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 …
One of my friends is an experienced mindfulness teacher.
She sent me her weekly newsletter and within that there is mention of Dr Rick Hanson – the psychologist – with a link to one of his excellent presentations.
It was so good I thought I would include it in my regular blog (see below).
But it got me thinking.
Dr Hanson talks about the importance of him learning meditation skills, especially to help him recover from the difficult times he had growing up – you know the regular growing pains most of us go through and the feeling of not fitting in or being quite good enough.
He talks about how mindfulness has helped fill the ‘hole in his heart’ that these experiences created. Continue reading
(Guest blog written by one of our Connected Kids Level 1 Students from Denmark…)
Many children with ADHD have difficulty falling asleep at night, and parents of children with ADHD often see that their children rarely seem to be rested when it is time to go to school.
When children go to school or kindergarten feeling tired, it means that their internal battery is not fully charged. They get into conflict more easily, find it harder to stay focused, and their emotions are unstable because of a poor night’s sleep.
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.
Negativity Bias and Mindfulness
I was giving a talk recently (I do a few of these online talks
to help inform, educate and give you the confidence to start teaching kids/teens meditation) and I came across a term ‘negativity bias
It means that our brain and body constantly scan the environment for threats. If we detect a threat, we manage it as it activates our stress response (fight/flight/freeze) – which is designed to keep us alive.
What it means is that we are hardwired (neurologically speaking) to seek out the negative in our life experiences more easily than the positive ones.
As Rick Hanson, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist and author of “Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom” argues that our brains are like Velcro for negative experiences, and Teflon for positive ones.
I found this fascinating.
Are Kids in Canada Coping with Stress?
I’m writing this post with a focus on Canada. Why? Because I’ll be going there to teach in September and I wanted to find out more about how Canadian Kids could benefit from meditation.
What I find fascinating is that many of the issues facing young people in Canada are similar worldwide.
With 1 in 5 Canadian kids diagnosed with a mental health issues and research demonstrating that meditation can help, the time is now to equip young people with these life-saving skills.
Issues include a lack of self esteem, inability to self regulate behaviour, poor body image, bullying, high stress levels and an inability to cope. Continue reading
So last week I was on holiday. This was no ordinary holiday – this was a skiing holiday.
First of all wasn’t sure why I was there. I had never had a desire to ski and skiing holidays are quite expensive.
But life is short and I thought ‘why not’? Little did I know how life changing it would be.
One of my students Ali Gray, is very passionate about the world learning meditation.
He is one of our Connected Kids students and together with his colleague, Gary Young, is pioneering a project to make it part of the school curriculum in Scotland.
At a ‘business and mindfulness’ conference, he heard the term ‘mindfulness cowboys‘ and wondered what this was about.
He asked me. I sighed.
You see, the term (and subsequent conversation at the conference) suggested that mindfulness was the only type of meditation available.
This is simply not true.
I wasn’t sure what to write about in my recent blog.
I get a bit tired of emails or blogs all sounding the same and a bit ‘salesy’.
But that’s not me.
So I decided to let you know why I feel responsible for your child’s happiness.
Every time I read about the stress young people and children experience or the difficult circumstances they encounter with no skills to process it, it makes me think of me.
I think about my life as a young child, with a single mum who did her best to clothe and feed me but who didn’t always have the time to play. I know that had my mum known how to create bedtime meditation stories to help me sleep she would have helped me (and her) cope with some very anxious times.