Well Told with Lizelle Marpa Tucci, author of I am Here: My Mindful Morning
A mother of three young boys, a health educator of over 15 years, and a lifelong learner, it was while starting her doctorate of distance education that Lizelle Marpa Tucci became overwhelmed with her work, studies and family life. After discovering the stress reducing benefits of mindfulness meditation for herself, Lizelle began to meditate daily with her sons, and began to notice how it reduced their anxiety, resilience and overall well-being.
To help other parents, Lizelle wrote I am Here: My Mindful Morning, a book she hopes will help parents experience the same benefits with their child.
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What does the process of practicing mindfulness meditation look like with children?
My children (the book was written with them in mind) are a little older now, but when I first published the book we would read it together, now we use an app. It helps them to pause and be present and pay attention to what’s going on in that moment, versus constantly running around. I think from an early age children learn to distract themselves from how they’re feeling and what they’re feeling, so a practice of mindfulness allows them to pause.
What are some specific positive effects you’ve seen in your children as a result?
They’re able to express when they’re upset or when something is bothering them, particularly emotionally, and they’re able to take a minute or even a few seconds to pay attention to how they’re feeling. For me, I also need to practice mindfulness so that I don’t react instinctively or get upset and yell, which is challenging. It takes practice to be able to pause and say, wait a minute, let’s take a breath here before I react or before I say something.
You’ve talked about the benefits of simply placing your hand on your heart, can you share more about this?
I’m part of the Mindful Society, which is a group that works out of Toronto and has conferences every year. There I met and listened to Dr. Shauna Shapiro (PhD, best-selling author, clinical psychologist and expert in mindfulness and self-compassion). [She talked about] the concept of physically putting your hand on your heart, which releases oxytocin, or chemicals in the body that can allow you to feel calmer. Her continued studies were on mindfulness and how it affects our psychology and our physical interactions, and that’s really what inspired me to write the book.
Can you give us some insights from your book, I am Here: My Mindful Morning?
It’s a book that helps parents or caregivers with a simple practice of mindfulness. As I wrote it I realized it was based on my experience, and what I feel would have been beneficial for me as a child as well as my mother who at the time was very stressed. It’s about how children [and adults] can wake in the morning already stressed, and just being able to pause and be present, read this book with your child, place your hand on your heart and take a deep breath. Mindfulness meditation can simply be paying attention to your breath. And I know for new moms especially, it can be difficult, but even a few seconds of placing your hand on your heart and breathing in and out can be beneficial.
In addition to mindfulness meditation, what’s one thing that is keeping you well right now?
What has become more open to me now is nutrition. Not only can psychological issues affect stress levels, but physiological and biological ones as well. I’m learning about that because I’m taking a masters in counseling and psychology, and that’s something that I had forgotten about. I’ve been paying attention to psychological aspects like mindfulness and breathing when I feel anxiety, but I haven’t been eating properly. I haven’t been paying attention to my diet and my nutrition, which is something that I think is an important part of overall well being, including anxiety.