Interview with Reena Singh!

Dear friends,

I met Dr Reena Singh at a training program and we connected immediately!

I had heard about her many times before as the both of us worked in the field of special needs and therapy.

We decided to meet again and that meeting led to an interview cum conversation with Reena as part of her YouTube channel. It was great fun doing it as we were on the same page and could relate to each other.

Here are the links to the interview presented in parts on the YouTube Channel:

Anthroposophic approach to parenting
https://youtu.be/RTC68ZQATRA

Waldorf approach to schooling
https://youtu.be/dAyAUeO-b24

Life Rhythms and Children
https://youtu.be/09dxaqsG0nU

Hurried parenting vs Slow parenting
https://youtu.be/PCAi9vqRYKM

Sibling rivalry and how to deal with it.
https://youtu.be/RVtpoZPmFA8

Will keep adding as Reena adds more parts of the interview.

So please watch, like, share and subscribe 😄

Lots of love ,

Nirupama

ABOUT NIRUPAMA RAO

Dear friends,

My name is Nirupama Rao. I’m a psychologist with 24 years of experience in the field of Special Needs and Child Development. I am a mother of 2 girls, 22 and 12.

I have previously run my own Waldorf kindergarten/ Centre for children for special needs called Niraamayaa for five years. I have worked in various school, hospital and NGO settings.

Have authored and published two books:

Parenting- The Art and Science of Nurturing with Dr Shekhar Seshadri, NIMHANS

The Autism Story. A little illustrated fictional booklet.

I love writing and post articles on this blog whenever inspiration strikes on various topics.

I currently work with preschools and with parents of young children with autism, attention, emotional and behavioral issues.

I also conduct awareness workshops for parents, teachers and general public on Autism, Special Needs, Child Development, Waldorf Education, on Conscious, Simplicity and Slow Parenting Styles.

There are many factors that exacerbate attention, sensory and behavioural issues in sensitive children. I educate the parents about these factors and help them to understand how conducive diet, rhythms, lifestyle and environment (physical and emotional), will maximise the potential of their children.

I work with the mothers closely and help them with their anxiety. I handhold the parents and guide and support them through various stages of the child’s development by leading them to the right resources. I believe in long term support.

I help parents see the gifts in their children and together work out ways of strengthening them; to celebrate the uniqueness of the child; to respect and accept differences in the child; and to eventually become their advocates.

I work from my home office at Hiranandani Powai, Mumbai.

I consult by appointment.

Thanks and regards,

Nirupama Rao

Contact:

raonino@gmail.com,

blog: http://www.wordpress.niraamayaa.com

Unconscious Childhoods

Yesterday I was watching a group of little kids…all four of them 7 years and under, accompanied by a young adult. They were waiting for an autorickshaw. The minute they found one, I was amazed to see the excitement and enthusiasm with which they piled into the rickshaw. All that enthusiasm and excitement gets jaded as the children grow into adults.
Even when adults are excited about something they may restrain their emotional expression because they are conscious of the others around them and that is normal. That’s how it is.

And when they do express excitement without holding back, we describe it as childlike enthusiasm.

The beauty of childhood lies in its unconsciousness.

As we grow we become conscious and awake.

What is important is to protect and preserve that unconsciousness, that is a gift of being a child for as long as we can.
Let us try and not awaken them with

too much information,

Scientific facts,

too much camera exposure too early,

media,

gadgets,

store bought toys,

too many structured activities,

competition,

early academic pressure, etc.,

that steal children of their innocence and unconsciousness. This often leads to precociousness, physically and mentally.

As adults, let us awaken and be conscious to preserve the children’s unconsciousness for as long as possible and allow them to be children at least until they are teenagers.

Much love,
Nirupama

ARISE, AWAKE AND QUESTION

(Especially written keeping in mind the young adults, people who are contemplating marriage and parenthood and parents of young children. This is not what we want to hear, but what we need to hear)

The world has changed a lot more in the last 5 years than it has in the last century.

