Name: Andrew Jordan Nance Location: San Francisco Occupation: Mindfulness Educator & Author at www.mindfulartssf.org Books:
Puppy Mind: When a young boy realizes his mind wanders like a puppy, he sets out to train it one kind breath at a time. Mindful Arts in the Classroom: A complete curriculum, utilizing storytelling, theater and art activities to bring mindfulness to kids. The Lion in Me: A young boy learns to name and tame the inner beast within. What inspired you to become an author? It really never occurred to me that I would be an author. I remember going to a psychic in my mid-20's and she said I would be well-known for writing books. Let's just say, I didn't believe her. About five years ago, in my late 40's, I was inspired to write a mindfulness picture book because when I went out in search of kids books on the subject, there really was not much to be found. One day after reading a mindfulness picture book to a less than enthusiastic class of Kindergarteners, I went home and wrote four manuscripts in just a few hours and then wrote another ten more over the course of that summer. Those stories were all published in Mindful Arts in the Classroom and Puppy Mind and the Lion in Me have their own books, with more to follow!
Who do you write the books for? I write books for the mindful child in all of us. Those who want to look at the habits of our minds that do not work for them: being reactive, being a bully, nervous, quick to worry, quick to attack, quick to eat, quick to shop. You name the habit, mindfulness can help rewire the brain so it works for us, not the other way around. Humans tend to be very habitual without a consistent awareness practice. Why do you think it's important for families to implement mindfulness? I think the very structure of a family leaves a lot of room for chaos: different schedules, different ages, genders, view points, living with people twenty four hours a day, the list is long and sets up human beings for the possibility of a great deal of discord. We have to realizes that it is natural for family structures to have strife, we just need to have tools to deal with that strife. That's where mindfulness comes in. With a consistent mindfulness practice of just five minutes a day, individuals can learn to respond wisely rather than react blindly. Stressed out adults create stressed out kids, and no one thinks either of those states of being are ideal. What are some ways parents can implement mindfulness with their family? Starting small would be my recommendation. Spend one minute breathing with your kids (or by yourself) and work up to 5 minutes or more. If kids say it's boring, congratulate them for noticing their experience. Do they feel big or little when they are bored, hot or cold, relaxed or tense, etc? And certainly try to make it fun by inviting them to choose how to breathe that morning- perhaps it's Spiderman breath, or Wonder Woman breath, or Elephant breath, or Butterfly breath. Go to: http://www.mindfulartssf.org/breathing-cards for some ideas. To cultivate gratitude: In the evening, ask what they are grateful for that day (or what was the best thing that happened today) or in the morning ask what are they most looking forward to today? When did you start your own mindfulness practice? I started my mindfulness practice around 6 years ago when taking a "Science of Well-being" course. Since then I have tried to meditate daily for a half an hour in the morning and also go to two weekly Meditation Groups (Sanghas) to "sit" and hear a teacher speak on mindfulness. I have been on a few retreats as well. Also throughout the day I check in with my mind, heart, and body to see where I am at. I find that it is not enough to meditate and then let my habitual mind take over. I need to keep an eye on it, just like a puppy. Favorite books or resources for parents that want to start practicing mindfulness for themselves? Besides my books , I really like "Sitting Still Like a Frog." It is for parents but has great activities to use with your kids. I also enjoyed ready "Buddha Brain" By Rick Hanson. A great parenting book is "No Drama Discipline". One of my favorite Mindfulness books for kids is "Charlotte and the Quiet Place" By Deborah Sosin. It's about a girl whose life is very noisy but winds up finding the quietest place of all. What do you hope to see in the future for children and families in regards to practicing mindfulness? I am hopeful that mindfulness will be like exercise or brushing your teeth, it will be something we feel we are compelled to do, otherwise we feel out of sorts. Fortunately, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is a really important part of most school cultures these days, and mindfulness is component of SEL. If teachers just found a few minutes a day to focus the mind and body by practicing what I call "Focus Time" (meditating) we would train the young minds in our midsts, as well as adults, to be less reactionary so that we can respond with more skill. As the exiled leader of Tibet, the 14th Dalai Llama said, "We could eradicate war in a generation if young people learned Mindfulness."
When is your next book coming out?
Well, thank you for asking! My next book The Lion in Me will be released on my birthday, September 17th ( a complete coincidence!). My fourth book, the Barefoot King, comes out in May of 2020 through Shambhala Press. It has not been announced yet so don't tell anyone!