USA: An Agnostic Walks Into a Baptism

USA: An Agnostic Walks Into a Baptism

religion Recently, my family and I were invited to attend the baptism and confirmation of a neighbor’s son. They are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Days Saints, and they asked friends, family and neighbors to witness this special rite of passage. I am an agnostic, and we do not practice formal religion in our home, but I was excited to take my sons to support their friend.

I grew up in a Catholic community, but I reached a point when I realized that Catholicism wasn’t the right fit for me. I explored other faiths, but none stuck. However, I have a tremendous amount of respect for formal faith-based communities. I may not agree with all aspects of any given religion, but there are many things that I do agree with and that warm my heart.

Family, community, connection, support, love…these are the things that you can find playing out in houses of worship around the world.

I talk to my children about religion. We discuss the different forms that prayer can take, and the ways in which people of various faiths interpret the presence of God in their lives. We also talk about people who do not believe in God, and ways in which they can be spiritual. We have visited Christian churches, a Buddhist temple, and a Hindu monastery. We celebrate Christmas, and we spend time in the fall and winter discussing the festivals of light celebrated around the world. We have our own version of prayer in the form of secular daily intentions that we recite together.

We talk about mindfulness, morality, and being positive members of our community. I try to draw parallels about how we think on these things and how those who practice religion do.

Prior to attending the baptism, my boys and I talked about what it would mean to their friend and his religious community. I explained that it would be OK if we didn’t understand everything that happened during the service. We would go to observe, learn and show support.

It was a joyous gathering. Family members spoke and guided the service. They did a wonderful job of explaining the process to everyone there, especially those of us for whom this was new. People sang and cried happy tears. Their friend was immersed by his father in a font while everyone, especially a front row of the littlest attendees, looked on him with smiles. He became an official member of his religious community, surrounded mainly by people of his ward but also a few from the outside.

As we drove home, I asked my children what they thought. They had both had a great time. They had interesting observations and were able to talk about what they expected and how it compared to what actually happened. But overall, they knew that this was a special day for their friend, and it helped them understand his life a bit more. As a family, we are still content approaching all things spiritual in our own manner.

However, I want to make sure that while my children don’t practice religion, they are tolerant and respectful of religion. We live in a time when it is so easy to become cynical and focus on what we don’t like about someone or something.

While it is important to champion our own beliefs, it is equally important to continually learn about those who choose a different path than ours.

Opportunities like this recent one benefit us all by bringing us closer together while still allowing our differences. At the end of the day, it’s all about the larger community, and I love mine.

Do you practice religion with your children? How do you talk to your children about faiths that are different to yours?

This has been an original post for World Moms Network by Tara B. Photo credit to the author.

Tara B. (USA)

Tara is a native Pennsylvanian who moved to the Seattle area in 1998 (sight unseen) with her husband to start their grand life adventure together. Despite the difficult fact that their family is a plane ride away, the couple fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and have put down roots. They have 2 super charged little boys and recently moved out of the Seattle suburbs further east into the country, trading in a Starbucks on every corner for coyotes in the backyard. Tara loves the outdoors (hiking, biking, camping). And, when her family isn't out in nature, they are hunkered down at home with friends, sharing a meal, playing games, and generally having fun. She loves being a stay-at-home mom and sharing her experiences on World Moms Blog!

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GLOW: A Unique Webinar Series by #Heartfulness Institute and #WorldMoms Network

GLOW: A Unique Webinar Series by #Heartfulness Institute and #WorldMoms Network

World Moms Network and Heartfulness Institute have joined together to create the new GLOW series of Webinars for introducing women across the world to Heartfulness Meditation.

World Moms Network’s vision statement as you all know is, “We envision a world of peace and equality, born through our common ground of motherhood.”

Over here at World Moms Network and Heartfulness Institute, we believe that this world of peace and equality can be born only if the mind is at peace, and the heart at joy, for every single individual in the world.

For change begins with you, with me, with the woman of the family!

GLOW stands for ‘Genuine Loving Outstanding Women’, and is a series of monthly online workshops for women everywhere to learn and practice Heartfulness meditation in the comfort of their homes or their workplace.

Each webinar will feature an expert speaker, chosen from women who are outstanding in their fields, who have influenced their own family, or their community, or their nation. These women have been change-makers and influencers. They’ve also been able to find peace, joy, and love in their own lives, and  have influenced people around them to find the same.

