The Light in “The Last Jedi”

Yog. Or yog not. There is no try.

There is so much yoga embedded into the world of Star Wars. The Force is akin to Om, Jedi principles match the eight yogic limbs, and the shapes of droids happily lend themselves to poses perfect for little ones. From mindfulness to pranayama to asana, the options for Star Wars themed yoga classes are about as wide as the far, far away galaxy. The latest installment of the series, The Last Jedi, features an era of renaissance for the Rebellion. On the brink of rebirth and revival, the characters offer many memorable messages that can be implemented into your work with little yoda yogis.

“Ben, when we touched hands, I saw your future. Just the shape of it, but solid and clear.” – Rey

The vision that Rey has is of Kylo Ren’s heart in the purest state. Seeing beyond the vrittis of his conflicting thoughts, she is able to see his core essence – and being solid and clear, it is much like a crystal quartz. Swami Karunananda’s Crystal Bowl Exercise is a fantastic way of highlighting this for your students and children.

In a clear container (glass or plastic), place a clear quartz crystal. This crystal represents the true self – the core of your being. Take a water bottle and pour water into the container, leaving at least one inch of room at the top. The water is the mind. When the mind is clear, we can easily see the crystal, or the essence of self. Next, begin to add drops of food coloring to the container. You can associate emotions to the colors: yellow as joy, red as frustration, green as jealousy, blue as sorrow. As the drops of individual colors settle, use a spoon to stir the contents of the container. When more colors are added and begin to mix with one another, the crystal becomes more difficult to see, but not impossible. Next, add sand to the container. Sand could represent very tough emotions (fear, anger), or even the little moments of day to day life (thoughts, to-do’s, etc.) that add up tremendously over time. Stir the contents once again. The mixture of color and sand in the container will become translucent or possibly even opaque. Can you see the crystal when the mixture is being twirled by the spoon? It can be tricky. It may even remain difficult to see when the contents settle. So much “stuff” has been added to the mind. But does that “stuff” change our true self? When ready, take the crystal out of the container. It will have some of the “mind” left on it – water, perhaps color, maybe a bit of sand. Using the water bottle, pour clear and clean water on the crystal. Just a tiny bit will remove the “stuff”, and there, just as before, will be the crystal – the pure self.

This visual shows that Kylo Ren (and everyone else within our galaxies) is good at their core. At times, the “stuff” makes it more challenging to see the pure self, but that does not change the fact that the pure self remains. In her video Raja Yoga by Lalita, Kidding Around Yoga teacher Lalita Vigander describes: “we identify with our thoughts instead of our true selves. Our natural state of calm emanates our true selves – our crystal.” Sinking into and identifying with his painful thoughts keeps Kylo Ren in role as the antagonist. Rey, awakened to her Jedi spirit, invites Kylo Ren to detach from pain and embrace calm. She sees the real him. The way of the Jedi invites us to approach our minds with peace and clarity. This exercise can be done as a demonstration in front of your students, or with each child mixing their own container and finding the hope of their unchanged core – their clear crystal.

“The greatest teacher, failure is.” – Yoda

How will we know if we never try?! This mantra can be helpful for yogis of all ages as they approach new asanas. Wheel, candle, and all crow pose variations may seem intimidating to newer practitioners. Failure is a First Attempt In Learning. It means you tried something new! And to be a Jedi, one must make many efforts. Encourage your yogis to try and try again. Whether success comes or not, there is always a lesson that will unfold.

“She cared more about saving the light than seeming heroic.” – General Leia Organa about Amilyn Holdo

While in charge of the Raddus, Vice Admiral Holdo advances her plans to bring the team to safety. When met with disbelief and rebuttal, she quietly persists, not letting the fears or doubts of others influence her decision making. Our little yogis are always looking up to us. Are we modeling the practices that we’re teaching? Are we always staying our true course? Know that wherever you are, young eyes are watching you and looking up to you. If you live your truth, they will live theirs.  

Additionally, when General Leia expresses this admiration for the Vice Admiral’s perseverance, she notes the selfless attitude that Holdo has. The Vice Admiral was more concerned with serving the greater good than being recognized for her leadership. This is a perfect opportunity to tie Karma Yoga into your teachings. Karma Yoga is about selflessly giving back to others with gratitude for what you have. Holdo was graciously thankful for her friendship with General Leia, and when it was her turn to steer the ship, she honored that companionship by doing what was best for the Alliance. What can your little yogis do to save the light? Perhaps this is taken literally – turning off electronics at home or in the studio when they are not in use, or perhaps figuratively – preserving positivity, empathy, and kindness within the community. What acts can you assign as OMwork for your students? How can we encourage them to selflessly save the light?

