Ep 16 How to bring Mindfulness into your Every Day!

In today’s show we speak with psychotherapist and family counsellor Gillian Fagan about how she brings mindful moments into her life in lots of little ways throughout the day.  Many people get confused about what Mindfulness actually means; it can sound complicated and a tricky concept to understand, but it’s actually quite simple.

So in this episode we learn just how simple it really is and what it can mean day-to-day in your normal, everyday life!

Gillian explains that it’s not time travelling; looking into the future and worrying about what may happen, or back into the past and going over what did happen, it’s all about living in the present, in the right here and right now. It’s taking a moment to really be aware of what is happening both inside of you as well as what’s going on around you.

She explains how she was introduced to Mindfulness by a teacher in secondary school and how it was and still is to this day really important in her life in helping her deal with her ‘racing head’ and to keep her feeling happy and well.

She talks about some really simple ways to bring easy mindful moments into the ordinary things that you do every day and teaches Buster and Buddy how simply using your 5 senses, your sense of taste, smell, sight, hearing and touch can be a really great way to start!

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GUEST OF THE DAY

Gillian Fagan

Gillian Fagan is a counsellor, psychotherapist and trainer who works with teens, adults, couples and families.  She founded 2 mental health companies, AcoraTherapy and Under The Rainbow, and is an emotional health consultant for workplaces.

Gillian started meditating when she was 12 years old and many years later is still at it!  Not only that she is a specialist on the science behind relaxation and teaches people how to reduce stress, manage anxiety and be happier.  

Being passionate about normalising mental fitness, Gillian loves helping people empower themselves so that they can be their true selves, equipped with the resources to cope better when things get tough.

Gillian is a keynote speaker and trainer on topics such as resilience, uncertainty, stress, coping strategies and the importance of inclusion.  She believes that our minds are like our muscles, we need to keep working out so we can have good mental fitness!

Websites:

 http://acora.ie/

 https://www.undertherainbow.ie/

Transcript

Michelle Connolly 0:09

Hello, and welcome to the kids are all writing a weekly podcast specially for kids that's all about health, happiness and wellness. I'm Michelle, and here with me are my co pilots on this podcast Buster and Buddy.

Buster 0:22

Hey, guys!

Buddy 0:24

Hey, everyone, it's your pal, Buddy.

Michelle Connolly 0:26

We're on a mission to help you all feel great and live happy! So let's get this show on the road.

Buster 0:33

Yeah, let's do it. Yeah.

Michelle Connolly 0:37

So guys, how are you doing today? Then? Do you feel mind full? Or do you feel mind empty?

Buddy 0:44

What? What's she talking about?!

Michelle Connolly 0:46

Well you see guys, I've been keen to find out as much as I can about mindfulness. I've just been hearing so much good stuff about it, and how it can make you feel well and happy?

Buddy 0:54

Well, yeah, I mean, we have lilies doing our mini mindfulness moments at the end of each of our shows.

Michelle Connolly 0:59

Exactly. So I was curious to understand more about it and hear how other people use it in their days and how they think it helps them.

Buster 1:06

Yeah, I wonder just how many people actually really know what it is.

Michelle Connolly 1:11

Well, Buster, I did, too. So I went out. I asked some kids, if they know what mindfulness is.

Buddy 1:17

(The Kids say What?! Jingle)

Vox Pop 1:22

I think mindfulness is just to take it easy and relax and do things that you want to do not other people want to do.

Unknown Speaker 1:30

Mindfulness is calmness and thinking about yourself and appreciating yourself

Kids Jokes 1:37

to lie down with your legs, cross leg, with your fingers in a ring shape, in the middle of a very quiet place, like a library and wait there until someone taps your back and says that it's time to go home because it's nine o'clock.

Mindfulness is like achieving inner peace and kind of understanding around you.

Vox Pop 2:00

I think mindfulness means staying in the moment. And just like being happy with who you are and what you're doing right now.

Well, mindfulness is like when you just take a moment to sit down or lie down and just think about everything. And just let your body have a little bit of a rest.

Mindfulness is when you get to think through all your problems when you get to reset your mind and accept who you are and respect that you are different than other people.