Women are well-placed to create harmony and peace in all areas of life, often starting within families and spreading out into the world. And we’re highlighting just that!

The first webinar in this series is on 5th September 2016, 9:30 AM ET/6:30 AM PT. Calculate your local time here

goo.gl/A2HDy7

The theme for the first in the series of webinars is “Individual Peace Contributes to World Peace. 21st September is celebrated as the UN International Day of Peace.

GLOW Webinar Series

GLOW Webinar Series

Keynote Speaker:
Jennifer Burden, Founder & CEO of World Moms Network

Jennifer Burden, Founder & CEO of World Moms Network

Jennifer Burden hails from the USA and is the founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award-winning online media organization and website promoting a world of peace through the common bonds of motherhood. Jennifer has been nominated a Global Influencer Fellow and Social Media Fellow by the UN Foundation, invited to the White House, spoken at the World Bank for the right of a universal education for all children, and her writing has been featured on Impatient Optimists, The Huffington Post, ONE.org and BabyCenter. She is the mother of two girls and practices Heartfulness meditation.

Jennifer has been hosting Heartfulness meditation sessions through internal webinars on World Moms Network. In this webinar she will guide us to contribute towards world peace through meditation.

Who Should Attend:

All women, everywhere in the world, are welcome to join! Click here – goo.gl/A2HDy7

goo.gl/A2HDy7

New to meditation? These workshops are a perfect place to start! And… you can bring a friend!

For more information, leave a comment below, or write to Glow@heartfulness.org

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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#Heartfulness and Children: An Interview with Dr. Veronique Nicolai (Part – 2)

#Heartfulness and Children: An Interview with Dr. Veronique Nicolai (Part – 2)

“Please join us in the 2016 #Heartfulness Meditation Conference in the USA. If you are a World Moms Network contributor, or reader, or  fan, please contact us (worldmomsblog@gmail.com) for a free pass.”

Our Senior Editor, Purnima Ramakrishnan in India recently interviewed Dr. Veronique Nicolai for World Moms Blog.

Part – 1 of Dr. Veronique Nicolai’s (Pediatrician and Trainer of Heartfulness Meditation) interview is published here. Part – 2 is published below.

Purnima Ramakrishnan: Are your children practicing Heartfulness meditation?

Dr. Veronique Nicolai: Yes. Our daughter started a little less than a year ago. She has seen us meditating since she was born. She said she was waiting for her to be old enough to start. We have always shared whatever we learned or discovered with Heartfulness with them. But I always told her that what I could share was nothing compared to what I am experiencing and she could know about meditation only when she was going to try it herself.

So, now that my daughter meditates, she comes out of her meditation with her eyes shining and says – “Wow!” I am happy that she started her own wonderful inner journey.

A child practicing Heartfulness Relaxation

A child practicing Heartfulness Relaxation

PR: What are the health benefits you have observed in your child(ren) after they have started Heartfulness meditation?

VN: I have not only seen my daughter, but also other youth starting meditation early, and it has been amazing to see how strong it makes them. Children look incredibly happier; it shows on their face, they keep this brightness in their eyes. They are whole, authentic and balanced. And what is more important, this attitude is supported by the meditation practice, so it stays with them even when they fly out of the nest.

I used to worry about how my children were going to manage in the ‘outside world’ and I would have been easily over protective. But with them meditating and keeping their heart compass intact, I am very confident that they will help other youth find their balance too.

PR: What about the other holistic benefits for children to try Heartfulness Relaxation?

VN: I will give you a very practical example of how my son uses the Heartfulness relaxation. He is very sensitive and movies or stories can impress him. Sometimes he says he feels heavy and not able to fall asleep. So we do the relaxation together. I hold his feet in my hands and guide him into relaxation. And it helps like magic!

A child relaxing before going to sleep, relaxing before their exams or revisions, relaxing at these crucial times, helps him/her in the long run, in his life. It gives composure and they perform better. For some time, I did not even know they were doing it at school and enjoying it.

Such relaxed states of mind, helps us bring into this world, a balanced, content, happy breed of humanity who loves peace. We have a better generation ahead of us, which is not just holistic benefits for children, it is a holistic world, filled with compassion and peace.

PR: Please share a few things about Heartfulness Meditation which children and mothers should know for effective practising.

