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nurture 101!
 
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To nurture means to honor, value, esteem and care for.
from the article, "Nurturing" below.

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The Importance of Nurture

by Graeme Chapman


Many of us, in the West, in spite of the availability of nourishing food, have poor diets. We eat refined foods and little fruit or vegetables. We have become addicted to fast food. Those who can afford restaurant meals frequently over-indulge. We overeat without adequate exercise.

Our eating habits are symptomatic of a broader malaise. They reflect the inadequate care we take of our bodies, minds, souls, and spirits, and the lack of attention we give to nurturing the communities and nations to which we belong, and the planet that supports our existence. We respond to emergencies, but fail to lay the groundwork for sustained nurture.

Personal nurture

Our self-nurture needs to be comprehensive, with attention being given to our bodies, minds, souls, and spirits.

Our Bodies

We will be expressing our gratitude to our bodies for the gifts and opportunities they offer by first ensuring that our diet is adequate and well balanced. This gratitude will also find expression in the way we approach the food we eat. We [273] will eat slowly, thankfully, and meditatively. Our usual pattern, because we are in a hurry, and preoccupied, is to gulp our food down.

It is also important to exercise regularly. While exercise will benefit us at every stage in our lives, it becomes critical as we age. If we do not exercise adequately, we may become depressed, or susceptible to diseases that may otherwise be avoided. There are exercises, like Tai Chi and certain yogic practices, which exercise the body and spirit at the same time.

It is also important for us to listen to our bodies, to dialogue with them, to befriend them, and to treat them courteously, affectionately, and graciously. Our bodies can also benefit enormously from the relaxation that accompanies disciplined meditative practice.

Mind

We can exercise our minds by stretching our cognitive capacity.

We can learn to read with flexible speed, sometimes slowing down to wrestle with difficult concepts, or to meditate on what we are reading, and sometimes increasing the pace, particularly with literature that requires little more than skimming. Learning to adjust our reading speed to the material that we are reading is not difficult.

We can also tutor our minds to deal with increasingly difficult subject matter by gently pushing limits, by reading books that extend our capacity for understanding and comprehension. This has been a practice I have found to be of great benefit. It is like an athlete working on increasing their speed and endurance. [274]

It is also important for us to explore our minds, our thinking, to observe how we think, to become witnesses to inner processes. In doing this we are training ourselves to be aware, to be completely focused on the subject of our awareness, whether it be a physical object, another person, ideas, or the way we process thoughts and emotions. Buddhists place great emphasis on mindfulness, on being aware, penetratingly aware. This mindfulness is fostered by a range of meditative exercises, which can help us explore higher levels of consciousness.

We also benefit from observing the dynamics of the cultural mind, the pastiche of ideological commitments, shared values, and subliminal energies that characterize cultures. The insights gained from cross-cultural comparisons are enormously important in the development of understanding and empathy, and in negotiating compromises. They are also enriching. In fact, without the ability to enter into the inwardness of other people's worldviews, we are handicapped in our assessment of the distinctives of our own.

Our minds can be further nurtured by expanding our consciousness to the extent that we become aware of a Universal Mind, a Universal Spirit, or Consciousness, of which our minds, our spirit, and our consciousness are partial expressions.

To treat our minds to these enhancing exercises is preferable to allowing them to atrophy, or marinade in cognitive and moral effluent. [275]

Soul

It is also important for us to nurture our souls. In using the word "soul", I am referring to that part of us that echoes back to us the depth dimensions of our thoughts, feelings, and personal transactions.

We can nurture our souls by quiet reflective walks through the bush, or along beaches. Australia's red centre engages our souls, inviting a response. While nature is red in tooth and claw, with species feeding upon species, there is something about the luxuriant life of the planet that has the capacity to nurture us.

We can nurture our souls by cultivating a deeper awareness of our feelings, by exercising our imagination, and by opening ourselves to intuitive insights.

We also feed our souls by reading literature that takes us beyond superficiality into reality, by admiring or engaging in art work, by listening to or producing music, by creating things, whether they be tables, musical instruments, computer programs, gardens or quilts. Whatever our craft, that craft can nurture our souls as well as the souls of those admiring our handiwork.

