Cultivating Mindfulness in Kids with Dr. Rashmi


00:00:00    Alyssa

You're listening to Voices of Your Village. This is episode 179. In this episode, I got to hang out with Dr. Rashmi Bismark, you might know her book Finding Om, it's a kids book that I love. We chatted about mindfulness in the tiny humans and how to support this. And what does this look like, I feel like it's real 'buzzwordy' word these days. And so, we broke it down and looked at how to truly cultivate mindfulness and support kiddos with these tools, it was like a hanging out with an old pal. She was so fun to chat with and really in alignment with our approach here at Seed, and bringing awareness to our everyday life, slowing down and noticing. And I'm so jazzed only to share this episode, but if you have not snagged the book Finding Om yet, go snag it right now, it's such a great book to read with your tiny humans and for them to get a grasp on what this really looks like to put into everyday life. All right, folks, let's dive in. 


00:01:15    Alyssa

Welcome to Voices of Your Village, a place where parents, caregivers, teachers and experts come to support one another on this wild ride of raising tiny humans. We combined decades of experience with the latest research to create the modern parenting village. Let's dive into honest conversation about real parenting challenges, so it doesn't have to be this hard. I'm your host, Alyssa Blask Campbell. 


00:01:45    Alyssa

Hey everyone. Welcome back to Voices of Your Village, today I am here with Dr. Rashmi Bismark. Hello. How are you? 


00:01:52    Dr. Bismark

Good. How are you? 


00:01:53    Alyssa

I'm good. It was so fun to like read your bio and I was we're just chatting about before we started recording. I was like oh upstate New York, ooh, same and then it was around to all these places. It was like Rochester and you have Buffalo, and Cooperstown and I was like this is my kind of gal, it's awesome. And now you are back in Upstate New York after traveling around. I like how you keep coming home. 


00:02:22    Dr. Bismark

Yeah, I know. Well, there's nothing like New York and there's nothing like, Upstate New York. I will say. I should say though. So this is Central New York to get it right. 


00:02:33    Alyssa

This is true for everybody else, that isn't a New Yorker or isn't from Western, Central or the Southern Tier, right? 


00:02:41    Dr. Bismark

Yeah, it's all upstate. 


00:02:45    Alyssa

Can you tell our village a little bit about kind of your background and what brings you here today? 


