Families and teens
Separate courses aimed at parents and children
Courses for parents and carers
Being a parent or a carer is a tough job! Mindfulness training and practice can help you develop the calm resilience to navigate the sometimes stormy seas of relationships and change, supporting you in supporting those you love.
Becoming a parent is arguably one of the most difficult ‘occupations’ there are. Babies don’t come with a handbook and as our families grow the pace of life accelerates along with their chronological years. Childhood today is nothing like the childhoods that many of us experienced only 30 years ago. We can no longer ignore the impact of technology and gadgets, which pervade our lives, and with which our children are much more at ease than older generations. This is one area, which can cause concern and worry as we try to protect and educate ourselves and our young people in this new high tech, fast changing media world.
Mindfulness training can help redress the balance, helping you as parents to take pause in the hectic pace of family life, which is often a juggling act of competing obligations from paid work, social and family commitments. An 8 week course will teach techniques that will alert you to the signs of impending exhaustion before you get to that stage of feeling overwhelmed and making ill informed choices which create a cycle of negativity, which can ripple out, affecting those around you.
Mindfulness practice is in direct contrast to the automatic pilot state of mindlessness on which we fall back when we are swept along by events and situations, which seem to be running themselves. The reason for this is because as humans we have evolved a very clever and useful mode of doing which by necessity is automatic. Think about driving to work or doing the school run – the mechanics of those actions are second nature and for good reason. The brain is a limited capacity processor and cannot attend to absolutely everything going on around it, and so the mind learns repeated actions (and, more importantly, thought patterns,) by rote. These develop into habits, which are carried out almost without conscious thought.
An example might be reaching for the biscuit tin while drinking a cup of tea or coffee. It may have become such a habit that you no longer even ask yourself if you want a biscuit at that time, or once you have eaten it, how it tasted. The same may be true of eating in general if done on the run, at a desk, or while supervising children. Mindfulness brings the present moment into focus, so that you become alive to that moment. Whatever it may be. And yes, even when it may be unpleasant. This is because mindfulness training helps us to be more alert and wakeful and to therefore attend to what is actually going on, rather than what the mind assumes to be happening – which is what happens when we give ourselves over to the automatic pilot state.
In ‘being-in-the-present’ mode, we are able to make more skilful choices, which have a direct impact on our immediate actions, and which then impact positively the relationships we have with our partners and children – and naturally with friends and work colleagues. Families can be an arena for conflict as well as love and joy. The ability to communicate more skilfully with your loved ones smooth over troubled waters, and can help you negotiate or mediate better the difficult choices that you all as a family make every single day.
We will be running courses with the focus on mindful parenting, but there is nothing to stop you from joining a general MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) course, except that emphasis will not be on parenting. Please contact via email or phone for more information.
Courses for Parents to be or New Parents
Becoming a parent for the first time is a time full of excitement, anticipation, joy but also often imbued with anxiety, of feeling overwhelmed, tiredness and naturally of great change.
A course in mindfulness can help you as new parents to understand your needs and those of your baby better, alerting you to those feelings of exhaustion and overwhelm that is just part and parcel of becoming a new parent. Skilful communication skills between you as partners and parents will help you develop the self compassion that is essential to you as you will inevitably make mistakes, and the compassion to forgive each other for just those errors of judgment. Kindness is the seedbed of love and essential for all new parents and their babies as you grow into your new family.
An 8 week course for new parents will follow the same structure as the usual 8 week programme but will focus on the skills you will need to develop as new parents; skills of connection and awareness of your needs and those of your partner and child (children) so that you may all grow in trust, mutual understanding and compassion.
Your teen years can be full of confusion and bewildering change. Mindfulness helps you to make the skilful choices that may shape the rest of your life as well as help you with your friendships and family relationships.
The Mindfulness Course for teens is different from the adults course for a good reason. Teens are different. Practices are shorter and there is a more media based feel to the course appropriate for Teens. The .b course is designed with young people in mind and is intended as an introduction to mindfulness, but one which could certainly help with laying down new and useful habits of being in the world which help with lessening reactivity, over-thinking and improving relationships with those important to them.