Spirit

In nurturing our souls we cannot help engaging our spirits, those aspects of us that we experience as numinous, or sacred. It is the spirit that discerns evidence of a Spirit Presence within us, in our relationships with others, and in the universe. We can nurture our spirits by exploring more comprehensive levels of consciousness, and thereby enhancing our discernment of this Presence.

Broadening Circles

We do not exist in isolation, but within a broadening circle of relationships. These relationships, with individuals, local [276] communities and nations, nurture us. It is important that we, in turn, contribute to their capacity to be nurturing.

Individual Relationships

We are nourished by others. In childhood we are surrounded by caregivers, usually our parents. Where this nourishing is absent we are diminished. Where we are savaged, rather than nurtured, we find we need to deal with painful, emotional scarring. We are also nurtured by those we consider heroes. It is likely that we will be influenced by a succession of heroes.

In our turn, we influence others. Ainslie Mears, a psychologist, has written an intriguing little book that explores the subtle, and not so subtle ways we influence others. The effect we have on others is frequently unintended. At the same time, it is important for us to deliberately plan to nurture others positively, without imposing ourselves on them. This involves a commitment, on our part, to become the sort of people that unselfconsciously nurture and inspire others by the sheer quality of our lives.

Communities

We are also influenced by the communities in which we live. Communal influences are both positive and negative. Communities can nurture or destroy us. The capacity of communities to nurture their members is dependent on the commitment of their members to contribute to this nurture. Given our unique personalities, capacities, and situations, it is important for us to determine how we can positively contribute to the nurturing of the communities of which we are a part, and to the lives of those who make up those communities. [277]

Involvement in the life of communities is ultimately political. Communities are not amorphous collections of individuals, but organized societies. Those societies are led by people with the interest and initiative to accept positions of responsibility. The political contribution that we make to society may involve our ensuring that the physical and social environment is as nourishing for others as we are capable of making it.

The nature of our involvement will depend upon the way the society is structured, and the gifts we have to offer. Direct involvement in the political process, as leaders, as active supporters of political parties, as political activists, or as responsible voters, does not exhaust the political contribution we can make. Those who are centres of love, who provide warmth, hospitality and practical help, are equally involved in the political process. Love is political. Love both demands and complements political initiative.

The Planet

We have taken the ecosystem for granted. We now realize how fragile it is, and are aware that we have damaged it through our ignorance and avarice. It is important that we work at arresting further devastation and restore what health we can to the planet. To do this we need to develop a respect for life.

Engaging elements of the ecosystem with our feelings, as well as our minds, fosters an empathetic connection to all living things, a connection that is strengthened through meditation, which brings to us an awareness of the fact that the Spirit that sources our lives is present, as the sustaining energy, in every element of the physical universe. [278]

Summary

It is important for us to nurture ourselves - our bodies, minds, souls and spirits. It is also important for us to contribute to the nurture of others - our friends, those we work with, the groups with which we mix, the communities in which we live, the nations to which we belong, and the planet that supports our existence. None of this happens naturally, or very little of it. It requires deliberation, commitment, and considerable effort. [279]

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Nurturing

People are often told they need to take better care of themselves. This can be a difficult concept to understand and practice. Either people have learned at a very early age that they are supposed to care for others or they have never been nurtured and therefore simply don't know how to do it.

To nurture means to honor, value, esteem and care for. In order to care for yourself it is necessary to ask the question, what is the self? Simply asking that question directs the attention to what can be called the conscious self. And once you give attention to that conscious self, it is encouraged to grow and develop. Very simply, to nurture the self is to explore the self, to know the self.

This is a good time then to reflect on who you are. Take inventory.

  • How is your physical being?
  • Does it need attention?
  • What kind of attention does it need?
  • How is your emotional self?
  • Does it need attention?
  • What kind of attention?
  • How is your spiritual self?
  • Are you taking time to connect with the greater consciousness, your soul and spirit?

