolve to give her more.

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