I think mindfulness means like, sitting in your swimming pool, on a pink floaty with your dog on a pineapple floaty sitting beside you with sunglasses on eating your pink lemonade.

Buddy 2:46

Wow. Oh, wow. Those are some great answers. But I think we may need to learn a little bit more about this mindfulness stuff. The kids all seem to have very different ideas of what it is.

Michelle Connolly 2:58

Yeah, I think so. All right, buddy. So to explain to us what mindfulness means to her and why we should use it in our day to day lives. We're delighted to have psychotherapist and family counsellor, Gillian Fagan with us today. Gillian, thanks a million for joining us on the show.

Gillian Fagan 3:12

Hi, Michelle, thank you so much. And hello, Buster, hello Buddy. Great to be here.

Michelle Connolly 3:18

So Gillian, we went out and we asked kids what they thought mindfulness is, and we got lots of different answers to tell us in your words, what what is mindfulness,

Gillian Fagan 3:27

To really simplify it. It's just paying attention in a particular way, being present in this moment, and basically stop time travelling. It's about being here now rather than in the future, and in the past.

Unknown Speaker 3:41

Very good. And when you go out and speak with kids, what kind of things do you hear the kids say back to you what they think mindfulness is,

Gillian Fagan 3:49

oh, well, I'm told it's, it's people in our dresses that sit cross legged all day long. Yeah, there's this understanding that for you to do mindfulness, you somehow have to turn your body into a pretzel, and be able to do things with your legs and sit still and close your eyes and have a shaved head. And that is not what mindfulness is. Generally, there's a real misunderstanding as to what mindfulness is, it's often I guess, understood as meditation. And yes, sure can be meditation. But it doesn't have to be you can be mindfully here and now without having to bring the meditation into it.

Buddy 4:24

So if I was to try some mindfulness right now, what would I do?

Unknown Speaker 4:29

Bring your attention to right now, right here. And there's some really simple things you can do that if you even start looking at, okay, what are you wearing right now and describing how the clothes feel on your body, your attention is completely in the present moment. And I often say this, and it's a really simple way to remember, engage your senses. Think of the five senses that we have. And that's our vision, touch, taste, sound and smell. So we all have these five senses, and you can engage any one or all five of them. To become more mindful in that moment. So if you want to get mindful right now really quickly, be aware of bringing the awareness in. So use your five senses. What can you see what's right in front of you. And just to notice and name it, you don't have to say it out loud. Sometimes you can't, you might be on a bus. But to notice what's right in front of you, you're paying attention in that moment. And the smell, like whether you like to admit it or not there are smells everywhere, and especially in the classroom. So even notice, the smells, what smells are happening right here, right now. You're engaging your senses, you're being present. And sounds, all of the sounds, there's always noise. There's always noise. Even if you're lying in bed, and you can't sleep. If you find your head is worrying about tomorrow, I had an assignment to do for college. So I had trouble sleeping this week. And then I just practiced listening to the sounds here and the cars nearby other dogs barking and just being present in that moment there. And then, and it just means your focus is on listening for sounds, rather than worrying about the future. And touch as well. I often give people that if I'm working with children, little stones, or pebbles or worry stone, and just that touch that contact to mindfully feel something is a cold, Is it warm? Is it smooth is a rough? What's the texture of what you're touching? And if you don't have pebbles to hand, even the material of your clothes.

Buddy 6:22

And yeah, Jillian, you're not going to believe I have a stone that I keep in my pocket all the time for that kind of stuff.

Unknown Speaker 6:29

That's amazing. A worry stone or What's it for?

Buddy 6:33

Yeah, no, it's it's kind of a bit of both. It's a little worries down. But also, if I want to be present in the moment, I'll hold on to the stone. And I'll think of something that I'm really, really grateful for in that moment. Right there.

Gillian Fagan 6:43

Absolutely. So you're mixing mindfulness of gratitude. How wonderful.

Buddy 6:47

Thank you.

Michelle Connolly 6:48

Yeah, well done, buddy. So Gillian you've talked about four of these five senses, that's what we see what we can hear, smell and touch. So what's the last one?

Gillian Fagan 6:58

It's my favourite. It's taste. Have you ever eaten something mindfully?