“This is how we win. Not by fighting what we hate, but by saving what we love.” – Rose Tico

Much like the characters in Star Wars, we live in turbulent times. Focusing our energies and our efforts on preserving these ancient practices that keep us grounded and on track will move our universe forward. Unconditional love is a result of a steady yoga practice, just as it is in the practice of the Jedi.

“We are the spark that will light the fire…” – Poe Dameron

Sharing the practices and benefits of yoga with the young people of our world is such an amazing gift. Love and light are qualities that don’t diminish. By sharing them, they grow. We, as yoga teachers, are the spark that will light the fire of future generations. Let us rise to the occasion with full force. May we embrace this incredible opportunity. We are laying the foundation for a world full of peaceful children. After all, in the words of wise Yoda, “We are what they grow beyond.”

Namaste and may the force be with you, always!

Beyond Thank You

How do we teach kids about giving and being gracious?
What behaviors demonstrate gratitude?

From a young age we tell kids they need to say thank you when ever they receive something. Kids lea21964882533_51eccae459_zrn that the response to being given something whether a physical thing or a service is to say thank you. So they say thank you. Adults tell them they have good manners. But what if kids learned the meaning of thank you? Ask a child why we should be nice to friends or why we thank people when they do something nice for us and you will probably hear everything from “I don’t know” to “because it’s a good thing to do.” Mostly kids have learned to say thank you without connecting the words and actions to emotions.

As we approach Thanksgiving in the United States, here are some ways to teach kids to connect the words ‘thank you’ with the action being performed and the feelings experienced by the people involved in the exchange. Remember to follow the activity with a discussion about how it made the kids feel!

Here are four activities to help kids learn to express and receive gratitude:

1. Growing Wall of Gratitude: This activity is great for right before or right after ‘The Secret Garden’ (this is what I call savasana in my kids’ yoga classes) or any quiet time. Take a huge poster board or long roll of craft paper and tack it up to a wall at a height all of the kids can reach. The bigger the better! Before class, cut out different shapes and colors of construction paper. Make sure they are large enough to write a sentence on. Give one piece of paper and a marker to each child either while they are in their Secret Garden or just at a quiet transition. Ask them to write down one thing that made them happy either in class that day or since the last class. Then have the kids attach their shape of happiness/gratitude to the poster using two-sided tape or adhesive s22560482756_245378db78_zquares. Each class, the kids can watch their gratitude for happy things grow.

2. The Compliment Train: This requires no supplies at all and is a great activity for when kids are gathered in a circle already. Ask the kids, one at a time, to give a genuine compliment to the person sitting to their right. I go clockwise just to make it easy for me to remember where we started. The kid receiving the compliment gets to practice being gracious and receiving compliments as well. The first child says “Joy, I like your shirt today with the butterfly,” and Joy responds with something like “Thanks for noticing the butterfly. Butterflies make me happy because of their colors.” Every child should have a chance to both give and receive a genuine compliment. Sometimes the receiving is harder than the giving!

3. Yoga Thank You Card: Have kids decorate or create a thank you card for the person who brings them to Yoga class. Have them keep the card Yoga themed. Maybe they draw pictures of what they do at Yoga class. Maybe they write a story about how class makes them feel. Of course, if you don’t teach Yoga, you could use the class theme of your choice. Each child delivers their thank you card to the provider of their ride when that person picks them up from class. This teaches kids that little things, like driving them places, are things that other people do for them and how to show appreciation for the act. If your child doesn’t take Yoga (yet), she can theme the card to whatever activity to which she regularly needs a ride. Maybe it’s a card for her school bus driver!22560305636_0ff0d2479a_z

4. “How Would You Feel Without It” Game: This game can be played any time during the day. It is super fun if everyone is in a goofy, silly mood as you can come up with all kinds of wild things to fill in the blank! No supplies needed! Just ask the kids “what would you feel like without ___?” and fill in the blank with various everyday items or people. They will be surprised how different life would be without some of the things they consider “essential”. You may want to end with a discussion about how other people live without the items you all joked about and live with those feelings every day.

