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Ten mindful minutes
Already a New York Times bestseller, Hawn’s book 10 Mindful Minutes, is designed to arm parents and teachers with the tools they need in order to encourage children to live up to their potential and maximise their chances of happiness. Because, as the airlines tell us each time we fly, we need to put on our own oxygen masks before helping our children with theirs.
Hawn has been treading the path of philanthropy since 2001, when she was motivated into action by the events of 9/11. She recalls the moment she came to what she calls a ‘profound’ and ‘deeply emotional’ decision.
‘If I could help just one little girl or boy move beyond those images that will haunt us all, that would be a gift,’ she says. ‘I longed to show children everywhere how to rediscover their natural joy, understand the value of their emotions, and learn to feel empathy for others.’
Fast forward more than 10 years and Hawn has certainly done her best to achieve this. Having immersed herself in the world of neuroscience and positive psychology, Hawn set up the Hawn Foundation and, with the help of a team of experts, developed the MindUP learning program that is now taught in hundreds of elementary schools around the world, encouraging children to learn about their brains and emotions, focus on mindful exploration of the senses, savour happiness and perform random acts of kindness.
‘The essence of MindUP is that children learn the simple biology of their own brains,’ Hawn explains. ‘While schools routinely tell children to memorise the names of every major bone and muscle in their bodies, from the tibia to the biceps, they are taught very little about the brain – the most important “muscle” of all.’
Through the MindUP programme, children learn how the emotional part of the brain can take over the clearer-thinking areas that keep them calm and focused. ‘Discovering the mechanics of the brain helps children understand where their emotions come from. It allows them to manage and reduce their own stress,’ says Hawn.
And it works. Research has shown that, by following the MindUP curriculum, taking daily ‘brain breaks’ and focusing on the breath, children perform better when it comes to reading, their attention and concentration improves, there is less absenteeism and aggression and children become more optimistic, trustworthy, helpful and liked.
But whilst an increasing number of children are now busy learning these skills in the classroom, as adults and parents, Hawn believes it is our role to become the role model we want for our children. Her book 10 Mindful Minutes is therefore designed to educate parents as to how they can change their own perspectives in as little as 10 minutes and, in so doing, become more self aware and better armed to teach their children.
Containing a wealth of tools designed to reduce stress and improve self-awareness, Hawn believes every parent should find ten ‘mindful’ minutes every day to harness these tips and thus renew their mind for clearer thinking, creating greater focus and connectivity with their children.
‘I don’t believe there is such a thing as a perfect parent. I know that I’m still on my own journey of development and growth as a human being, even though my children are now adults. All we can hope is that our children experience more positive than negative effects from our parenting and become the healthy pilots of their lives. They will pass the legacy of our parenting to their children and thus the ripple effect of positive growth and transformation continues’
Goldie Hawn’s tools for a mindful life
1. Mindful breathing
You can perform mindful breathing anywhere and, by taking five minutes, twice a day, not only will you relieve any pent up stress, you’ll also be building greater control of the prefrontal cortex, strengthening impulse control and increasing your ability to focus. The process itself is very simple, just focus on your breathing, becoming aware as you inhale and exhale.
‘Soften your belly. Breathe slowly in and then let the air out. Your mind will wander because that’s what the brain does naturally,’ says Hawn. But don’t be hard on yourself. See these thoughts as clouds floating across the sky of your mind and allow them to drift away.
2. Mindful sensing
‘Mindful sensing is about taking the time to really pay attention to the remarkable sensation of being alive,’ says Hawn. She recommends focusing on the words being spoken by your children – really listening – and going outside during the working day to simply have a look around, and see things more clearly. The same will work for taste, smell and motion. It’s just a case of focusing your attention for a short period each day until it becomes second nature to be caught up in the moment.
3. Count your blessings
The happiness, positivity and kindness of our children can be greatly enhanced by our own. ‘Teach your children about the difference between a “jar half full” and the “jar half empty”,’ Hawn says. ‘Learn to take a positive perspective, no matter what the situation. This doesn’t mean being a Pollyanna, but being mindful that a positive approach to every encounter can be beneficial in all aspects of your life.
About the Author
Lizzy has more than ten years’ experience in the print and digital publishing arena and is the Editor at Single File. Having moved from the UK to Australia in 2008, Lizzy has worked for a number of leading publishers in Sydney and has particular expertise in the health, wellness and travel markets. If you have any questions for Lizzy, you can send them across by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.