7 Things Adults Need To Remember (Life Lessons From Teaching Mindfulness To 1200 Kids) | Amber Hawken | Dip. Mindfulness CBT

Life can be so beautiful, if we allow it.

Last week, I stood in front of about 1,200 students and 80 or so teachers and taught the foundations of mindfulness, meditation and emotional resilience. There is a profound ease that comes with working with minds that are not yet conditioned to fear the unknown, stuck in identity crisis and carrying around decades of baggage #adultlife.

Youth comes with a purity that we often lose as we begin to learn what it is to “be enough” and we forget what’s truly important. I might have been the one up the front delivering the words and wisdom, but those students, in their openness, reflected back to me what the most important parts of life are.

  1.  Joy. F*ck, we need to prioritise joy, above all. Joy is different to happiness; happiness is fleeting. If happiness is just above the norm of what we can feel, then joy is what shoots shivers down your centre and reminds you what it really feels like to be fully awake and alive. While follow your bliss is overused and miscommunicated, I believe if understood and executed correctly, it can be the most important thing you do each day. Following your bliss equates to experiencing joy. When we experience joy we naturally fall into alignment and the BS we hold onto that gives us the illusion of a “me” falls away and clears our minds and hearts of conditioned fear. Remember, what was bliss to you a week ago may not be bliss to you today and so each and every day you must take the time to be still and check in with that true north and adjust accordingly.

  2. Don’t just breathe, pay attention to it. At the root of all success is our ability to direct our attention. To direct your attention you must first become acquainted with it. Where is your attention right now? Reading this and doing what at the same time? Exactly. How often are you fully present? You’re leaking your gold everywhere and wondering why you’re anxious, scattered, unable to remain disciplined and calm. They say fear stops you going after your dreams, and I passionately disagree.. It’s your inability to direct your own mind that’s destructive through distraction. A world of stimulation not only wires us to be in attention deficit, it creates a world that lives on the surface. We lack depth and as a result we lack fulfilment. When we lack fulfilment, we turn to stimulation to numb the dissatisfaction. Too dark? Too bad. You need to learn to look at yourself (with compassion and kindness, but also with honesty). Use your breath to build your focus muscle just as you would use weights to build your physical muscle. Breath does not just give us life, it gets us out of our own way in order to allow us to experience what we are here to experience; connection to our true north and a space to feel, let go and evolve. Please, just freaking meditate.

  3. Self-trust is more important than self-help. The online world is constantly alluring you to believe that you need someone else’s help to live a good life. Self-help has become a way to avoid facing ourselves and doing the work. It is as real and as dangerous as heroin, only worse because it’s encouraged and glorified and therefore enabled. You don’t need self-help, you need to fall hard and learn from it. Pick up a book and then apply the lessons before moving onto your next one. Master mastery instead of mastering learning. Learn all you like, you can still be dumb, stuck and afraid if you don’t take the time to be still and apply what’s relevant and cast away what’s not true for you. The quickest way to misery and screwing up your life is to take everyone else’s advice on how to live it. Stop trying to buffer discomfort and fast track success. Don’t forget, the juice is only juice after the fruit is literally compressed, broken down and falls apart. Experience is your teacher. Go and get some. Form your own lens.“Rather, ten times, die in the surf, heralding the way to a new world, than stand idly on the shore.” Florence Nightingale

  4. Just do you, whatever that is, especially if it’s different to yesterday – it means you are listening to yourself. F*ck conforming. F*ck having people like you, that’s so boring, you’ll never know what it feels like to be brave if you don’t risk rejection. What a dull life. Plus, humans lie, which means they are probably lying about liking you. People are so concerned with their own fears about rejection to spend more than a moment on their opinion of you, so forget it. Also, it’s our nature to continuously change; if you get too attached to “who you are”, you’ll stop yourself from growing. If you stop yourself from growing, you begin to die inside. I asked the teenagers at Calm Mind Project last week how many of them felt anxious when presented with the question, “Who do you want to be when you grow up?” 90% of their hands unanimously rose.There are only two things you need to be afraid of and the first is having an answer to that question and the second is growing up. Keeping your child like nature is a necessary art for a full life. Knowing who you are means you are living within conditions, beliefs and that shit represses natural evolution. Get curious and forget the concept of “me”.

  1. Let go, often. If it won’t matter in 10 years don’t allow your mind to indulge in it for more than 10 seconds. Everything in this world follows the natural path of birth, life and death. It’s our holding on to this moment that screws us over, hard. Emotions, feelings, thought, identities are all fluid. Life is fluid, and beautifully so. They all pass, but we grasp for pleasure and fear the perceived pain of the unknown (note, it’s not scary if you are curious and learn to value growth). It’s not growth that hurts, it’s us holding onto what we have in this moment, clinging to our identity, relationships and things for dear life, fearing loss, change and the unknown that hurts. Let life do it’s work, adjust your true north and just do you.

  1. Express, don’t suppress. Only the brave are willing to feel. F*ck your story about perfectionism. It’s fear dressed up in a ball gown and your relationship with it as part of your identity is screwing up your joy and holding you back from necessary discomfort that you need in order to understand life on a deep level. When we begin to become mindful about life it doesn’t mean we are slowing down and missing out, it means we are opening up and inviting life in. To be mindful is to pause, observe and accept without judgment. Our feelings are energies of life that when we learn to let in, guide us to the right places where we find the pockets of wisdom we keep avoiding. Wherever you are over analysing or trying to make perfect in your life, is a very clear moment that can teach you where it is that you are holding back. These areas show us where we can pluck some courage and lean in when you’re otherwise likely to shutdown and back away. Your areas of ‘perfection’ are the areas you are afraid to feel and show you, with terrifying clarity, exactly where you are suppressing and need to express. Be willing to show up for yourself and look at what’s inside, and be  honest and compassionate about how you feel. Let it out, move your body, breathe into it, yell, feel and surrender to the colours of life.

  1. Be kind. Second to evolution, our brains, bodies and souls are wired to come to life when we contribute to the world. Kindness is the most simple form of contribution. I spoke to the students about my stepmom growing up; the battles we had and how it taught me we cannot control someone else, but we can build resilience within. We did a big gratitude and compassion process at the end of the sessions where you bring a person who you feel has hurt you, into your mind, and appreciate their very human nature of wanting to be loved and accepted and having fears and struggles, “just like you”. At the end, we send them kindness and wish them peace, happiness and success. Tears streamed down faces, including mine. Doing this 13 times (including the teachers program) reminded me that all we are here to do in life is discover ourselves and lose ourselves over and over again. To grow, and sometimes that’s effing hard (didn’t swear to the kids, don’t worry), life gets tough, emotions are sticky and our mind can get dark. And it’s in those moments of darkness and hardship that the most gentle and empowering way to step out, is giving. Add value to the world and someone’s life. Just be kind.

So, thanks 1,200 students, for reminding us what’s important.


One Comment on “7 Things Adults Need To Remember (Life Lessons From Teaching Mindfulness To 1200 Kids) | Amber Hawken | Dip. Mindfulness CBT

  1. Hi Amber

    I just want to thank you for this article. I cant tell you how many A-ha moments it brought me.
    I’ve recently been through a marriage breakdown which has been coming for over 10yrs but I’ve clung to this relationship for fear of change. I feel I’ve been to rock bottom in the past few months and all of a sudden clarity has begun. I’m coming out of the fog.
    I’ve seen you speak, read your book,listened to podcasts and read your newsletters.I ALWAYS take away something great but today was an exception. I guess I’m finally ready to be me, unfuckwithable, present and full of JOY!!!


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