Christmas Through a Child’s Eyes

A Window to the heart of the Principles

Photo by Jonnelle Yankovich on Unsplash

I love Christmas. Even with the pandemic’s challenges, it heartens me to witness the enduring spirit of Christmas weave sentiments of love and joy, softening hearts everywhere. I am forever captivated by the eyes of children at Christmas. Observing their pure innocence and wonder as well as their boundless love is a cue to see the world through the eyes of innate, basic goodness, and love.

Basic unconditional goodness is the core premise of the Shambhala Buddhist lineage. Introduced early in my college Buddhist studies, this simple, resonant truth of our fundamental nature and inter-connectedness, which flows through all life, provided a cornerstone for my introduction to the Three Principles 15 years later.

What is the most precious gift we can give to our children? A friendly embodied understanding of the Three Principles is definitely at the top of my list. Additionally, as a school psychologist, how can I communicate the gift of the Three Principles to students? The answer to this question set in motion a 20+ year initiative and ”labor of love.” Federal grants funded the initial work, facilitated by Kathy Marshall, consultant, and trainer from the National Resilience Resource Center in Minneapolis, MN. In the process, the Three Principles of Mind, Consciousness, and Thought were renamed with the more student-friendly terms of Knower, Noticer, and Thinker.

A new home for the curriculum and initiative, along with a series of grants from the Mayo Clinic and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, provided a five-year opportunity to pilot a scripted Three Principles K-3 mental health curriculum in the Boyceville Community School District in Boyceville WI. The soon-to-be-published curriculum is called ”Core Goodness.” It incorporates the Buddhist concept of ”basic goodness” as it relates to the Three Principles and embodied mind/body practices. The Three Principles are now presented as the ”3 Gifts” of Core Goodness, Thinking, and Noticing.

As Syd Banks reminded us, ”Understanding the Principles is a matter of the heart, not the intellect.” The light in children’s eyes is all it takes to remind me of my true nature, that all of us are innately good, whole, and interconnected. What is your cue?

Paula Smith is school psychologist, psychotherapist and professional harpist. She is a certified trainer in Dynamic Mindfulness through Niroga Institute and serves on the board of directors for Compassionate Rochester MN and the Rochester Meditation Center.



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Paula Smith

School Psychologist, Professional Harpist, Certified Dynamic Mindfulness Trainer, Certified SEE Learning Curriculum, Author of “Core Goodness” K-4 Curriculum