Along with research and various studies, I believe mindfulness and positive psychology are some of the most transformative practices available to gain a healthier mindset – especially during these unprecedented times.

My name is Marie Cronnelly, I am a Mindfulness, Meditation and Creative arts teach for children based at the mindfulness chalet in Athenry. I teach from the heart having seen firsthand the benefits mindfulness has been in my life. This is where my passion lies, teaching children and equipping them with tools for everyday life to help build: self confidence, compassion, empathy, resilience, deeper understanding of themselves, calmer and more fulfilled……. But How?

My aim is promoting mindfulness in children age 5 yrs upwards through breathing techniques, storytelling, exploring feelings, practicing gratitude, guided meditation, visualizations, and creative arts. When I teach children to focus on what they have to be thankful for and what is going well in their lives right now, it helps shift their perspective and boosts positive mental health and wellbeing. I use the term “Our thoughts are like clouds, they’re only passing by”, we can acknowledge the thought (without attaching to it),  accept it & let it go, but this takes time & practice, much like training a muscle! Studies indicate that children who undertake a 6-8 week course in mindfulness have improved cognitive control, reported greater empathy, emotional control, optimism & general shift in well-being.

An example of a Mindfulness exercise is:

The STOP practice can help whenever you’re feeling distress, creating space to observe and tame your feelings, and to access the deeper resources within you. It helps you develop the emotional intelligence and psychological flexibility required for greater confidence over the challenging moments.

S — Stop

To begin, the “S” stands simply for stop. Literally. Just stop what you are doing, whether it is typing or rushing out the door. Give yourself a moment to come to rest, pause, and collect yourself.

T — Take a Breath

The “T” stands for take a conscious breath. Now that you have paused, take a deeper breath, or two, allowing yourself to feel the expansion of the tummy as you breathe deeply. Notice the sensations of being here, now. As you do so, it may help to bring your attention to the sensations of your feet meeting the floor. Feel the support of the ground and of your own relaxing breath as you do so.

O — Observe

The “O,” stands for observe what is arising in you, including any thoughts, emotions, or bodily sensations (such as tension, butterflies, and tightness in the jaw line). Broaden your awareness to take in the circumstances. Notice how you can be in this situation without being ruled by it. For added support, offer self-compassion as you release tension and stressful thoughts. As you calm down, open to the choices you have in terms of how best to move forward from here.

P – Proceed

Finally, the “P” reminds you to simply proceed with intentionality, taking the next step in your day from this place of strength, wisdom, and presence. 

Since the lockdown I have been streaming live FREE Facebook videos 1-2 times per week on my private group called: Kids Mindfulness Live Stream, which is a secure closed group which parents need to request approval to access the page. Classes will resume at the chalet when restrictions lift, but for now I am in the process of building the business online so that I can reach out to children via zoom classes, online learning and much more.