Ola, Uber, flipkart, Amazon, Facebook, twitter, Instagram, Google maps and numerous other apps have significantly changed our lives. Life is going to become increasingly impossible to live without our ubiquitous cell phones that can, incidentally also be used to make calls.

Technology has definitely improved the quality of our lives. It has helped save a lot of money, energy and time. It’s like any other invention like the knife or the atom bomb. It all depends on how we use it.

Netflix has a series called Black Mirror (the ipad, laptop or tablet screen that’s turned off) which projects into the future where technology takes stranger turns and transforms humanity in unimaginable ways. Many works of science fiction have been prophetic and that thought is quite scary!

In fact, even infants have their eyes glued to their gadgets that are stuck to their prams, as mom is busy shopping. Six month old babies don’t eat anymore without watching their favourite cartoon/nursery rhymes on YouTube or listening to their favourite Bollywood number.

My now adult nephew’s friend is earning in Crores by making nursery rhyme animations of questionable quality.

Ten year olds want have their own Youtube channels. Children are not going down to play as much as they used to earlier.

Parents in restaurants are feeding their babies but not before handing them their smart phones to keep them distracted.

You go to any social get together and you find children and adults alike busy with their screens, even relatives who get together after a long, long time. Couples in restaurants are busy looking into their own smart phones instead of looking into each other’s eyes.

Parents are not able to set limits as they are themselves hooked on to it as the IDEA 4G AD says “Look look, India hua hook”

Social networking apps have several people employed only to make sure people are always hooked.

I wonder if there’s an app to measure the number of hours people spend with their phones….(update: yes there are many)

HOW ARE OUR LIFESTYLES AFFECTING US

Given this situation, young children who are affected the most, are speaking less, moving less, playing less. This is giving rise to many issues like speech delay, poor muscle tone, coordination and many sensori-motor disturbances. It’s hard to imagine the repercussions this is going to have in the future.

Just as cardiac problems, hypertension, BP, infertility, cancer and diabetes are called lifestyle diseases among the adult population, children are also exhibiting various lifestyle related symptoms like hyperactivity, low muscle tone, sensory processing disorders, autism like features, speech delay, aggression and so on.

There are 4-5 children with issues in a class of 20 children at a playschool I visit. Since it was too time consuming to talk about the same causes and effects to each parent individually, we decided to address the parents of the whole school regarding these modern challenges faced by today’s children, and in turn, parents and teachers. The talk was surprisingly very well received by the parents who were being swept by the wave of technology and lifestyle. But when this was brought to their awareness, it was like an awakening.

Most of us adults are sleep walking through life, flowing with the current and doing what everybody is doing. As humans, we have individual egos that help us to think independently for ourselves unlike animals that are governed by a group ego and herd mentality. ‘Normal’ is no longer most healthy.

We need to think for ourselves and consciously question our choices, especially when it comes to our children. Is this the best that I can give my child? At every step, we need to question ourselves about the choices we are making. Is this what is good? Will this calm my child or excite him? Do I satiate him immediately or do I deal with the tantrum? Do I spend time with him or do I hand him the I pad?

HOW LIFESTYLES ARE CHANGING

Technology is only one part if the lifestyle changes we are witnessing. The world we live in and how we are living is changing in many different ways. Now let us look at what are the lifestyle aspects that are impacting the true potential of the future generation.

What are we doing differently from the previous generation that is giving rise to issues that they did not face?

