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Listening to Learn

            When I was an elementary school teacher, almost every day a student would ask me to help him “fix” a problem with another child. Of course, by fixing the argument for him, that child never learned how to fix it for himself. And naturally, this meant that it was going to happen again, just like if we go fishing and I take the pole from you, you will never learn how to fish.

            After 18 years in the classroom, it is still true. No one is teaching children how to use their thoughts, and so their thoughts keep using them. The Yoga of Mindset website, workshops, and Training the Mind: A Course for Kids exist in order to give children the knowledge and tools they need so that they are able to fish for the life they dream about living.

The Mindset of Yoga

            Though yoga may best be known in the West for twisting bodies, for centuries the heart of yoga has been the scientific study of the human mind. Mindset, neuroplasticity, hardwired neuronal paths, these are the sounds of brain science catching up with millennia of settled knowledge and naming things anew.

            As a monk once told me, “Life takes courage.” Of course, one doesn’t have to be a monk to recognize this. It likely resonates for anyone navigating to this website. Yet, this especially rings true for children in today’s culture, because to be a child can be a daily, daunting, brilliant act of courage.

            The human mind is the most powerful tool in existence, and the child’s mind is the most beautiful, receptive tabula rasa ever created. How strange that during its most formative years, children are never once given direct, sustained instruction on how thoughts create their perceptions and experience every moment of every day.

The Yoga of Mindset (TYOM)

            After 18 years of teaching in elementary classrooms across 3 states and 7 school districts, it is crystal clear to me that the highest purpose for a child’s education is this: Children must understand that they are not a thought. They need to know that their thoughts are powerful and creative, and that they do not have to believe a thought if they don’t wish to.

            TYOM Workshops and Training the Mind: A Course for Kids (of.all.ages) give children the tools necessary to live harmoniously among their thoughts. They learn that their brains are designed to hardwire their most habitual thoughts and feelings. When we don't understand the most basic way that life works, we use our thoughts to create a life we want, as well as a life we don't want.

            TYOM Workshops use a participatory, actively-engaged approach developed across 18 years in the classroom to uncommon results, and teaches children to become aware of how their own thoughts are responsible for creating their perceptions and experience moment-to-moment.

            To date, Post-Workshop Student Surveys report that 100% of students say, “Before the workshop, my thoughts were sometimes more negative or afraid of failing and looking bad.” And afterwards, 100% of students agree or strongly agree, “I have a better understanding of how my own thoughts can make me feel better or worse about anything,” and, "Since the workshop, I am less hard on myself.” 

            Training the Mind: A Course for Kids (of.all.ages) is an online course of study that dives deeply into the foundations of TYOM. It makes daily guidance and instruction possible in a child’s life. It also offers a Q & A Member Forum Page that gives you and your child unlimited real-time access to asking and getting answers to questions, posting comments, and sharing insights with other families. 

            In retraining the mind, regular repetition and sustained instruction are difference-makers. Why? Because past hardwired thoughts and feelings have carved deep pathways in our brains, and we return to them unconsciously and automatically. Children experience this like being trapped in a loop, and often think, This is how life really is and always will be.

            I sometimes wonder if the greatest discovery within the mind of a child is not also the most empowering one. When a student understands, “No one else can do this for me,” it is truly an exciting moment, and over time this has proven to be one of the non-negotiables for returning the fishing pole to its rightful owner.

"Understand that only you can be the gardener of your own mind. No one else can ever do it for you. And thank goodness! Because this is what makes you, you. Once you realize that you can think what you choose, whenever you want, the unique gift that you are to the world will grow. Knowing this is the first step to lasting happiness. But practicing this every single day is one of the secret keys to living the life of your dreams." 


Lesson 1 excerpt - Training the Mind: A Course for Kids (of.all.ages)

Image by Sebastian Pichler
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