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Building a Resilient Community with Conscious Families

According to the 2014 Comprehensive Human Services Needs Assessment, Children and Families services rank as the highest funded category in Broward County, Florida. These resources are applied to much needed programs designed to fill gaps in meeting basic needs and contain risk factors that affect individual and family health and wellbeing in our community. While there is some attention given to early intervention programs, as outlined in the Report’s recommendations, more resources need to be poured into preventative solutions for families to build resilience. This not only saves taxpayer dollars in the long run, but also serves to create a socially and emotionally healthy, more productive, and happier community.

This begs the question, how do we build a resilient community? How do we ensure more sustainable outcomes for our families?

A Community Culture of Resilience

The most effective way to build a community culture of resilience is by creating resilient families, or Conscious Families, by empowering them with tools that build not only physical, but also mental and emotional wellbeing. Psychological studies now show the impact of mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and other heart-mind-body approaches from positive psychology on building resilience. Practicing mindfulness can have positive health benefits, neurological impact on a person’s ability to respond and self-regulate in the moment to stressors and triggers, and cognitive and behavioral impact in making choices and showing kindness to self and others.

Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence

Jon Kabat-Zinn defines Mindfulness as “paying attention in the present moment, without judgment and with curiosity to the unfolding of life in each moment.” According to Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence is the ability to be self-aware, to regulate emotions, to be internally motivated, to show empathy, and to be socially aware.

While these methods are seeping into our schools, hospitals, criminal justice and social institutions, most families, particularly among low-income and minority populations, are ill-equipped to cultivate healthy habits of heart and mind. Self-awareness, mindfulness, and emotional intelligence is simply not built into Western lifestyle. A deeper dollar and agenda commitment to this cause saves us money, time, and much pain for our families, as long as we are prepared to take the long term approach without easy fixes.

What is a Conscious Family?

A conscious family is an imperfect, evolving, secure and loving space where each member can fully be himself without judgment, learn the tools to be self-aware and live his full potential, and serve society in a positive way. A conscious family knows who it is and what it is becoming. For a conscious family “togetherness” is the main goal. A togetherness that is sometimes imperfect but grounded in human connection and a willingness to embrace the present moment as it is rather than it should be. This paradigm shift makes room for the full range of pleasant and painful experiences, and can pave the way for acceptance, new choices that enable growth, stronger relationship and happiness instead of unhealthy habitual reactions that lead to division, risky behavior, conflict and even violence.

Ten components of a Conscious Family are:

  1. Practice Awareness, Gratitude and Forgiveness regularly

  2. Loving safe incubator for awakening curiosity and creativity, development of personal gifts and talents

  1. Show mutual honor and respect regardless of age or family role

  2. Parents are nurturing guides on their children’s journey to self-awareness and self-actualization

  3. Parent-child interaction is an opportunity for growth of both parent and child

  4. Communicate with love, compassion, trust and integrity in facing everyday challenges

  1. Nonjudgmental safe harbor for times of grief, loss or crisis

  2. Has a family vision with values and goals

  3. Understand interdependence, show generosity in caring for self, each other, the community and the planet

  4. Embrace change and uncertainty as a part of life

Start NOW to be a Conscious Family! 1. Create a vision and goals list together, include FUN

2. Start and end day in 3 minutes of silent gratitude

3. Practice STOP (Stop, Take a breath, Observe thoughts and feelings, Proceed with kindness) several times a day

4. Turn off technology, be fully present with each other at meal time

5. Turn off radio and talk to each other during car-rides

6. Take a mindfulness class, enroll your child in a mindfulness program

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