  • Increase in the number of vaccinations and antibiotic As we are developing resistance, we need to look for stronger doses! The body is no longer allowed to fight infections on its own. We are reducing natural immunity by resorting to unnatural prevention.
  • The missing family physician that used to listen more, diagnose simply by checking the pulse, and not immediately order a battery of tests. Counseling was part of his job profile. Today there is no time for that. There is no time to lose. We need to get better immediately even if we have to suppress the symptoms- child or grown up.
  • A surge of packaged, instant, refined, fast and processed food in the market. As far from real food as it is possible.
  • Increased use of GMO in agriculture.
  • A sudden flooding of technology into our lives which is becoming increasingly indispensible. Children and adults are equally glued to gadgets, no matter where they are. Some schools have started using gadgets too. Movement and physical activity is reducing.
  • Early start in school and academics: Children are packed off to schools even before they are two (a mistake I admit to making with my elder one and am not proud of it). Children take about 6 years to get ready for school in terms of developing the necessary skills like sitting, focussing, pencil grip and so on. I realised the hard way that feeding young children information too early is detrimental to their physical health and well being. Early start leads to fatigue and burn out. Learning is a lifelong process. Even the elderly people learn. What children under six need to do is play, run, get messy and explore.
  • Lack of regularity in eating and sleeping times and in the rhythms of the day. Even children under 5 are not getting their sleep needs met. It is now normal for children to go to bed anywhere between 10.30 to 12. I have seen children who can’t sleep before 1 am!! Children need to eat early and sleep early.
  • Pollution: all kinds of pollution. Air, water, food, noise, wifi radiation, electro-magnetic waves, you name it.
  • Excesses: there is excess of stimulation- noise, visuals, entertainment, material abundance, food, flavors, sugar, excess of everything. We don’t know where to draw a line and say this is enough. Over-stimulation makes children Hyperactive. Once the stimulants are removed, children calm down. They will not need shadow teachers or go for therapies if healthy practices are adopted right from the word go. we do not need to be entertained all the time. Sometimes it is important to do nothing!
  • Consumerism: businesses go to any extent to make people want to buy their product. It doesn’t matter how the product may affect the gullible people- their body image, their self esteem, their self worth. As long as the product sells, everything is OK.
  • Media boom: Media is everywhere…it constantly keeps telling us who we are, how to think, what to eat, what to wear and gives us information that they want us to have. We are at their mercy completely and we have created these ourselves.
  • Role reversal: Children being only children and the recipients of the abundant resources, they are no doubt the centre of our existence. However unfortunately, the children have been given the control and parents listen to children instead of it being the other way around. Experts say “be their friend” and this has been completely misunderstood. Children need parents who will set the limits for them and handle them with firmness instead of becoming putty at their hands. There is a simple reason for this. We are adults, hopefully with the experience and they are children with apparently no experience to take decisions and make judgments. We have taken up the role and responsibility of being parents and we are not here to relinquish control to the little ones who don’t have the experience to weigh what is good for them and what is not. It is difficult for us to see them cry. We need to learn that sometimes a ‘no’ expresses much more love and concern than a ‘yes’. This is especially true in parenting. Having said that it needs to be balanced with a good measure of love and presence to make it work!!

THE AWAKENING

We need not wait until things go to such a head that we cannot reverse it anymore. I’m not sure how much of it can be reversed even today, but as free thinking independent individuals, we still have our capacity to think for ourselves and make conscious choices wherever it is possible.

People are doing that…and they may be judged for it, but that does not stop anyone from breaking the mould, seeking an alternate way of life. They are awakening in their own unique ways.

People are seeking out alternative medical practices, alternative schools, home births, water births, saying no to vaccinations, going in for veganism and organic food, taking to farming, minimalism, slow food movements, supporting sustainable and humane businesses, breaking gender stereotypes, going for yoga, meditation and other spiritual practices and so on and so forth. People are finding their own individual path and have started believing in natural and holistic lifestyles.

People are truly awakening and are refusing to follow so called ‘normal’ currents.

WHAT CHILDREN NEED

Children need to grow up in calm, simple, uncluttered homes with less toys, with good healthy routines, minimum entertainment, lots of physical activity and maximum time out in nature. They need parents who are warm, loving, playful, in the here and now, who believe that less is more and slow is good and are conscious, ecologically aware and most importantly, trusting. Children who grow up in such homes have better stamina, better resistance to diseases, recover faster from illnesses, are much more calm, grounded, balanced and happy, there is more resilience and are able to bounce back sooner from situations.