VN: To have balanced children, you have to have balanced parents. So the onus is first on us – parents. You can relaxation techniques for your younger kids whenever there is a stress, or to help in a difficult moment. But I would definitely recommend using it as a routine to go to sleep, everyday. It helps the child to enter sleep in relaxed manner and will ensure a quality sleep.

The hours of sleep before midnight are most important as deep sleep happens then. Deep sleep is crucial for growing children; it is then that the body heals, fights against infection and inflammation and when the growth hormone is produced.

We do not insist enough on the importance of a good night’s sleep in a growing child. It is even truer for teenagers!

The Heartfulness relaxation will teach in a natural way the child to listen to his heart, because the Heartfulness relaxation takes the child to the heart. And that is where the greatest values lie, and it will shape the child’s destiny.

Part – 1 of Dr. veronique Nicolai’s interview is published here.

World Moms Network has teamed up with the Heartfulness Institute as a media partner for their meditation conferences, the next one is at NJPAC. This interview post is part of the conference promotional, by Senior Editor, Purnima Ramakrishnan in India.

Welcome to the Meditation Conference at NJPAC

Welcome to the Meditation Conference at NJPAC

A limited number of free seats to the Heartfulness conferences are available to contributors and fans of World Moms Blog. You can register here!http://conference.heartfulnessinstitute.org/register

Please contact us (worldmomsblog@gmail.com) for a free pass.

Photo credit to the Heartfulness Institute.

Purnima Ramakrishnan

Purnima Ramakrishnan is an UNCA award winning journalist and the recipient of the fellowship in Journalism by International Reporting Project, John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Her International reports from Brazil are found here . She is also the recipient of the BlogHer '13 International Activist Scholarship Award . She is a Senior Editor at World Moms Blog who writes passionately about social and other causes in India. Her parental journey is documented both here at World Moms Blog and also at her personal Blog, The Alchemist's Blog. She can be reached through this page . She also contributes to Huffington Post . Purnima was once a tech-savvy gal who lived in the corporate world of sleek vehicles and their electronics. She has a Master's degree in Electronics Engineering, but after working for 6 years as a Design Engineer, she decided to quit it all to become a Stay-At-Home-Mom to be with her son!   This smart mom was born and raised in India, and she has moved to live in coastal India with her husband, who is a physician, and her son who is in primary grade school.   She is a practitioner and trainer of Heartfulness Meditation.

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#Heartfulness and Children: An Interview with Dr. Veronique Nicolai (Part – 1)

#Heartfulness and Children: An Interview with Dr. Veronique Nicolai (Part – 1)

“Please join us in the 2016 #Heartfulness Meditation Conference in the USA. If you are a World Moms Blog contributor, or reader, or  fan, please contact us (worldmomsblog@gmail.com) for a free pass.”

Our Senior Editor, Purnima Ramakrishnan in India recently interviewed Dr. Veronique Nicolai for World Moms Blog.

Part – 1 of Dr. Veronique Nicolai’s (Pediatrician and Trainer of Heartfulness Meditation) interview is published below. Part – 2 will be published on Friday.

Dr. Veronique Nicolai and Daughter

Dr. Veronique Nicolai and Daughter

Dr. Veronique Nicolai is a pediatrician from France. In 1997, she spent six months of studies in Medical Universities in Chennai, getting to know more about India from a medical perspective. She moved permanently to India in 1999 and has been living in Kodaikanal, Bangalore and Chennai.

She is a practitioner and trainer of Heartfulness meditation. Since 2002 till date, she has contributed towards the development of an international training program that teaches Heartfulness meditation and the philosophy of Raja Yoga to practicants from all over the world.

Veronique has a strong interest in children. She compiled and illustrated two books for children to sensitize them to holistic living. As a pediatrician, she is involved as a school doctor in Chennai.

She has a daughter Shraddha (16 y.o), and a son Anand (13 y.o). Settled in Chennai, along with her husband, she calls this city as home. This pediatrician dons many hats, with interests in yoga, teaching, arts, baking and piano.

Purnima Ramakrishnan: How long have you been practicing Heartfulness Meditation?