Buster 7:04

Oh? How do you eat mindfully?

Unknown Speaker 7:07

Well it means eating something quite slowly, and rolling it around in your mouth, paying attention to the flavours, the textures. When you're chewing it, does it turn into water or does it dry off? And how easy it is then to swallow in your mouth? And I'm telling you if you eat a blueberry mindfully could take you five minutes to the eat!

Buster 7:25

Wow!

Gillian Fagan 7:27

Yeah, I know. I know. But it's wonderful. Especially if you especially if you don't have a big dinner, and you have to make it last!

Buster 7:38

But why is it so important to know what's going on in my body right now?

Unknown Speaker 7:42

Oh, Buster, we time travel all the time. How much time do we spend thinking about what's going to happen tomorrow? What's on telly? What are my friends going to be doing? What happened this weekend? Who's bringing me here? Who's bringing me back? What am I gonna have for dinner? What does teacher think, what do my friends think. And all that does is it causes worry and stress. And then you end up with what I call a racing head, your head goes into all of these thoughts. And when you get like that, your emotions control you. Then you have overwhelm, and little meltdowns and get to tears easier. And I know this because when I don't practice being mindful myself, I get overwhelmed. So it's about catching it and thinking, Oh, there goes my head. It's racing off again and bringing it back. Because the more you practice this, and the earlier you start more, you can make it a habit for life and then literally have control over your emotions rather than the emotions controlling you.

Michelle Connolly 8:39

Brilliant. So Gillian, how did you get into mindfulness?

Unknown Speaker 8:42

I was 12. Now I didn't know what was called Mindfulness at the time. But I was 12. And I was in school. And I found the transition from primary school secondary school quite difficult for me, I expected it to be the same, only bigger. And I didn't know a lot of people in my class. So I was overwhelmed. And a teacher noticed this. And she said to me, how about you come and she said me, and I'll show you some things to help you cope. Now, of course, you think you're in trouble. So I was dreading going into the office, absolutely dreading it, oh, what's going on? But I went in and she was lovely. And she just sat me down and she said, okay, and she taught me how to be mindful. And she said, Just close your eyes and picture a warm sunny day. And she said, Now, go in your head to a place that you love. And picture somebody who you love is sitting there and tell them what's going on for you. And then when you're ready, come back into the classroom and open your eyes. And I met with her, I think once a week for the entire of first year. And we used to do that, she'd teach me different breathing techniques. And she told me about the stone and she gave me a stone and it was the worry stones, I had to put all my worries in the stone. And to leave it at the front door. Don't bring it into the house with me leave it on the ground by the front door and when I left for school the next day the stone was still there to bring it with me.

Michelle Connolly:

that's a brilliant idea!

Buster:

That's so cool. Yeah, absolutely fantastic.

Unknown Speaker:

Yeah, it really, really was. And if you're going to do this, because I do it now I paint the stone and a bright colour. I've got a bright blue stone by the front door, because otherwise you don't know which one is yours.

Buster:

That's so cool.!

Gillian Fagan:

Yeah, so a teacher taught me how to meditate, taught me mindfulness and taught me that I could control my emotions. Because really, and truly, at the time, everything felt so overwhelming. I was worried easily. I was anxious. I didn't even know that's what I was feeling. But I really easily turned to tears, I had very short temper and very difficult to concentrate.

Michelle Connolly:

Oh, she sounds like such an amazing teacher. And I think that idea of creating a happy place in your head that you can go to any time is quite an amazing plan to have, really. So if you feel that way that you can just go there.

Unknown Speaker:

It's almost like setting up and this little kind of holiday and escape in your brain. Exactly, you can actually do that quite mindfully by bringing a real experience into it. And if you're going to go to this happy place, because now I've got about six of them in my head that I escape to. One is this bench by the beach that I used to love, as a kid we went to Courtown and and there was this bench by the beach. And even now in my head I'll go there and I'll feel the breeze in my hair. I'll feel the salt on my skin. Again, even in the visualisation, I bring in the senses.

Michelle Connolly:

That's amazing.

Unknown Speaker:

Oh, wow. One of my favourite happy places to go to is I like to imagine myself sitting on a big pile of rocks on one of my favourite little beaches, and hearing the waves splashing against the rocks below me and hearing the seagulls and just the breeze going through my hair.

