In today’s busy and technology-driven world, children are increasingly suffering from anxiety, and there’s often little time to slow down and reflect, or play outside.
- In a bid to reduce anxiety and help children relax, an increasing number of mindfulness programs are being offered to Australian children
- Two women in northern NSW are running workshops which focus on spending time in nature and mindfulness activities including meditation and yoga
- They hope to eventually take the workshops to local schools and have already had success collaborating with The Nature School, which is based on an outdoor education philosophy
Two women on the New South Wales mid-north coast are hoping to change that and have started running workshops for children, which combine time in nature with mindfulness and positivity activities, including yoga and meditation.
Lisa Bryant and Tanika Anderson also run sessions specifically for girls and women, aimed at improving their self-confidence and emotional wellbeing.
“We want to inspire children to embrace their uniqueness, and harness the power of positivity and mindfulness,” Ms Bryant said.
“From a young age it’s creating that really good habit of being authentically yourself and supporting a deeper sense of confidence.”
The workshops are part of an increasing number of mindfulness programs being offered to Australian children.
Mindfulness has been shown to improve mental health and well-being and is the basic human ability to be fully present in the moment, aware of where we are and what we are doing, and not overly reactive, or overwhelmed by what is going on in our surroundings.
Ms Anderson is a yoga teacher and health coach, who also has experience as a television presenter and was a former member of the Australian children’s performance group, Hi-5.
Ms Bryant is also a certified fitness coach and yoga teacher, professional dancer, presenter and podcast host.
“We met through the entertainment industry and after discovering shared passions and values, decided to create a business together to inspire positive change,” Ms Bryant said.
Ms Bryant said they used a range of techniques in their workshops, from yoga to creative art, cooking, the art of giving and receiving compliments and journaling.
A recent workshop for girls under 13 began with an outdoor yoga session on a scenic, rural property near Port Macquarie.
The girls embraced the opportunity to be still, surrounded by garden and birdsong.
“It was really relaxing, it was a really good time to let anything in your mind go,” one girl said.
Ms Bryant said it was easy for children and adults to fall into a negative comparison trap, so all their sessions had a strong focus on celebrating each person’s unique strengths.
“Especially with social media, comparison is everything,” she said.
“So anything that can bring us back to our truest version of ourselves and celebrate our individuality is really valuable.
“Also, there’s moments of anger and frustration, which is completely normal, it’s learning to identify when those moments arise and using the tools we can, to bring us back into centre.”
Mindfulness in nature
Ms Bryant and Ms Anderson hope to eventually take their sessions into local schools and have started by running sessions for The Nature School in Port Macquarie.
“We love how The Nature School is child-led,” Ms Bryant said.
“At first we wondered how it would be, thinking it might be chaotic, but it’s not — it’s so natural and organic.
“We love to see the children problem-solve and adventure. You can see the spark in their eye.”
The Nature School’s Jacqui Leach said the mindfulness sessions had been a success and were embraced by the children.
“Being in nature is an immersive, sensory experience, which allows our children to be mindful and aware of the things that they can see, feel, smell and hear all the time,” she said.
“Lisa and Tanika’s program has added a different intentional aspect to the program, and gives the children knowledge and ‘tools’ to take away.
“During our recent school holiday program, through games, art and cooking, they were able to touch on the notion that everyone is different, and how fantastic this is.
“Finishing the day with children in a tree doing a meditation tailored specifically for them was the icing on the cake!”
In the long-term, Ms Bryant and Ms Anderson hope to take their workshops on the road to schools in the outback, where it is often more difficult for children to access self-development programs.
“We want to take this all around Australia, specifically in the centre of Australia, to communities and rural areas that are often missed in this form of creating space for children and women,” Ms Bryant said.
“We also really want to connect with those children and women.”
Topics: regional, anxiety, mental-health, exercise-and-fitness, social-media, animals-and-nature, schools, children, meditation-and-prayer, lifestyle-and-leisure, womens-health, child-health-and-behaviour, port-macquarie-2444, wauchope-2446
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