At our Mindful Monday book release event, we had a panel that discussed mental health topics, and I’d like to share some of the questions and answers with you in this blog. For the first question, the moderator of our panel, Dr. Delvena,  asked “why it’s important to talk about mental health.”

My answer, in a word: Statistics. They are too high for minors. Both homicide and suicide for people under 18 has risen so much. We need to erase the stigma about mental health and let teens know that they are not alone, and there are healthy ways to cope. The only way to do that is to talk. And to listen.

And if celebrities and athletes like Udonis Haslem are willing to be open about it and share their experience, that will help a lot because we look up to athletes as role models.

Question 2 was about what led me to mindfulness.

The answer is my Great-Grandpa. He used to talk about mantras like think well to be well, smile and the world will smile with you, smile and say thank you. Positivity, Kindness, and Gratitude. These are the sayings that started Wuf Shanti, and the next 11 years of my life, which has evolved into the book “Stress Less: Mindfulness for Teens.” So I think I was practicing mindfulness before I even knew what it was!

Dr Delvena also asked “what does mindfulness mean to me and how does it play a role in my current life?”

Mindfulness is being present, not focusing on the sadness or yesterday or anxiety of tomorrow. It’s about non-judging and being kind. I teach mindfulness to others, but also I practice for myself as well, because I still learn every day. Even in the middle of this event, I took a moment for myself.

Judge Steve Liefman, also on the panel, had a great answer, which was that mindfulness is about slowing down, and it’s important because last time he checked, our brain was connected to the rest of our body, which means that our thoughts can affect our physical health. Agree with that for sure (and so did my grandpa)!

Another question from the Mindful Monday panel was “what do I do to stay mindful?”

Some people think Mindfulness is about only breathing and sitting with your legs crossed and eyes closed. It’s not. There are so many different practices. At school, to get to and from campus, when I’m on the bus or walking, I have headphones on, listening to music. For me, that really helps keep me balanced and feel relaxed.

Udonis Haslem had an awesome answer for this one, which was that he likes to practice affirmations of gratitude every morning and night!

A question from the audience was, “What do I tell teens about how to find their voice?”

I don’t really know the answer. I say find your passion, because if you care about something, it helps. I had to study, become an expert and practice a lot, before I felt comfortable speaking to people as an advocate. And sometimes, I’m still not comfortable. We each do our best, however we can, to make the world better. So to the person who asked me that question, thank you for making me think about this. Have faith in yourself and don’t quit!

For more information about the book, you can find our Press Release here:

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