Angela Harris is the owner of Mindfulness Aromatherapy LLC. As a children’s mindfulness instructor, author, and author of the book Mad to Glad for children between the ages of 3-7 to provide mindfulness lessons to help children cope with changing emotions.

486: Relisten: How To Be Present & Share Mindfulness With Kids (122)

Angie Harris

Talking to Angie is like talking to an amazingly wise older sister who just gets it. Her story will keep you riveted.

Relisten: How To Be Present & Share Mindfulness With Kids - Angie Harris (122) [486]

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*This is an auto-generated transcript*

[00:00:00] Hunter: Hey there, it's Hunter, and welcome to Throwback Thursday. Most Thursdays, we are going to re release one of my favorite episodes from the archives. So unless you're a longtime listener of the show, there's a good chance you haven't heard this one yet. And even if you had, chances are that you are going to get something new listening to it this time around.

[00:00:17] Angie Harris: So I was 19 and very confused, very confused. And a dear friend. who was a clinician introduced me to techniques on how to manage my emotions. The word mindfulness never was spoken of. The word meditation never was spoken of. This was new stuff for me. And I realized pretty quickly.

[00:00:45] Hunter: You're listening to the Mindful Mama Podcast, Episode 122. Today we're talking about how to be present and share mindfulness with kids with Angie Harris.

Welcome to the Mindful Parenting Podcast. Here it's about becoming a less irritable, more joyful parent. At Mindful Parenting, we know that you cannot give what you do not have, and when you have calm and peace within, then you can give it to your children. I'm your host, Hunter Clarkfields. I help smart, thoughtful parents stay calm so they can have strong, connected relationships with their children.

I've been practicing mindfulness for over 25 years. I'm the creator of the Mindful Parenting course, and I'm the author of the international bestseller, Raising Good Humans, and now Raising Good Humans Every Day, 50 Simple Ways to Rest, Pause, Stay Present, and Connect with Your Kids. Welcome back, dear listener.

I'm so glad you are here. If you're new, welcome, welcome. This is an interview today with Angie Harris. She's amazing. I can't wait for you to hear more about Angie Harris. Angie is the owner of Mindfulness Aromatherapy LLC in Northern New Jersey, and she's a children's mindfulness instructor and author of the book, Mad to Glad for Children Between the Ages of 3 and 7 to provide mindfulness lessons to help children.

With their changing emotions. But I mean, honestly, talking to Angie is like talking to this amazingly wise older sister who just gets it. And you know, her story is really powerful and it will keep you riveted. And some of my takeaways, some things to look for in this conversation are about making the intentional choice.

About feeling life's discomfort. This is a pretty interesting part of her story and, and what comes in and the mindfulness magic that really comes down to pretty simple neuroscience. She's going to break it down for you. And you're also going to hear easy tips to teach kids how to practice mindfulness and how to introduce it to your own children.

So I can't wait for you to listen to this conversation. with Angie. I, it's summertime here. We're just diving into the summer season. It's all kind of, you know, the world is going wabi sabi and life has gone a little topsy turvy and I am going to be fitting in time to be working on my book. As you may or may not know, I'm working on a book that will go along with the Mindful Parenting course published by New Harbinger next year.

And without any further ado, I just want to let you dive right into this amazing conversation with Angie.

Angie, thank you so much for coming on the Mindful Mama podcast today. I'm so glad you're here. Thank you for having me, Hunter. I'm very excited. So, we got to meet in person and I got to see what a dynamic speaker you are and what a great explainer of mindfulness. It's so clear and so beautiful. And so I'm wondering how you got involved in learning about mindfulness yourself.

[00:04:00] Angie Harris: Yeah, it's funny because I don't feel like I speak with any type of tone of voice. Thank you for your kindness. When I was 19, I actually lost my mom pretty suddenly and tragically. We were on vacation and she wasn't feeling well and decided to cut the vacation short and started to drive back from Florida and she became very ill on the drive back.

And went into the hospital and didn't come out. So I was 19 and very confused, very confused. And a dear friend who was a clinician introduced me to techniques on how to manage my emotions. The word mindfulness never was spoken of. The word meditation never was spoken of. And I had heard of yoga, right?

And I had done some yoga classes for exercise. So I was certainly familiar with getting in touch with my breath. Bye. Not to manage emotion. It was more about managing breath as a runner, managing breath as a soccer player, very big gross motor type, managing breath things, not having anything to do with mental state.

So this was new stuff for me and I realized pretty quickly. That it's magic and I kept doing it and I started a practice that turned into something I was doing secretly and privately because it felt a little strange, right? I don't know when you came into the practice, but it certainly wasn't mainstream 20 years ago.

So I was doing it kind of in the closet meditator. I was still just a normal 19 year old kid partying, going to college, you know, abusing my body with, uh, Budweiser's on Friday nights and things like that, but I always came back to the practice. I always came back and then I just revisited it anytime there was any type of big event.

in my life. I'd like to say it's the single most important thing that I've learned to do. I don't know what life would be like without it and I'm sure you could speak on this too. I actually don't know how I would manage being a mom and just daily life reading the newspaper. I don't know how I would manage any of that without having this practice to ground me again.

So it's been a game changer for me for sure.

[00:06:06] Hunter: Wow, Angie, I'm so sorry for your loss. That's, to lose your mom so young, there's

[00:06:11] Angie Harris: no words, so. Yeah, I appreciate it. There is no words, and you know, now that there's been some time, I can't believe it, but it's been 20 years, and I've had conversations with my mom, especially letting her know that that event, has changed the trajectory in my life in such a positive way.

