We Love the Book..
by Kimberley Clayton Blaine, MA, MFT
My six year old boy and I practice CALM, FOCUS, JOY: The Power of Breath Awareness along with other Zen like empowerment self-talk that’s age appropriate – we even do guided imagery when he’s feeling out of control (He has ADHD and SPD). We love the book Calm Focus Joy – and also feel the same as the author, Heidi Thompson, that, “Just as pure water restores physical health, pure breath awareness restores the mind’s health.“
She reminds us that our MIND is our greatest gift and that our kids need to know this early on in life. Breath awareness is one of the simplest and most effective focus training and mind-developing exercises available today. It is proven to promote brain growth, improve learning, increase focus, reduce stress, and develop empathy. Adults and children who practice regularly gain an abundance of self-knowledge and insight into their amazing mind/body phenomenon. Most everyone who practices feels more peaceful and happy.
About Kimberley Clayton Blaine, MA, MFT, is the executive producer of the Go-To Mom series and the producer of the branded entertainment show www.MommytoMommy.TV. Meditation Helps Kids Feel More in Control - Blog posted July 30 2013
Review of Calm Focus Joy
by Paola Teresa Grassi, Ph.D.June 2013
With 25 years' experience in breath awareness, Heidi Thompson has designed an attention development program for children named Mindmastery. In 1983 she attended her first 10-day Vipassana Meditation retreat. For the first three days, students practiced Anapana, the Pali name of a technique meant to become calm and alert, while acutely focused -- anapanasati meaning "breathing in and breathing out the awareness". In 1996, Thompson decided to share this simple, yet effective method with young people and she presented her first Advanced Attention Development (AAD) program to several schools in British Columbia.
The volume Calm Focus Joy aims to introduce the latter knowledge and experience to parents, teachers, homeschoolers, psychologists, and child-care professionals who are keen in learning The Power of Breath Awareness first for themselves, and then teach it to children. As a matter of fact the book is A Practical Guide for Adults and Children, and it is based on the assumption of interiorizing first, and only afterwards handing over the acquired skills.
The main principle Thompson builds her proposal is that "mind is a flexible, living organism with an amazing ability to reshape itself with every experience it encounters [...] A conscious and developed mind is like a powerful jet that can take you to virtually any desired destination. However, if you are unable to focus, the mind remains as ineffective as an aircraft without a pilot [...] The very act of focusing attention harnesses the mind's incredible power".
The main results of increasing focus in terms of qualities are mental calm cultivation, happiness, and intelligent insight.
Essential to the latter nurturing practice are: repetition and intensity; heal the root cause of restlessness and dissatisfaction; facilitate awakening consciousness, self-knowledge and wisdom experiences. A radical transformation of everyday life from the choice of food to applied ethics. "To achieve long term, positive benefits, breath awareness incorporates three essential components -- wholesome conduct, awakening insight, and sharing goodwill [...]".
For Thompson a set of unwholesome actions -- basically agitating the mind -- include taking intoxicants as well as lying. Focus training should also foster love and kindness. And to share goodwill has the meaning of sending out a compassionate wish for all beings to share happiness and peace. Perseverance, discipline and patience are the key issues. And the quality to cultivate is equanimity, that is the ability to observe calmly experience from the inside.
The effective structure of the book include a pleasantly -- and intentionally -- recurring theoretical introduction and a set of 10-steps lessons the reader can avail both for managing her practice, and the work with children -- aged 5 to 18. Teaching strategies, read-aloud instructions, tips for organizing programs, check in questions, student journal and a selection of very powerful stories -- proving a substantial sensitivity to a narrative approach -- give a very clever support to the stated goal.
© 2013 Paola Teresa Grassi PhD,Philosophical Practitioner, www.pensafilosofico.it Metapsychology Online Reviews
A Very Useful, Well Organized, Documented and Inspiring Manual
by Susan Shenk, Amazon Reviewer, July 2012
CALM FOCUS JOY: The Power of Breath Awareness - A Practical Guide for Adults and Children (Paperback). This book is a great manual for not only learning focused breathing, but also teaching it to children. As a former teacher, I know how agitated children's minds can be, due to modern toxic diets, video games, TV, etc. Of course, ideally we should eliminate those things, but this doesn't usually happen, and focused breathing can help. The author points out that studies show that breath awareness strengthens the part of the brain responsible for self-control, learning, memory, cognition, emotion, and empathy. It also boosts the immune system, reduces anxiety, and relieves depression. It promotes brain development, physical health, and provides immediate relief from unhappy states. It cultivates equanimity, the ability to observe calmly what one is experiencing. Most conveniently, it can be practiced anytime, anywhere.