Gillian Fagan:

Yeah, yeah. Oh, I love the sea. It's so calming. I guess I love just being in nature. Nature is a really great place to practice mindfulness. It's an amazing place all the different smells, the textures, the colours. And it really helps you bring that focus into the present moment, just being here and now and not going off into the past or projecting into the future just being in the moment.

Michelle Connolly:

Exactly, exactly. I saw a video you did. And you use the image of a battery to explain how mindfulness can help us look after ourselves. Like it's a really clever image. Can you explain that a little bit to us?

Unknown Speaker:

Yeah, I actually picture my entire body as a battery, my whole body, head to toe is a battery. And when you think about your phone battery, you have this visual image of how much power is in your phone battery. And you'd never let that battery die. Imagine what happens if his own battery dies.

Buddy:

Oh, I can't even imagine that.

Unknown Speaker:

No, I know disaster. So for me to be a battery, it's picturing what level of the battery as Do I need to be charged or am I near empty. The more you tune into the level your battery is at, the more you become really aware of the things that drain the battery, the things that will charge the battery. But obviously we can't plug ourselves in? Well, we can in ways; mindfulness is a way of plugging in and charging the battery. But different things work for different people. You might charge your battery from reading a book or hanging out with friends or going into nature. There's a lot of different ways and different things work for different people. Eating and drinking healthy stuff helps charge the battery getting enough sleep. But to also tune in to what drains the battery. Certain people like drain your battery more than others. Certain situations. The weather. I don't like when it's raining, I like the breeze but I don't like when it's raining. Everybody has different things that charge and drain your battery. And for some people, some people might love the rain that might actually charge their battery. So it's very unique to you. But the more you become aware of that, that awareness is mindful, the more mindful you are of your energy levels, the more you can really create this way, almost like a superpower of being able to tap into where your energy levels are and be able to charge the battery.

Unknown Speaker:

Oh wow. superpowers. One of my favourite things is that the Marvel superheroes so now you have me thinking, right? What kind of things supercharge me? Well, hanging out my best friend Buster. That's certainly charges my battery.

Gillian Fagan:

Yeah. Lovely that's lovely Buddy.

Buster:

But how do we know that it's really works?

Gillian Fagan:

Because if it doesn't work, you still feel empty. You still feel drained. And when your battery's low, you're tired, you're cranky, you're fussy. Everything irritates you. So when your battery's charged, you're a lot more happy. You're able to concentrate better, you're better with your friends, you've got better self esteem, more confidence. So how do you know it works? Because you're a happier person.

Unknown Speaker:

So Gillian, how many times a day Do I need to practice mindfulness?

Unknown Speaker:

Well, the more you practice anything, the better you are, right. Do you know something? This is a brilliant thing to help. Right when I was starting when I was in school, and I was practising the deep breaths because that's how I got into it. If I couldn't go to my happy place on my head, to just take a deep breath. And as I took the deep breath to actually say my head. I now know I'm breathing in, I now know I'm breathing out. And it's just noticing the moment right there. And then I'm bringing your attention into the present. So you can practice that even just three or four times a day. And that teacher, Sister Cáit was her name, she gave me stickers. And I put a sticker on my light switch of my bedroom. I put a sticker by the front door, and I put a sticker just above the kettle on the tiles in the kitchen. My parents weren't impressed. But sure, anyway. And everytime I saw a sticker, it reminded me to just take a deep breath in and take a deep breath out. So I had a prompt that reminded me to do it.

Michelle Connolly:

Wow, that's amazing. The idea of the stickers is just brilliant. Gillian, thanks so much. Really, we've learned so much there. I think the kids listening will have got so many cool ideas about how they can bring mindfulness in and actually understand what it is now as well.

Unknown Speaker:

Yeah. Julian, I think you might really like this next question. It's one I like to ask to all of our guests. Could you answer it for me?

Gillian Fagan:

Go for it Buddy

Buddy:

So what we call it is Big Me too Little Me. So basically, if you could go back in time, what advice would big Gillian give to little Gillian?

