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Quiet Time: A time for story telling, mindfulness, and relaxation

When I decided to join the Little Ripples project, I had no idea what I could bring to the table.  I don’t have any education in early childhood development and I’m not a teacher.  I do have the beautiful experience of being a mother and grandmother, thus I am deeply aware of how we all want the best opportunities for our children.  Darfuri mothers are no different.  So I decided I would help in any way I could.  I attended the meetings and met an amazing group of teachers, health providers, organizers, and activists — All people who cared.

A few years ago I had to endure a very painful experience where the future and security of my child was threatened.  I had no idea what would happen and I felt powerless at times.  My stress levels were sky high and I was feeling a lot of anger.  That’s how meditation came into my life.  It was introduced to me by a Jesuit priest.  Fr. Mike would visit my house and lead a group of parents through what I experienced as a peaceful moment and a quiet time.  It was a time for our minds to be still as we became aware of our breath, relaxed, and listened to him tell us a story using guided visualization.  In most cases we were the protagonist.  All I can say is that afterwards I felt refreshed.  Thus, as someone who has benefited from meditation emotionally, physically, and spiritually, when it was presented as an idea for the curriculum of Little Ripples, I jumped on it.

friendsWhy is having Quiet Time so important?  As we plan the curriculum for Little Ripples and we talk about how vital it is to consider not only their educational, physical, and environmental needs, we realize that we must also look at their emotional well-being.  We have to consider all the traumas and mental hardships these children have had to live with. These kids were born in refugee camps with all its limitations and moreover their parents fled Darfur and watched men being killed and their women being brutalized and raped.  These are the stories they live with and that are shaping their existence — disparity, anguish, and sadness.  It became clear how significant it was to create a magical place for them to learn, play, and be safe, but also provide a tool that would help them reduce their stress and anxiety and plant a seed that will encourage them to lead a more peaceful and compassionate way of life where they can practice love and kindness with others.

I did a lot of reading, watched numerous amounts of videos, practiced many types of meditation, talked to experts, and to immerse myself even more, I took a course on “Sensational Meditation for Children” by Sarah Wood.  It was an eye opening experience.  The list went on and on about all the benefits.  To name a few, I found that meditation has scientific support as a means to reduce stress, boost the immune system, promote a general sense of health and well-being, improve relationships, create relaxation and calmness, soothe the self, increase memory, enhance focus, manage reactions and emotions, increase self-acceptance, and feel more at ease.   What more can I say? We want to provide all of this support to our Little Ripples.

So as we breathe in and breathe out and begin this journey, our hope is that we will create happy and loving stories for a better future for all our Little Ripples.

Rachel


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