Heart-Mind 2013: A Parent's Perspective on Goldie Hawn's MindUp

By Lisa Geddes

     Being a mom is busy and demanding. My days start early and I am often impatient as I try to get everyone fed, dressed and out the door on time. Like most families our lives are filled with school, activities, birthday parties and play dates – yet, amidst our hectic days, I can’t help but wonder if these things are teaching my kids life’s most valuable lessons. I try to teach them right from wrong, how to do their best, be kind to others and to use good manners, and yet I question if I am doing the best I can to prepare them for a fulfilling life.

     On Friday, May 10th I listened to Goldie Hawn share the story of her quest to help children choose  happiness. It was the Dalai Lama Center for Peace + Education’s Heart-Mind 2013 Conference and while at first I thought it might have an Eastern-religious twist, to my surprise, it was more about science. 

     Goldie – who truly is so personable and bubbly that you have to call her Goldie – and her husband came to Vancouver in the 1990s to support their son’s dream to play professional hockey. They lived in Point Grey where she pursued her own practice of mindfulness in her meditation room…when the events of 9/11 happened. 

     9/11 was a trigger for Goldie who, as a child, vividly recollected the Cold War, the threat of the atom bomb being presented in her school and the emotional distress that followed. As it all came flooding back, 9/11 became a catalyst for her to do something; to help children learn to manage life with peace and empathy – and not aggression and fear.

     She reached out to researchers in the field of social and emotional learning and neuroscience and, with their help, developed MindUp; a classroom-based program that teaches kids how their brains work and how, with that knowledge, they can self-manage through different situations. Understanding the science of what is happening gives kids control, and helps them prepare for future events like tests and public speaking – those inevitable moments in life that make everyone’s heart race with anxiety.

     These young ‘contemplative practitioners’ take three brain breaks each day in their classroom, quiet moments to breath calmly and regain their focus. They are taught to take mindful actions as a response to conflict and stress, and because MindUp is taught while their young brains are still developing, they learn these skills for life. 

     MindUp has proven to be very successful. Research has confirmed that in only ten weeks, kids become more optimistic – and optimistic kids recover more quickly from health issues. Children are found to be more attentive and less aggressive. And the best part is…kids who participate in the program love that they possess the knowledge and ability to manage through challenging circumstances.

     I sat and listened to Goldie’s story and the impact she has had. I thought about my own kids and tears welled up in my eyes. Like every parent, I want what is best for them, and while I want them to be successful in school, make friends and try out new things, my heart’s desire is for them to have the tools and strength of character to confidently pursue whatever path they choose in life – including the inevitable challenges they will face. I want them to be good people who others can rely upon; to understand they have a responsibility to contribute to the world in a positive way, and to help others whenever they are able. 

    Too many times in my own life I have encountered challenging situations that were only challenging because the people involved didn’t have the skills to manage their emotions and communicate how they felt. As humans, it seems natural for us to revert to fear and aggression when we have no other internal resources to draw upon. Imagine how much easier every day at work would be if we could all manage our state and reach across the divide with empathy rather than lashing out with fear? Imagine how special our personal relationships could be and how much less stressful it would be to take risks and embrace failure? Imagine the possibilities...

     The vision of that world and my children being prepared to actively engage and contribute to it is what brought me to tears. The idea that there are proven, simple methods and tools available to them now, at such a young age, inspired me. Of course, it begged the question – what about me? How do I, as a parent, learn more so I don’t have to rely upon the school system to teach them these things – or, how can I extend what they learn at school into our family?

     I learned that there is a MindUp program for parents – and an accompanying book, 10 Mindful Minutes, which I’ve just begun. Having access to this information makes me feel hopeful and gives me new, practical tools to help fulfill my heart’s desire for my children. Already I’ve learned the power of modeling mindful behavior and leading by example. Our busy morning routine has quickly become less hectic and we leave the house on a much more positive note than we had before. Thank you, Goldie Hawn, for turning 9/11 into a positive legacy, it is a gift to parents everywhere. 

Lisa Geddes is a mentor, brand storyteller, principal of Lisa Geddes Marketing & Communications and mom to two amazing little people. She is an advisor to the DLC, which has proven invaluable in her quest to become a role model of mindful behaviour for her family.




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