And I hope that's not coming across as callous. I would take my mom back in a second. However, I have to say without that major event, my son is a hockey player. So I use the word check. I got checked. That event checked me hard and it humbled me and it made me realize all the people that are in my life, how important they are.

I have no problem telling people, Hey, you look good today. I appreciate you, you know, because now I have this event that took someone away. So I, I certainly appreciate life in a different way through tragedy. Absolutely.

[00:07:00] Hunter: Yeah, that presence of death, it's funny because I'm really kind of fascinated by death in some ways, like my mom is a hospice nurse and I don't know, I have a little skull collection of, I'm fascinated by it because as someone who's studied art history, I'm fascinated The idea of the memento mori, the reminder of death in the painting, and I really think it's a thing that is so valuable to appreciating life, like when your death is present in your mind and your heart, that this is fleeting, then you don't futz around and Waste your time and you appreciate everything so much more.

I mean, it, it enhances the way you live your life when a presence of death is in your mind and your heart. It's so

[00:07:44] Angie Harris: true. And you know, I admire your bravery and even saying it because I think there's, there's such a fear and we see that in our culture, right? I mean, we cling to youth like no one that I've ever seen through aesthetic beauty, clinging to youth through just constantly interventions, medical interventions, trying to keep us young and trying to keep.

Keep life here. And I'm quite comfortable with death and I'm not afraid of it. I certainly don't want it to come to me now, right? I've really liked my life, I really like my life. I like my children. I love waking up every day. And I don't know if I would have that same type of appreciation if I didn't have the experience of, of losing loved ones.

And I'm very fortunate that I am a peer specialist at a grief center named after my sister. Who passed away in 2014 at a place called Steffy's Place. And I was just there last night teaching mindfulness, Hunter. And, you know, it was the eve of Valentine's day. So I certainly knew there was an elephant in the room.

I'm in a room full of acute grievers, chronic grievers, and it's the night before everyone celebrates love and They're being inundated with love messages. And just to your credit, what you just said is just so beautiful because death is really a symbol of how much you love something or someone, right?

It's the loss that we feel is really. equal to the love that we felt. And I was there last night and I, I said, I, I'm just going to talk about it. And I know strong emotion is going to come up, but I would be remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to talk about how love has so many different nuances and in our culture, love has become an erotic, romantic love.

And that's it. There's nothing else to it, but it just was a really great class, and we talked about how in ancient Greece, there was about six different words for love, and there wasn't just one word, there were six different words to explain the nuances of love between friends like you and I, and appreciation of someone else on a professional level, and love from parent to child, love, In a forgiveness kind of a way, right?

That you're able to forgive atrocities really because of the love in your heart. And we spoke about how deceased doesn't mean that the love is gone. There was love in that room last night. And if you're able to tap into the internal love, You will attract more of it around you, even when feeling such terrible pain and suffering of losing a child or losing a spouse, losing a parent.

It was such a powerful class. It was only 45 minutes, but afterwards, one of the women came up to me and said, you know, I, I felt like this was a weekend retreat. It felt so powerful to look at Valentine's Day and not the commercial side of it, which is what we tend to focus on. You know, the, uh, the cards and the chocolate and the have to get flowers and things, but to look at the appreciation of Going and buying a cup of coffee from the same person every day and understanding that there is love there.

There is love. Uh, your skull collection is a symbol of that. I just saw the movie Coco. I don't know how I love that. Oh, beautiful. Hunter. I was taken away by it. It was so good. It, I was so happy that they're introducing that topic to children. Right?

[00:11:01] Hunter: Yeah.

[00:11:01] Angie Harris: Did

[00:11:01] Hunter: you see

[00:11:01] Angie Harris: it

[00:11:02] Hunter: with your kids? Yeah. I took them to the theater.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I took them to the theater. I was so glad I got to see it in the theater because visually it's astounding. Yes. And yeah, that's how I felt too. Like I was so happy, like we're just talking about death. Like that's cool. I mean, for the listener, this is not like, okay, I cried. Yeah, I cried. But it's definitely a kid friendly movie.

It's funny. It's silly. It's adventurous. All those stuff, you know, that you expect from like a kid friendly movie. Definitely.

Stay tuned for more Mindful Mama podcast right after this break.

Go on Angie.

[00:11:41] Angie Harris: Well, just taking the fear out of it, I think is so important because all of us had, this is part of life, right? People say everything is, there's no guarantees except for death and taxes. And you know, that's, it's just so true. We have life and we have death and life goes on after. And I think they really did a beautiful job in explaining that our loved ones never really go away.

And if we're open to those messages, they're constantly communicating with us. And I, I don't think that's weird. There shouldn't be a weirdness to that, you know, they called it the La Frenda in Coco and having all of your loved one's pictures up on what would be an altar or a mantle. And I have that. And I don't know if you do, do you have that?

Do you have loved one's pictures up in your house? I

[00:12:23] Hunter: do. I

[00:12:24] Angie Harris: do.

[00:12:24] Hunter: I, yeah, yeah. And my grandparents particularly, let's keep them in our minds and our hearts. And I think about that too. Like. You know, no matter what you believe, you could be Christian, Muslim, or you could be whatever. But what's really interesting for me to think about, you know, you could be atheist.