If you are a teen reading this then you will know only too well what it is like to be a teenager today. I know what it is like to be a teenager of 30 years ago but I can see that the world has moved on a pace since then, and what was true for me, is certainly nothing to do with your reality today. My teenage years were about experiencing the world more directly, being told to come home early and not as I am sure for many nowadays, about being told to go outside more and get away from the ‘screen’ in whatever format it may be. Befriending someone was done face to face, not even on face time, and the idea of having thousands of ‘friends’ who are actually strangers was as alien as a – well as an alien or a creature from Warcraft.
There are some great benefits to being a teenager today but there are also, as you will know, so many more challenges, dangers, choices to be made which can be problematic and difficult to navigate. This is particularly true since parents don’t often understand some of these problems or challenges – the world really is very different today, to when they were young. Cyber bullying, Trolls, Sexting, internet porn etc are all aspects of life to be navigated around. That’s without the usual relationships with parents, friends and teachers. And lets not get started on the constant testing and exams you are face with, along with mighty decisions to be made about future careers, university or apprenticeships and of course love and sex.
These are difficult sometimes stormy seas to navigate, and the irony is that in this Google world where information is there at the touch of a pad or screen, the amount of information can be a itself a problem. Who to believe, who has integrity, how do you know what is right for you and what is wrong?
Decisions are made every day many many times a day, some of which are knee jerk reactions which can land you in trouble or escalate a problem. The Mind likes habit and often makes assumptions, so for example,
If you get angry quickly and lash out verbally or physically at someone at school, then that can make the situation much worse. It may be difficult to stand up to something or someone you know to be wrong because everyone is putting pressure on you, or you may be overwhelmed by school work, and sad anxious and worried that you won’t get the grades you need. The Mind often allows you to react before really thinking through an action. The Mind also takes you off on stories which may or may not be true, a bit like randomly clicking on internet links, so that before you know it an hour has passed by and you don’t really remember how many cats you saw playing the piano or how many instagrams of your friends’ lunches you have been sent.
Mindfulness training can help you to take control of what your mind focuses on, to help you pay more attention to the present moment and to make better choices which make your life happier.
Through a 10 week course in a group you will practice training the mind in focusing on what you feel and think while focusing your attention on for example, parts of your body, or on your breathing and is really an introduction to short and simple techniques which help you ‘Mind How you Go’!
A 10 week course, with you practicing at home in between, really can help your relationships with parents, friends and teachers become less angry or reactive, and more understanding. This is because you learn how to communicate more skilfully and helps you to reduce the anxiety and stress that causes the negative reactions to people and situations who are largely out of your (or anyone’s) control.
For children 5–11 years
Enduring habits are formed from a young age. In a fast moving technology based society, mindfulness offers a different mode of being in the world, where a child can choose peace from the hectic pace life is lived, and lay down the basis of good habits – skilful choices and decision making.
Young Children are increasingly subjected to more stress and becoming more anxious at younger ages as life for their parents is also fraught with challenges of the fast paced life in today’s society. Children inevitably pick up on the anxieties of those around them in a subliminal way but often have no way to articulate them or even be aware that they are anxious and stressed.
Mindfulness training for younger children can help them to learn how to become aware of times when they are anxious and to self regulate. Research is limited in this area but preliminary studies show that even a short course of 6 weeks of 45 minutes taken by a group of children aged 7 – 9 years showed improvements in attention, problem behaviour and achievement at school – as reported by their teachers.
Preliminary studies on children with learning needs showed improvements in social skills and decreased state and trait anxiety on completion of a 5 week course of mindfulness meditation (Weare, K. 2013)
We teach the PAWS b programme to younger children either in the school setting or for private groups. It is recommended that for optimum effectiveness that parents also complete an 8 week course in mindfulness so that the techniques and training become sustainable within the family. In much the same way that parents may advocate physical exercise as a healthy part of life, then also training the mind (which is inseparable from the body) is an intelligent and appropriate response to holistic health.
The PAWS b curriculum is appropriate to the 5 – 11 age range and teaches a range of mindfulness techniques which help calm the reactive mind, become calmer, happier and able to self regulate anxiety. The course is taught with a range of interactive experiential exercises, video clips and discussion by either Jem or Karen who are experienced and trained mindfulness teachers, but have also been teachers in the school setting and so understand children and young people very well. Please see the PAWS b flyer for more information in this course.