There’s a story, usually attributed to the Native American tradition, which illuminates different ways of paying attention. An elder, talking to a child, says, “I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is fearful, vengeful, envious, resentful and deceitful. The other wolf is compassionate, loving, generous, truthful and peaceful.”
The child asks, “Which wolf will win the fight?” The elder responds, “The one I feed.”
Mindfulness, The New York Times explains in this Mindfulness for Children guide, is “the simple practice of bringing a gentle, accepting attitude to the present moment. It can help parents and caregivers, too, by promoting happiness and relieving stress.”
The narration continues from meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg:
Mindfulness allows us to see our thoughts and feelings as they are beginning. It’s very powerful to know what we’re feeling as we’re feeling it, know what we’re thinking as we’re thinking it.
With mindfulness, we can choose what we’ll strengthen and bring into action and we can choose what we will gently let go of. We don’t have to be at the mercy of old habits, or old ways of thinking, or old ways of being. We are empowered. It just takes practice.
Plus: FirstPeople.us, a kid-friendly educational resource about Native Americans and members of the First Nations. Organized from Abenaki to Zuni, it contains over 1,400 Native American legends, as well as information on treaties and agreements.