HomeHealth & BehaviorEmotional Well-Being

10 Mindful Minutes

Page 2 of 3

By Carol Lloyd

Teaching mindfulness and brain science


The book is based on the Hawn Foundation's in-school program "MindUP," whose mission is to help children "develop healthier, happier lives." Seeking to treat a whole schmorgasbord of modern childhood ills – high rates of suicide, rising rates of depression, high drop-out rates, increased stress-levels, findings that American children are the second least happy children in the world – the program teaches kids child-friendly fundamentals of brain functioning along with techniques for quieting the mind, focusing attention, and building pro-social attitudes like optimism and gratitude.

According to the web site, the program has been implemented in hundreds of schools across North America by teaching teachers a curriculum that combines everything from breathing exercises and gratitude journals to scientific explanations of the pre-frontal cortex. The goal of the multi-faceted curriculum is to help kids understand and ultimately develop essential social-emotional skills like empathy, self-control, anger management, self-soothing, and concentration. Studies of the program (some funded by the Hawn foundation) have produced promising findings, including better reading scores, less absenteeism, high levels of working memory, and lower stress hormone levels. (Check out the video to see glimpses of the program in action. My favorite part: the teacher explaining that now her kids analyze storybooks in terms of whether a given character is using his pre-frontal cortex.)

Drawing from this classroom-based curriculum, the book offers a primer on brain functioning, positive psychology, and the benefits of practices such as meditation. Embedded in these explanations are 10-minute lessons that parents can use to help their kids understand what's happening when they have a homework meltdown or how they can calm their mind after a nightmare. There are chapters on brain anatomy and various mindfulness practices, as well as happiness, gratitude, anger, sadness, fear, and kindness. Woven throughout, Hawn peppers the text with anecdotes from her own life: comforting her kids after an earthquake that struck when she and Kurt Russell were out of town, bonding with a Tibetan boy that she has since stayed in touch with, and watching a boy on a playground unable to wrest his mother’s attention from her cell phone.

is the executive editor of GreatSchools and mother to two raucous daughters, ages 9 and 13.

Comments from readers

"Wow, such negative comments! People, get a life! I thought it was a good review. Yes, it did encourage me to buy the book. And yes, it painted Goldie Hawn as a sometimes flawed person. Lightbulb! We are all flawed and none of us deals with stuff in the ideal way we think we would. "
"Excuse my language but I need to use a word that is not in my vocabulary to myself. what would Goldie hawn know about parenting, check her daughter and who knows the other children. these phonies drink, smoke are promiscuous and more.and she wrote the book which I doubt as it possibly is using her name to sell. To me some of the most deranged people are those in Hollywood. I will not go more into detail but people will buy good ,it will get excellent reviews and yet you also praised it knowing the situation. You may write here but it needs to be broadcast,please do not make the book a success from a woman who is stupid.. had children and other cared for them as she cavuted all over the world with a different partner "
"I think that it was unnecessary and Self serving to for the reviewer to To share a personal and biased Account of an association with Golden Hawn and her daughter . The review should be of the Book and nothing more. I find The book to be insightful and Helpful as a Mom & a Mimi. "
"It's always good when someone jumps in there with all hands and feet (and funding) and creates something to solve real problems. One thing I was aware of as one of those teachers who 'left after 5 years' was that the increased labeling and drugging of children was the SOURCE of the problems that Ms. Hawn's program seeks to solve. The other thing I learned after much research is that psychologists in the schools starting in 1963 were the turning point -- the down turning point of our crisis in the classroom. Now there are over 20 million kids on psych drugs like Ritalin, Cylert, etc. And the ADD and ADHD labelling is rampant. The brain and the mind are two totally different things. The book that is the GOLD STANDARD for a description of the mind and its 2 parts is DIANETICS. Once I read this I had so many answers to problems I was having as a teacher, a mother, a citizen, a wife and how to solve these problems that it opened up a whole new world for me. Recently I spoke with a Baptist Pastor whose high school teacher (in Detroit back in the 70s) gave each student the DIANETICS book and told them to read it and write a report on it. Long story short, this Pastor and 15 other male athletes from his school were given scholarships to a west coast college to play basketball. After 2 months, there were only 3 who stayed and the others went back to Detroit. This Pastor said that not having ever been outside of Detroit and the Black community, He was able to put to practice what he learned and feel comfortable in new surroundings. And this happened when he joined the Navy as well. He lives in Bel! aire, CA now, an upscale area of Los Angeles. If the parents and teachers start saying NO to the prescription drugging of children to 'handle their behavior' then a program like this might have a chance of working. And being able to differentiate between the brain and the mind would make it even more successful. "
"Great article...excellent book for classroom and home. "