Dr. Veronique Nicolai: I got to know about Heartfulness meditation when I was still at school, in the 12th grade. I had moved to a new city in the South of France, and my new best girl friend’s parents were meditating. We used to spend a lot of time at her house. I liked the atmosphere there and the profound conversations that we had with her parents. I found them wise and happy in their life. They were a great inspiration. Then my friend also started. By that time we both had started our medical studies and I thought she was crazy, as medical studies are very difficult. I observed her and she was doing great in her studies and in her life. It was the 90s and France was not at all opened to the idea of meditation. It was also a big step for me to take, to try something different.  I read also about meditation on the heart and in 1993, I started, just like that, almost without warning. Meditation has been my companion since, and it’s been the most amazing inner journey. I had gone into the medical field to make sure I will never cease to learn new things, all my life. With meditation, I opened an entire new field of wonder and discovery.

If the practical and immediate benefits of meditation hooked me at the beginning, it is the beauty of the inner journey that has kept me doing it.

PR: How do you think the Heartfulness Relaxation technique helps children?

VN: I don’t think it helps, I have seen it help. I like to try things first on myself, and then on my children, before I actually recommend it. We have a big rule, we paediatricians; never advise something new (I am talking mainly about new treatments), unless it’s been used on the market for many years. We have to be very careful because we deal with delicate and growing beings. So we often wait and observe before acting. In the same way, I observed how meditation works on adults. Then my kids tried relaxation. My son who is 13 is so positive about its effect. A boy of this age is not that easy to convince.

The first time he tried it, he said he felt something like a cool shower relaxing him and he felt so good. I did not have to ask him to do it. He started doing it on his own, in class, before exams and especially at night. That’s how I know it works. Because they choose to practise it, I did not have to give it to them.

In my understanding, Heartfulness has something unique. It helps children first relax their body.

There is so much stimulation all around, that some kids have trouble just sitting on a chair, and some are either impatient or fear to even keep their eyes closed for just a couple of minutes. Slowly with relaxation, they learn to let go of their fear, their anxiety.

Obviously their sleep is also improved immediately. But it goes further. We give too much importance to the body and the mind. Nutrition and health is also about the balance of the body and mind.

What about the soul? One’s deeper self?

I remember when I was a kid, I was very anxious about the purpose of life; I had a lot of questions about death. The uniqueness of Heartfulness relaxation is that, it takes the child to his heart. And there, by staying in the heart for some time and with eyes closed, the child is able to tune with his heart and get familiar with what defines him, at the core.

So with a very simple exercise, we teach the child to recognise that (s)he is not defined by what (s)he looks like, or what is outside, or her/his intelligence, but by the heart. This is for me the most important gift that we can teach a child: to find her/his inner self, make it strong and teach her/him to listen to it and have a life guided by the heart.

PR: How does the Heartfulness Relaxation and meditation help a woman be an effective and better mother?

VN: I really wish all mothers would learn this wonderful method. I loved it when I was not yet a mother, but its importance in keeping my balance has only increased when I became a mother. A woman’s well-being reflects on the entire family. So when I come home, in the evening, tired, exhausted by the day, and I know I have to cook, and two grumpy kids because it’s late, or they are just tired too, I find 20 minutes for myself to meditate. I call it my heart-spa. I come out fresh. After 20 years of practice, I am still astonished at the new energy it gives me. So I can handle dinner, grumpiness, you name it. You will see that actually, the grumpiness of your kids disappears when you yourself are fresh!

It is also a great experience to have your children wake up in the morning, when you are already fresh from your own morning meditation. It changes the way you send them to school. That’s the immediate, practical effect in a day-to-day life.

But deeper than this, there are questions about you as a woman, as a mother, that need you to pause and introspect about. And, well, I am still learning, as I experience it more and more. Meditation has been a great life companion to me! It gave me insights that no medical book or journal could have given me. I suddenly could understand, get answers, things became clear. That is the result of a deeper change, very much linked to a regular practice.

Part – 2 of Dr. veronique Nicolai’s interview will be published on Friday.

World Moms Network has teamed up with the Heartfulness Institute as a media partner for their three upcoming U.S. meditation conferences. This interview post is part of the conference promotional, by Senior Editor, Purnima Ramakrishnan in India.

A limited number of free seats to the Heartfulness conferences are available to contributors and fans of World Moms Blog. You can register here!http://conference.heartfulnessinstitute.org/register

Please contact us (worldmomsblog@gmail.com) for a free pass.

Register for the Heartfulness Conferences

Register for the Heartfulness Conferences

Photo credit to Dr. Nicolai and Heartfulness Institute.

