The lives we lead, particularly in the Western world, are technologically overburdened and spiritually impoverished. Our children can tell us the various merits of different operating systems for electronic devices, but are rarely in touch with how different emotions are experienced in the body, or how it feels to bring kindness to a moment of difficulty. They are bombarded almost constantly with information at a rate that mankind even 50 years ago would have struggled to begin to comprehend, and mental illness is at an all-time high.
Heather Grace MacKenzie has written her new book, Awakening Child, to offer inner transformation for the parent through teaching their children mindfulness and compassion.
Research indicates that one of every four adolescents will have an episode of major depression during high school, with the average age of onset being 14 years of age. The human race is at a tipping point, and we have no sane choice but to begin to awaken the capacities within us that have too-long lain dormant. We can choose to lead a child towards awakening, and thus awaken ourselves.
Heather Grace MacKenzie's wonderful book invites parents and those working with children to engage in a journey of self-acceptance and self-compassion in order to create a more peaceful life, both for ourselves and for our children. We come to realise that the best way to learn something is to teach it. Her words reflect her deep understanding of the subject-matter and, as always, come from the heart.
Heather Grace MacKenzie was brought up on the Scottish Isle of Islay, daughter of a farmer and a conservationist.
She is a Mindfulness Teacher, Reiki Master and Empowerment Coach. As well as teaching meditation and mindfulness to her own three children and her two step-children, she has taught children of all ages and stages in both family and school settings. Her most important work is mothering four amazing boys.
Author: Heather Grace MacKenzie
Question: What inspired you to write Awakening Child?
Heather Grace MacKenzie : Learning mindfulness has changed my life beyond measure, particularly in the realm of how I parent my children, and I was inspired to write the book after one precious moment of watching my youngest (who was then four years old) sleeping. That night I wrote the first few pages of the introduction to the book, and the seed had then been sown.
Question: What audience is Awakening Child for?
Heather Grace MacKenzie : The book is aimed at anyone who has a child or children in their life. In essence it's a mindful parenting book, encouraging the reader to learn mindfulness or deepen their mindfulness practice through teaching it to a child, but many teachers and social workers who've read the book have found it to be very helpful indeed.
Question: What do you hope we take from Awakening Child?
Heather Grace MacKenzie : What I hope, more than anything, is that the reader feels more alive after reading the book and feels more able to bring an inner warmth to moments of difficulty. Life isn't neat and tidy - it's pretty messy - and we can really learn to be OK with that. We can begin to find a certain kind of power in vulnerability and in not needing to have all the answers.
Question: How can we take the first steps towards engaging in a journey of self-acceptance and self-compassion?
Heather Grace MacKenzie : We can only take the first step in this moment - we can't take it in the future, only in the now. So we can choose to engage in a journey of self-acceptance and self-compassion right now, perhaps by taking a couple of mindful breaths where we really feel how it is to breathe. We can use our senses to perceive this moment rather than being lost in our thoughts, and we can invite the body to soften. Perhaps we can watch what happens in the body if we say to ourselves kindly on each out-breath, for a few breaths, "soften".
Interview by Brooke Hunter