Sunday, October 16, 2011


The celebrated actor, producer, director and author Goldie Hawn (pictured left), whose autobiography A Lotus Grows in the Mud is one of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read, created The Hawn Foundation in 2005, whose mission is to ‘equip children with the social and emotional skills they need to navigate the challenges of the contemporary world in order to lead smarter, healthier, and happier lives.’ Wonderful!

Working with leading neuroscientists, educators and researchers, The Hawn Foundation has developed the MindUP program, a curriculum that has already been implemented in classrooms in more than 1,000 schools in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

The MindUP program is now on its way to a number of other countries including Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. (The program is expected to start in Australia before the end of this year.)

Here’s a short Hawn Foundation video on the MindUP program:

The exciting, cutting-edge curriculum (now available through Scholastic Books) – which goes beyond mere academics – features some 15 very practical but evidence-based ‘lessons’ designed to help children:

·         reduce stress and anxiety,
·         improve concentration and academic performance,
·         understand the brain science linking thoughts, emotions and behaviour,
·         manage their emotions and behaviour more effectively,
·         develop greater empathy for others and the world, and
·         learn to be optimistic and happy.

Ms Hawn’s curriculum dramatically transforms the way we view education, using methods that are backed up by the latest research about the brain, but does it work? Yes. Already research shows impressive results in children who are learning in the MindUp classroom. For example, a University of British Columbia study reveals that children in Vancouver schools who participated in the program reported not only increased optimism but also decreased aggression in both the classroom and the playground.

Says Hawn, ‘We’ve had children who have lived through genocide, people trafficking and parental drug addiction, and experts have come in to test their cortisol (stress) levels after they slow down and focus on their breathing, and their stress levels are lower.’

Research from Germany on the efficacy of the MindUP program has produced similar results. Once again, the children participating in the MindUp were more able to manage their cortisol levels than the control group. Hawn states that aggression went down in the playground by about 30 per cent. In addition, the children were found to be much more focused and attentive in school ... and also much happier.

For those who are interested, Ms Hawn has written a book 10 Mindful Minutes: Giving Our Children--and Ourselves--the Social and Emotional Skills to Reduce Stress and Anxiety for Healthier, Happy Lives as a guide for parents to teach the MindUP program at home to children aged 5 to 12.

Here, by way of example, is some advice from Goldie on teaching young ones 'mindful breathing' ...

Sit with your children for 10 minutes a day (two sittings of five minutes recommended). Focus on your breathing, then ask your children to sit comfortably with their hands in their lap and to close their eyes. Expect young children to be able to do only a few seconds at first, then build up. Get them to put their hands on their bellies to feel the rise and fall of their breath. Be prepared for distractions and fidgeting ...

and 'mindful listening' ...

Gather together household items such as pencils, paper, coins or a pot. Place them in a box, so children can’t see what they are. Ask them to close their eyes, then to focus on the sound you make with them.

Get the book. There's much more in it. Way to go!

(NOTE. This blog sets out a simple form of mindfulness sitting meditation.)

The book 10 Mindful Minutes by Goldie Hawn with Wendy Holden
is published by Piatkus [Hachette Australia] (RRP AUS$29.99)

For information regarding the book 10 Mindful Minutes contact Jaki Arthur
at Little, Brown publicity on or 02-8248 0864




1 comment:

  1. Dear Ian - This is the most interesting and inspiring blogging I've stumbled across so far. Very much looking forward to catching up with your previous posts, etc. I hope you're getting lots of positive feedback from other readers.
    Best wishes
    Gary Foskett
    3Di Associates