00:02:50    Dr. Bismark

Yeah sure. So like you mentioned I'm from upstate New York. So I grew up in a really small town called Sherrill New York in Upstate New York and I ended up going to the University of Rochester for training and I went to undergrad and med school there and I'd always had this interest in, stemming from some, some personal experiences, interested in kind of holistic ways to support healing and health. And so in college, I spent some time in India learning more about ayurvedic, medicine in Kerala. So, my parents are immigrants from Kerala, which is a state in the southwest coast of India. And I got to spend about six months there studying with family members and other people about ayurvedic medicine. But then also all the related philosophies and science. So, the philosophies of yoga and got into meditation a bit more and different kinds of energy healing and kind of explored it all before I went to med school. So I went into med school, kind of really excited about all these ways to support health that were there and through med school, and starting my residency. Although I loved working with patients, there was just something in me that felt like medicine was not quite it yet. For me, like there was something else that I was supposed to be doing as well. And I didn't quite know what that was yet. And fortunately at the time my husband had an opportunity abroad with work, so that's what took us around. You've mentioned the traveling around the world so we got to do that with his with his job and that offered me time to take a little bit of a break. So we took a little bit of a pause and we actually went to India that time so I explored more of ayurveda and really delved into more of the philosophy. And then we started a family and I became a mom and in that journey of motherhood as you know, so full of so many things. Again that importance of self-care was there for me and that importance of being able to model that for my kids even as babies right to be able to model that connection and you know, I'd learned all these things. And so that thinking about, how am I going to share this with these little humans right? And so these are all things in the back of my mind. And then we came back to the US so that I could finish residency. And at that time, I finished my training in preventive medicine. So I got my masters in public health and my residency director was really supportive of my interests in, by that time kind of had blossomed into sort of Mind/Body. And so one of my mentors was a psychiatrist who taught mindfulness-based, stress reduction. And so I took the course with her and then started co-teaching with her. She was also a yoga teacher. So we were really able to talk a lot in depth about the philosophy and of mbsr mindfulness-based, stress, reduction, and all that. And I really felt like I'd found my home in medicine when I found that because it was allowing me to be able to teach all these philosophies that I was so familiar with from my heritage and that really sparked my joy within me and to be able to share that in a inclusive way, to patients was really powerful. So after residency, I kind of focused my clinical career teaching mindfulness based interventions and so I did some training at UMass with the team there and then I've also just finishing up a two-year program with Tara Brach and Jack Cornfield. Through Sounds Truth, meditation, teacher training, but so along that path, professional path when I was still a mom. So still thinking about how to bring these things into, you know, my children's eyes. And so, you know, my, when my, when I was in residency and at that time, when I was starting to learn how to teach mbsr and all that, my kids were like one and three, two, and four around that those ages. And so, you know, it's just such a wonderful time of curiosity and they're just little love muffins. And they're really like curious and that can get them into trouble too, and all those things. It was like this beautiful field of being able to really put into action, the stuff that I was learning and for myself because, you know, I'll share this, my mom and I talk about this all the time. I grew up in a house where there was a lot of quite a bit of yelling that happened, you know? And so when I became a mom, it was like, I knew that there was a tendency in me to do that too and I would find myself doing it. You know, said that it was like how could I meet myself in those moments? And so it was really that test of bringing in that mindfulness and compassion for myself too and for me it just happened. The word soften kind of connected me to my body and would just kind of ground me and ground me into their nervous system too, you know. And so you know, I was finding it useful to tap into all this for myself as well as to be able to teach with them. And then I was also realizing too how much mindfulness and just awareness and all of these things were there in my culture. I mean, I knew it but you know, when I was growing up as an Indian kid in this small town in Upstate New York. You know, although I loved all of this stuff that I had at home. There is the part of me that still felt like I needed to conform in some way and, you know, so they were periods of time in my life when I didn't think I needed these things. All right, you know whatever. And but as a mom just realized how much beauty there is and storytelling and ritual, no matter what background that's from. And so, part of that journey also helped me really reconnect with mantras, as a way to sort of help with that and for my kids mantras or just any prayer in general just was really grounding for them were very, you know, they love music too. So I think it was something about the rhythm and, you know, all of that stuff was something tangible for them to hold onto and really helped them connect with the meanings or find that connection within themselves. So, you know, that that was something we were using at home. A lot to talk about these ideas of curiosity, and love, and all of these wonderful, wonderful supportive processes that happen within us. And so, you know, at the time, my kids were small and I had been buying a whole bunch of books because there's all these wonderful kids books on mindfulness and yoga and I just had we happen to be here at my mom's house. With my, my mom and dad and my dad was like all these are great. You know, but all like none of them have any cultural elements in them, you know and it was funny because I was just so excited to have all these mindfulness kids books that like we didn't have that kind of stuff when we were growing up that like it struck me because even I didn't really see that, you know, that erasure that was there. And then when I say when, you know, when you become aware of that I was like, oh yeah, like our, it would be nice to be able to have some of that there too. And so he had said, oh you know, we at that time we kind of brainstorm like oh wouldn't it be fun to create a book series and unfortunately my dad got quite ill soon after and had passed away. And so I kind of had set that project aside until a couple years ago and my daughter brought it back up. And so we started brainstorming and I thought I decided okay I'm going to explore making some kids books and and so the ideas for this book series sort of blossomed and arrived in the book, Finding Om, which is what you found and found me through. 


00:10:53    Alyssa

That's right. And it is incredible. So I'm glad that you explored this because it's so good. I had gotten my team a subscription each of them a subscription to Little Feminist Book Club and one of the books was Finding Om that's included in there and everyone was reaching out and they're like, oh my gosh, we love this. We need to have this person on the podcast. We love this...and so I got it and was like, oh my gosh, I do love this and there are so many things I want to dive into about the book. Specifically, that I think you do, such a beautiful job painting this picture I think mindfulness has become so very buzzwordy, and it's like, emotional intelligence and social emotional learning. So many things in this space have become really buzzwordy. And I like to break it down to like, what does it even mean? You know, like, what is this mean? What does it mean in everyday life? What does it mean in practice? This, I think a lot of us can have narratives or stories attached to what that word might mean. And what comes up for us, when we hear that word and when we were creating the CEP method, we have five components to it and at the cornerstone of every component is mindfulness like it's, we have it as like a wheel, in the middle of the wheel is mindfulness that it's bringing mindfulness to each of these things. And when we were creating it we got a lot of thoughts and feelings about the word mindfulness. What that meant for folks and what it turned on in them and what it turned off in them. So I want to explore like what is mindfulness and like what are the benefits of this for adults but also for kids you talked a little bit about the nervous system and our village is quite familiar with the nervous system and co-regulation talk a lot about. Can't do emotional development work without talking about the nervous system and so I would like to chat about mindfulness. What role does it play here for kids in health? And how do we get, it can be such an abstract concept. How do we like break that down and explain it to kids? 