Even a child with autism who is brought up in the above-mentioned manner may experience reduced aggression, hyperactivity, sensory issues and will be able to realize his true potential using the gifts that autism brings with it.

Our lifestyle has changed, but the archetypal human nature remains the same across time and space. We are still a product of nature. We are still made of the same elements that makes the rest of the natural world. The more we are in harmony with nature and its rhythms, the more we are in good health- physical, emotional and spiritual health.

Human evolution is not over yet. We are still evolving. The human being is now peaking in terms of intelligence. There’s much more to be achieved intellectually. But what lies beyond human intellect? What direction is our next step in evolution going to take?

It will be interesting to see….until then, let us arise, awake, ask questions and think as the conscious beings that we are! We may still not be perfect and yet to do things the way they need to be done but what is more important is that we are aware and conscious of our actions.

This can be our practical, everyday, living and individualized spirituality.

NIRUPAMA RAO

(Psychologist, Parent Counsellor),

Co Author: Parenting-The Art and Science of Nurturing ( with Dr Shekhar Seshadri, NIMHANS)

Contact: 9987653780, raonino@gmail.com

THE AUTISM STORY

Autism has always existed but we are feeling its presence more today than we ever did before. Autism has impacted not just its immediate family but it is changing the way the world does and looks at things…

It is making the humanity think about its choices. About the role each and everyone of us plays in bringing about the new wave of differently-abled children who are here to give us important messages. The obvious ones being about the impact of vaccines, GMO, electronic radiation, processed foods and so on; and on the other hand subtler, deeper and profound messages about the importance of going back home to Mother Nature, embracing the principle of unconditional love, about Neurodiversity, about becoming an inclusive society, about raising our own vibration to come up to theirs, about going beyond what is known and towards the immeasurable expansion of our very souls and actually feel the ONENESS- a state in which these children always exist!!

The rise in the incidence of Autism and the rise in spiritual and eco-consciousness is going hand in hand….. THE AUTISM STORY is a fairy tale-like account- my perspective of the probable connection between the two. AUTISM has a message for all of us….once that message reaches the critical mass, nature will change its course… Hope you read this little illustrated booklet….this book will either sow or nourish the seed of human collective consciousness.

You can find it in the link below. Friends overseas can inbox me and I will arrange to have copies shipped across!!

http://www.amazon.in/Autism-Story-First-2016/dp/9380733003/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1487861471&sr=8-2&keywords=nirupama+rao+books

Below are a few glimpses into the book!! Please do read it and and do leave a comment on the amazon page!! Friends who have already read it, kindly do drop a comment!!

book 3.png

“Man was becoming invincible. He was intelligent. He was becoming a powerful creator himself. He created electricity that turned the days and nights upside down. He created advances in medicine that turned life and death upside down. He created machines that shrunk space and time.
With technology advancing, they did not even need a God!! Man had never experienced such abundance ever before. What man didn’t know was that he was being watched.”

book 1.png

“Up in that spiritual realm that these souls inhabited, they did not have physical
bodies. They were neither male nor female but were both. They were entities of energy that floated around sans gravity that belonged only to the earthly realm.
They communicated with each other in the thought plane. Spoken language
did not exist there. They were all made up of high vibrational energy and
were connected to each other with a grid, a network so that when something
affected one, they would all feel the impact. It was a beautiful world of eternal sunshine, colours unseen on earth, peace, joy and happy coexistence.”

book.png

How to Bond with Children through Mindfulness

In my last post I talked about building trust….so how can we build this trust? I’d like to share my learning and experience as a mom of a 20 and a 10 year old and as a psychologist with 23 years of working closely with parents.

To build trust we need to connect with our children deeply. Very deeply. And to do this, we can take the help of Mindfulness (Thich Nhat Hahn) and the Power of Now (Eckhart Tolle)

Here’s an exercise we can try….

By the way I feel every human being can do this exercise to connect with anyone or even with themselves.