These activities can be adapted for almost any age. Even teenagers and adults love to know their efforts are appreciated. Sometimes receiving gratitude takes more practice than being thankful. Remember to always practice both!

Spread Kindness with Karma Yoga

Kindness is an important pa18958118405_fa43a57040_z(1)rt of practicing Yoga. In your physical Yoga practice, you want to be kind to your body. And, out in the world, you want to be kind to others. In my children’s’ Yoga classes, we practice Karma Yoga – performing acts of kindness with no expectation of recognition or reward.

These Random Acts of Kindness (RAKs) don’t have to be huge or expensive. One of my favorites is making Love Rocks. Each child decorates a smooth stone with bright paint and an inspiring message (like a smiley face, words like “Joy”, “You are loved”, or “Peace”, or a short quote). Then the kids take their rocks and secretly leave them somewhere for someone (A stranger? A relative?) to find. They can leave one inside someone’s shoe or in a mailbox. Sneak one into a teacher’s desk or on a library shelf. Leave one on a park bench or on a box of cereal at the grocery store. Then, after the rocks have been hidden, come back as a group and share how they felt when they left their rocks. How do they imagine the finder will feel? I like to give each child a few rocks to take home to continue sharing their kindness with others.22614565671_dd1134cd88_z

Along the same lines, leave homemade bookmarks inside library books! Colorful paper, stickers, and markers are all you need to make the bookmarks. Add a positive message like, “Have a great day!” or “You are special” and sneak them into books at the library. If you teach at a library, this is especially fun because you can sometimes see people find the bookmarks. Or, if you teach in a studio or gym where people borrow the Yoga mats, leave a bookmark inside a mat as it is rolled up. The next person to use the mat will get a nice surprise when they unroll it.

Kindness Catchers are fun to make and play with friends (I’ve heard these called Cootie Catchers and Fortune Tellers. Watch how to make one here). You can use colors for the outside flaps (like heart stickers) and simple numbers for the inside. Older kids may want to use kind words to label the flaps. Then, brainstorm four RAKs for the inside – high five someone, sweep, sort laundry, feed the dog, etc. Your RAKs can be whatever you’d like to do for someone else to make their day easier. Then, play with the Kindness Catchers and send them home as “Om-work”. Report back as to how their Kindness Catchers worked and what their favorite RAKs were.

One more idea to spread RAKs into the world is Undercover Friend. This activity gives your child the opportunity to build connections with other people.  Everyone likes to be noticed and heard. It is an act of kindness to really get to know people around you. Ask your child to choose a person they see regularly but don’t really know. It could be a classmate, a bus driver, or a neighbor. Everyday, they will complete a simple task designed to get to know their undercover friend. They should keep a notebook handy to record clues about their friend.

Day 1: N13092764895_88e3944754_zotice at least one thing you have in common with your friend.

Day 2: Notice something that’s different about you and your friend. Not bad, just different.

Day 3: Notice at least one quality you admire in your friend.

Day 4: Secretly send positive thoughts and kind wishes to your undercover friend.

Day 5: Pay your friend a genuine compliment, one that really comes from your heart and is specific to something you’ve learned about him/her.

Day 6: Think about how you feel about your undercover friend now that you have gotten to know him/her better. Are you more comfortable around him/her? What do you think your friend would notice about you?

Day 7: Start again with a new undercover friend.

It only takes a few minutes a day to be kind and spread a little sunshine with RAKs!


