I’M pleased to hear that the government have funded a £6.4 million research programme enabling University of Oxford to assess the effectiveness of teaching Mindfulness in UK schools. The Mindfulness and Resilience in Adolescence (MYRIAD) project will begin in 2016, involving 76 schools over 7 years and will ask whether Mindfulness training can improve mental health and wellbeing in teenagers. In this day and age our children are under so much pressure to look good, be popular and perform well, so much so that the age of onset for major depression has fallen from 49-51 years of age in 1967 to 13-15 years of age in 2007. 75% of mental disorders now begin before the age of 24, and half by the age of 15. Mindfulness means to deliberately pay attention to our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations in the present moment, non-judgementally. By creating space and awareness we can begin to respond skilfully to situations we find ourselves in rather than reacting in automatic or habitual ways that may not serve us well. Teaching our children skills in emotional intelligence, resilience and happiness is just as important, if not more so, as teaching the core subjects of Science, History, Geography. Some schools in the UK have decided not to wait for the findings of the MYRIAD report and are already introducing Mindfulness onto their curriculum with confident it will have a positive impact on the pupils as well as the teachers. Tonbridge Boys School in Kent teach all Year 10 pupils Mindfulness. Headmaster Richard Burnett believes it to be an important life skill – it is more than just an aid to academia, but something to take on into later life. “The knock-on benefits to wellbeing, mental health, the capacity for empathy and simply for young people to be content and to flourish make it well worth it,” he says. Let’s hope more schools follow Burnett’s lead and have the courage and foresight to equip our children with life skills that with help them cope, flourish and reach their full potential. Calm in the City This month Mindfit teamed up with Liverpool BID Company to host a joint event to bring a bit of peace and calm to Liverpool’s Central Business District. The event took place outside Liverpool’s historic Town Hall. 20 people (and 1 dog!) joined us to practice the art of quieting the mind amongst the hustle and bustle of a very busy lunchtime in Exchange Flags. We had a varied mix including accountants, solicitors, make-up artists and even policemen all making the most of the opportunity to switch off and tune in! The sun came out for us and it was great to see people coming together and getting their Zen on! Watch out for our next event. The Power of Gratitude I’ve just finished reading a great book called Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson PhD who suggests practising gratitude is one of the best ways to boost your mindset. Hanson says “being grateful for what you have in any given moment has the power to transform the way you feel instantly”. Making a grateful list has been a longstanding part of my daily routine, and no matter how I am feeling as I start to write, quite often worried or stressed, by the time I have finished my grateful list I feel happy and energised and have noticed I am more sensitised to feeling grateful and positive throughout the rest of the day. So what are you grateful for? Using your fingers count up as many things you can think of that you are grateful for, it can be anything, such as good health, family, friends, home, job, but it can also be the small everyday things we often take for granted, like someone smiling at you, a glass of water, food, music, a child’s laughter, the ability to breathe! Just notice how you feel afterwards and try it again the next time you feel down or worried. Let me know how you get on!