Pick a time when you’re all by yourself, make sure there are no distractions…doorbells, phones, visitors, kids, etc.

Lie down in a comfortable position. Preferably Shavasan or Corpse pose. Starting from the toe upwards, tighten and relax every muscle of your body, one at a time…toes, feet, ankles, calves, knees, thighs, hip, waist and so on up to the crown of your head. Then become aware of any tension in any part of the body. Breathe normally. When you feel any tension anywhere, breath awareness into the part and try to release the tension in that part lovingly. Fill the part with the light of consciousness. You can use guided relaxation videos for this.

When you get a thought or feel an emotion, gently set it aside by focusing on your breath. You may already know that stressful thoughts and emotions manifest as tension in the muscles. A relaxed mind leads to a relaxed body.

Now when you’re deeply and completely relaxed, experience it fully with all your awareness.

Remember how it feels in your body. Remember how blissful it feels, how light your body feels. Feel your body letting go and sinking into the mat under you.  Remember, the only emotion you feel at this point is love. Love for yourself, love for the world around you.

Practice this for a week or longer.

Let us now come to the parent child part.

Look for a time when you’re child is relaxed…either reading or lazing or playing by him/her self, or any quiet time- indoors or outdoors. Go sit or lie down next to your child…

Now remember that deep relaxed state that you’ve been practicing for the past few days…try to go into that deep relaxed state.

You may get thoughts and emotions related to your child. If the child is busy playing with a gadget, you may get edgy or irritated. You may feel restless that you and the child are wasting time when you can do homework or practice something in this time. You may remember and become anxious about your child’s behavior or performance at school or elsewhere. Its okay…its normal to feel that way. But now is the time to breathe. Bring your awareness to your breath. Keep breathing. Calm yourself down. Feel your muscles relaxing. Feel your body getting more and more relaxed as you free yourself of every thought and emotion. Become aware of tension in any part of the body and let go consciously.

You may remember something important or urgent to take care of.  But that can wait. This is a precious moment with your child…..even if it lasts only 5 minutes.

Five minutes of doing nothing.

Five minutes of being-ness

Five precious minutes of total presence in the here and now.

If possible and if your child allows it, you can gently stroke his hair or play with her curls on your finger or stroke her soft cheek with the tip of your finger….

Can you visualize what I’m saying?

Picture yourselves on a lazy Sunday morning ..when you’ve just woken up….or in the afternoon when you’ve just finished watching your favorite movie for the umpteenth time or in the park, on the grass where you’ve both fallen…lying there after a game of catch- gasping for breath, watching an ant carrying a load together, building a sand castle together, standing at the beach and watching our feet get buried under the sand, sitting by a pond and loking at the fish….these are those quiet moments of nothingness where you’re in a completely relaxed state of just being there with your child….either dong nothing or enjoying a simple sensory activity together…the crux is full presence in the here and now and togetherness.

Such moments strengthen the bond..such moments deepen the connections….such moments bring us closer…such moments enable a relationship of warmth, safety and security.

Childhood goes away faster than we know…let us try to increase such moments, try to maximize and utilize such moments when they naturally arise…..these are precious little moments that the child will cherish all his life…maybe in her subconscious, but will help him to trust you, to connect with you, to bond with you and grow into a confident, secure, balanced adult. These moments help us and our children become more grounded.

This is especially important when your child is a sensitive one who tends to pick up your emotions easily. We find that when we are relaxed, our child is calmer and happier.

Remember this deep relaxed state and operate from here in various moments of anxiety, conflict or confrontation. This state connects you to your highest self. And decisions and responses from this state of deep calm and trust seldom go wrong. A clam mind enhances our thinking and efficiency. 

Being calm is one of the best gifts we can give our children.

Do share your experience, responses and feedback!!

