Tag Archives: Mindful Monsters

How mindfulness helped me become more resilient

Milo is Scope’s Film and Media officer and has seen first hand the massive benefits practicing mindfulness can have. In this blog he looks at his own childhood struggles and how he thinks practising mindfulness may have helped him growing up. 

As a child my mind was a noisy place.

Sometimes I was treated badly by other kids because I would cry a lot of the time or would behave in ways they saw as strange. I just never seemed to develop that thick skin or the ability to fit in.

At secondary school I made a conscious decision (in hindsight a very bad decision) to put my sensitivity to rest. I started playing the part of the ‘confident cool kid’. It came as a total shock to me that people believed this facade at first, but they did!

A young boy smiling with the Disney character
A young Milo visits Disneyland Paris

I built up an external identity, patched together out of all the things I wanted to be and all the things I thought other people liked. I thought I was a pretty cool teenager. Fast forward eight years however, and cracks started to appear in this makeshift armor.

As it turned out the eureka solution of my adolescence wasn’t a suit of armor, it was a cage. University and immense social pressure exposed this. I tried various things to remedy my feelings of isolation and anxiety to no avail, and experienced several years in a dark place. It wasn’t until a particularly dark patch that I was given a book on mindfulness.

Building my resilience with mindfulness

It’s is not about doing yoga, going vegan or becoming ‘enlightened’. In fact, it couldn’t be more simple. Anyone can do it, anywhere, anytime – it’s just about directing your whole attention to the present moment.

Focusing on the ‘here and now’ can be an amazingly effective way of combating stress and anxiety. In these agitated states the brain tends to run away with itself, obsessing over the past or worrying about the future. When we devote ourselves to the present, whether it’s eating a tasty meal, feeling the way our limbs move or just sitting and listening to all the sounds around us, we give our brain a break and unload a little bit of stress each time.

It’s a cumulative process and the longer you practise mindfulness, even just a few minutes a day, the stronger your resilience and your ability to navigate stressful situations that might have overwhelmed you before. Don’t get me wrong, stress and anxiety aren’t a huge issue in moderation. Most of us however will experience far more stress than is useful because of the pressures of our lives. Mindfulness won’t teach you to never feel stress, but, by being present moment to moment, we can start to recognize and then unlearn our negative thought patterns.

Me today

Though I’ve now developed ways to increase my resilience, life is still sometimes a struggle. However committed I am to engaging mindfully with the world, I still swim against old habits. But, the regular practise of mindfulness, my safety net, means I have richer relationships with the people around me and I have never felt stronger and more true to who I am.

Knowing the progress I have made within just a few years, I can only begin to imagine how much greater these benefits would be if they had been part of my early education. The younger you are the fewer bad habits you have, to ‘unlearn’, the more wholeheartedly you can embrace mindfulness and the lighter the burden of life.  I know that if I’d started practising mindfulness as a child my resilience would have deep foundations and my self-belief would be indestructible. Instead I’m a bit like someone who learnt to swim as an adult. Sure I can stay afloat, but I’ll never be a mermaid.

Mindful Monsters

So resilience, I’ve worked out, is pretty important. Scope have years of experience supporting disabled people and their families build resilience in their lives. Whether as a parent, at the point of their disabled child’s diagnosis, or as a young disabled person, having the right tools to gain independence. Scope think it’s so important in fact, that resilience is a headline in their new five year strategy.

And that’s why Scope have launched Mindful Monsters, which is a fun, new way for all parents to develop resilience and kindness in their children, whilst supporting disabled people and their families through a monthly donation.

Families receive a set of activity cards to their door each month, giving their children important life skills, while spending quality time together. There are four themes to explore: relaxation, creativity, positivity and concentration. Fun, quick, easy, and as Mindful Monsters is inspired by mindfulness, the activities come with all its brilliant benefits.

I’m really excited about Scope’s Mindful Monsters and how it can help children build resilience into their lives, it’s exactly what a younger me needed!

Find out more at mindfulmonsters.co.uk.

 

Confessions of a mindful mum in training

Mindful Monsters is a new and exciting way to give your little ones important life skills and spend quality time together. 

Each month, you’ll get a pack of seven activity cards inspired by mindfulness. In this blog Nerys talks about the difference Mindful Monsters has made to her children, and the way they react to each other and the world around them. 

My girls sometimes find those big emotions difficult to deal with. My eldest overreacts very quickly and gets herself wound up. This can easily upset my youngest, so I’m left with a difficult situation where they both demand attention. I feel like I’ve tried many things, but nothing seems to do the trick. I was looking for ‘something’ easy, ‘something’ simple, to help build up resilience in my girls. I didn’t know what this ‘something’ looked like. I now know it’s bright, furry and full of monsters.

“Mindful Monsters really works”

Mindful Monsters really works. It gives us that helping hand in those tricky parenting situations, all while spending quality time together. Whether in bitesize form for the busy school week, or longer variations for less time conscious weekends.

And I’ve noticed a real difference in my girls. They somehow seem more aware of their surroundings. They’re certainly more curious of it. They are more in-tune with mine and their dad’s feelings. And they’re kinder to each other. More self-assured. Of course, they still fight (tell me siblings that don’t!) but Mindful Monsters has served as the tool I was searching for. A tool to develop their resilience. Help them deal with those big emotions. And most certainly a welcomed positive distraction that not only diffuses their bickering, but develops important life skills.

As a teacher, I can really see the value in this. It’s setting them up for their future. And as the months roll on, our toolkit just gets larger and larger which the girls love. More fun to pick from!

I love the balancing activity as straight away it requires concentration which usually means they stop talking/bickering! It can easily be mixed with other activities too, like balancing whilst making your best monster face! Always a winner.

An answer to difficult moments

A series of cards with smiling cartoon monsters on themI wanted to find an answer to those more difficult moments as parent, and as well as this, I found a way of experiencing magic in the everyday.

We’ve had a giggle at breakfast, we’ve focused in the car on the way to school, we’ve gotten creative while picking up groceries and we’ve relaxed before bed. Without sounding too cliché, it really has fit into our lives just as well as it fits into my back pocket (or handbag, coat pocket, book bag, car dashboard etc.).

And the fact that my donation is supporting disabled children and their families is just the biggest bonus ever. It’s just a no-brainer for me. Feel good central (sorry, embarrassing mum alert!)

Anyway, on that note, I’ll leave it there and let you look forward to receiving your first pack.

Mindful Monsters is a new and fun way to help parents develop resilience and kindness in their children.

Your family will receive a set of activity cards to your door each month, giving your children important life skills, while you spend quality time together. You’ll explore the four themes of relaxation, creativity, positivity and concentration. Simple, quick, easy to fit into your busy lives, and, as Mindful Monsters is inspired by mindfulness, the activities come with all its brilliant benefits.

Order your first pack on the Mindful Monsters website, and help us continue our work supporting disabled children and their families.