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Happy - A Journey in Mindfulness

Updated: Feb 6


You can't give from an empty cup.


I know that this phrase has become a cliché, but I have learned this lesson the hard way with poor mental health. In recent years, I have had three acute periods of anxiety. Both episodes have left me house bound, unable to sleep or eat, vomiting, crying and feeling terrified of life. I am not ashamed to admit that I have suffered. I will talk about it with whomever will listen. I think, in part, talking about it has been important for my healing. I know that I am not alone.

"One in four adults will experience a mental illness at some point each year in the UK. Three in four mental illnesses start in childhood, with 50% of mental health problems in adult life taking root before the age of 15".

MQ, Transforming Mental Health, 2018.

This last statistic worries me. It worries me a lot. I do not want my daughter to suffer with poor mental health. I can't even begin to imagine a child experiencing the same intense feelings that I've suffered. The thought horrifies me. But instead of worrying, I have taken action. This is how I have introduced mindful practices into our home and into our daily rhythm...

Introducing Mindfulness

We started by reading the book Happy: A Children's Book of Mindfulness by Melanie Edwards and Katie Hickey. It is a beautiful book. The text is simple but meaningful, and invites children to engage in mindful practices throughout. Bean didn't need any encouragement to share her thoughts or experiences. The illustrations are warm and comforting, even when talking about difficult emotions.

I'd recommend this book for children from around 2-8 years old, although younger children may still enjoy the illustrations and gentle rhyming text, even if they do not have a full understanding of the content. Discussions can be extended for older children.

Mindfulness Practices

Shortly after, I began to introduce mindfulness practices. We practice mindfulness daily, and have incorporated it into every aspect of our lives. For example, by taking a moment to sit in silence in the garden together and listen; taking the time to appreciate the taste of our meal, or having a cuddle on the sofa and enjoying simply being together.

After lunch each day, if Bean wishes to, she can choose from one of the following practices, or a combination of them...

Making mandalas

Exploring impermanence with the Buddha Board

Mindful colouring

Listen to a guided meditation

A Cosmic Kids yoga practice

In the photograph below you can see Bean making a mandala (top left and right) with the collection of loose parts that I gathered for her birthday. In the bottom photographs, Bean is using our Buddha Board to explore impermanence.