‘Just take a deep breath’: Why this class is learning mental health lessons
Each student in this Winnipeg classroom has a kit full of mental health and mindfulness tools
In a middle-years classroom at Champlain School in Winnipeg, a group of students are sitting quietly on yoga mats. They’re ready for their next assignment.
At the front of the class their teacher, Catherine Siller, tells them what to do:
Anything that might be bothering us from the morning or the weekend or even from recess, I want you to focus on that energy right now. Take a deep breath in, and push that negative energy right out. – Catherine Siller
Siller is leading her Grade 5 and 6 class in a mindfulness meditation. All year long, this group of young students has been learning about the importance of caring for their mental well-being.
“What do we say?,” Siller asks as they finish the meditation.
“Namaste,” the class responds.
Building mental health toolkits
The students have been getting help throughout the school year from a cardboard box. Each student has a “Thrival Kit“, which is filled with tools to help young people work on their mental health.
Read more here, or listen to the story on CBC when you click here.
Honesty about anxiety from a Canadian broadcasting icon
Icon? Yup – I would have called John Moore an icon even 10 years ago. But listening to his talk and his coming back to radio? I’m a 54 year old man and I am in tears of happiness right now.
Thank you for having this courage to share. And to offer hope to so many others.
You’re a class act. Always knew that. But … this upped it a few more levels yet again.
How to shape your mind
At Silicon Valley’s spiritual retreat, the stressed seek help for their brains in a new practice: neurosculpting.
Having sliced open my skull Hannibal Lecter style, I removed the familiar folded lump of still-pulsing pink matter — brains only turn gray when they die — and placed it on a wooden workbench. After massaging it for a while, I picked up a steak knife and started slicing neatly between the hemispheres like I’m on a cooking show. Wait, that couldn’t be good.
“Stop!” my sleeping mind screamed at the image. “What are you thinking?”
I woke, bolt upright. It was the night before my three-day workshop in a brain-training practice called neurosculpting — and my brain seemed to be taking the prospect very personally indeed.
Initially, I signed up for the workshop because I wanted to write about 1440 Multiversity, a fascinating place where modern-day hippies and techies meet. Founded in 2017, nestled in the Santa Cruz hills 30 miles south of Silicon Valley, 1440 Multiversity is every glorious Northern California cliché in one place. It was founded by a tech CEO. Google and Facebook and TED members hold retreats here, as do hundreds of less well-known organizations like the World Changing Women’s Summit and the Conscious Companies Leader Forum, in buildings that resemble the glass-and-wood architecture of Yosemite Valley.
There’s an infinity pool hot tub overlooking ancient redwoods; it doesn’t get more California than that. You can buy both hoodies and crystals in the gift shop. The name itself is a blend of motivational math (there are 1440 minutes in a day, what will you do with yours?) and new-age dippyness (we need more than a university, man!)
Be Kind, Retrain Your Mind: 3 Tips to Overcome Negative Self-Talk
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Buddha
In 1990, in an early encounter between the Dalai Lama, the foremost Tibetan teacher of Buddhism, and Western students, the Dalia Lama was asked a question about how to deal with self-hatred. He was confused and didn’t understand the question. The translator translated the question again and still the Dalai Lama was confused.
Finally, the Dalai Lama understood that the question was about how to manage negative feelings about the self. This was a new concept to him: he knew that people had negative feelings about others, but he had not encountered the challenge of self-hatred.
I wish I could say that I had never encountered the problem of self-hatred, but I’d be lying. Like so many people, even if I didn’t necessarily recognize my self-talk as such, I was inundated with internal negative self-talk.
My process of coming first to recognize what that voice was up to, then to listen to it with more compassion, and finally, once and for all, to ask it to grow up and step out of the room has been a journey of self acceptance, growth, and ultimately, freedom.
Here are three steps to deal with your own inner negative self-talk:
The first step is to become aware of the negativity of your internal voice.
