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
A quick tip to explain meditation to kids or teens
Founder of Connected Kids, Lorraine Murray, shares a simple idea to help motivate your kids to try meditation.
Learn meditation – for you and your kids
If you would like to learn how to create your very own meditations for kids/teens try our Connected Kids level 1 course – online or in-class) (This is the gateway to our professional level)
Or find ideas and tips in our book Calm Kids (beginners) or Connected Kids (working with special needs/anxiety).
If you want some creative inspiration you can listen to one of our Meditation CDs for children/teens >>>
Mindfulness Course for adults >>>
This week, I read a disturbing news report about the increasing use of medication for children (aged 12 or younger) who are being prescribed anti-depressants.
“It found that the number of youngsters aged 12 or younger on anti-depressants has risen by 27% over the last three years.” BBC News July 2018
Then on social media someone shared an article with a similar message in the USA.
“Rates of depression and anxiety among young people in America have been increasing steadily for the past 50 to 70 years. Today, by at least some estimates, five to eight times as many high school and college students meet the criteria for diagnosis of major depression and/or anxiety disorder as was true half a century or more ago.” Dr. Peter Gray, a research professor at Boston College
So there are 3 things that concern me most:
- children are being diagnosed with depression
- increasingly medication is being used so for such young (and developing children).
- that there is a waiting list for access to psychological help for kids with mental health issues
I initially had the idea back in 2003 that we should be teaching our kids meditation and mindfulness.
Back then… there was very little in the way of resources that people could find to help them teach kids and teens mindful meditation practices.
How the landscape has changed (thank goodness!)
Today we see meditation and mindfulness being incorporated into many areas of a child’s life. These essential life skills will help them process increasing amounts of stress that we place on their small shoulders (diet, technology, lifestyle). I’m glad that people are waking up to the idea of teaching their kids meditation – in my view it is as important as teaching them to brush their teeth!
Creating a space to teach mindfulness to kids with autism
We were asked a question about the types of tools people could use if they wanted to teach their kids (who are on the autistic spectrum) how to feel calmer and less stressed using mindful activities.
” I will be moving into a purpose built unit for children with autism shortly and I have to kit out the sensory room. I’m wondering if you can suggest anything in particular that would be beneficial.”
We write about this subject all the time…particularly in the 2nd book – “Connected Kids‘.
However we have taught thousands of people how to teach kids meditation, and thought that many of our Connected Kids Tutors would have great, practical advice.
We were right!
Here are some wonderful ideas that may help your kids on the spectrum bring their energy back into balance with meditation and mindfulness.
The heart speaks mindfully
I was really moved by this video.
I think it speaks volumes about how we can raise awareness and how to help children be part of the conversation about the future.
With all my heart I believe that if we teach children meditation, they find that mindful voice just as Meghan Markle has done in this powerful video.
When a young person finds that voice within, it teaches us adults how to hear them from our heart, mindfully, as they shine their light on what needs to change in this world.
How mindfulness helps you ‘see’ your kids and teens
I was inspired to write this after reading a blog from NY psychotherapist, Katherine Schafler, about the 4 unconscious questions a person asks themselves. The one that connected with me the most was about ‘being seen’.
As a child I grew up in a culture where ‘children should be seen and not heard’. This attitude may have been exclusive to the Victorian/Scottish parenting style at the time, but as an adult, it has left me with lots of thoughts and feelings to work through and process – sometimes with the help of a therapist or my meditation practice.
I am also a foster carer and one of the key things I’ve learned is that ‘being seen’ is essential in order to have a connection with the children we care for.
I believe that my mindfulness skills, my personal meditation practice and my ability to introduce a ‘teaching meditation’ to the kids we care for in a way that meets their needs and abilities (and interests) has helped us start to build a an emotional and mental bridge between the world and kids in our care so that they can connect to the world around them in a more kind, loving and caring way.
Like me you have probably become aware of the #MeToo campaign which highlights the level of sexual harassment that women experience throughout their lives.
As we can see, it has been an underlying epidemic that females have tolerated for thousands of years in all areas of life.
But I’m uncomfortable with the idea of saying #MeToo and adding my voice to social media.
I don’t deny that I’ve had some unsavoury and traumatising experiences growing up that I would rather forget. My yoga and meditation practice has (and continues) to help me heal from this.
However the #MeToo campaign leaves me hanging. It feels a little bit like watching a tragedy on the news and feeling helpless to ease the pain of those involved. I observe friends saying #MeToo on social media and then I start to worry and wonder about them and their experiences.
It also hangs guilt and shame on the wrong shoulders – of the decent boys, teens and men who don’t want to treat women that way. Perhaps If I were a man, maybe I would lower my gaze and no longer feel confident engaging with females.
But if I sit and reflect on the #MeToo campaign through my meditation practice, I have a sense that …
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.
Mindfulness and the holidays
The summer holidays can be a long time to spend with your kids.
You love them but your whole routine can change and even though holidays are meant to be enjoyable, they can be a little bit stressful too!
So here are some tips and ideas to help you keep up your meditation practice and help your kids practise mindfulness during the summer break.
(Photo courtesy of Jennifer Furtney Miller – “Here is my 5 year old son meditating in the pool. Trying to compose himself during a conflict with his 7 year old sister. We love this photo. He often joins us at 6am to meditate too. Namaste.”) Continue reading