Five years ago I was 23, I had an OK job, a nice place to live, great friends, a good social life, being a fluent Irish speaker I was part of a community here in Belfast almost without realising it, I had a lot of opportunities my peers didn’t have and I was using spare time to volunteer for Raidió Fáilte to do what I really wanted to do, journalism. Everything seemed great. But something was off. Something wasn’t right. I wasn’t very happy.
I really didn’t understand what was going on. My friend suggested I try meditating and five years later I’ve never looked back. I have never been more comfortable in my own skin and I’ve never been so grateful for everything I have.
Meditation changed my life in every way. I am generally a happier and more content person. I can see positives in bad situations. I can see my mind becoming busy with thoughts and I can stop it before it goes too far. I am sleeping better and I acknowledge my emotions and I let them be.
These past few weeks I have realised that the most important and biggest thing that I have gotten from meditation is that I am gentle with myself. When someone hurts me I acknowledge that hurt and I let myself be upset. I let myself feel bad and I acknowledge that someone did me wrong. It’s not nice feeling bad and being upset but it’s a lot worse when you berate yourself for feeling upset. I used to be a big fan of thoughts such as ‘I deserved whatever the other person did to me’ or ‘I was in the wrong’ or ‘I’m stupid they were right to snap at me like that’. Not only are those thoughts mean and unproductive but they just send you down into a deeper spiral of despair.
During a meditation one day I started thinking about how differently my life would have been if I had started meditating when I was younger. I thought to myself that when I have children they would start meditating when they’re young. Then I realised that I didn’t need to wait until I had children, why couldn’t I teach other people’s children the benefits of meditation.
This thought led me to Relax Kids. Relax Kids classes follow a seven step program that brings children from very high energy to low energy. We start classes out with a warm up and movement. We play games and we do stretches. The stretches help to release tension stored up in the body. We then do peer and self-massage which is enjoyable as well as teaching children about consent. My favourite thing to teach during this part of the class is about your calm button. We have four calm buttons on our body and we can rub them gently if we’re feeling a bit stressed or overwhelmed. We then do breathing exercises. We focus on deep breathing; how to do it, where we feel it and how we feel after we do it. After that we move onto affirmations.
Affirmations help to increase children’s confidence and self-belief. Finally, we reach the relax stage of the class. We ask the children to lie down in a comfortable position and we talk them through how their bodies are feeling. We tell them that any feeling they notice at that moment is OK. We remind them that they don’t need to do anything about the emotion or with the emotion right now. All we want them to do as they lie on the floor comfortably is to be still. We then read a visualisation from one of the many Relax Kids books by Marneta Viegas.
These classes are good for children of all ages. I have worked with teenagers, primary schools and even adults. The skills that are learnt are invaluable and can be used throughout your whole life. They decrease stress and mental tension, improve memory retention and listening skills as well as increasing your concentrate.
Meditation changed my life and being a Relax Kids coach means that I can teach you and your child how it can change yours.
I offer one-to-one sessions, family sessions, school and youth group sessions and I offer sessions in English and Irish.
I have a new term of classes in English for 6 – 9 year olds starting in Abhyasa Yoga Studio on Lisburn Road after Halloween 2017. Places are limited so make sure to book your child’s place early!advice for stressed mums, Meditation