And what's really interesting for me to think about is that, like, when you look at your pure science, like there's, there's conservation of matter and energy, like matter and energy can't disappear. They literally can't, like, just, nothing can just disappear. So, I think of it in the way, like, my teacher teaches it, like, you know, when a cloud turns to rain and comes down and becomes a river, the cloud hasn't disappeared, it hasn't died.

You know, the cloud is just here in a different form. I think for me, that's a really comforting message.

[00:13:14] Angie Harris: And concrete, that gives something, right? It gives that visual to it, which I think serves. And having the loved one's picture still up gives something else concrete when you can't see them anymore to make you realize the loved ones are still here.

So, although the last 20 years have brought a fair amount of very immediate family, death into my life. I even just saying the word all of a sudden people think ghouls and, and, and it's a very sad thing. And I think you can tell by my voice, I'm smiling as I'm saying it because I've cried a ton and through the tears I've learned and healed a lot.

And now, as I said, I'm, I'm able to help others through that process. I like to say that I'm a, like an AA, everyone gets an advocate. I'm like a deaf advocate. As you, as you lose someone, you'll have someone like me and the other awesome folks over at a place like Steffy's. to help you through the process.

And through that, back to the original question of what My, how mindfulness fits into my life, when my sister was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she had three very young children. And I took that opportunity to teach them these lessons that I was taught when my mom had passed. And it started out as me just sitting on my living room floor, chatting with my niece and, and my nephews, and it turned into them going into school and using the techniques.

And their teacher called me and said, you know, I know what's going on, I just want to say that they're taking, they're asking for calm outs. They're asking to set up a nice quiet space in the classroom where they can retreat when they need to, and we're accommodating them. But can you come into the class and can you teach the rest of the students, whatever you're teaching them?

And that's where this started. This was 2000 and I want to say 2012, 2011, I'm sorry. And I started to go to a local Montessori school right here in New Jersey and teach the students based upon what my nephew was going into school and doing. And then I thought, if I'm going to do this with other people's kids, I should learn, I should learn professionally how to do it.

So I started taking training and I went through Mindful Schools. Every program they have to offer, I've taken at this point. They're year long, they're difficult emotions course, they're mindfulness educators, fundamentals, everything. And then that led me to mindfulness based stress reduction. So right now I'm an MBSR candidate and I take trainings, right?

I read your stuff. I listen to your stuff. Anyone that I meet. That strikes me and has walked this walk. I just start to listen and learn. And I, I do that every day. I make a dedicated effort to learn from someone every day. And I think that that's impactful for all of us. Wow,

[00:15:49] Hunter: your story is amazing. My dearest hope that is that for the listener that you can look at some of these things and you know, you may be, you're here for the first time or maybe you've been listening a lot and heard me talk about mindfulness a lot, but you can take this and also say, you know, I don't have to wait for a really, I don't need to wait for a check in my life.

Like I know that because you're alive, you suffer, you know, there's suffering in every person's life. And we can. Less of that suffering, you can lessen that suffering, you know, starting like tomorrow, starting today, you know, and what do you say to people who are to get help them get them started in some kind of mindfulness practice?

First for adults, what do you say to them?

[00:16:34] Angie Harris: Start with the breath. Start with just recognizing that so many of us don't actually know how to breathe efficiently for our body. And what you just said is so profound. It shouldn't take a check. It shouldn't take this big monstrous event for us to care for ourselves in this way, but our culture really doesn't support self care.

In the way that it should, we seek care from the outside. And even right now with our environmental crisis that so many are looking at our lawmakers and our policy makers to change. And really our households are what needs to change. The laws can come secondary. So with healthcare being the way it is. If the healthcare system allows for preventative care to be covered financially, that's awesome.

But if it doesn't, we still need to take care of ourselves because we pay the ultimate price if we don't, right? Blue Cross Blue Shield does it. I do. So I start with the breath and I say that all of the time. Notice when you breathe, how you breathe. Notice is it shallow? Without too much judgment into what it is, just notice.

When you place your hand on your heart, notice, are you feeling any oxygen entering, or is the oxygen going through the nose and just kind of stopping somewhere up there, and it's not actually entering your body and nourishing you? And I think that that's one of the most profound things that I've learned to do is Just breathe, breathe efficiently and yoga training certainly has helped me with that.

I know some folks are afraid of yoga. I know you're, you're a yogi as well. I think you and I can both speak to the testament that yoga doesn't have to be standing on your head. It could be just sitting in a chair and breathing and raising your arms up together, right? And I feel like I'm on this earth to really kind of spread the message that you don't have to be on a mountaintop in Tibet and you don't need to be able to do inversions to do yoga and breath work.

And those are two of the most important things that I, I do each day.

[00:18:22] Hunter: Yeah. Yeah. It's true. I mean, if, if that's what yoga were about, like the Chinese acrobats would be like the most accomplished. You don't need any support, you know, it's just not what it's about. Wow, Angie. I, I love what you're dedicating your life to.

So, what does your practice look like? What is your mindfulness practice? What did it look like when you started, when you started learning these techniques to deal with your grief when you were 19? And then what does it

[00:18:50] Angie Harris: look like now? Uh, it's, it's, it's a great question. I've actually reflected upon it so much because I definitely was the stereotypical American teenage, you Girl, right?