Lots of love,

Wish you a happy and mindful parenting,

Nirupama

Here are some beautiful images and links:treasuring-the-precious-moments-with-your-children-1

http://rediscoveredfamilies.com/587/

From the above link: Slipping Through my Fingers- from Mama Mia featuring my idol Meryl Streep

Image result for parent and child relaxed moments

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Image result for parent and child relaxed moments

http://www.abundantmama.com/how-

Image may contain: one or more people, ocean, sky, shoes, outdoor and water

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(Above pics shared with permission from a dear friend)

Parents need to be parents, not friends- till the children are adults themselves.

They say don’t be a parent. Be a friend.  I don’t agree with this. We need to be parents. Children need parents…parents who give them a secure base, who give them warmth, comfort and  unconditional love; parents who also give them consistent structure, limits and boundaries which in turn help a child become a secure adult. They need to be the “Loving Authority”. Only parents can give this to their children. Not friends.

But yes, as parents we need to establish trust with our children. They should feel safe to open up to us.

We need to listen without judgment. Even if what they’re telling us is outrageous, we need to hold back….hold a loving space for them to open up safely.

And then we take time to respond…not react. Then we can give them a chance to think about what happened and why it happened. The experience itself would have taught them valuable lessons. We need to give them time process it and later when they’re ready and calmer, we can discuss about what we learnt.

Nirupama

PS: like Poornima Rao rightly said, “parents till they’re in college, friends when they get a job” 😁

This is so important coz especially in India, parents continue parenting even after the children are full grown adults 😄😅

On Sensory Processing Issues

My elder daughter had many sensory issues. With eating, clothing and so on. She would start fretting over the uniform in the last minute after the bus came or she would remove her shoes and socks. She would feel the clothes for softness before buying them! She was a poor eater, anaemic and underweight. She had attention issues at school.
She also had severe asthma. She would have coughing spells in the middle of the night and we would have to rush to the hospital. But now it’s all changed.

I’d like to share what worked for me. I’m sharing so that others may benefit from my experience.

When she was 10 years old and her younger sister was just born, I met Anthroposophy, a philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner.
This is a holistic philosophy that takes into consideration all aspects of a human being. Physical, Etheric, astral and spiritual.
I understood that many aspects were contributing to my daughter’s problems.
I understood that some children need a pure environment to thrive.
These were the mistakes I was making:
– Giving her packaged junk food like chips, chocolates and cookies.
– Allowing her to watch hours of TV
– Pumping her with unnecessary information and knowledge through CDs and books and ignoring physical activities
– Letting her stay up late (11-11.30 PM) and watch TV with us and complaining that she troubled us to wake up in the morning!!
– Not being aware of healthy Rhythms and routines
– not doing enough work with hands and Obsession with intellectual knowledge (on my part)
Just to name a few and to sum it up, I was an unconscious parent.

But all this changed when I went to the Anthroposophic conference. She was already 10 and I thought it was too late to change. But my increasing conviction gave me the inner strength I needed to bring about healthy changes in our family.
I learnt that children need to be fed with natural, fresh, home made food,

have healthy routines and regular Rhythms of the day,

Avoid TV and technology, especially ipads and mobile phones. They are not toys.

Encourage outdoor activities,
Encourage sensory stimulation,
Avoid malls, arcades and other loud environments,

Eat and sleep at around the same time everyday,

Avoid too much focus on intellectual stimulation,

Adopt alternative medical practice like homeopathy,

As parents, let the children watch us doing real work, engage our hands,

And to do inner work ourselves to gain control over our own anxieties and emotions,

These were a few changes I could bring about.
My daughter has now blossoned into a healthy teenager, studying in one of the best colleges. She is as healthy as she can be, given her erratic college and hostel life/style. But she’s free of sensory issues and asthma. That is a lot for me!
Once children leave home, we have no control over their food, lifestyle or environment. But if we are able to lay a healthy foundation in childhood, they are equipped to handle irregularities in a better way.
Probably her sensory issues were not so severe, but I do hope this sharing about a holistic approach helps other parents and children with similar issues.
Love to all,
Nirupama