00:12:57    Dr. Bismark

Yeah, I love that. What a, it's such a good question. And this is not, you know, I also teach I teach meditation for yoga teacher trainings. I teach with yoga medicine and so, this is kind of one of the big topics we have. Because, as you mentioned, mindfulness is used in so many different ways. Now, whether it's in Psychology research or in the medical context or pop culture, you know, are either like on Nickelodeon or whatever it is, there's like doing things mindfully, right? And you know I think it's it is used in so many different ways. I mean, there can be the mindfulness techniques, you know, so the practices that we use which at the heart of it is that idea of paying attention intentionally and inviting all the attitudes that support us being able to pay attention. And then you have kind of the mind state that it connects us to that spaciousness of our awareness from where we can kind of see all these things unfolding, and eventually kind of becomes Jon Kabat-Zinn talks about it as mindfulness with the Big M, which is just awareness itself, right? And that becomes this field that we can rest into, and explore kind of those two aspects of it. That it can be this still restful place. And at the same time, this dynamic space of aliveness from where we really can contact our true nature and explore our potential and all of that too. So it's kind of this balance of both. And when when I talk about mindfulness as well, I like to think about well remembering too this as an English word that has been translated from a word in Pali which is the language from the time of the Buddha and Sanskrit. And so the word that might that the term mindfulness was translated from the word sati in Pali, or smrti in Sanskrit and those words have to do with memory and it's a little bit more than just rote memory and recalling. Its kind of this deep embodied remembrance. So this remembrance of our awareness. So it's kind of that idea, of awareness, kind of recognizing itself. 


00:15:13    Alyssa

Well, thank you for that context. It would have brought up for me real quick was like, just like thought of this DM that I received from a parent who was like she was a very long DM and part of it was that she just isn't a mindful parent. She's not a calm parent. She was connecting the terms calm and mindful like consistently and one thing that I think you do, such an awesome job of in the book is noting right from the beginning that it isn't necessarily calm, right? It It is coming back to that, just awareness of what am I feeling without judgement of it? 


00:15:50    Dr. Bismark

Hmm. Yeah, because, you know, as soon as we're tuning into that awareness, that allows us to just be with ourselves in whatever's here, right? And that itself, that that process of becoming aware. I mean, when we pay attention, that's a very tender way of caring actually in itself, right? So it's kind of these teachers will often call it the two wings of our awareness, right? It's the attention and it's the care that we bring that we bring to it too. So hopefully sometimes, it does eventually connect us to that still place of calm and that's really wonderful, you know? And sometimes it just allows us to be with the crazy too.


00:16:32    Alyssa

Totally! And I love that example you used, I think it's so real for so many of us in the book around control and are not having the answers, right? Was like what and for me those are connected, right? We want to have the answers because we want to feel in control and that you just brought up. Like, what is it even bringing to kids, the question of like, what does it feel like in my body when I don't have the answers? Yes, being aware that like that's a thing that exists that my body will have a reaction and I'm not always going to have the answers and how does that feel? And so many of us as adults are still trying to cultivate that. 


00:17:12    Dr. Bismark

Thank you for noticing that, that's actually our favorite page in the book in our family because it's something, well it that idea itself of being with not knowing is a big, you know, teaching within mindfulness and within yoga philosophy to, you know, and then not holding too tightly to what we know as well, right? And so, you know, those two are very related and, you know, often the not know, when the not knowing can kind of trigger all sorts of stuff within us than blocks us from being able to open up to knowing or  the creativity. Yeah. So you know, when we don't know, sometimes the reaction within us, kind of blocks us from from being able to explore the knowing or contact that curiosity within us. And for my one, one of my daughter's that anxiety is very much alive for her. And so, this is a constant conversation that the not, as you mentioned so beautifully, not knowing is an experience in itself and can we get curious about what that feels like? Because maybe if we just welcome that and know that, oh, it's okay to not know. Sometimes that itself allows us to soften or open up into the moment in a different way, or relate to ourselves in a different way. And so, that was a really important point that I wanted to be able to mention, and it's kind of a foundational learning when it comes to that idea of paying attention. You know, I, you, you notice perhaps that I kind of set it up, so, it's like a science experiments and some sorts of ways, right? And, and whenever we're entering a science experiments too its that knowing that it's we're going to try and find an answer. We might think we know what it is, but we don't ever really know, you know, even when we do do it, we're only, you know, coming up with what we think is the best statistical answer, but even that we can't be totally sure, you know. 