So I went to college in Florida and my mindfulness practice, what it looked like then was skipping class and going to the beach. And instead of surfing right away, I would sit on the beach for 10 minutes and just stare out at the waves. And I like to tell that story because I am certainly not a goody two shoes type of person.

I mean, I definitely was running a life that was fast and loose in those days and the breathwork still helped. I still went back to it. So where it came from was really just finding moments, finding pockets. where I would notice something of beauty like the ocean. That's always been powerful growing up on the Jersey Shore and then going to college down in Florida, right?

And the honor of being near the ocean my whole life. But even just looking out at the snow as it's falling or watching raindrops hit the window, there was always something so striking about those natural occurrences where I would take a natural pause. And that's where I would find my mindfulness practice.

That evolved pretty quickly into an intentional sit, waking up earlier, hiding somewhere where that was quiet, and sitting. And now it's evolved to, I have a formal practice of two sits a day. Sometimes I can get in five minutes. I'm the mom of two and a very proud, busy aunt to six and working, obviously.

So I try to get in two sits every day, anywhere from five minutes to 30 minutes where I'm practicing formal mindfulness, where I'm sitting and Just focusing on my breath. And then I practice yoga. I do Bikram actually. I do a 26 pose about four times a week. So I'm, I'm pretty dedicated. And I know that when I call out those stats, some people might say, well, I'm not doing it right.

Or I guess I can't do it, but I'm 20 years, I'm 20 years doing this. And I can speak to you about your practice too, right Hunter? In the beginning, you don't expect people to do 26 poses for an hour and a half each time, four times a week, and then sit two times a day. It's. Just finding those pockets, brushing your teeth, looking in the mirror and just saying you're doing a good job as I look in the mirror, you know, just finding those little pockets to give myself some kindness.

[00:21:04] Hunter: Yeah. Yeah. Well, it's interesting because one years ago when you started practicing, or I guess 12 years ago when I started practicing, we had these pockets where like you might sit on the beach and look at the water, whereas I wonder now, would we sit on the beach and look at our phone? You know what I mean?

When we sit on the beach and immediately take a picture. Just a selfie. But like, I mean, honestly, I mean, this is just kind of, I want to point this out to kind of call out to us, like, that I know it's addictive and we have this. You know, there's that dopamine hit, you know, checking and things like that, but maybe we can invite that awareness into ourselves of, you know, am I filling up these pockets of time that could potentially be pockets of time that could be a mindful pause, that could be a moment for me to sort of take time to just Slow down the pace of life just for this, these three minutes when I'm sitting here, you know, while the kids are at the playground or whatever, you know, can we, can we do that?

Can we invite these moments into our lives?

[00:22:07] Angie Harris: And I think it has to be an intentional choice, right? I mean, my grandmother was 98. When she passed away and I was very close with her. She lived with us and I was very close with her. And she was stronger than me. And I, I like to say this and it's not a put down to me.

She absolutely was because her whole life was about visceral, organic experience. There was no electronic anything. There was no fake. If she wanted to call a friend, she had to actually have the cojones to call the friend. She couldn't text, right? And I think about her so frequently when I'm feeling like I, I don't want to call this person, but I know that socially I have to call this person.

Oh, I'll just send a text. And how quick and easy it is to get away from having a natural human connection in that way, just because I don't want to feel uncomfortable, lends so much to what you just said. These pockets of Quiet time. If we're left to our own thoughts, we feel uncomfortable and we so quickly don't want to.

So when I say that my grandmother's generation was stronger, they actually were on a biological level. They were stronger. Their neurology had to deal with discomfort. It had to deal with unpleasant emotion. And through that adversity, you get a certain strength, right? So it has to be an intentional choice that our generation makes and that we pass along to the kids or even have, you know, even have a tougher go of it.

We have to, at some point say to them, you have to put the device down and feel what life is like, even when it's hard, even when you don't want to go to your coach and ask him, you know, how come you were benched. You have to do that. You have to actually have those hard conversations because otherwise when, you know, when the, uh, I don't know if I could curse on here, when the poop hits the fan, you're going to have to let go of it, right?

[00:23:56] Hunter: Yeah.

[00:23:56] Angie Harris: Heck you, and you're not going to know what to do because you can't text your way out of some suffering. You just can't.

[00:24:02] Hunter: Yeah, I heard somewhere someone say your comfort zone is your prison, and I thought, oh, yeah, you know, and that's what all of these things do is keep us comfortable, keep us distracted and keep us comfortable.

But it's funny because like social interactions, face to face interactions with our friends and our loved ones can be uncomfortable, but they are the things that bring us the most stability. Satisfaction and joy and well being, all these things in our life. It's really fascinating to think about that, you know.

It is, and

[00:24:31] Angie Harris: to get so comfortable with that spectrum of emotion, and I see it with the children I teach. I teach, right now I'm in a, mostly preschools. I do teach all the way up to 18 in high schools, but right now the contract that I've been hired for as an outside provider is in a very large district in New Jersey called Asbury Park, and they have 36.

Preschool classes spread among seven schools. It's a very large district. Serves a very diverse, very, very large population. And the thing is, kids are comfortable with being uncomfortable. Adults aren't. Which is so much, Hunter, and you're a mom, so you'll, you'll be able to attest to this. When a child is having a tantrum in the classroom, Every adult in the room tries to pull out every technique we've ever read about to get the tantrum to stop.