The inventory does not need to become a pressure, yet another thing to do in a life that may be already filled with many tasks and demands. It is simply a framework for spending time with yourself, giving yourself attention. Try to find small ways of meeting the needs you become aware of. If your physical being is tired, look for an hour that day to do something relaxing. Keep your response to the inventory simple.

Loving, affirming attention is in itself nurturing. So many people in modern society have been starved for simple loving, nurturing attention. Take time this month to give yourself that attention. And then, perhaps, if you feel like it, take the time to give someone else that attention.

That someone else can be an animal, a tree in your backyard, a friend, a partner, a child. That attention does not have to be given in the form of an inventory, lots of questions. It can be given in the form of an invitation: let's spend some time together. You can sit down with a tree and notice the delicate, intricate details of the bud, the leaves coming out, the bark. You can spend time with an animal, a cat curled in your lap, a walk with a dog, stopping to notice the bird flying overhead, stopping to say hello.

You can invite a friend to dinner, light a candle, listen to music together. Take a child to the park. And as you pay attention to the detail of the experience, its texture, its richness, your consciousness expands, your experience of life and yourself deepens, your awareness grows.

As you hold the child's hand, really hold it, and notice what it feels like. Feel the energy passing from one to another, feel the connection. With this kind of attention, in nurturing another you do truly nurture yourself. Attention is nurturing. That which you give attention to flourishes and grows, gathers energy.

So the meditation for this month is simply to nurture yourself by being more aware in the moments of your life. It's not a task, a duty, a burden. It's an act of love.

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10 Reasons to Take Good Care of a Mother
Rick Hanson, Ph.D., and Jan Hanson, L.Ac., 2005

These are worth knowing for a mother herself, and for anyone who knows her.

1. She's a person - Every human being deserves a chance to be happy and healthy.

2. Her cupboard was already pretty bare - Before their first pregnancy, most mothers don't consume all the recommended vitamins and minerals. Those shelves need re-stocking.

3. Her body's carried a big load - Taken as a whole, pregnancy, childbirth, nursing, and weaning are the most physically demanding activities most people will ever do. Big outputs require big inputs.

4. She does hard work - Studies show that raising young children is more stressful than most jobs. Any kind of demanding work calls for respite and replenishment.

5. She contributes to others - Mothers get worn out not because they've been eating bon-bons, but because every day, for twenty years or more, they've been making a family for innocent and precious children. Their giving gives them moral standing, a valid claim on society's care.

6. It's good for the children - A mother's well-being affects her children in a thousand ways, shaping the the lifetime course of a human life. The best way to take good care of children is to take good care of mothers.

7. It's good for her partner - A mother is much more able to be even-tempered, affectionate, and loving when her mate is an active co-parent, shares the load fairly, and is just plain nice. It's enlightened self-interest for a mother's partner to take good care of her.

8. It's good for the marriage - Mothers who are well-nurtured and have supportive partners are much more likely to stay happily married than those who do not. Besides the rewards for children and their parents, lasting marriages benefit society in many ways, such as bringing stability to communities, lowering demands on the court system, and fostering respect for family.

9. It helps the economy - Maternal stress and depletion increase the nation's medical costs, and they decrease workforce productivity. They're public health problems, and addressing them would add hundreds of billions of dollars each year to our economy (with related benefits to tax revenues).

10. It's good for society - A culture that values caring for those who are vulnerable, giving, and engaged in long-term wholesome projects (like raising children) - e.g., mothers - will be generally more humane and infused with positive values. And that's good for everyone.

And a bonus reason: Being compassionate, considerate, and generous with a mother feels good in itself. It's also a deep form of spiritual practice to "love your neighbor as yourself" - even the one sitting with you at the dining room table.

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Research shows importance of nurturing, attachment

by Staff Sgt. Kanisha Carson
Lajes Family Advocacy


4/26/2007 - LAJES FIELD, Azores, Portugal -- Parents today have a lot on their plates. 

Juggling the demands of work, home, and other responsibilities leaves many parents feeling like they do not have nearly enough time with their children. 