Explaining the Yamas and Niyamas

15348945554_cd67a6d837_zAs a kids’ yoga teacher we can have the amazing responsibility to introduce children to the ideas in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. About 1600 years ago in India, Patanjali condensed two different traditions (Ashtanga Yoga and Karma Yoga) to compose the Yoga Sutras, the foundational text of Yoga. He divided Yoga into eight limbs. The idea of the Eight Limbs is to provide a structure for our lives so our poor habits will simply drop away from us. Two of the limbs I like to teach kids are the Yamas and Niyamas (the other limbs include postures, meditation, concentration, and breathing, as well as other practices). Yamas and Niyamas provide lists of behaviors to encourage and sustain for a fruitful, happy life. Far from being strictly religious practices, when explained and practiced within a kids’ Yoga class, the Yamas and Niyamas are basically rules, like the Golden Rule, to be present, mindful, and whole:
YAMAS– Restraints
Ahimsa- In thought word and deed, act with non – violence15630662808_3d149ee634_z
Satya- Be honest, truthfulness
Asteya- Be generous, do not steal
Brachmacharya – Be moderate in all areas of your life
Aparigraha –Have gratitude, be un-attached to expectations.
NIYAMAS– Observances
Saucha – Cleanliness of mind and body
Samtosha- Find contentment, trust in the bigger picture
Tapas- Acceptance of uncomfortable parts of life
Svadhyaya-Study and learn about yourself and the world around you
Ishvara Pranidhana- Trust the source in yourself and surrender to the will of the universe
There are countless interpretations and commentaries on the Yoga Sutras available. My favorite interpretation of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is The Secret Power of Yoga written by Nichala Joy Devi. This is a woman’s guide to the heart and spirit of the Yoga Sutras. I have found it helpful to spend a little time each day reading and thinking about the Sutras and have found this book helpful. I also encourage you to find a Satsang, or a group, to discuss the Sutras and how to implement them into our daily lives.
As a Sunday school teacher I enjoy teaching svadhyaya (study and learn about yourself and the world around you) by acting out Bible stories and incorporating Yoga postures. I also find teaching in schools or libraries that by using books and poems about nature, we can invite nature’s presence into our own lives. The recent gem I found in my local library is a book called The Happiest Tree by Uma Krishnaswami. This book is chock-full of Yogic wisdom for adults and children building a road to self-confidence.
To use this book in your Yoga class, find a spot to read this book under the shade of a tree. Ask the kids to sit in padmasana (lotus pose) pretending to grow roots into the earth, while they listen to the story. While18941373351_ea46a22d1b_z reading the story, or when the story is finished, spend some time practicing the poses in the story.
Cat – Marjaryasana helps massage the belly and spine. This pose warms the abdomen and stretches the back as well as the torso.
Cobra – Bhujangasana strengthens spine. It firms the buttocks, stretches the chest, lungs, shoulders and abdomen. Cobra can Relieve sciatica and be therapeutic for asthma.
Frog – Mandukasana stretches the inner thighs, groin and hips. By allowing chest and shoulders to expand, it relieves stress, anxiety and depression. Offer the kids the idea that their Yoga mat is a lily pad.
Tree – Vrksasana increases balance, focus, memory and concentration. Tree also strengthens ankles and knees. When practicing tree it is fun to ask the kids to circle up and practice standing as a forest of trees. Allow the branches to rest gently on the neighboring tree and close their eyes. Make sure to do the tree on both sides!14752128015_56c0f0a520_z
Lotus– Padmasana increases mobility and releases tension. A common meditation pose, it steadies the body so the mind will follow.
Finish your class by asking the kids to share what their favorite part of the story was. I like to do this while enjoying a healthy snack. The following recipe is one of my favorites. It is nut-free, dairy-free, and fun to make because there is no need to bake!
Sunflower Sassies
2c GF whole rolled oats pulsed in food processor until fine
½ c coconut flour
1 c GF rice crisp cereal
½ c chia and flax blend
½ tsp salt
In a mixer with the paddle stir the first 4 ingredients, for about one minute.
½ c maple syrup
½ cup molasses( this is why they are sassy)
1 tsp vanilla
½ Tbsp. coconut oil
½ c sunflower seed butter
½ c chocolate chips
Add the 6 remaining ingredients. Stir until the mixture becomes crumbly and press into a 7×11 wax paper lined pan. Chill for ½ hour in the freezer. You can cut and individually wrap with yarn or serve family style.

Hula Hoops and Kids’ Yoga

17223780305_35b03ca062_z Hula hoops are a natural symbol of Yoga: circles represent unity, inclusiveness—and a hole you can jump through, into, and around in creative and fun ways! I also use hula hoops when teaching kids’ gymnastics and creative movement as they provide a clear, external point of reference for kids.