And there's something really beautiful about allowing in a safe environment. Absolutely. Please, for the listeners, I'm certainly not letting someone tantrum and go grab scissors, but allowing that safe climax and safe decline, because then it's not stored on a cellular level, it's gone. It's out of you now.

It's like journaling for an hour, but we don't allow that because it's uncomfortable to watch. And we're always so quick to grab a tissue when we see our best friends crying and pat them on the back and, Oh, it's going to be okay. It's going to be okay. And sometimes, Hunter, it's not going to be okay. And I've found so much really empowerment in being able to say, I don't have words the same way you offered me that, that, uh, consolation at the beginning of our conversation today, there are no words to make up for the pain that I just explained, but there's something really beautiful that you're able to listen and hold it with me.

That's where we rush for our phone to fill in that gap when really we just need to hold the weight. of discomfort and hold the weight of suffering with someone and know that in that, our suffering will also be held by them. And it's got, it's got to be an intentional choice though. It has to be an intentional choice of closing the phone, maybe even leaving it home.

I know this sounds so crazy, but not even taking it with you. Gas. Risking that if your car does break down, that you might have to walk to an establishment, which I, you know, I live in a pretty populated area, but I don't know how many people have to walk that far to get to another human being anymore.

And we're so quick to say, Oh, well, I have to take my phone just in case something happens with my car. Well, chances are your car is not going to have anything happen. And if it does happen, chances are the other person has a cell phone or you can walk to somewhere else that has one, right? So it has to be an intentional choice.

And I think the world will change if we make that choice. You know, I, I think through mindfulness practice, We're doing some, when I say we, I'm including you and our whole community in it, we're doing some really beautiful work to plant seeds to see these generations change and go back to not looking outward for answers and realizing that we have all of the divine wisdom right within us.

I know that it sounds very flowery and the language sounds really flowery, but if any of the listeners who have never practiced mindfulness just sit and focus on their breath for even, I'd say a minute, I think those flowery words would become a reality really quickly.

[00:27:46] Hunter: Yeah, yeah, I really appreciate everything you're saying because really that's what, that's what I teach in, in Mindful Parenting is that deeper work.

I mean, the deepest work we do is that deeper work of being able to sit with your own discomfort, getting yourself grounded enough so that you can sit with your own discomfort. So when your kids are having their feelings, You don't feel like you have to stop it or fix it and change it immediately. Like you can actually sit, go to that ideal of being able to sit with your kid who's maybe losing it and just be with them.

And through that, give this incredible lesson that, hey, It's okay for you to have these feelings, and it doesn't mean I don't love you, I'm still here for you, you know, it sends all these messages, and you don't even have to say them, you know, you just have to, to be there, but it's funny because it's such, it so goes against the grain of our culture, it's so funny because I've been reading them.

The Little House on the Prairie series with my seven year old daughter, which is great in so many ways, except it's so funny. They describe everything in detail, but how do they go to the bathroom? I have no idea. Anyway, but one of the things, and like Ma just suddenly has a new baby in the new book, but And there's so many of them, right?

So many! So many babies. But they always, like, there's this message, like, that, you know, from then, that is like, don't cry. And, you know, the ma says to Laura, like, it's shameful to cry about. You know, and I'm just like, oh, and I have to stop and tell you to my daughter. You know, honey, it's not shameful. They had weird ideas and just all of those things, but it's just, these are the messages that we inherit.

And so it is, it's a difficult, it's a hardship

[00:29:28] Angie Harris: to turn, right? Don't you think? It is. And, and you know, my, my husband was a professional hockey player and he's now an elite hockey coach. His athletes are very, very skilled and talented and you know, the best of the best type kids. They're a 17 to 21. And I struggle with.

He has a quote, and this is going to make so many of your listeners and probably you shudder a little, but he has a quote, second place is first loser. And I, right, right, right within our own households, we have this very big polar opposite thing going on, but I have to say, as a father, He is so present and so willing to let my sons cry and give them a kiss on the cheek and his delicate side absolutely is exposed and it's, it's an interesting, it's just an interesting dichotomy.

Where do we have that balance, right Hunter? Because we don't want to have the inequality of the Laura Ingalls. At all two professional women speaking to each other. You're raising women, right? I, I'm racist women. However, to bring that strength in and have that delicate, yes, you can cry, you can't, there's no such thing as shame.

Shame is, is a useless emotion that really doesn't need to even be in our vocabulary as. But also instill that strength of when adversity comes to you, not everybody deserves to win first place. Not everybody comes in first. There, there is a winner in a race. If there's two people next to each other, the Olympics are on right now.

I mean, it's in our face everywhere we go. There is a gold and the person that wins gold does deserve to say that he or she It had a quicker time than the other one, right? So, I struggle with that in my own parenting. And actually, you taught me a bit about that. You told a beautiful story when you and I were on the panel together back in October.

A beautiful story about taking the best parts of the parenting that you received and implementing new strategies with those, recognizing that your parents were just human. You know, they were just human, just trying to figure it out the same way you're trying to figure it out, and I'm trying to figure it out as well, it's, it's a funny thing, it's a funny little balancing act that I'm trying to do, have my boys be competitors in that they want to be their best selves.

But also know that there's going to be days where you don't come in first. And if you feel bad about that, be okay with feeling uncomfortable. Be okay with that. You cried in the locker room after the game, you know, and you wanted something that you didn't get and you worked really hard and you still didn't get it, sometimes your best is still not good enough for someone else, you know?

I mean, that's, that's part of being an athlete. It's an interesting thing.

