Helping kids practice mindfulness
This interview is from A Kids Book About: The Podcast, with host Matthew Winner and author of A Kids Book About Mindfulness, Caverly Morgan. It has been lightly adapted for clarity.
What is mindfulness?
The teens that I work with define mindfulness as being here and now with kindness. I love that definition. It's so simple. Being here and now with kindness.
Today I’m talking to Caverly about mindfulness. That’s a word you’ve probably heard before. It comes up when we talk about meditation. It comes up when we talk in schools about SEL, which stands for Social Emotional Learning. You may already practice and make time for mindfulness in your day. You may even already be practicing mindfulness and just don’t know to call it that yet.
So to start, Caverly suggests a single word.
I think the most important word to focus on is presence. You know, how often are you moving through your day and you're not present. And what I mean here is that my attention is on things other than what's here and now, and specifically, if I'm not kind to myself and not being kind to others, then my attention is not here and now because it's engaged. It's caught in some story. It's caught in some internal narrative.
Presence. Bringing our attention to the things happening here and now.
Our very being is present, open, aware, happy, engaged with life, connected. And we tend to do a lot of things with our attention that lead us to forgetting that truth. Again, that's not bad or wrong, but that we have the capacity that we can, we can direct our attention so we can place it where we want it to be is a real gift.
It’s not bad that maybe your mind wanders. It’s not wrong that maybe you think or worry or anticipate other things that happened or are going to happen.
But you are also given the gift of being present. And that’s a gift I want to encourage you to accept as often as possible.
You know, we get to live the lives that we're here to live. We get to be fully alive. We get to be engaged. How much of our lives are we missing when we're caught thinking about the past or worried about the future? We miss the beauty of what's here.
And maybe we missed the hardship of what's here too, right? So it's not that being, having your attention in the present moment makes everything rosy all the time, but it means that you're here for what is.
In all that Caverly is sharing, I can’t help but feel connected to how she talks about mindfulness, attention, and presence. I also want to turn my attention to you, whomever you are and with whomever you’re listening to this episode, whether that’s with your classmates or your family or someone else. You, by focusing on this conversation, are practicing mindfulness.
I love that you brought in that people listening right now might have an experience of mindfulness. You can have an experience of mindfulness just by noticing that you're paying attention to the sound of our voices. Right here. Right now. These voices are happening in this moment.
And if you can do that, then you could do that for the rest of your day or all week, meaning you could use sound as an anchor of sorts.
I'm not asking you to focus on the sound that happened yesterday, and I'm not asking you to focus on the sound that's going to happen tomorrow. I'm asking you to focus on the sounds around you right now. That can help bring attention to the present moment.
This is the perfect time for me to share a question one of our listeners submitted. Owen in Maryland submitted this question and I feel like it gives all of us the perfect opportunity to do a self-check.
Owen: A question I have about mindfulness is… What completely is being mindful? What are some things that are mindful? Am I being mindful right now or am I not?
Oh, and that is such a sensitive and beautiful question. I'm so glad that you asked. You know, just that you were aware enough to say, am I being mindful right now? Shows a level of mindfulness, right? Like you're, you're paying attention to your experience in this moment. Some people think mindfulness means sitting on a meditation cushion. It doesn't at all.
You might sit on a meditation cushion or meditate in a chair, but mindfulness is also paying attention to whatever experience you're having in this moment. And so that you're saying to me, “Am I being mindful right now?” suggests that absolutely you are. You're paying attention to your experience right now.
You're being aware of the fact that you're aware.
Our world would look very different if we all deeply valued each other's being and our own being. It's quite profound what we're doing when we come together to prioritize being present and mindful with each other. So thanks for being here.
Each week on A Kids Book About: The Podcast, we talk about the big things going on in your world with a different author from our A Kids Book About series. This week we have Caverly Morgan, the author of A Kids Book About Mindfulness.