Breath awareness meditation has been part of Heidi Thompson’s life for years and she was thrilled when she was able to see the benefits for children of all ages.
“I worked with the program I have developed in Vernon schools and got a lot of interest from other schools around the province. I had nothing to send them and no time to go and teach,” she said.
Thompson, who is best known as an artist and the author of Recapitulation: A Journey by Sveva Caetani, started writing a book, Calm Focus Joy, to help teachers learn to lead meditation classes and for individuals to learn by themselves. She studied meditation in different traditions when she was an art student in Europe and took part in Vipassana retreats in Canada.
“Nothing can compare with the technique of developing focus on breathing to calm the mind. Children are so open to experience the empowerment, clarity and sustained focus that comes from meditation and to use that focus to lead a life that does not harm themselves or others,” she said.
“There is so much stimulation in the world but we can learn to lead a calm, peaceful, happy life. Focus is part of survival and a sense of self worth. Children are intelligent, they see the value in that.”
Thompson explains the program, which she calls Mindmastery, in detail in the book.
“Children need adult guidance to do this but they learn to pay attention and like that this is something they can control for themselves. I call the way the mind wanders ‘the puppy dog mind’ that has to be trained. They like that analogy.”
The book is organized in 10 sessions and the exercises can be done by people with no background in meditation or with experience in other traditions. Each session focuses on a different aspect of self knowledge and has information for individual practice and for teachers. The student sessions include silent practice, a story, journaling and discussion.
“Breath awareness is used in schools in India to help students start the day with a focused mind, and in other schools around the world. I want to present it in a pure way that is not commercialized. I want to pass on what was passed on to me.
“I have made the book very thorough so that people can learn the specific technique. It’s simple but it’s complex. You can only know it after you experience it. I like it when I hear about children and parents doing Mindmastery together. Some people are using it in homeschooling and it can be done as a program for community groups. Groups of adults like to do the practice together as well.”
Thompson will have the launch of Calm Focus Joy on Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Gallery Vertigo, suite 1, 3001-31st St., downtown Vernon. There is no charge to attend; everyone is welcome, and refreshments will be served.
The book is also available at www.calmfocusjoy.com.