Purnima Ramakrishnan

Purnima Ramakrishnan is an UNCA award winning journalist and the recipient of the fellowship in Journalism by International Reporting Project, John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Her International reports from Brazil are found here . She is also the recipient of the BlogHer '13 International Activist Scholarship Award . She is a Senior Editor at World Moms Blog who writes passionately about social and other causes in India. Her parental journey is documented both here at World Moms Blog and also at her personal Blog, The Alchemist's Blog. She can be reached through this page . She also contributes to Huffington Post . Purnima was once a tech-savvy gal who lived in the corporate world of sleek vehicles and their electronics. She has a Master's degree in Electronics Engineering, but after working for 6 years as a Design Engineer, she decided to quit it all to become a Stay-At-Home-Mom to be with her son!   This smart mom was born and raised in India, and she has moved to live in coastal India with her husband, who is a physician, and her son who is in primary grade school.   She is a practitioner and trainer of Heartfulness Meditation.

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USA: My Favorite Relationship Dos and Don’ts

USA: My Favorite Relationship Dos and Don’ts

DSC_0010

I love post-prompts like this one, as they make me think about my everyday actions, especially the ones that come out of habits I created overtime, and no longer think about.  Let’s get right to it and I’ll say that even though some of my dos and don’ts apply to varying types of relationships, I am focusing on romantic relationships like the one I have the pleasure of having with the man who is my husband. These are only a few of my favorites: (more…)

ThinkSayBe

I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!

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WORLD RELIGION: Fasting as a Baha’i

WORLD RELIGION: Fasting as a Baha’i

Fasting in Faith

Fasting in Faith

A little while ago, a news station in South Carolina (USA) had a story about a religion of which many people have not yet heard. It was about the Baha’i Faith. Although I was a bit surprised by the coverage, as I listened to the story it made sense that this Faith would be well accepted in South Carolina because of the Baha’i Faith’s main principle of oneness.

I should mention, I am a Baha’i; or I try to be.

On March 2nd every able member of the Baha’i Faith over the age of 15 years began a Fast. The Baha’i Fast occurs during the last month of the Baha’i year. This last month is called `Alá’. In our  year there are 19 months composed of 19 days each. The last month is `Alá’, which means “Loftiness”, and the first month (which is coming up in just a couple of days) is “Bahá”, meaning “Splendor.”

Right before the month of `Alá’ are four or five intercalary days, depending on whether or not it’s a leap year in the Gregorian calendar with which the Badi calendar works. This year, for instance, there were five days between the month of Mulk (Dominion) and the current month of `Alá’. The intercalary days are also called the Days of Ha and Ayyam-i-Ha.

Ayyam-i-Ha is a time to prepare for the Fast and it is also a time for gift giving and a more focused intent on service.

The Baha’i day begins at sunset, as the current day ends. As the Fast began on March 2nd, many Baha’is around the world gathered for a Nineteen Day Feast after sunset on March 1st. This is when the Fast actually begins. Before dawn on March 2nd, those who fast typically awaken to nourish their spirits and bodies through prayer and food. Between sunrise and sunset we are to abstain from all food and drink.

The physical portion of the Fast is to remind us of our souls and the soul’s connection and need for closeness to its Creator. Fast is broken at sunset with prayers and food again. Because the Baha’i Faith was born in Persia, many Baha’i communities break the Fast with similar items including hot tea; at least this has been my experience in Italy, Tanzania, and the USA.

The Baha’i New Year

This year the Fast ends on March 20th which means that March 21st marks time for the next Nineteen Day Feast, as well as the Baha’i new year: Naw-Ruz.

On Naw-Ruz most communities have a big party; usually the biggest of the year. There is no required dress to celebrate, as long as what we wear isn’t a cause of ridicule. People do still try to wear festive clothes and share festive foods. The communities that can afford to rent a big ball room or similar space have disc jockeys and other entertainment. Most communities that have children in Baha’i families organize in advance so that the children are a part of the entertainment during the Naw-Ruz party.

I have not yet been to a Naw-Ruz party in South Carolina, so I am looking forward to participating in this year’s festivities! Everyone is welcome there!

If you are a member of a religion, what is something special that you personally like about the religion?  

If you aren’t a part of any religion, what do you that makes you feel like you are developing your soul?

If you don’t believe in having a soul, what do you do that makes you feel like you are a part of all of creation?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Sophia. You can find her blogging at Think Say Be and on twitter @ThinkSayBeSNJ.

ThinkSayBe

I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!

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