[00:32:12] Hunter: I love that. I love that, Angie. So, you teach mindfulness to schools, you, you taught it to your nieces and, and nephews, and you talk, spoke really beautifully about how mindfulness affects the brain. And I wonder if you could speak a little bit to how mindfulness practices affect the brain here.

[00:32:34] Angie Harris: Sure. Sure. Yeah. Yeah. I, um. I am a student of mindful schools and I like to give credit where credit is due. They do a beautiful job of teaching. Us, their train the trainer type programs, how to speak about neurology to children in a very simple way. And what I've learned from all of the, all of the neurology workshops that I've taken is no matter who I'm speaking to, if I can simplify it as much as possible, it just helps to resonate when we have this scientific backing.

And you mentioned it earlier when we were, when we were speaking about death, that matter just doesn't go away. It's still here, it just transforms shape and, and in its form, but it's there. Certainly not gone, so. When I speak about the neurology of the brain and how mindfulness affects it, I think that it's, it's really good because it takes the flowery mysticism out of this stuff and it makes it more concrete and scientific, so, and I have created some characters and as I've gone online you can find these characters anywhere, but to describe the amygdala, Uh, we call the amygdala the jumpy superhero, the well intentioned superhero, and I cite Captain Underpants.

If anyone has ever read that series to their children, you know that Captain Underpants really tries to do his best and tries to help out, but usually winds up making things worse, and I refer to the amygdala in that way as well. For a long time, the amygdala of the brain has this ability. really terrible reputation, like it needs to be eliminated.

It's the evil troll of the brain, but really it's our threat center and it's what keeps us safe and it's what will have me turn my steering wheel very quickly to avoid a car accident or avoid hitting another living creature like a deer. So the amygdala is certainly useful in every aspect. However, in modern society, our amygdala is activated a lot.

The amygdala gets activated anytime our fight or flight is activated. And, you know, we spoke about social media earlier. If I'm 16 and I'm reading a post about myself or I'm viewing pictures of a party that I wasn't invited to, my amygdala is going to have a reaction the same way. As what I just spoke about, an actual physical threat, the brain cannot decipher.

And that's for a reason, right? The brain cannot decipher for a good reason. It's not that it hasn't evolved quick enough. It's that our technology has evolved too fast, too advanced. And the jumpy superhero sometimes hijacks the process from the other important parts of the brain that will bring logic and rationale into play.

The hippocampus, I like to call the hippocampus the librarian. That's where most of our memories are stored. Certainly other parts of the brain store memory, but just for the sake of a simple conversation. The hippocampus is where our memories are stored. And the prefrontal cortex, I call that the smart one.

And the smart one is the one that will come in with the rational, logical, non emotional decision. And the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex, when practice, when mindfulness practice is a, a daily practice. And I think the stat right now, Hunter, and you might be able to clarify with any recent studies though, stat I think is it takes about eight weeks of about 10 minutes a day to see the gray matter development in the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex strengthen, meaning more gray matter there, and And to see the amygdala have less green matter and the amygdala development quiets down, it actually gets smaller.

[00:35:58] Hunter: Stay tuned for more Mindful Mama podcasts right after this break.

[00:36:06] Angie Harris: So what that translates to is I can have a big event happen right in front of me and I can have a survival response, but also bring in logic, reasoning. Memories and Rationale. And when you combine left brain and right brain, when I speak to my little kids, I tell them I want my left brain and my right brain to be best friends.

I want them to hold hands. I don't know if this is a podcast, but I put up my left hand for left brain, right hand for right brain, and then I bring them together and, and really interlock my, my fingers and say mindfulness practice allows for left brain and right brain to be integrated and to be best friends.

And when that happens, I can be creative, I can be emotional, but I could also maintain my feet on the ground and a present moment awareness. And if you and I could just really picture what that looks like in a world, it means that if I go into my boss and I ask for a raise, And I'm greeted with any type of assaulting language or any type of abusive language that might make me feel really, really bad.

I can listen to that language and still maintain rationale and logic and respond. And if we can picture, Thanksgiving dinner. What that looks like to actually have emotionally charged language, right? Coming at you and be able to maintain present moment awareness and not let the amygdala take us on that wild carpet ride.

Not let the jumpy superhero come in, tra la la lying, right you into a big fight with Aunt Whoever at the dinner table and still maintain logic and reasoning. Have my God, your whole world opens up. And you're not afraid of conversation and texting doesn't become an option because now I know no matter what conversation comes at me, I can communicate with compassion and empathy and not let my own emotion of something being done to me, take me away.

I like to say it's magical, although science and magic kind of contradict each other, right? So it's scientific and there's a real basis behind it. Yeah. The jumpy superhero, the librarian and the smart one. I love that,

[00:38:14] Hunter: and that idea, you know, that when we're reactive, we're just at the mercy of everything around us, you know, on, so and so just pushes our button, and there it goes, let's start that jumpy superhero, you know, but when With that practice, you know, I love that you gave the stat because that's what that is what I've heard like 10 minutes a day is getting to be that magic number.

And with that simple practice, you know, we can transform our lives. It's pretty wild. It's pretty amazing. It was for me as well an incredibly transformative experience and it's it's amazing to see the science behind it. And, uh, and I love that you're teaching that to kids. I love that you're teaching that to kids.