The book has a philosophical slant as the training also focuses on wholesome conduct, awakening insight, and sharing goodwill.
The book cites historical roots of breathing practices, including that from Buddhism.
There are ten lessons or steps in the program which are progressively demanding and may take a few months to complete. Each lesson has the following sections: your practice, teacher tips, student instructions, student practice session, a story (a kind of modern fairy tale), student journal, check-in, and continuation of practice tip. Each step is introduced with a student quote.
At the end of the book are two post steps, tips on facilitating this mind mastery program, quotes/testimonials from actual teachers and students, a question and answer section, and most important, a sample application and letter to a parent or guardian explaining the program. (From my experience as a teacher, parents may complain that this is "against their religion" if it's not properly explained.) Most fascinating at the end is a section summarizing some of the scientific research on the subject!
I found this to be a very useful resource book. It is extremely well organized and very inspiring, even if you have no intention of teaching this to children.
The Mindquest Review of Books by Bernie P. Nelson, Editor-in-Chief Lightword Publishing
Congratulations! Thank you for submitting this exceptional book. Calm Focus Joy is a practical breath guide for enhanced focus, stress reduction, and creating a calm and joyful life. The adult training is the author's scientific based and understandable ten-step "Mindmastery Program". Heidi Thompson is an educational breath awareness innovator and has taught the Mindmastery Program in public schools. Noteworthy: Mindmastery includes ten in-depth, but easy-to-follow, lessons. This unique holistic breath awareness model helps students make smart personal choices, master vital skills, and realize true self purpose, including helping others. The instruction levels are adult breath awareness, student learning and practice, and instructions for tutoring children and adults.
Calm Focus Joy offer an In-depth and Easy to Follow
Midwest Book Review by James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Breath happens automatically, but putting some thought into it can have some great effects. "Calm Focus Joy: The Power of Breath Awareness" is a read from Heidi Thompson as she advises readers to take control of their breathing, taking their mindfulness to another level, and how to embrace these exercises within oneself and their family. Breathing with awareness can help keep cool and help one throughout their life, "Calm Focus Joy" is a worthwhile pick for spiritual and self-help collections.
A Review by Diane Ferguson of Mind Body Spirit Odessey
One of the hardest things for many people to do is to bring themselves to a place of 'calm'. To be able to focus on what they are doing. In her new book Calm Focus Joy: The Power of Breath Awareness, author Heidi Thompson outlines a program that she has designed to teach children how to use breath awareness as a technique to help transform themselves into a more calm, focused, happy person.
Thompson's Mind Mastery Program developed out of years of working with children as a public education innovator in Canada, combined her 28 years of experience studying and teaching meditation techniques. In the book she outlines and explains ten breath awareness lessons that act as a "concentration strengthening exercises" that help develop mental facilities including memory, attention, perception, intuition, and intellect. As she explains breath awareness also promotes brain development, physical health, and provides immediate and long-term relief from unhappy physiological, emotional, and psychological states. Thompson also points out that breath awareness is fundamental to just about every stress-reduction therapy and method, and it's value has been proven over and over by scientific research.
I wanted to review this book after I read it because I felt that it is a very important, worthwhile book not only for parents of children who need to learn to focus and de-stress, but also for anyone who teaches or is in the helping professions. Unlike many books about various programs and methods, Calm Focus Joy was written in such a genuine and positive manner, it was a true pleasure to read.
