A Check Up From the Neck Up
Over here in Tanzania, my mindful teaching course has ended, it has been an inside job, I am a work in progress - may take some time! Adam, my Buddhist teacher wondered when I was going to start sharing what I've learned with my teaching colleagues and pupils.
Over the past 25 years, my meditation practice alongside my yoga has been pretty erratic, I've never really appreciated how incredibly beneficial it is until these past few months with a more regular practice and long distance guidance from Adam. I have been sharing my learning with the children in class but am not teaching it directly to adults at 'present', it's a bit of a mindshift for some, so I will continue to embody it and practice myself and see where this new learning takes me.
I have had an idea brewing and bubbling and an inspiring talk last night fermented it.
Happiness is so Widely Misunderstood
The talk cheerfully entitled - ‘Depression and Anxiety’ was given by Dr Robyn Peters a Clinical Psychologist based here in Arusha. She talked about strategies for recognising, understanding and managing signs particularly in children. Dr Robyn was engaging and entertaining and it was a great evening, an opportunity to meet some really interesting, warm and open-minded people and talk through the idea.
Coincidentally, I’ve been re-reading an excellent book called ‘Finding Your Element’ by Sir Ken Robinson and on depression he writes,
‘ In the UK, prescriptions for antidepressant drugs have risen by more than forty percent in the past four years. This is not a uniquely British problem. On the contrary, the World Health Organisation predicts by 2020 depression will be the second leading cause of death in the world, affecting thirty percent of all adults. Many experts believe that depression has become an epidemic. By some estimates ‘clinical depression is ten times more likely to torment us than it did a century ago’. Numbers of suicides have increased in the last 30 years, especially amongst young people between fifteen and twenty five.
There are many reasons for depression and disengagement as there are individuals who feel them … one of the fundamental reasons why so many people feel unhappy is that happiness itself is so widely misunderstood…’
My best friend Jonathan committed suicide when he was 16, it left a big hole in many people’s lives and had a huge impact on me and the path I've since taken. Often I’ve asked 'why' and 'what could we have done differently, if anything?
Dr Robyn shared a range of strategies that could help both adults and children who are showing or feeling anxiety or depression, including the benefits of mindfulness.
More here on teen suicide.
Mindfulness for Kids & Parents
I wonder whether mindfulness would have helped Jonathan, would it have been too out there for us to grasp as teenagers, is it too out there for us now as parents? If we can teach our children about the effects of stress and anxiety on the brain and the benefits that mindfulness and other techniques can bring, then this understanding and awareness may help them to cope when life just gets too much.
Anytime, Anyplace, Anyage?
These experiences, alongside 20 years of teaching, raising my own children and working on myself, have enabled me to develop a wide range of skills, understanding and empathy when working with parents and children. Both here and in the UK I will also be running 'Mindful Parenting' workshops and 'Mindful One to One and Small Group Sessions' - 'anytime, anyplace and anyage' which will draw on my own skills and techniques and those taught by Adam at Mindspace. In the meantime I can guide people to appropriate mindful resources if they would like to find out more and/or give it a go.
RIP beautiful soul. x
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