The Teacher and Author 46 Talks About The Joys of Bringing Mindfulness to The Masses

‘The first thing I do after waking at 6am is some mindfulness, either a sitting meditation or a body scan for around 20-30 minutes, and then I’ set my intention for the day – something simple like smiling more or really listening to others. After that I’ll drink some water with lemon, do some stretching and have a green smoothie before heading out to work. My days can be pretty long, teaching mindfulness to children in schools by day and leading classes for adults several evenings a week, as well as giving talks and running workshops at conferences, expos, art centres and wellness festivals on weekends. The challenge is staying on top of it all, but I call on mindfulness throughout my day to keep me calm and supported.’

 

The Teacher and Author 46 Talks About The Joys of Bringing Mindfulness to The Masses Photo Gallery



 

BECOMING MINDFUL

I started out as a primary school teacher 20 years ago. I already had a real passion for mindfulness – I discovered it as a teenager really struggling with life through a book called The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh (Rider; £8.99) – so when an opportunity came up five years ago to join a training programme bringing mindfulness to primary and secondary pupils (Mindfulness in Schools Project; mindfulnessinschools.org), I jumped at the chance. ‘I also trained to teach mindfulness to adults at the Bangor University’s Centre of Mindfulness Research and Practice, and I’m also a UK consultant for Goldie Hawn’s wellbeing programme, Mind UP (mindup.org): an amazing programme for children involving neuroscience, psychology and mindfulness. I go into schools for a day to train teachers so they can run the programme themselves, and check in later to see how things are going. Among other techniques, MindUP promotes “brain breaks” for every child three times a day, every day, where they just focus on their breath to become calmer, more focused and ready to learn. Kids of all ages are experiencing so many different stresses in modern life, from technology, social media and body image to FOMO [fear of missing out] and exam pressure, and I’ve had so many positive comments from parents about how mindfulness has helped their children, wondering how they can further the practice at home. ‘To this end, I recently wrote a book called Mindfulness for Children (Kyle Books, £14.99), featuring 30 original practices that take children through their day from breakfast to bedtime. It’s fun, accessible, and also great for busy adults starting out with their practice! ‘I just want to find as many ways to get mindfulness out there so everyone can enjoy the positive benefits. The past year has been amazing for me in doing that, and I hope to continue finding more new ways in the future.’

HEALTHY LIVING

I used to be really unhealthy, living off caffeine and sugar, and having huge energy swings but, 10 years ago, I attended a workshop explaining why meat, wheat, sugar, dairy and caffeine are so bad for us. I ditched all five things for 10 days, felt incredible, and never looked back. I now believe food is medicine, mainly eating raw fruit and veg. As I often have to eat all my meals away from home, I prepare my meals and snacks at home to avoid reaching for processed foods. ‘If I’m not teaching in the evening, I’ll come home, make a stir-fry, then relax by reading, listening to music or a podcast, or taking a mindful walk. I love the quote by Thich Nhat Hanh that says, “The miracle is not to walk on air or water, but to walk on earth”. Research shows we spend half our time on autopilot, so I love how something as simple as our footsteps can bring us into the present. I used to race around, but now I make space for myself. I’m in bed by 10pm to reflect on how I did with the day’s intention, then listen to a guided meditation.’

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