For the first twenty-eight years of my life, I was so familiar with my negative voice that I didn’t even recognize it.
I’ve been told that people with Tinnitus, a constant ringing sound in the ears, grow used to it and learn to live with it so successfully that they’re no longer really even aware the ringing’s there. That was the case with my negative voice: it was a kind of background hum.
If I did pay attention to it, I was tricked into thinking that its particular message mattered.
At sixteen it might have been the enormous, overly sweet corn muffin I’d eaten on the way home from school that was a sign of my failure.
At twenty-six it might have been that an essay I wrote hadn’t been accepted for publication; this was a sign, I was sure, that nothing I’d ever write would ever be fully understood.
It wasn’t until I’d been in therapy for a while and had a real mindfulness practice that I even began to notice the daily hum of background voices and to notice that the particulars of the negative voice I did hear were less important, actually, than the larger pattern it was a part of.
Any mindfulness practice can help you become more aware of the negative self-talk in your head. You can try guided meditations, deep breathing exercises, or mindful walking, or simply spend time tuning into your senses. When you become conscious of the present moment, it’s easier to recognize what’s going on internally.
The second step is to listen a little more deeply.
What was important was not so much what the voice was saying as what was under the voice. Often the negativity was there to distract me from something else.
Was the corn muffin or the publication rejection really the problem?
What do I do if medications and therapy haven’t worked for my depression? I have tried many different treatment regimes and nothing seems effective. Why?
A question from Quora being answered…
First off, let me say, I feel for you and I know *exactly* how you feel.
All I can do is tell you my story – you have some great answers before mine, so… take it all in.
Personally, I did not even know I was “depressed” for at least ten years of living in depression. Then, at the very end, I broke down and talked to my doctor about it. She prescribed something, and WOW – it worked!
Of course, a few months later it was no longer working.
And for the next 10 years, I went on prescription after prescription and mixes thereof and I just went up and down and all around.
Self-medicating was a problem. Over prescriptions were a problem. It was … a problem.
Finally – three things happened. I became a patient of a very good psychiatrist and he took me back to one single medication that I had been on once or twice already. He changed the dosage though. And he monitored and gave it a chance. He made ME give it a chance.
On his direction, I also started an RTMS regime. (Click here for more on RTMS.)This fit very well with my belief and practice in meditation, and the retraining of neural pathways – basically, recognizing the brain as the source and recognizing that it can change its wiring – kinda the way it did in order to get and *stay* depressed.
And finally, I got to know my brain a little better – I can now recognize when a thought stream will let me spiral down – and in recognizing it, I have the opportunity to stop it before it gets out of control. Maybe the meditation and RTMS have helped with that too.
I am very glad that you came here and wrote this. You are not alone, and there really are solutions. It is so important that you know that – that is the foundation on which you can build.
Hope this helps. Take good care and let us know how you are doing. 🙂
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Yesterday we offered our Soundview Commuters a chance to meditate on their morning commute with NYC Ferry thanks to @lunamaye_ & @soundoffexperience. We are excited to continue offering new experiences for New Yorkers to #commuteincomfort. #soundoffmeditation, #newyearnewcommute pic.twitter.com/Wz18gg3eOk— NYC Ferry (@NYCferry) January 16, 2019
You Should Meditate Every Day
From the New York Times
Because I live in Northern California, where this sort of thing is required by local ordinance, I spent New Year’s Day at a meditation center, surrounded by hundreds of wealthy, well-meaning, Patagonia-clad white people seeking to restore order and balance to their tech-besotted lives.
In the past, I might have mocked such proceedings, but lately I’ve grown fond of performative sincerity in the service of digital balance. It’s the people who haven’t resigned themselves to meditation retreats who now make me most nervous, actually.
Which brings me to my point: It’s 2019. Why haven’t you started meditating, already? Why hasn’t everyone?
I’ve been a technology journalist for nearly 20 years and a tech devotee even longer. Over that time, I’ve been obsessed with how the digital experience scrambles how we make sense of the real world.
