Q&A with Heather Grace MacKenzie, author of Awakening Child on mindful parenting

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. Heather has taught meditation and mindfulness to her own three children and her two step-children as well as children of all ages and stages in both family and school settings. With the backing of the Mindfulness Association, founded by Rob Nairn, she is currently working on creating and evaluating a mindfulness course for secondary school students that is based on the Mindfulness Association’s Mindful Based Living Course (MBLC), as part of her studies for a PhD in Education with Aberdeen University.

What inspired you to write Awakening Child?

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.

What audience is Awakening Child for?

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.

What do you hope we take from Awakening Child?

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.

How can we take the first steps towards engaging in a journey of self-acceptance and self-compassion?

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”.

Awakening Child – A journey of inner transformation through teaching your child mindfulness and compassion, published by O Books, ISBN: 978-1-78535-408-3 (Paperback) £13.99 $24.95.

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