If there’s one really convenient thing I’ve learned through the my kids’ Yoga training, it’s that you can still be creative and original while using well-known, well-loved, classic kids’ songs and games such as duck-duck-goose and and “If you’re happy and you know it…” This is a great way for Yoga in the classroom to use familiar games and songs from typical school activities. This familiarity helps make kids more comfortable and eager to participate and they don’t usually mind the repetition. Here are some ideas for using hula hoops while giving kids a chance to play their favorite games in Yoga class:

  • Ring Around the Rosie: This is a variation on the traditional version. In groups of about 3 or 4, each child holds the hoop with one or two hands so that it is lifted off the ground and acts as a sort of “wheel hub” that the kids move as they circle around. Then they sing or chant these lyrics:

        “Ring around the hula hoop/stir the pot of alphabet soup,/noodles, noodles/ we all fall down”

On the word ‘down,’ each kid makes the shape of a letter with their body. This is best done if you pre-teach the song by guiding kids through an exploration of making the shapes of different letters with their bodies. Then go over the song briefly, maybe even have it written on a cue card or blackboard so they can learn it more quickly. Rehearse it once to make sure everyone understands, then repeat as many times as you want.14565865189_b53cdcba7c_z

  1. Eeny-meeny-miney-moe: All kids sit on the ground in a circle with their toes on the hula hoop. This in itself is so helpful for groups that have a hard time forming a nice, round circle as the hoop gives them a concrete object to define their circle. Then you, or one of the kids, goes around saying, “Eeny-meeny-miney-moe” while gently tapping the children’s heads. The kid that gets chosen at the end of the rhyme does a yoga pose and holds it. Continue until all kids are in a pose. You might want to specify a pose they should do so that they don’t pick one they can’t hold for a long time. You could also use a different rhyme that is more yoga related (like “Eeny meeny miney moe, catch a Yogi by the toe. If she balances let her go. Eeny meeny miney moe”). Get creative!

  2. Obstacle courses: Set up an obstacle using hula hoops. Spread hula hoops through the room (and add other obstacles, like blocks to walk on or pompoms to pick up with their toes). As they move through the course,  kids jump into each hoop and strike a yoga pose of their choice, or you can assign a pose for them to practice in each hoop.17222055122_ea7d782f09_z

  3. Freeze tag: Just like in traditional Freeze Tag, the player that is “it” tries to tag the other players. If a child is tagged, he/she is frozen in a Yoga pose (their choice or your assigned choice) until another child unfreezes them by touching them. Kids can use hula hoops as home base (where they can’t be tagged, but they have to do a yoga pose while staying in the hoop; again, you can allow them to choose the pose, or suggest specific ones like Tree or Dancer).

One obstacle I have encountered in using hula hoops with younger kids (ages 2-3) is that they often want to grab it, which results in a tug-of-war. Be prepared, as this might happen during the Ring Around the Rosie and Eeny-meenie-miney-moe activities. This has happened for me in mixed ages classes where the older kids understand the rules (i.e., hold the hoop with one hand, jump into it, or use it as a home base) but the younger kids often just want to grab the hoop and run. In those cases, I try to arrange some kind of activity in which the “grabber” gets to hold the hoop for others to go through, as in the Obstacle Course activity explained above. Either way, this presents a possible lesson in sharing, and you can tell kids that helping others and sharing is part of Karma Yoga (doing good for someone else without expectation of a reward).17222072422_ed53f9668b_z

You can also relate the round shape of the hoops to other similar shapes used in class, such as the round shape made by malas (or mardi gras beads) you use for meditation and chanting, and mandalas if you use those as a related art project. Kids are observant and they will probably point out many other things in class that are circular just like the hula hoops.

‘Tis the Season to Feel Stress…And How to Overcome it as a Family

It’s beginning to look a lot like the holiday season. The traffic is honking. The parking lots are jammed. The lines are long. The bank account is dwindling. And our children are feeling all of this, too. There are many ways we can push through the stress with our children and help them tap into the true meaning of the season, however that resonates with you and your family. Here are several easy ways to help let go of the holiday stress and put a smile on someone’s face that may really need it this time of year.
1. Breathe in the good stuff, breathe out the bad stuff: Teach your child some calming breaths, like bear breaths, bunny breaths, or blowing out birthday candles to help them (and you) relax, connect to their feelings, and to slow down their thoughts and worries.
a. To do bear breaths, or 3-part breaths, inhale slowly to the count of 3, hold the breath to the count of 5, then exhale slowly to the count of 3.
b. To do bunny breaths, inhale quickly 3 times through the nose, then exhale slowly through the nose. After doing these breathing exercise, talk with your child about how it made them feel.
c. Blow out birthday candles by having them hold their hand up in front of their mouth. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. After each exhale, they fold down 1 finger (candle). Repeat with each finger.
2. In all the hustle and bustle, make family time special:
a. Designate a weekly game night.
b. Eat together as a family as often as possible.
c. Have your child help with the sending of cards by picking out their favorite picture or event they want to share with family and friends.
d. Turn your child’s favorite story into yoga time. Have your child help come up with poses for the different characters or events in the story. This is a great tool to help with reading comprehension through recall and sequencing.
3. Help your child give the gift of time to others. There are many child-friendly places looking for volunteers this time of year:
a. Clean up at a church or park.
b. Help an elderly person decorate for the holidays.
c. Serve or help shop for items to donate to a soup kitchen.
d. Wrap presents for an organization collecting toys: Toys for Tots, churches, or a children’s home.
e. Visit a nursing home or orphanage to share a meal or game with someone that might otherwise be lonely.
4. Make room for new clothes and toys by donating gently used toys and clothes to children’s homes, foster families, churches, Red Cross, or other community organizations in your area.

