Want A Mental Health Boost? Connect Kids to Mindfulness
Since the number of things to pay attention to is rising, it’s sometimes hard to take a moment to pause and think about the future of this world. Sometimes taking a moment to step outside ourselves and think about the kids in this world, how they’re being affected by the speed of life and what we can do to help can be a mental health boost? At the end of the day, our future depends on it.
Having a sense of purpose can be a key ingredient in feeling well and focusing on the betterment of this world even after we’re gone can give us that. Our kids are a great place to start. Many kids today are completely stressed out with a level of competition in schools is far greater than ever before. Others feel the stress of chaotic home environments, the pressure of fitting in, and even surviving. One of the best gifts we can nurture our kids with is self-awareness and a number of organizations have recently been stepping up to the plate to nurture this.
In recent years mindfulness has been shown as an effective approach for children in lower stress and anxiety and even increasing states of feeling well. Susan Kaiser Greenland wrote The Mindful Child, I did an interview with Meg Cowan on her work with Mindful Schools, and Goldie Hawn has successfully started and organization called Mind Up. There is another very special organization started by two brothers Ali and Atman Smith and their friend Andres Gonzalez called Holistic Life Foundation established to make a difference helping the kids transform their lives. My wife. Stefanie Goldstein, PhD and I recently founded an 8-week program called Mindfulness for Teens or CALM – Connecting Adolescents to Learning Mindfulness.
Recently I had a conversation with the three guys in charge of the Holistic Life Foundation and asked them what are some key tools to give kids right now? Here is what they said:
“Meditation and breathing are two of the practices that have the greatest impact on the kids. The breath work gives them a base and a center that they can always go back to. It helps regulate their thoughts, emotions, and behavior. It also gives them a tool they can use in any situation and in any environment. The mediation gives the kids a sense of inner peace. Many of them live in environments where finding peace outside of them (in their homes and communities) may not be possible, so having a place inside of them that they now they can always go to for peace and serenity is very liberating and empowering. Meditation and breathing are two invaluable tools to be able to give kids so that they have the ability to be present.”
Kids can learn how to self-regulate, it just takes meeting them where they’re at and giving them the tools they need to experience it for themselves. In a past ABC Interview of a child at a lower socio-economic Oakland School about how this help him, he said, “When I first get the test and I feel the stress coming on, I remember to take a few deep breaths and a voice inside reminds me that ‘I can make it’”.
That is powerful, what if that voice of hope was instilled more readily in the youth of today? How would our future be different? Ultimately, while mindfulness is key, there are many ways beyond mindfulness to support our kids in being healthier in mind and body, the question is how can you lend a hand?
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.