One of our level 3 trainers told me that she’ld been into a couple of high schools recently to teach young people meditation.
The way she described the experience was so interesting, I invited her to write about it (and her journey so far) – and she obliged!

Thanks to Heather Mackenzie (who teaches in the West coast of Scotland) for this beautiful and inspiring article…

Several years ago I had attended one of the first Connected Kids courses, convinced of the benefits of meditation through my own experience of it and keen to try some techniques with my own children.

I was utterly terrified by the prospect of delivering a meditation to one of my children and have them ‘reject’ me in some way, either laughing at my complete incompetence or being completely bored and disinterested in something that was quite important to me.

I was aware of the fear, and like so many other fears in my life, very curious about it and determined to approach it with curiosity rather than run away from it.

My relationship with my two eldest children, who were still of primary school age at the time, was full of resistance. I attempted to coerce my children into the behaviour that I wanted, parenting them as I had been parented myself. Somehow I had become a carbon-copy of my own mother in spite of my own best efforts.

My attempts at controlling my children (threats, naughty-step, rewarding good behaviour and punishing the ‘bad’ by removing privileges) were met sometimes with unwilling compliance, and often with outright rebellion!

Self Discovery
My journey of teaching meditation to my children has been a journey of self-discovery indeed. Learning that we are being taught just as much as we are teaching, learning that our need for control usually comes from our fears, and learning to let go, one at a time, of the habitual patterns of parenting that I had so unconsciously been exhibiting.

My children reflected back to me each of my beliefs about myself, and their resistance to me reflected my own inner-resistance and my lack of self-belief.

Teaching my children meditation became a joyful process of trial-and-error and empowering my children to make choices… like all children, there are some things that they enjoy and some things they don’t find so captivating and enjoyable. It was starting to become so clear that the time we spent together deliberately cultivating a softer way of being together was transforming our relationship.

Together, we started to explore our feelings with curiosity and began to embrace a kinder and less judgemental attitude. I was starting to be able to let go of needing things to be a certain way, and became less worried about what people might think of how my children behaved. We were healing each other, one heartfelt meditation at a time.

Ready to teach!
Here I am now as a Connected Kids Trainer and .b Teacher, teaching mindfulness in two local high schools as well as to children and parents who attend my wee holistic health centre in Strathaven.

Teaching in High Schools
The teaching in high schools is a relatively new development – just since the start of this year – and my goodness I’m way out of my comfort-zone again.

Before I started to teach in the high schools I had built up a picture in my head of groups of teenagers as wild, feral creatures who would move in for the proverbial kill at any sign of weakness!

Last week I delivered the ‘Taming the Animal Mind’ lesson. We watched a clip of David Attenborough interacting with a band of gorillas (the gorillas being a metaphor for our wild animal mind), noticing his attitude as he observed them was one of patient, kind, curiosity. He understands the gorillas so well that he is able to be with them in a really skilful and beautiful way.

We considered that his attitude is the same whether watching a pleasant event or a more difficult one such as a lion capturing and killing an antelope. We talked about how this gives us clues as to how we can be with our wild animal minds in a more skilful way – we can patiently observe, with kindness, getting to know the territory, starting to understand how our minds behave, and bring the same friendly curiosity to the difficult as well as the good.

Far from the feral group of teenagers ready to tear me apart, as I look around the group I’m working with each week I see each young person for who they really are. I see their joy and I see their suffering – their wrestling with difficulties – just as it is for each of us humans. I see the seeds of mindfulness being sown, and the young people starting to see that perhaps there is a different way to relate to our tricky minds and to each other.

If each of us just remains content to sail around in safe harbour every day then how would we ever explore new and interesting territory; how would we ever create change? We have to take a deep breath, ground our attention into this body and this moment, and push our sails out to catch the wind… who knows where it will take us?!”

Heather MacKenzie, Where Dragons Fly

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