Unknown Speaker:

Oh, wow. I would tell me, don't ever worry what other people think. Because when we're worried about what other people think we don't use our potential, we actually make ourselves smaller than we need to be.

Buddy:

That's actually a really cool way of looking at it.

Gillian Fagan:

Now. I don't care!. But it's taken me a long time to get here! So yeah, if I could go back and give any piece of advice to me, that would make a huge impact. Stop worrying about what other people think.

Buddy:

Oh, thanks, Gilian. That's a great answer.

Michelle Connolly:

That was fantastic. Julian, thank you so much for all of that. I think we're definitely all going to bring little moments of mindfulness into our lives from here on. So thanks so much again,

Buster:

Thanks Gillian, bye!

Gillian Fagan:

Thanks Bye!

Rewind, Recap, Rethink Time:

Rewind, Recap, Rethink Time Jingle

Buster:

That was really interesting Buddy, I now know what mindfulness is.

Buddy:

Yeah. It doesn't have to take hours. It's just stopping for a moment here or there to check in with yourself and see how you're feeling. It's actually a really lovely idea. It's like, Hey, Buddy, how you doing? I'm fine. Thanks, Buddy.

Buster:

Yeah, and every day, we can check in to see if our batteries are full and strong. And if we notice that they aren't, then we can do something about it before we lose all our power.

Buddy:

Oh, brilliant. Yeah, but I really like the idea Gillian had of being able to bring a picture into my head of a place in nature that makes me feel all lovely and happy. And that I can take myself there any time during the day for just a quick visit. If I'm feeling under pressure or a bit upset or worried. Ah, happy place. Happy place. my happy place.

Buster:

Uh huh. Yeah, I like that one, too. But what was that called again?

Buddy:

Eh visualisation Buster?

Buster:

Oh, yeah, visualisation. Oh, but we also can do something physical too like when she said, grab a stone that we can leave up the door so we can hold it in our hands and every time we're feeling a little bit worried we have it in the here and now

Buddy:

Yeah, or putting stickers around our homes to remember to stop and breathe.

Buster:

Yeah, they were all so cool.

Rewind, Recap, Rethink Time:

Rewind, Recap, Rethink Time Jingle

Buster:

Hey, guys, it's that time again. It's time to Tickle Your Funny Bone!

Kids Jokes:

Hi, my name is Kate. I am 10 years old. And my job is what is brown sticky. A stick!

Hi, my name is Charlie. I'm 11 years old. My joke is what do you call a belt made of watches? A waist of time.!

Michelle Connolly:

So we've learned loads today. Laugh lots. And now it's time to give our brains a massage. Are you guys ready for this week's mini mindfulness moment?

Ah, yeah. Okey dokey bram stokey!

Louise Shanagher:

Hi, everyone. Hope you're all well. My name is Louise, and welcome to this episode of mini mindfulness moments. So today's mini mindfulness moment is called hug breathing. So I'd like you to stretch your arms out wide. And breathing in give yourself a big hug. Breathing out. Stretch your arms out wide, and give your friends a hug. Breathing in, give yourself a hug. Breathing out. Give your friends a hug. Breathing in. Give yourself a hug. Breathing and give your friends a hug. Well done. That was great. See you next time.

Michelle Connolly:

So guys, that's almost it from us. Thanks to all the kids who sent in their audio clips. And if you have a story, a question or a favourite joke, we'd love to hear from you. All you have to do is recorded on the inbuilt voice recorder on an adult's phone and What's App to us.

Buddy:

You'll find all the details on our website www.TheKidsAreAllRight.ie as well as loads of info and everything we talk about in our shows.

Buster:

Oh and follow us on social media for loads of fun stuff and competitions. That's where me and Buddy take over! Yeah, just look for The Kids Are All Right podcast.

Buddy:

Oh, and don't forget, that's All, as in...

ALL.

Yeah, nice one Buster! We hope you enjoyed this week's show. And if so, tell all your friends about it.

Michelle Connolly:

And remember guys, try to be healthy,

Buddy:

be well

Buster:

and be happy.!

See you next time on The Kids Are All Right podcast.

Kids, it's time Are you ready? It's time to....

Air Guitar in the Car!! Or wherever you are...

Buddy:

Let's Rock!!

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