What Worries You Masters You
From Feisty Frugal and Fabulous
In an era of self-help, the idea of taking control of one’s destiny and being mindful are constants. Which is a good thing, but for some people, these thoughts can add to a growing list of worries and become overwhelming. It can be a vicious cycle, but only if you let it.
When presented with a stressful situation, I try to make a conscious effort to not let my thoughts get out of control. I am one of those people who can immediately think of a worst-case scenario and then determine all the possible outcomes of that scenario. I’ve had to remind myself that worrying gets me nowhere, and that I need to work through a problem (and all those possible outcomes) and then leave it be. In other words, “I’ve addressed it, now I have to leave it.”
Mindfulness is key. We’re going to have worries, anxieties and life stresses – that can’t be helped – but if we learn to master those thoughts when they begin, and be more mindful, we can better deal with the issues as they arise.
Last month, for the 12th consecutive year, Capital One Canada and Credit Canada Debt Solutions (CCDS) partnered to celebrate Credit Education Week and raise awareness of financial literacy among Canadians. This year’s theme was focused on helping Canadians manage their stress and become more mindful, as it pertains to personal finance. Capital One Canada and Credit Canada fielded a survey to uncover Canadian sentiment towards finances, which revealed some interesting info about how Canadians are feeling.
According to the study, 44% of Canadians believe that their financial situation negatively impacts their mental health. The biggest financial stressor on Canadians’ mental health is their total debt load (31%), followed by affording essentials (20%).
But here’s the thing: that same study found that one in five Canadians (21%) would go to extremes to avoid reviewing their personal finances, including:
– Eating dinner with an ex-friend or ex-significant other (11%)
– Getting stung by a bee (7%)
– Sit through a root canal (6%)
– Sitting next to a sick passenger on a long-haul flight (4%)
Yikes! I realize looking at our financial situation can be awkward and uncomfortable, but it surprised me the lengths people would go to to avoid that experience. It doesn’t surprise me then that so many Canadians have debt that is mounting rather than subsiding – especially when we’re not willing to even look at the problem.
10 apps to help kids control their emotions
Welcome to Small Humans, an ongoing series at Mashable that looks at how to take care of – and deal with – the kids in your life. Because Dr. Spock is nice and all, but it’s 2018 and we have the entire internet to contend with.
Millions of people around the world can attest to the positive effects of mindfulness on their mental health and well-being. Take reduced stress levels, improved concentration and organization, and a greater ability to control emotions and experience compassion and empathy, just for starters.
These are all things we want for our kids, right? And it’s easier than ever, thanks to the range of digital tools right at our fingertips. One of these apps could be the perfect way to introduce your child to a world of calm, mindfulness and emotional maturity.
1. Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame
is a great introduction to mindfulness for younger grade-schoolers. With the help of a cute monster, kids learn calming breathing techniques to help them cope with potentially frustrating or distressing situations: putting on shoes, saying goodbye to parents, fixing a block tower, waiting in line and going to sleep in the dark. Each scenario can be revisited, depending on your child’s particular struggles, and there’s also a parents’ section packed with tips and strategies. The app also has a Spanish-language setting.
2. Calm Kids
, which was named Apple App of the Year 2017 and Google Play Editor’s Choice 2018, ranks as one of the top mindfulness and wellness apps for adults but it also has a great section for children, Calm Kids. It provides mindfulness exercises, relaxation activities and “Sleep Stories” for kids of all ages, which are updated every week. The app or desktop version has a 7-day free trial; after that it’s $59.99 a year.
is aimed at kids age 8 and over, with its programs most suitable for kids who struggle with self-confidence, anxiety or settling down at bedtime. Strategies include a “rainbow body-scan,” “schoolwork mastery meditation” and confidence affirmations, and there are also a wide range of relaxing, ambient background sounds to help send your little one to sleep. The app is free, but the guided meditations are $3.99 each.