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 know this is an issue that many adults struggle with – both in the classroom and at home.
So my next online talk will be about this – giving you tips and mindful ideas that help you and your kids to self-regulate their behaviour… more peacefully.
If you wish to join the online talk (live and recorded) – please register here.
Please note places are limited so pre-booking is required.
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!
Why is creativity important to teaching meditation?
Since 2003, we’ve been teaching adults how to help kids and teens practise meditation.
What’s interesting is the way that we adults (initially) approach the idea of teaching kids meditation.
- Some of us look for a ‘mindfulness wand’ that we can use (metaphorically speaking) to calm our children.
- Some of us want to analyse and dissect meditation; how it works, the benefits, why bother teaching it.
- Some of us think that it’s good for kids to learn it because we practise and thus try to teach our kids meditation in the same style/manner of our meditation practice.
The fact that you are even interested in teaching a young person these life skills (in our opinion) is amazing! The intention to offer this to young people is a gift and at Connected Kids, it’s our passion to leave this legacy for future generations.
But often we may attempt to teach children and find that either:
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
At the moment the world is quite a turbulent place. If we think our children are too innocent or immune to the stories coming out in the media each day – think again.
Every time we listen to the news on the radio, watch it on TV or surf social media and the internet when our kids are around – they absorb what they hear and see. Even if they don’t understand it.
So we have a choice. We can either shield children completely from the world around them (but how do we stop this going on in the playground at school, sometimes in the classroom and at sleepovers?) Or we can help them build their resilience and cope with the ‘bad things and people’ in this world. Continue reading