But even small acts of kindness, protection, and caring - a hug, a kiss, or a smile - make a big difference to children. 

Research shows time and again that babies who receive affection and nurturing from their parents have the best chance of developing into children, teens, and adults who are happy, healthy, and competent. 

Research also shows that a relationship with a consistent, caring adult in the early years is associated in later life with better academic grades, healthier behaviors, more positive peer interactions, and an increased ability to cope with stress.

Brain development in infants is positively affected when parents work to understand and meet their basic needs for love and affection or provide comfort when they are hungry, bored, tired, wet, or cold. 

Conversely, neglectful and abusive parenting can have a negative effect on brain development. 

Research shows that a lack of contact or interaction with a caregiver can change the infant's body chemistry, resulting in a reduction in the growth hormones essential for brain and heart development. 

Furthermore, the ability to feel remorse and empathy are built on experience. 

Children who lack early emotional attachments or who grow up fearful and expecting to be hurt will have a difficult time relating to peers.

As children grow, nurturing by parents and other caregivers remains important for healthy physical and emotional development. 

While physical contact becomes less important, listening and talking become more vital to the relationship. 

Parents nurture their older children by being involved and interested in the child's school and other activities, aware of the child or teen's interests and friends, and willing to advocate for the child when necessary.

When parents spend time and energy discovering and paying attention to their children's needs, they are rewarded with positive, open, and trusting relationships with their children. 

Parents who develop the ability to respond sensitively to the needs of their child, no matter what age, will find parenting easier and more enjoyable.

A number of other resources exist for parents, including parenting support groups, parenting classes, and home visits from specific types of providers. 

Activities that provide a chance to get to know other parents, such as play groups, support groups, or classes, have the added bonus of giving parents the opportunity to form social relationships and supports. 

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Nurture Our Child with Love and Patience

Importance of Nurturing Our Child in Their Early Childhood Development

School starts again after a long holiday.  Parents are hoping their children to be able to cope with school works and studies, especially children who soon begin their formal school life.  Memory plays an important role in helping a child to improve his learning ability.  Some children can remember what the teacher taught in the class just through listening.  Some are able to memorize the information in the book with one glance.  Some just having hard time memorizing facts and information.  How can we nuture our child’s memory?

Memory is a complex process that helps us recall information that we learned earlier.  It works like a hard disc in our computer that requires the ability to store information for few seconds to an extended period of time.  Whenever we need to recall an information, we just need to retrieve it from our memory in split second. 

For instance, a child needs to be able to remember the letters in  word.  He then needs to arrange these letters in sequence in order to able to form the correct word.  Memories enable a child to retrieve answers automatically that he stores in the brain such as spelling, mathematical problems, drawing a donkey, etc..

For children who have problems memorizing all the information that they learned in school may develop low self-esteem.  They begin to doubt their own ability, “I am stupid.  I am not as smart as other.”.  They slowly believe that they are not as smart as others and giving up on themselves.  We need to take immediate action to reassure the child that he can improve his memory by learning the skills of memorizing and boost his brainpower.

Exercise the Brain Muscles

Provide more opportunities to allow our child exercise his brain muscles that boost his brainpower and improve his memory.

  • Play memory games.  For younger children, you may use simple picture puzzles, maybe just 3 to 5 pieces.  Show them the whole picture.  Then put the picture away and asked your child to put all the pieces together to form the picture he just saw. 

For older children, you may use a set of picture cards with words on the bottom and a set of word cards.  Lay out the picture cards and ask your child to match the word card to the picture card.  He needs to spell out the word on the picture card and look for the correct word on the word cards.

  • Rhymes and songs.  Engaged our child in singing and rhyming together. You will realize that children are able to memorize lyrics of songs and rhymes through repetition.

  • Recalling an event.  If you have taken your child to an outing earlier, you may ask questions evolving the event during the day, e.g. “How many lions you see in the cage?”, “What are the lions doing?” etc..  Your questions will help him recall what he has seen by retrieving information from his memory storage in his brain.  Questions also helps him reinforce his memory of the event.

