Today I spoke with Ms. Heidi Demars, Founder of Mindful You Mindful Me. It was so nice to speak with her because she is so knowledgeable about all things mindfulness, and is a big believer in reaching kids when they are young to teach them these important life tools.
Please tell us a little about yourself, what drew you to mindful education, and the Mindful You Mindful Me mission.
I began as an Occupational Therapist working in the schools and recognized the need for children to have tools and coping skills for self-regulation. It is impossible to educate a child that is struggling emotionally or socially. This is recognizing the whole child and mindfulness provides a path for children to understand their full range of emotions and have tools and practices to feel better. When they are calm they can focus, when they can focus they can learn.
In your bio, you state that your work is rooted in empowering others to be well so they do well, and that you believe true wellness connects mind, body, and spirit. Our main mantra is Think Well to Be Well. How can we, as a community, or even individuals, empower others to be well? And how can we explain to children about the connection between mind, body, and spirit so they they grasp the concept and want to grow up mindful?
It begins with our adult role models embodying mindfulness; at home with parents and with our teachers in school. You don’t know as a child that you want to walk, you just begin practicing until you master that skill. I feel the same is true with growing up mindful. Nobody seeks to have a miserable life. So how can we support the continued well being of children? By practicing it in our own lives first, then teaching and leading by example. There is so much competing for attention that we have forgotten how to be still and just BE with ourselves, without stimulation. Children mirror the nervous systems of the adults around them so if you have a stressed out teacher or parent the child will pick up on that. We need to be aware of environmental, social, and emotional influences. With my work I seek to create cultures of calm, not chaos. That begins with the adults, the spaces we create for learning, and the way we teach.
How do you suggest we scale up and get programs about Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness into every school in the country?
Through continued education around the importance of social and emotional health. The alarming numbers of childhood depression, anxiety, and suicide speaks volumes about the need for this.
If you had to pick one mental or physical exercise for kids to do in elementary school, middle school, and high school, to help positively shape their future behavior and health, what would it be?
Breathing practices!! The breath is like a remote control for our bodies and minds and is directly linked to the PNS (parasympathetic nervous system) our ability to calm. Its like a barometer. I can always tell how a child is doing by observing their breathing. And it goes with you wherever you go!
What advice do you have for teachers, administrators, healthcare practitioners, and parents as it relates to mindful learning?
Take time for stillness as a form of self-care. Use mindfulness as a foundational practice to bring you back to YOU. At the end of the day you are a better human for taking time for yourself, whatever it is you do professionally.
Thank you Ms. Heidi Demars of Mindful You Mindful Me for taking the time to speak with me. Everyone, please check out her courses at https://www.mindfulyoumindfulme.org/mindfulness-home and reach out to her to collaborate or ask questions about how you can be encouraging your child or students to be more mindful. It will make a positive difference in your life and the lives of the next generation!
For more information about Wuf Shanti: https://wufshanti.com/2018/05/about-wuf-shanti/