I found the factual information Thompson presents in Calm Focus Joy to be very interesting, and she delivers it in a very non evasive, casual way. There are also several things that I felt set this book apart from other self help books that lay out various programs and methods. For example, I really liked the Teacher's Tips that Thompson included at the end of every step. Teacher's tips themselves are nothing new, but I enjoyed and appreciated Thompson's fresh and honest approach. I also found it wise that she included a short story within each step that could be read to the student to further illustrate the step's core essence. The approach Thompson used to provide basic information about child development and special needs issues is also woven throughout the book in a very low key, understandable way. All that said, what really struck me about Calm Focus Joy is that it goes one step further. As part of it's curricula Thompson's program encourages and teaches children to grow into wholesome human beings. Teaching kids basic core qualities such as 'I promise to Refrain from Hurtful Speech' and "I Promise to Speak Truthfully and to Act Honestly", build a strong basic foundation within an individual child from which awareness, growth, clarity and calm can then take root and grow. These basic principals of wholesomeness no doubt stem from Thompson's own years of Buddhist practice. They are very worthwhile principals to live by and are needed by not only children growing up in today's world, but adults too. Anyone who works with children in any capacity, or has children of their own, would benefit from reading this book.
Calm Focus Joy: The Power of Breath Awareness
Review by Dr. Bob Chaudhuri, Psychotherapist and Medical Educator, University of Toronto
Breath awareness dates back several thousands of years from a long line of meditation traditions including the Ancient Mayan, Ancient Egyptian, Indigenous tribes in the Third World, Buddhist and Hindu, and the First Nations people in North America. The book, “Calm Focus Joy” offers a basic breath meditation guide for adults and children that has adapted ancient practices into easy-to-follow, comprehensible lessons. These lessons are effective for helping children and adolescence cultivate their minds and gain power over themselves.
Adolescence is a tumultuous time for any teenager. It is the time when brain neuroplasticity is most active. During the formative years, the brain is developing, changing, and being influenced by experience. Breath awareness can help strengthen the brain giving a young person more control over his or her emotional life—an ability to self-regulate sadness or anger to a calming restful place in the mind. Meditation leads to feeling: “one’s self in another person’s shoes”. Practicing can increases empathy, which is strongly developed during adolescence. Learning to deal with life’s stressors early on is important and integral to a person’s mental health.
“Calm Focus Joy” is an engaging, one-of-a-kind teaching guide that all children and teenagers should be exposed to. I recommend it to teachers and parents alike who wish to help their students and children.
Simple, Yet Helpful
Review by Trudy Thomas - Host of "Living With HOPE" Radio Show
Breathing...we should all be able to do that perfectly since it keeps us alive. Yet, this book shows you how to be AWARE of your breath! I started doing these exercises after reading the book. I found them to be very relaxing; they seem to reduce my stress level. Now, if only all the parents out there would teach their children these techniques! Definitely a better alternative to Valium :)
Just Breathe -Review of Calm Focus Joy by Grady Harp
Heidi Thompson has published a book that has more permutations in the field of physical and mental and spiritual health than any book out there. And the joy is that without the need for any equipment other that your own body she is able to transform children and adults alike into a state of awareness that cleanses all manner of living and the resultant happiness. Through her guidance and lessons in breath awareness she approaches the meditative state and beyond: she not only teaches us how to achieve complete focus on our minds and functions in the world through the relatively simple aspects of breathing - and becoming aware of the passage of air in to and out of our nares!
As Thompson phrases it, "Many exercises increase focus; however, not all concentration-training techniques result in the cultivation of mental calm, happiness, and intelligent insight. To nurture these qualities, focus training requires three essential things. First, it should be practiced repeatedly with sufficient intensity to develop the areas of the brain responsible for happiness and empathy. Second, it should heal the root cause of restlessness and dissatisfaction to ensure lasting results, Third, it should facilitate experience that awakens consciousness, self-knowledge, and wisdom. If you reshape the brain into a more intelligent and capable instrument, heal discontent at its source, and grow self-aware, you will enjoy a life abundantly filled with health, joy, and wisdom."
Thompson defines `breath awareness' as a concentration strengthening exercise that develops mental faculties including memory, attention, perception, intuition and intellect. Her goals that she sets for those who join in this series of exercises are wholesome conduct, awakening insight, and sharing goodwill. And to that end she presents a series of ten exercises, each explained carefully and accompanied by an illustrative story that allows the reader/practitioner complete understanding of each phase before proceeding to the next.
And to think that all of this self improvement is based on unfettered concentration of breathing in and out! The writing and the processes are so well done that this series of steps toward improvement are very accessible and successful. This book is a real contribution to adults, students, parents and to therapists and teachers.
