Today I had the pleasure of speaking with Ms. Lorraine Murray of Connected Kids. She teaches meditation to kids, and that is so important because they will learn how to self-regulate their emotions and behavior. You can learn more about her at https://www.teachchildrenmeditation.com/about-us/. Here is what she had to say about her mission:
Please tell us a little about yourself, what drew you to mindful education, and the Teaching Children Meditation and Connected Kids mission.
My mum introduced me to meditation as a teen and I found it really helped me with challenging thoughts and some self-harming behaviours I was developing. I really embrace it as an adult as it wasn’t offered to me as a kid. I felt the need to change this so we started up the campaign and the Connected Kids Programme to teach adults how to offer these mindful life-skills to kids and teens. To me it is as important as brushing our teeth every day!
I love your Calm Kids Book. It should be in every school. Why do you think it is so important to teach kids these techniques when they are young?
Thank you! Kids have stress just like adults, yet we seem to wait until we are adults before we learn anything about this. It is ridiculous! Why not teach kids asap so that they understand how their body responds to stress and what they can do about it. I once worked alongside a psychotherapist who said that almost all of his adult clients were dealing with things that happened to them as kids. I’m positive if we give kids these tools they can process the stress and deal with challenges (that we all face) with more peace and grace.
What’s your favorite technique in the book and why?
One of my favourites is the colour bubble meditation. Even though it feels quite child-like and simple, it works with all age groups – even teens. I’ve seen a rowdy crowd of teenagers go from that to silence by practising it. Colour also carries a healing energy within it so it is a combination of being mindful, present and using the imagination to bring our body, mind and energy into balance.
How do you suggest we scale up and get meditation into every school in the country?
It should be part of teacher training – to help the teachers with their stress levels as well as the kids they teach. We are working on an online course that teachers can use but ideally new teachers would have this as a set module in their teacher training. The landscape has changed immensely in the last 16 years since I decided to explore the idea of teaches kids meditqation – so many more conversations about it which is how we will demystify meditation and see it for what it is… a helpful life-skill that helps build confidence, resilience and emotional intelligence in kids and teens.
How do we teach kids about meditation, and how do we get them to want to learn it?
First of all, once size of meditation does not fit all. We have to tailor the style, approach and length of the meditation to the needs of the young person. What are they interested in and can we turn that into a mindful activity? Plus adults have to be much more creative in how they teach it. We aren’t just showing them how to condense an adult’s idea of meditation to teach kids!
Your book Connected Kids focuses on autistic and special needs children. If you had to pick one meditation for autistic and special needs kids to do in elementary school, middle school, and high school, to help positively shape their future behavior and health, what would it be?
Because meditation is such a personal journey it is very difficult to do this (in other words I can suggest one but it may not work for all children as they are unique!) However the ‘calming the nervous system’ is a head hold that combines touch and mindfulness and it we’ve seen some great results from this – chapter 12 of the book!
What advice do you have for teachers, administrators, healthcare practitioners, kids, and especially parents as it relates a heart-centered approach to helping kids learn meditation?
Realise that teaching kids meditation is a 2-way process. It isn’t about us administering directions on how to meditate… it is a shared experience. We actually learn so much about children by being mindful (observing their words/silence, body posture etc) and often they can’t articulate what they are really thinking and feeling in the way adults normally communicate. Plus teaching in this mindful way gives us adults the chance to slow down, check in and connect to our kids from a creative, heart space instead of the usual ‘busy schedule head’ we operate from!
And if you could share some words of wisdom with parents about mindful parenting, what would it be?
Let go of any expectations of how you think meditation should be and how your kids should respond. My first class I taught didn’t behave like the adult meditation classes I taught… the kids moved around a lot! When they were restless I thought it wasn’t working but when we shared I could tell they got so much from it. If you plant that seed of meditation for a child it may really be essential to their well-being in the future – so just try it!
Thank you Ms. Lorraine Murray for taking the time to answer my questions, and for all your work on behalf of the next generation and making this world a better place for all of us. Everyone go buy her book, take the course (on-line so it doesn’t matter where you live), and teach your kids to meditate!
About Adam and Wuf Shanti: Adam is the [now] 14 year-old creator of Wuf Shanti, Yoga Dog for Kids. He wants to help get this message out to kids everywhere, and their parents, teachers, and doctors, because he thinks it is so important right now with everything going on in the world, and he wants to help stop the violence. Wuf Shanti is a character that was created by a kid for other kids, and travels to schools and children’s hospitals to share yoga, meditation, and mindfulness with children to promote health and wellness, and encourage peace and positivity. Wuf Shanti videos can be seen on the Children’s TV Network in children’s hospitals across the country, on local PBS stations, on the Wuf Shanti Yoga Fun Machine mindful mobile app, and on the Wuf Shanti YouTube Channel. Wuf Shanti videos, books, and mobile app were awarded the Mom’s Choice Award for “Best in Family-Friendly Media, Products, and Services” and the mobile app was named “Best Health App for Kids” by Common Sense Media. To learn more about Wuf Shanti, visit www.wufshanti.com and/or join us on social media. www.facebook.com/wufshanti