I am a big fan of mindfulness, I meditate and enjoy yoga when I can. After spending the vast majority of my adult life, if not all of my adult life struggling with my mental health I can safely say finding mindfulness was a turning point for me.
Journalling, meditating and just being more aware helped change me as a person. I became more aware of what was good in my life, what made me happy and what I needed to be more level. It helped me notice sooner when I was falling under and it helped me pull my way back up.
As an adult it took me a long time to find what worked for me and though I have always been interested in sharing the mindfulness with L I have never known how to do that in a child friendly manner.
I had tried some children’s meditations with him and tried some books, but he doesn’t have the attention span, or will, to sit and be still and listen to the meditation, let alone actually practise it.
Our experience of yoga together has mainly been him trying to kill me. Can I climb on/sit on/hang off mummy whilst she is bending herself to look like a climbing frame?
Don’t get me started on writing a journal, too much like schoolwork, or talking about and acknowledging feelings! To say he is resistant to the idea is an understatement.
Despite all of this I know that L needs something to help him deal with everything going on around him at the moment. Covid-19 and the lockdowns have left him angry and scared, and, whilst he’s always been an anxious child, that anxiety is currently through the roof. Anxiety around school, separation anxiety and health anxiety.
So when Mindful Minis got in touch with me to see if I would like to try out their Mindful Month programme with L I leapt at the chance. Experts in the field have designed this programme specifically for children, the Mindful Month can be done at any time and it gives an amazing foundation in mindfulness.
The Mindful Minis team have been visiting primary schools for the past 2 years helping children understand what mindfulness is all about in really fun and engaging ways that they can understand and make use of in their everyday lives. Obviously they haven’t been able to that as much as they would like this last year so they started thinking about what else they could do.
So they created a more holistic option for children to be able to do at home and work through over the course of a month. This is ‘the Mindful Month’ and, in its essence, it is a 4-week journal with daily activities for children to do at home for about 15 minutes each day. To go with this, our team has created a series of daily videos to guide the children throughout each day’s related journal activities.
Over the course of the month, each child will learn about their 10 mindful mottos, develop a better understanding of what mindfulness is and work through four weekly themes. The information contained within the program has been carefully put together by the Mindful Minis team. More details on it and the contents are available on their web page: www.mindful-minis.com/pages/mindful-month
I think the tasks naturally fit well with the morning, but that may be because it’s how I like to start my day. Working with L we have found it fits into our bedtime routine perfectly, it gives us some quiet time together to not only complete that day’s task but it also very naturally opens up a conversation between us and he gets some time to talk to me, one on one, no distractions, about his worries.
Now this hasn’t been easy. It’s no quick fix. To say L has been resistant is an understatement. He wouldn’t do it because; purple is a dumb colour, I hate love hearts, yoga is for babies, I don’t have feelings, I never get angry (screamed at me), I am too nervous, I don’t want to, meditating is dumb, I am stupid, my brain doesn’t work, you’re stupid, I hate you, I hate purple!!!!!!! I think you get the picture.
I persevered, I was gentle (for the most part, definitely shouted a couple of times) and we started the course. Now we didn’t leap straight into the journal, we started with the introductory videos and it turns out L had been doing both yoga and meditation at school. I don’t know if this was a help or a hindrance but I could see he was interested, even if he was trying very hard not to show it!
When we started on the journal it really became his. I wouldn’t say he’s enjoyed it. The whole process of having to acknowledge feelings, good and bad, and process them can indeed be quite painful, especially when you are a very small person, with very big feelings, in the middle of a pandemic. I can only imagine how hard it’s been for him.
We’ve had a few really great moments from it though. An acknowledgement that school can have some good parts and he’s looking forward to seeing his friends. I never thought I’d hear him say anything positive about school. The moment he realised that he feels angry because he is anxious meant a lot. Henow doesn’t get butterflies in his tummy, he gets giraffes and whilst it makes him feel the same thinking about giraffes in his tummy makes him happy. Then there are the times that despite having yelled at me solidly for 20 minutes about how much he hates it, when it gets to the evening and not wanting another argument I go straight to bedtime stories he asks about his heart book.
I have sat and worked through the programme with L, we’re now about to finish week 3 and move onto our final week. But I would happily say that children of his age (7) and older could happily work through the programme by themselves.
When our month has finished there are also another set of 10 longer videos featuring yoga and meditation, part of the Mindfulness Club, designed to do one a week and I can’t wait. You get a huge amount of content as part of the Mindful Month. It is brilliant and such good value. The course is normally £29.99 and worth every penny but at the moment it’s on sale at £19.97, absolute bargain.
It is also worth noting that they have launched a fundraising campaign to build on our Mindful Month. They will be using funds to create additional materials for the children and to provide disadvantaged children the opportunity to benefit from them completely free of charge.
Please take a look at the campaign below:
If you choose to back the kickstarter campaign you will also get a access to the course and potentially more depending on how much you pledge.
There is a lot of support content for parents or teachers to read, motivational posters for the children and of course the journal itself. You can either have a book posted to you, or print of the pages yourself. I honestly think that once we’ve completed this month and he’s been back at school for a bit I’ll be printing him a new journal and we’ll work through it again, and again. Having the focus and repeating the process will hopefully help lessen his resistance and gain more from the experience.
I am beyond impressed and it is worth working through any resistance from your children because ultimately that resistance is just them being scared and needing the support you are trying to provide. I cannot wait to see more from the Mindful Minis team.
Disclosure – we were gifted our access to the course but all thoughts, opinions and images are my own.
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