00:19:00    Alyssa



00:19:02    Dr. Bismark

So I wanted to be sure to kind of include that little hint of exploration around like what does that not knowing feel like and it's okay that perhaps there's something you can trust into yourself, even when there's not knowing. So there can be even a coexistence of not knowing and trust. 


00:19:19    Alyssa

Totally. And I think so often it think our brains are designed to do this and I think we've become very good at being like, okay, well, I will come up with what it would be like as a plan. A, A Plan B, a plan C, A Plan D and then something like covid happens, where like we're at plan. Z right? No one saw this one coming. And we get so much practice in not knowing and grieving what our expectations may have been over and over, right? And it's been really interesting for me like witnessing folks responses to the pandemic and the full strip of control that we thought we had, you know, we don't have but we have this perceived control and then the ability to like be with that and be here now and not in the next year, or when things change or when kids go back to school or when we can resume something that feels more comfortable with being in this and it's I think it's so interesting. It reminds me of this kiddo, we are researching the method. He was often like hitting in class. He was like four years old and he was hitting a lot. And so what we were working on with him, was bringing awareness to what his body was feeling when he would start to feel dysregulated and we would just notice how your face is so scrunched and your fists are so tight. You look so frustrated and just helping like bring awareness to this before he was then hitting somebody, and a few months down the road, he would start to do it, he would say. My face is so tight, and my face is so scrunched and my fists are so tight and I'm so frustrated and it was so key for him, then being able to regulate, you know, to like make a different choice. It all started with that awareness or just mindfulness of what's happening in my body. What's happening for me right now? 


00:21:19    Dr. Bismark

Well, I love what you just shared because it's a beautiful example of how interconnected all these things are because we can go from, you know, having that wordless sense of frustration that translates into something in the body and that feeling in the body, feels so uncomfortable. We don't know what to do with it. You know until someone can help us make sense of it until we can learn to kind of maybe get curious about it like you have been sharing with him you know. And then what might happen. So, it's beautiful, when we can kind of explore that in a safe way because although, there aren't some things were not in control of, you know, perhaps, there are things that we can sort of hold onto and foster within us, you know, and it's wonderful when it works out nicely. Sometimes, it doesn't. But that's part of the learning as adults.  


00:22:12    Alyssa

That's the thing, especially early childhood, but any habits or narratives or practices. I love when you were talking about the route of mindfulness. How you are talking about that It almost had like stories connected to it. I think he said something along those lines and that like we have these like stories connected to these feelings that we aren't even necessarily aware of, right? Like it's unclear subconscious. So any time that we're rewriting patterns are working to build awareness of them in the first place, it takes time and that in and of itself can be uncomfortable. We like, can we have this happen tomorrow? I would like to see a change. And with this kiddo research-wise, he, it didn't change the next day or even within that month or whatever. It was so much of us being consistent with bringing this awareness that he didn't have yet until he could start to be aware of it until he was noticing before, he was really dysregulated, and it takes practice and that's, it's hard. 


00:23:16    Alyssa

Practice and patience and all of that  for all every everyone involved, right? 


00:23:22    Alyssa

Exactly. Yeah, because we so badly want to be like just stop hitting! And that had been tried for four years and hadn't worked. So taking a different approach, 


00:23:33    Dr. Bismark

It's beautiful. Because from what I hear for you from your share as well, just now I'm sensing how much of a learning, deep embodied learning this was for you, as well. Not for the child, which is, I think the beauty of these practices and being able to share them. You know, whether it's with your kids at school or with your kids at home, it's you know it's a practice. That gives both ways you know, which is just wonderful. 


