Mental Health Day
In the UK yesterday there was a mental health awareness day to help us understand and talk about mental health.
As someone who teaches meditation and mindfulness, this is a key part of the work I do. It’s why I set up Connected Kids as I have witnessed, many times, how teaching kids, teens and adults meditation helps improve their mental health.
But mental health isn’t the whole picture. We have emotional and physical health to consider and these are inextricably linked to our mental health. Continue reading
Helping kids return to school with less anxiety (and more mindfulness)
In Scotland our schools have already returned after the summer break, but in the rest of the UK (and perhaps worldwide) children and teens will be gearing up for their return.
Some will feel excited about the prospect of a new school or new term. However many will feel anxious.
Cast your mind back to what school was like for you growing up and perhaps it will help you access some empathy and compassion for the young people in your life.
Returning back to school is a challenge for many, but we can give our kids some mindful skills to help them negotiate this tricky time.
Some of you may remember that several years ago I attended an Educator’s retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh.
During the retreat we learned some mindfulness songs for kids – this was one of my favourites.
Acknowledging the breath can be a difficult concept for kids to grasp. This breathing meditation video for kids gives a great example of actions, words and song to engage their interest.
By helping kids of all ages to notice their breath they have a self-care skill that can help them move out of fight/flight/freeze and lower anxiety levels.
There’s a whole story behind the name ‘connected kids’.
Originally we had called our programme after the first book ‘Calm Kids – help children relax with mindful activities‘. However the name didn’t sit comfortably with me. I felt a bit ‘icky’ with the idea of adults trying to ‘calm kids’ down. Meditation isn’t about this. It is so much more.
Yes, ultimately we want kids to feel centered, grounded, ‘calm’ and peaceful. But many adults (especially parents) can’t imagine their kids being calm… when they are so… full of life!
Plus, some adults approach the whole idea of teaching meditation as ‘being in control’ and have a fixed idea of what kids (and teens) meditation should look like. Not so. Continue reading
In the last 12 months, I’ve witnessed a huge increase in the interest we have in teaching children mindfulness.
Compared to how this was 12 years ago when I first had a hunch we should be doing this… well it is simply astounding.
I was never formally taught mindfulness. My meditation teacher, the late Kim McManus, taught meditation groups to help with spiritual development. However the by-products of this were improved self esteem, energy levels and an amazing sense of trust in our heart-felt intuition. But she didn’t call it mindfulness – she called it meditation.
I didn’t think there was a difference until I was on a forum in the USA discussing the subject with someone who quickly corrected me when I used the word ‘meditation’; it was ‘mindfulness’ we were teaching, not ‘meditation’. The latter was seen as being religious whereas mindfulness was not – I found this fascinating that such a difference existed!
So what is mindfulness and how does it differ to meditation?