Grady Harp, June 2012
Book is a Guide to Breath Awareness
Vernon Morning Star Reporter - Cara Brady
Breath awareness meditation has been part of Heidi Thompson’s life for years and she was thrilled when she was able to see the benefits for children of all ages. “I worked with the program I have developed in Vernon schools and got a lot of interest from other schools around the province. I had nothing to send them and no time to go and teach,” she said.
Thompson, who is best known as an artist and the author of Recapitulation: A Journey by Sveva Caetani, started writing a book, Calm Focus Joy, to help teachers learn to lead meditation classes and for individuals to learn by themselves. She studied meditation in different traditions when she was an art student in Europe and took part in Vipassana retreats in Canada.
“Nothing can compare with the technique of developing focus on breathing to calm the mind. Children are so open to experience the empowerment, clarity and sustained focus that comes from meditation and to use that focus to lead a life that does not harm themselves or others,” she said. “There is so much stimulation in the world but we can learn to lead a calm, peaceful, happy life. Focus is part of survival and a sense of self worth. Children are intelligent, they see the value in that.”
Thompson explains the program, which she calls Mindmastery, in detail in the book. “Children need adult guidance to do this but they learn to pay attention and like that this is something they can control for themselves. I call the way the mind wanders ‘the puppy dog mind’ that has to be trained. They like that analogy.”
The book is organized in 10 sessions and the exercises can be done by people with no background in meditation or with experience in other traditions. Each session focuses on a different aspect of self knowledge and has information for individual practice and for teachers. The student sessions include silent practice, a story, journaling and discussion.
"Breath awareness is used in schools in India to help students start the day with a focused mind, and in other schools around the world. I want to present it in a pure way that is not commercialized. I want to pass on what was passed on to me. I have made the book very thorough so that people can learn the specific technique. It’s simple but it’s complex. You can only know it after you experience it. I like it when I hear about children and parents doing Mindmastery together. Some people are using it in homeschooling and it can be done as a program for community groups. Groups of adults like to do the practice together as well.”
Important Piece of Dharma Work
Dr. Stan Eaman, Psychiatrists and Long-time Meditation Practitioner
Vera brought home a copy of your new wonderful book yesterday. I've only had a small about of time to glance through it but even a brief reading tells me it is clear, concise and very well written. My hope is that it becomes as important as the first book by Jon Kabat-Zin in terms of waking people up to the power of mindfulness. I will be bringing a copy of it to give to the Ministry of Children and families in Vernon and will also take a copy to Tanzania in the fall when I go there to do some work with teens who are HIV positive and their counselors. Congratulations on such an important piece of dharma work.
With much metta, Dr. Stan Eaman
Heidi: I continue to read your book and to be impressed by the clarity of your writing and by your understanding of the dharma.
How to Develop Equanimity
Review by Rebecca Johnson - Hall of Fame Top 50 Amazon Reviewervine Voice
Heidi Thompson teaches a breath awareness program to children of all ages and it is called "Mindmastery." This book is like the course in that it has instructions for the teacher and practice sessions for the students. The exercises will help people feel better fast and will encourage students to develop compassion and discipline. This book contains ten breath awareness lessons with complete details. There are also stories, teacher tips and other interesting sections in each chapter. This book will especially appeal to those who do yoga or who are vegetarian. ~The Rebecca Review
A Must Read
Review by Bernadine Feagins, Author of Hakim & Terrance Shadow Mystery and Host for Girlpower BlogTalk Radio
I would recommend this book to anyone of any age who is interested in either turning their life around or maintaining a healthy life style. As a mother of nutrition and educator. After reading her book and using her meditation methods. I can confirm that author Heidi Thompson book provides real evidence to fundamental techniques advice. Go out and buy the book and enjoy!
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Interview with Eric M. Dye - Entrepeneur PodCast Network
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Interview with Johnny Tan - From My Mama's Kitchen Radio Show
Interview with Trudy Thomas - Living With Hope and Body Mind Spirit Network
Interview with Rick Busby - TalkRadioX
Interview with Dale Cross - "Intending Success" - LA Talk Radio
Interview with Wendy Adams and Tobias B. - Inner Circle Radio
Interview with Bernadine Feagins - Girlpower BlogTalk Radio Show
Interview with Timothy Jacquet - Apple Capitol Group
Interview with Sandi Schwarz - Leading Edge Parenting