00:24:02    Alyssa

And that's what we hear from parents all the time. They come to us looking for support with their tiny humans who are having a hard time and as they go through our programs they're like, oh, it's me too! Learning about me or somebody messaged me yesterday was like, wow, I've noticed how this has affected, how I show up as a boss and how I show up as a partner because when you're starting to bring awareness, you don't just bring it to your kids. 


00:24:28    Dr. Bismark

That's correct. Yeah. And you know, so that was one of the reasons too I chose to have the story be within a family. Well of course it's I think I've shared with you already, it is my family. Kindof a lot of it is from, you know, that direct experience but then also to just showcase how, you know, I think to nowadays to like yoga and mindfulness, get associated with being something, you might go to like studio and go do or something that's elsewhere, you know, and then you come home and it's done or something. There really can be this just part of your life and family life and something that you can share in together as well. You know. 


00:25:08    Alyssa

Yeah, it's not a spin class. 


00:25:10    Dr. Bismark

Yeah. You know, and I think this is very beautifully exhibited by what you're talking about in that the sweetness comes in the sharing and the relationship too that's developed through practicing together.


00:25:26    Alyssa

Yeah. And just so I think allowing without that judgment can be so hard, just last night, my husband hung up bathroom shelves and I afterwards after, he actually had like a challenging time hanging them, the walls weren't right. Like it was this whole thing and afterwards, I saw them. And my initial reaction was those are higher than I anticipated and I was like, okay, I'm not going to start with that, right? Like I'm not going to lead with wow, that's not what I expected. We're going to connect first and then I part of me like sat with I know that it would be fine if I don't say anything like it's bathroom shelves and then I had to go through like a process to be like oh I'm just nervous that he's going to feel disappointed and I don't want to sit with his disappointment and once I got there, I was like, okay. Now I'm going to say something like, now that I realized I can sit with this disappointment and it's going to be uncomfortable and you know, like when I addressed it he was disappointed and it was, he's just renovated our kitchen and bathroom and this was like the last part of the project. He felt like he was done and I didn't. And I even said to him like afterwards is about an hour after we talked about it and I could tell he was like sitting with this disappointment and I said it was like it's so hard to just like sit here with your disappointment and not say like it's fine that they're higher, they'll be fine. You dont have to change them. And he was like, no, you're right. And I do want to change them. I can't unsee it now that I see it.


00:27:05    Dr. Bismark

Now, that now that you showed it to me. Yeah. Every time he goes in there, he'll be like...


00:27:11    Alyssa

And I was like, but it was hard. And like I think being with that that for me is the really the hardest part of mindfulness is being with the discomfort, right? Allowing that without trying to rush it away or fix it. 


00:27:27    Dr. Bismark

Yes. Yeah. It Is and and that creating the space for it and it's and that itself takes time and practice to be, you know, which is, you know, why I love sharing meditation because it gives creates that sort of safe space to where kids can sort of start practicing that connection to that space. That's within them to be able to be aware, you know, I think the more and more, we cultivate a relationship with our awareness. The easier it becomes in that moment of noticing the bathroom shelf for us to be able to pause and do all that work that you did right there in that moment, you know, because it's not easy, it's not an easy quick, process. 


00:28:10    Alyssa

Totally, it takes so much work. Yeah. To get there. Yeah, old Alyssa would've just been like, hey, wow, they look great. But why are they so high? And that would have been a fun spiral between the two of us. Yeah, no it does take practice. Can you chat more about what it looks like to kind of bring meditation to kids and I guess how to cultivate that environment especially for kiddos who might not be used to stillness. 


00:28:40    Dr. Bismark

Yeah. So I only teach my own kids meditation, so I teach adults clinically, so I don't know that I can speak in the way that a mindfulness teacher that teaches lots of kids might, but for my own personal experience with my own kids, I will just share that you know mindfulness practice or that a meditation doesn't have to be in stillness, though it can be. It can also be moving, you know, which is why beginning of the book I had Anu kind of exploring Om while she's you know, running with her sister or doing other things, right? We can also connect to our awareness and movement and so one of the things with my, when I've been exploring it with my kids is just that, that we can be paying attention when we're moving, we can be paying attention when we're still sometimes when we're still, we might feel uncomfortable a little bit, sometimes that uncomfortable in this passes and we can keep sitting sometimes it doesn't and maybe it's okay to not meditate or maybe you might want to we might want to go for a walk, right? Like whatever that is. So it's kind of always just tuning back into our needs or what we're feeling like but that knowing the options are flexible. So but when it when it does come to sharing a seated position practice, since that was your question for me, what has worked well for me is simply modeling it, and it's not something that I necessarily impose upon them or make them do. It's always been a part of our bedtime routine, so at nighttime after books and we're cuddling you know, laying in bed doing a practice together or just sitting in bed doing a quick practice together. But otherwise they, they see me do the practice and oftentimes when they see me and this was the case with when my dad was alive too they'd see him and they'd wander 