What do you, what do you teach kids to do? How

[00:38:59] Angie Harris: do you teach them to practice? Yeah, it's the number one question that I received. Yeah. Yeah. I absolutely love answering it. We do really getting them in touch with their senses. We give them the language of emotion. Absolutely. And so many of the students in the district that I just left are English as second language.

And I like to explain to the teachers, this is emotion as second language. This is ESL. Right? This is emotion as second language because so many of us are not in tune to the emotion. And we also hear the term mind, body, spirit. We hear it everywhere. And I explain to the teachers and to the students as well, every thought has an associated emotion and every emotion has an associated physical sensation.

It might be neutral and you're not noticing it, but every thought, that's the mind, has an associated Physical sensation and an associated emotion, mind, body, spirit. And for children who are so in the moment, they're not mindful, right Hunter? But they are in the moment. They live their lives in the moment, not in the past, not in the future.

It doesn't mean they're kind and they're not judging, but they're absolutely in the moment. For them really just to give them the language of, okay, what is it? What is the emotion that you feel? I feel sad. They have that language. There's been so many social emotional learning programs throughout our school systems over the last 20 years that the language is there, but that's where the education stops.

The education didn't take it a step further to say, okay, now what, right? When your child says, I'm sad, okay, great, they've named it, but now what do I do with it is really the most common question I receive. So I ask the children, where does that emotion live in your body? How do you know you're sad? Okay.

And they might say, because I'm crying. And then I'll point out, well, crying is like a cough when you have a cold. The crying is secondary. The crying came after. There was something that told you that you were sad. What was it? They may start to tell me the story of little Angie that took their ball. And I usually don't cut them off.

I let them process. Processing is an important part of development for the child. So I let them process and tell the story. And then I don't ask any other questions about the story or what happened. You'll never hear me say what happened. I will go right back to how did you know? What did your body tell you?

When Angie took your ball, how did you know you were frustrated? Was it in your belly? And I'll point, I do a lot of pointing and a lot of gesturing and total physical response, really, to communicate. Was it in your belly? Was it in your heart? Where was it? And once they practice this, number one, they can answer you very quickly.

You'd be amazed how quickly a child knows where emotion lives in their body. Adults. We just don't give them the credit that they deserve. They are absolutely in tune with what's happening. Once we show, uh, shed a light on it, they get it. So once we have it, okay, when I'm sad, I feel this feeling in my belly.

I then ask them to put their hand on their belly, and now breathe in through your nose like you're smelling a flower. Actually smell the air. Notice when your inhale needs to transition to exhale and then blow all the air out through your mouth like you're the big bad wolf blowing a piggy's house down, like you're blowing out a candle, like you're blowing up a balloon.

Those are three really popular visual cues for kids. And that's where we start. Then we go into mindfulness of sound. Usually I bring a vibratone or a bell, but you can use a pot or a pan, anything from your kitchen for anyone that's listening to this podcast. And you want to do this as soon as you stop listening, just go into your kitchen and get something.

It could even be the clapping of your hands. and ask them to listen to the sound without speaking about what they hear. Ask them to listen to the entirety of the sound, and then do it again, and ask them to breathe in through their nose like they're smelling the flower, blow all the air out like they're blowing out a candle while listening to the sound.

And if you model this with them, that will turn quickly into, okay, now close your eyes. If closed eyes doesn't feel so good, open them, take your hands and cover your eyes, and now listen to the sound. And when you don't hear the sound anymore, raise your hand to let me know that you don't hear it. So that's really two of the fundamental lessons with kids.

And honestly, I would need about seven more podcasts. I could talk forever and give all of your listeners a million practices and exercises for kids, but really getting them in touch with. What they're seeing, what they're hearing, what they're smelling, without asking them to tell you about it, right?

That's where parents right away, every parent that picks up their kids at the end of the day, how was your day? Tell me about it. What did you do? Right? We want to, we want to hear the story. We want to know that they were safe. We want to know that we're getting our money's worth if you're paying tuition.

We want to know all these things, but allowing them To tell their own story through dancing, singing, through drawing in the sands, maybe through speaking, you don't know, allowing them to tell their own story and then adding in comments of when that happened, how did you feel? I felt sad. When you felt sad, how did you know you were sad?

Where did you feel it in your body? As parents, we so quickly, right, we want to go back to, well, who did it? Who took your ball? Did the teacher know? You know, we want vindication and we're seeking revenge on six year olds. To have, to have the almost non doing in parenting, and, and this is something that you speak about so well, Hunter, just let the child go through the uncomfortable experience without trying to fix the discomfort, but with shining the light on how did you know you were uncomfortable?

In that moment, they're getting back into their physical body. They're out of story in their head to a certain degree, and they're mindful in that moment. And that's how we arrive at the non judgment of emotion part. That emotion is part of being a human. No emotion is to be judged. It's part of being a human.

Some serve us, some don't. I called Shane useless earlier. I believe that. That's one of the ones that I try to eliminate as much as possible. But You know, teaching children has been one of the greatest gifts in my life, and I am honored that I get to go into schools to do it. I'm getting kids, like we said earlier, before something happens or maybe while something is happening.

I'm teaching kids that are three to six years old, and they're getting it two to three times a week from me. And then most of the teachers that I have dealt with, when I say most, I can, I can't even think of one that's coming to the top of my head that has not implemented these strategies after I have left their classroom.