5. Cook and bake together then have your children help decorate cookies or arrange a platter to take to neighbors or to church or community members that may need some cheering up this time of year.


Mariann is a certified ESE teacher and certified kids’ yoga teacher through Kidding Around Yoga. Mariann taught in a self-contained setting for students with disabilities, primarily ASD, for 16 years before transitioning to be self-employed. Through her company, Spoonful of Spirit LLC, she serves as a kids’ yoga teacher, private tutor, blogger, and creates yoga related and special needs products for Teachers Pay Teachers through her store:

Raising Empathetic Children

My boys just had their heads’ shaved as a way to stand in solidarity with children fighting the beast called cancer.  They also did it as a way to raise money that will go toward childhood cancer research grants. This is just something that they do after seeing a childhood friend fight for her life for 6 years before losing her battle at the age of 10.  To me, and to them, it seems like second nature to continue with this fight and I don’t think they even find it heroic or noble.  Someone at our church made the comment that my husband and I shBaldould teach a class about how to raise good kids because of what she sees our boys involved in.  This actually took me by surprise because I think I am not doing anything different or even special.  Still, this did get me thinking and I guess it is because I am on a quest to raise my children to be aware of the world that exists outside of their own.  This seems like common sense but how often have we felt like life just gets too busy to do anything beyond taking care of the family and work?  When you’re just trying to manage your little world, how do you teach your kids about the rest of the world?

It started for us with deciding to find a church.  No, that seems too generic.  We wanted to find a faith family; somewhere we felt like we belonged and a place that would be part of our children’s upbringing.  The church we choose also believes in being a big part of the community and even has global outreach programs.  I don’t think we were thinking community wide much less globally when we first joined.  However, it didn’t take us long to realize that something so easy as being a part of the food pantry, and having our children see that there are people out there that do not have enough food, was a great way to teach them compassion for those in need.  We also started a Christmas tradition 23506148681_5941e55027_zwhen they were very young where each of them picks out a gift for another child.  My children are in charge of taking that gift to the donation site so they see where that gift is going.  We started that tradition when my oldest was 3. This past Christmas he surprised me with his choice of not getting any birthday gifts at his 11th birthday party in early December.  Instead, he asked everyone to bring a gift for Toys-for-Tots.  They have also been educated on conditions that other children face globally.  When a gentlemen came to our church to talk about the poor conditions in Haiti and how those children do not even have the privilege of attending school, we let our children pick the child that we would sponsor in the school that his organization had set up.  The child’s name is Blemy and our boys have seen him grow up through pictures for the last 7 years.  Often times Blemy’s name has been invoked to teach a lesson to one of the children when we find that they seem to forget how privileged they are compared to children in other areas of the world.

So you see, we don’t sugar-coat the world for our boys and we also aren’t afraid of 22560482756_245378db78_zhaving tough conversations with them.  Recently our almost 8 year-old had to do a report on an important woman in history.  He choose Anne Frank.  This choice led into a very difficult discussion about the atrocities of World War II, why we do not persecute others for different beliefs, and why we accept others even when they seem vastly different then what we are used to.  He has seen Swami Satchidananda’s Lotus Shrine and this discussion instilled in him the reason behind Swami Satchidananda’s lifelong quest in teaching people that we belong to “one universal family.”  In order to reach that one universal family ideal, we have to teach our children compassion on a community and global level.