Here at IMAGE.ie, we've long blabbered on about the importance of mindfulness, this writer in particular (obsessed). It's so much more than some floaty, tree-hugging idea about aligning your chakras or connecting with your spirit animal; it's powerful, it's backed by science and it's really quite simple.
Mindfulness simply means paying attention on purpose, without judgement. It grounds us, calms us, reduces stress and eliminates fear, however for many of us, it's not until we go through something nasty in adulthood that we inevitably turn to it as a helpful tool. What if we incorporated mindfulness into our daily lives when things were rosy? What if - better still - we began mindfulness as children? The benefits would be tenfold; we'd be far better equipped to handle life's ups and downs as they came our way, getting a handle on our imaginations that too often lead us astray.
This is exactly the aim of Aisl? Madden, who has just launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for her new book: Buddabugzz - 'Zenji Heals His Muzzy Bug'. It's a mindfulness book for kids, meticulously crafted to incorporate many mindfulness techniques that will both send your tiny tots off to sleep faster and help to alleviate their fears and get a grasp on their own thoughts. Not only does it get your kids into mindfulness at an age when they can really master the art, it also happens to be a brilliant, colourful book that they'll love regardless.
Here, we chat to Aisl? about the aim of this book, her own experience of mindfulness and her two brilliant characters - Zenji and Karma.
Tell us why it's a good idea to introduce kids to the idea of mindfulness at such a young age?
Giving children the ability to handle stress from a young age is priceless, the younger they are, the less likely they will be to develop more serious issues when they get older. When children learn to focus and live in the present, they become skilled in handling their frustration. Mindfulness grounds children, it helps build their sense of esteem and self-worth, it frees up their lives to be creative, connect with others, be more open and make good decisions.
How do you find it it will benefit them later in life?
Mindfulness is the art of focus. Once you hone this skill it will benefit you in all areas in life. Learning how to handle stress from a young age, means children are better equipped to handle ?the real word? as adults.
When did you discover your own love of mindfulness?
After my mum died in 1999, I found that meditation helped me to cope with grieving and it helped me to sleep, but I only discovered mindfulness meditation a few years back. The effects are mind-blowing, but it takes daily practice. It is surprising how little we really take in on a day to day basis. The little things can give us such pleasure, but you have to notice them first!
What do you hope kids and parents take from this book?
I really hope that kids identify with Zenji and Karma. I hope that my book opens the door to mindfulness for both children and their parents and that they will see how easy it can be to relax with a little focus and breath work. I also hope that parents will be delighted when their little ones start looking forward to sleep at bedtime!
Kids have powerful imaginations, it must be so easy for them to feel overwhelmed or scared etc. The calming voice of Karma is a lovely character - can we look forward to more?
I wanted children to identify with their own little Karma, to trust in their own train of thought and to learn self-reliance from an early age. I wanted to create characters that kids would love, learn from and look up to. I really believe that the children of today are crying out for a brand of books and toys that are entertaining but have substance too. I hope Buddabugzz will achieve this. I'm working on six other Buddabugzz titles at the moment, I also hope to eventually produce an app, that will contain interactive mindfulness exercises, games to stimulate learning and guided meditations for children
Amazing! Would you consider mindfulness books for adults?
I love designing and writing for children and I have so many ideas that I want to bring to fruition with Zenji and the other Buddabug characters. So my time will be filled with these furry creatures for the foreseeable future! So for now I'm living in the moment but who knows what the future will bring!