00:30:33    Dr. Bismark

up and get curious and sit by him and and same with me, like you and so not all the times and it's gotten now to the point where sometimes too if they want to do it. Like, my older daughter yesterday, I was meditating after I worked out or something and she came to like, oh, can I meditate can you can you lead me to and let's meditate, you know, so, so though, all of those kind of things just start to happen as they see it and they get taste of it. And for me, for me that's what has worked the best rather than you know. Imposing it upon it is just having them sort of lead it and making it fun, exploring lots of different things with them when they are curious about it. 


00:31:13    Alyssa

So I like that you brought up that, it also doesn't have to be stillness that you're really just bringing awareness to the body and whatever it's doing, right? Yeah, and I think of this with, we talk a lot about sensory rich activities like activities and regulate the nervous system and we encourage folks to seek out a sensory rich activity every couple hours, right to help get like some input in that, it'll help regulate throughout the day in the same way that we would like eat food throughout the day rather than waiting until we're hangry. And in this practice we'll often talk to kids about how it feels to go upside down, you know, like what does it feel like when you're leaning upside down on the couch, like, does that feel good for you? And that for some kids, it will and some kids know this feels uncomfortable and I would rather be wrapped up like a burrito in a blanket or swinging from a swing or jumping into a pile of pillows and that feels so good for my body and just helping them start to tune into what does feel good for my body was kind of what I heard from you at the beginning there and notices when you're in that, you know, yeah, I think that that ties so well too with are like coping strategies and when you're having a big emotion, not just noticing the big emotion but if you also know things that are helpful for you in regulating that nervous system, what helps your body feel calm when you're feeling really frustrated. 


00:32:34    Dr. Bismark

And I love what you're sharing because to especially when kids are small, they're not going to have the words for the emotion, right? And it's not important or necessarily that they have to, but I think just like you're saying that signaling of coming into the body can be so important for them in those moments because that is a space that they can connect very easily to. And even if they can't put a word to, it may be placing a hand wherever they're feeling it most or  whatever that is can be really a powerful place to kind of open up the conversation. 


00:33:05    Alyssa

Totally and we actually produce our own emotion processing cards that are visuals. And we send stickers that have words that you can put on or not but actually find with our younger kiddos that a lot of them gravitate without words, it's just a picture and they get to choose we intentionally don't put the words on because I don't think it's my job to tell you which picture is sad or lonely or whatever that they can choose what card looks like, what theyre feeling. You know. 


00:33:31    Dr. Bismark

I love that. Yeah. 


00:33:33    Alyssa

And really just connecting like, what am I feeling to? What do I see? And helping them have an outlet for communication there. And then going into, we also we have a box like a bundle box and we have coping strategies in there to where they can also grab a coping strategy that they can tap into before they have words to do it to look to build this connection of not. Just what am I feeling? But what do I? What do I do when I'm feeling this. 


00:33:58    Dr. Bismark

Yeah. No, but what might I need? 


00:34:00    Alyssa

Yeah, yeah, how do I meet that need. 


00:34:05    Dr. Bismark

I love that. It's what you're sharing is making me think of think it was Dan Siegel shares in one of his books about halt, the hungry angry, lonely, tired. I think,  from from that. With my own kids, we created SHH, which is am I sleepy? Am I hungry? or do I need a hug? So that's our little thing with trying to you know, you know, usually, if it's you're feeling overwhelmed, it might be one of these three things, you know, do you think it might be one of those? That's kind of, those kind of cues are so important because it helps them remember too that they have a choice in the moment, which even as adults we forget, you know. 


00:34:49    Alyssa

Totally totally. I'm just so obsessed with by simplifying mindfulness for folks down to really awareness? Yeah, awareness. Yeah and without that judgment or shame I think is the huge part for us. 


00:35:04    Dr. Bismark

Yes, as adults. I mean, not just us as kids too I mean now that my kids are getting older and we share a lot. I mean there's a lot that goes on in their minds, you know. And, you know, and and that and it's and it's can be a rich way to connect with each other is to be able to share those vulnerabilities. 