Because they themselves are getting so much relief in their classroom and throughout the school day, that now mindfulness, just like PE, right? Just like art. I'm viewing a world where mindfulness is a special, is a, one of the extracurriculars that just gets delivered through the public announcement each morning like the Pledge of Allegiance, like the morning announcements, like the word of the day.

There's now going to be mindfulness practice and you know, they're, as you know, they're doing it in other places. Dominican Republic has been practicing mindfulness for years in their school systems. Wow, really? Yeah. It's amazing. Yeah, the Dominican Republic is really progressive when it comes to mindfulness.

It's in every day. Just part of their life. It's amazing, right? Wow.

[00:46:19] Hunter: Wow. This is amazing. And for the listener, I was furiously taking notes while she said that, so I'll put some of this in the show notes and mindfulmamamentor. com. But we would probably, I can speak for the listener and say, I would love to have you back on to talk more about some of these ideas, how to share it with kids.

I love it. I'd love it. Thanks for having me on for this. That would be wonderful. Angie, you know, thank you. Thank you so much for sharing your voice and I really appreciate it. I just want to thank that, I don't know, I want to thank that 19 year old Angie who is like, you know, partying it up in high school and grieving her mother.

for taking this and saying, I'm going to turn inward and I'm going to learn about myself and I'm going to take this brief step. And I, I really appreciate that because the way this has blossomed in your life and the way you have created these ripple effects in the world, It's really powerful. I mean, all of these kids that you're reaching and these parents and these teachers, it makes an incredible difference.

And I'm, I feel really honored to have you on and to have been able to spend time with you.

[00:47:23] Angie Harris: Thank you Hunter. I feel the same way about you. And it feels humbling to be honest, because I've healed so much through helping others and through planting these seeds. And I think that's something that the mindfulness practice has allowed me to that through helping another, I'm being helped.

And I think being in service as you are, you're a person of service, being in service really has been magical for, for my life. It's been a really transformative. And I like to thank the 19 year old self too. There was a time when I was a little bit ashamed of her behavior. And now I think without those behaviors, I wouldn't be able to come with you and laugh about my antics and then practicing mindfulness while I was cutting school.


[00:48:03] Hunter: exactly. Thank you for giving me a good story. Thanks so much. So wait, before you go, where can people find out about having you come into their school if they're maybe in New Jersey or find out more about the work you've done?

[00:48:16] Angie Harris: Thank you. Yes. I, I'm a published author. My book is Mad to Glad, Simple Lessons to Help Children Cope with Changing Emotions.

And that's available on Amazon by Angie Harris. The illustrations are by Stacey Heller Budnick, who was Wayne Dyer, one of my favorites. And I know you appreciate his work as well. Wayne Dyer's illustrator for all of his children's books. And I was really honored that Stacey worked with me as well. And you can find Mad to Glad on Amazon.

And my website is mindfularomatherapy. com. And I'm very excited that I'm bringing my teachings, my children's teachings, to an online course that will launch in the late spring, early summer. So when I do that, I'll absolutely forward the information over to you. And, and that's when you can learn more about the jumpy superhero and, and the smart one.

It'll be right there online to bring on your phone. And then I'll tell you that you should bring your phone places and that you'll be able to take those courses. Yeah, I'm excited about that. That'll be fun. Awesome. Thank you. Thank you so much, Angie. Thanks, Hunter. We'll talk soon.

[00:49:26] Hunter: Isn't Angie amazing? I just love her presence and her depth of being and the way she makes things so simple and beautiful. Oh my gosh. So, I love her. I'm wishing you a beautiful week. I'm wishing you well. If you liked this interview, please support it. Please let me know. Please share it with your friends.

Please leave a review and a rating. That helps enormously. And I'm sending you a wish for a really peaceful, grounded. Week where you can really be present for this crazy ass life. Oh my gosh. Yes. Wishing you well. Namaste, my friend.

I'd say definitely do it. It's really helpful. It will change your relationship with your kids for the better. It will help you communicate better. And just, I'd say communicate better as a person, as a wife, as a spouse. It's been really a positive influence in our lives. So definitely do it. I'd say definitely do it.

It's so worth it. The money really is inconsequential. It's so consequential when you get so much benefit from being a better parent to your children and feeling like you're connecting more with them and not feeling like you're yelling all the time or you're like, why isn't this working? I would say definitely do it.

It's so, so worth it. It'll change you. No matter what age someone's child is, it's a great opportunity for personal growth and it's a great investment in someone's family. I'm very thankful I have this. You can continue in your old habits. Or you can learn some new tools and gain some perspective to shift everything in your parenting.

Are you frustrated by parenting? Do you listen to the experts and try all the tips and strategies, but you're just not seeing the results that you want? Or are you lost as to where to start? Does it all seem so overwhelming with too much to learn? Are you yearning for community people who get it, who also don't want to threaten and punish to create cooperation?

Hi, I'm Hunter Clark Fields, and if you answered yes to any of these questions, I want you to seriously consider the Mindful Parenting Membership. You will be joining Hundreds of members who have discovered the path of mindful parenting and now have confidence and clarity in their parenting. This isn't just another parenting class.

This is an opportunity to really discover your unique, lasting relationship, not only with your children, but with yourself. It will translate into lasting, connected relationships, not only with your children, but your partner too. Let me change your life. Go to mindfulparentingcourse. org Mindfulparentingcourse.

com to add your name to the waitlist so you will be the first to be notified when I open the membership for enrollment. I look forward to seeing you on the inside. Mindfulparentingcourse.


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