Meet my mom friend: Kaajal Agnani, founder, Boundless Blooms
Tell us a little bit about yourself :)
I grew up in the Bay Area, and studied Molecular & Cell Biology at UC Berkeley. After college, I worked in health services research for a number of years, eventually realizing that it wasn’t my passion. I moved to Southern California 8 years ago to get married and start business school at USC (where I also studied mindfulness). After several years working in tech, I launched my company Boundless Blooms to develop products that help kids be more confident, compassionate, and resilient human beings. My first product, Mindful Moments, was developed with the help of my son, Zavi, who will be 3 years old next month.
Given your background and expertise, can you share what mindfulness is exactly and why it is important?
Simply put, mindfulness is noticing what is happening right now. It is the act of being fully present and engaged in the moment with the awareness of our thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and environment, without getting swept up in them. By practicing mindfulness, we can train our minds to have moment-to-moment awareness, free from distraction or judgment of what may have happened in the past, or what may happen in the future.
For the past six years, the practice of mindfulness meditation has been transformative in my own life. After getting my MBA, I started working at Uber and eventually came to manage a team of operations and marketing folks. My role was pretty high stress and high stakes. One day when I was totally overwhelmed (back then I was working 12-16 hour days, plus weekends), I realized that I had a valuable tool I wasn’t using - my mindfulness practice.
When I looked around, I noticed that many of my friends and colleagues could benefit from the practice as well, so I pulled a group together and began to teach them about mindfulness. It was really awesome to build a culture of mindfulness on our team, and it made a huge difference.
Mindfulness has had a profound impact on my ability to tune into the present moment and cope with stress and anxiety, and it’s an important skill that I always knew I’d want to teach my son, Zavi. So when I launched Boundless Blooms, creating a fun and interactive product to help kids tap into the present moment and recognize their unique strengths was first on my list.
Building the skill of mindfulness, so that it can be applied to everyday life, has many benefits. Neuroscientists have found that practicing mindfulness regularly over an 8-week period can cause the brain to have more positive thoughts and emotions. This in turn can lead to improved well-being and quality of life. Specifically, those who practice mindfulness may notice:
- increased self-confidence and sense of optimism
- improved social skills, including awareness of self and relationships
- better sensory awareness
- enhanced ability to self-regulate and manage emotions in difficult situations
- reduced levels of stress and anxiety, with an ability to more quickly find stillness and calm
- higher capacity to concentrate and focus, as well as improved memory
- greater acceptance and connection with the world
Taking a few minutes each day to observe and reflect through the practice of mindfulness leaves me feeling more confident and energized throughout the day.
I see you coined the term, “kindful.” I love it so much! What does that mean to you?
Honestly, when I first came up with kindful, I thought I coined it too! Turns out there are other folks out there who had the same idea :) Kindful to me, is a term that describes being kind and mindful - it encompasses compassion, awareness, inclusivity, confidence, resilience, courage, curiosity and the ability to find peace and stillness in the present moment.
Let’s talk about Mindful Moments - what is it and how can it be used?
I believe that all children should know how to tune into the present moment, hone their self-awareness, and tap into their unique strengths. I created Mindful Moments: Guided Exercises and Mantras for Kids to help children develop exactly those skills.
Mindful Moments is a set of easy-to-follow exercises and empowering mantras that aim to increase emotional intelligence, improve focus, build resilience, and help children feel more connected to the world around them. The fun and interactive exercises help kids (and adults!) drop into the present moment and use their senses to explore within and outside of their bodies, while creating space for imaginative play.
The product is designed for kids 2 years and up, however we have customers that have introduced these cards to their newborns! And of course, there is no upper age limit as adults have shared that they enjoy the benefits of engaging in the practices in the cards as well.
As a family, we’ve incorporated mindful practices into our daily life. The beauty of these exercises is that they can be done morning, day, or night and anywhere! I recommend that parents and caregivers experiment with their kiddos to see what works best for them and to practice for at least a few minutes per day to give children ample opportunities to develop their own mindfulness routine.
Do you find that using Mindful Moments with your son helps in a particular way?
Zavi and I have been doing these exercises together since before he was 2 years old; of course our practices have evolved as his capacity to understand and communicate has increased. I’ve noticed that Zavi is more comfortable being with his big emotions (even during meltdowns) and is more quickly able to use his breath to calm his body down when he’s ready to do so. Then, when we sit down to talk through it, he is able to articulate what he’s feeling. I’ve also been super blown away by his creativity, imagination and thoughtfulness as we go through the exercises or chat through the mindful practice questions that are listed on the flashcards.
Why is it important to teach mindfulness from a young age?
A lot of my work is rooted in research (you can’t take the scientist / researcher out of me!), and I’ve come across some really interesting research that makes me feel even more strongly about the importance of introducing mindfulness to kids at a young age. For starters, younger brains are more impressionable. While brains evolve and change throughout a person's lifetime, there are certain periods of development in which a child's brain will more easily change and adapt as a result of experiences they have. These periods are between birth and 2 years of age, between 4 and 6 years of age, and around puberty. So, introducing children to mindfulness practices early can increase the likelihood that they form and reorganize synaptic connections that positively influence their brains.
Also, gray matter matters. Research has shown that practicing mindfulness can increase the amount of gray matter in the hippocampus, a region in the brain that is associated with memory and emotion. When kids practice mindfulness, they learn how to pay attention in a sustained way and will be empowered to make choices around when and where they focus their attention. Cultivating this practice in kids at a young age will no doubt have a super positive long-term impact on their minds as they become adults.
Where can readers buy Mindful Moments? Anything else you’re planning to make and sell under this brand?
Mindful Moments is available for sale at boundlessblooms.world.
I’m currently working on a book and hoping to introduce a few more products in the coming months.
Use promo code LOVEMISHKA to enjoy 10% off your first order. And follow us @bloomkindfully on Instagram and Facebook for tips and content on raising confident, compassionate, and resilient kids.