00:35:30    Alyssa

Yeah, that's a good point. Like, I was just thinking of a comment, we just had on something where somebody was asking that they didn't want their kid to feel a certain way, right? Like they didn't mean it seemed to this person selfish for the child to have this feeling, and that judgment attached to do because you want to have space and you don't want to play with your cousin. That were attaching than judgment to that. Yeah yeah it's interesting to think about what age do you recommend like starting to build these practices in with kiddos? 


00:36:10    Dr. Bismark

Like I mentioned I, you know, I work mainly with adults but that said it, I'm speaking from my experience, as a mom, I mean, I started like from when they were born in many ways, right? So I mean, are you even when they're in my belly I guess. But that idea, I mean well, everything that we do from the beginning, in terms of helping, you know, what are we doing when we're cradling them or rocking them or singing to them? It's helping helping soothe their nervous systems. Then as they get older starting to show them the ways that they can do that themselves and as well or reach out to us. I mean, that those are kind of the main things for me was helping my kids understand that, you know, that they have within them, the ability, not only that sometimes when they feel overwhelmed they have us. Like we are also that these connections that can help or in nature, you know, kind of helping them understand, all those kind of the concentric circles of connection that are there to help support them. So for me, I mean I started like I mentioned started from very small kind of planting the seeds, I guess I love also and this perhaps this was just something because at the time I was doing that mindfulness training and all that really helping them come back into the body was a big thing for me and I love that you kind of keep saying that but you know letting them get curious about the body to you know. And so not only in the fun happy tims. And even with the fun happy times, like, how does like super excited about something feel compared to oh this is so sweet or you know, all those different all the different flavors of happiness and love. And then it's like oh well those flavors different flavors are also their frustration about these things too, you know. So kind of letting them get familiar with their body and allowing the body to be someplace to find comfort in and to explore rather than it being something they need to be afraid of. 


00:38:10    Alyssa

Yeah, or to change and I think I'm glad you said from infancy because I agree and I was just picturing like, when I was teaching infants, like the tiny human that's trying to reach something, you know, when you start to crawl, they often go backwards before they go forwards. And they're trying to read something in there, going backwards, and they're frustrated. And so often for us as adults, we could pop down and we could just fix that. Yeah, we can bring the toy to them, and we could make the discomfort go away. And in those small moments being able to pop down and oh you're trying so hard to go forward and keep going backwards. That's so frustrating it's really just connecting with them like I see you and I get it and I you don't have to fix this feeling. 


00:38:58    Dr. Bismark

Yeah well and I love how even when you were saying it kind of you know there are those mirror neurons that you find and even for, as you are saying in. And I was for those of you who don't know who are listening. And we're seeing each other right now, but to even just see your face, even if I didn't understand what you were saying. I felt so connected to you. Okay. 


00:39:22    Alyssa

Yeah. I mean that's the goal. At this point after hundreds of kids, the tone body language part does come a little more naturally for me right out the gate. But yeah, no, I think like those little moments are huge mindfulness, building moments, I remember a parent dropping off at one point and drop-offs are often like wild, right? Like a lot of emotions. People are saying goodbye to people in our infant room, a kid there's always somebody who's hungry or needs a nap, right? Like and I remember her just saying like doesn't it drive you nuts to hear them cry and I truthfully at that point was it a place for myself. I was like no like if it drove me nuts, I couldn't do this job. Yes, it is constant. There's always somebody who's having a feeling and my job isn't to make that go away. It's to help them learn that it's okay to have that feeling. And yeah that for me is the core of mindfulness is that whatever you're feeling is okay to feel. 


00:40:32    Dr. Bismark

Is okay to fail and I guess the other the other part of it too is the knowing that there are strengths within you that can that can help or strength around you that can help. So it's like connecting to that that that agency also that we can be with it. And there are things, we can even just in the being with, it can help it. And there are there. Other ways to that. We can do that naturally through our awareness itself. 


00:41:03    Alyssa

Tools for regulation. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I love that. And if you're not ready for regulation yet, you can just be with it right that like, those aren't wrong answers. And yeah. Oh my gosh. Okay. Where can people get your book to say that title again, give them all the deets. It's so good. And I think it was truly breaks down, like such a such a rad depiction of like how this starts with kids and how you might see it develop and continue. And I just love so much that when it starts, it's not like she sits down and she just starts meditate and right. Like that's not how this goes with any of us and definitely not with kids, right? Yeah. So I love, I just love so much how you depicted the entire storyline. I would love for folks to snag it. Can you share about it and where people can connect with you?