  • Suggest strategies to help our child remember.  For instance, one of my children have difficulty remembering how to write numeral “8″.  Therefore, I told him that writing “8″ is just like riding on a roller coaster.  First it rolls down and then rolls up again to the original point.  Amazingly, he is able to write “8″ on his own without help by mumbling riding roller coaster!  Strategies should be points that able to get his interest in order to get his attention.

3 Steps to Improve our child’s memory

  1. Repetition of activities.

  2. Practice and lots of practice.  For instance, practicing writing and counting enable the child to memorize words and calculation even better and faster.

  3. Reinforcement of memory via Step 1 and 2.  Repetition and practice enable the information set into our subconscious mind that we are able to automatically retrieve the information and incorporate with our action.  For instance, when we first learn to drive, we need to memorize the steps in the beginning from how to start the engine till how to drive the car.  As we repeating and practicing the same action every day, we can now automatically start the engine and drive as we have program our subconscious mind on the driving skills.

Nurture our child’s memory is an every day activity.  Be patient and we will notice our child’s memory improve tremendously!  Happy New Year!

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Male Nurturing 101
March 3, 2004
by K. C. Wilson

The real gender bias we all face is a society that defines aggression as "what men do," and nurturing as "what women do." This blinds us to the equal aggressiveness of women, and, more tragically, equal nurturing of masculinity.

In her book, Odd Girl Out, even Rachael Simons casually refers to, ". . . the female orientation to relationship and connection ­ to nurturing and care-giving," as though they were one and the same. This in a book whose very purpose is to expose that what women do emotional connecting and personal relating ­ can be and is as easily used to aggress and bully as nurture.

What women do ­ or their orientation to emotion and personal contact ­ is one thing, and very important. But how any one women uses it, when and for what, is subject to personal traits and circumstance.

By the same token, our society considers the very phrase, male nurturing, an oxymoron. Men just don't, only women do. Now that's sexist.

This is a real, persistent perception error equally held by men and women and equally damaging to all. It is especially damaging to children because of what it leads us to either facilitate or discount and frustrate.

What is male nurturing? If no image came as immediately to mind as if I'd asked, "What is female nurturing," you know the bias to which I refer.

I was sitting in a park watching a couple with their eight- year-old son. Everything she said was along the lines of, "Be careful," "Put your sweater on," "Look out," and everything he said was, "Hey, look over there," and, "Let's try this."

Femaleness is comfort and safety; an inbound energy. It's what men seek from women and children need from them. (If you think men only seek women for sex you've been reading too much Freud. Worse, you've sold out to a purely material view.)

Male nurturing is exploration and independence; an energy that deals with the outer world and just as needed by children. (And what women seek in men.)

The inner and outer energies, the yin and yang of life. Children need direction and example in both, equally. How can one be more important? Imbalance can be said to be when one is emphasized over the other, particularly to the other's exclusion. We must live with ourselves inside, but exactly to live in a world that exists outside ourselves.

Why do we only call what mothers do, nurturing, when what fathers do is just as vital?

Child development literature is consistent on many mother- father distinctions across all cultures. For one, fathers play physically and roughhouse far more with their children. While our puritanical society (which one might call matriarchal when it comes to children) dismisses play as frivolous, even created the "Disney Dad" stereotype for resentment, and today's puritans (a.k.a. feminists) call it "male aggression," the truth is it is as vital as anything mothers do.

Dad doesn't use all his strength. Researchers have realized that in this play-fighting children are learning give-and-take, to read other's clues, dealing with chaos, self-control, and fair play. They are learning vital social skills physically, the way children first learn anything.

Fatherless children ­ equally boys and girls ­ are more socially insecure, and throughout their lives have fewer, less deep, and less lasting friendships.

Dad is critical to socialization and confidence in dealing with the world, and that's just one part of male nurturing.


Copyright 2004 K.C.Wilson. K.C. Wilson is the author of Co-parenting for Everyone, Male Nurturing, Delusions of Violence, and The Multiple Scandals of Child Support, all available as e-books at http://harbpress.com.

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