00:41:51    Dr. Bismark

Yeah, so the book itself is called Finding Om and it's basically my daughter exploring the Mantra Om with my father. So she kind of sort of comes upon him chanting during his evening meditation and prayers. And so she's just simply is getting curious. And so he kind of plant some seeds and she goes and explores and sort of falls upon a little meditation, practice herself. And so, you know, one of the things with the book was that I wanted it to be an exploration for the sake of exploration, you know, for the curiosity and love of that. So often in kids books, there's often a problem and then it's like mindfulness or meditation solves it, you know, which it's that too. And so, you know, and I understand that to you need to have some kind of attention for kids or to turn to page of the book. So this is kind of more about her kind of her own exploration with it, and kind of her falling upon this connection to herself on her own and also to, I've woven in quite a bit of yoga philosophy through it as well. And, you know, the different kind of stages of kind of connecting with ourselves and the you know that was some point. She's really connecting with that. She does find that cam writes that stability and that calm and in the quiet she gets an insight and then she explores that and then she connects with a different kind of experience of her fullness of herself as well. So it kind of just kind of follows along this this journey that she kind of has. And so the, so the book Finding Om is published by Mango and Marigold press. And so it's available on their website. It's also available at local Indie bookstores, as well, an online retailers. And if you go to Mango and  Marigold press, there's also a free curriculum guide and I know you've seen part of it that came with the Little Feminist and there's an expanded version of it kind of goes through different meditation practices and little reflection activities. There's a mindful walking exercise in there too and then there's also a little bit more exploration of the mantra Om, and kind of an exploration of cultural appreciation versus appropriation of the the om symbol and om. So lots to explore their so and again that's that's freely downloadable from Mango and Marigold press. 


00:44:26    Alyssa

That's rad and for folks who the word for grandpa might be new for, can you pronounce it for us so that we can say it correctly? 


00:44:34    Dr. Bismark

Yes. So I knew my daughter is exploring with her Apuipa, the word for your mother's father in the language Malayalam, from that state of Kerala, where we're from. So there's a lot of little cultural tidbits in there, too. 


00:44:52    Alyssa

Yeah. Well, I'd love to read it correctly.


00:44:54    Dr. Bismark

And we didn't even chat I'm you know, we're a mixed family. So my husband is from Zimbabwe. So it is, there's lots of different uh, different stuff in the book to explore. 


00:45:04    Alyssa

So awesome. Thank you so much for hanging out with me. 


00:45:07    Dr. Bismark

Yeah, I feel like I could just keep chatting with you all day but I'm sure you have a lot to do!


00:45:10    Alyssa

Same same. 


00:45:14    Dr. Bismark

I hope we'll stay in touch. 


00:45:15    Alyssa

I also hope so maybe we'll see each other in real life. Post covid in upstate New York. Or as Upstate New Yorkers would call it Central New York. 


00:45:24    Dr. Bismark

Yes, that's right. Oh, the other thing too, I'll share. I've put together a six-week just an introduction to mindfulness practices and I recently did it at my kids school here with the teacher, the teachers and it's a picture book inspired mindfulness. So we kind of have a picture book paired with each of the six classes and the classes, basically explore just different mindful practices. 


00:45:49    Alyssa

Where can people find that?


00:45:51    Dr. Bismark

So if so, if you go to my website, which is, I haven't, I guess I did this, I need to add a little bit more my website and but but if anyone's interested, they can contact me through the contact form on my site. And I so I just did that virtually through Zoom here. So that's also something else that I'm happy to share as well. 


00:46:14    Alyssa

That's awesome. Thank you so much for sure. Yeah check that out. And we do have Early Childhood Educators who tune in and all that just to so yeah. Awesome. 


00:46:23    Dr. Bismark

I just want to share, I'm so happy when you talked about how at the center of all that you share is that connection to mindfulness. Because I think that the more and more we can kind of learn to connect with our presence and awareness. You know, the the more we can connect with all of these pieces of ourselves to that fullness. So yeah, I love it, so excited so excited to be connected with you too. 


00:46:46    Alyssa

Thank you. Same. 


00:46:49    Alyssa

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