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Friday, March 28, 2014

Mindful Parenting Program

A group of 10 parents (7 mothers, 3 fathers) participated in the first Mindful Parenting Program organized at Samadhi Vihara from 22nd to 24th of March 2014. This program is a collaborative effort between KL Buddhist Mental Health Association (BMHA) and Aloka Foundation. It aims to provide support for parents and advocate mindfulness in parenting children. The designed program consists of themes of applying beginner’s mind and self-compassion in parenting process. 

A total of 3 sessions were conducted with 2 – 3 hours each session. An approach of group processing was adopted in order to provide space for parents to share and discuss related concerns. The group was also exposed to learning of mindful eating, body scan, progressive muscle relaxation and self-compassion exercises. In the group process, the parents were encouraged to share and discuss concerns in parenting. The group was guided to reflect and be aware of their inner self by reviewing their own past upbringing experiences as well as their relationship with their own parents. The group sharing was a dynamic process and was deemed as an important factor to promote group growth. The sharing from both fathers’ and mothers’ perspectives serves an extra advantage for the parents to understand and empathize better with each other.

The group provided positive feedback on learning how to incorporate mindfulness and self-compassion in parenting the children. The parents also demonstrated enthusiasm to apply the learnt skills in their daily living. They were encouraged to continue practicing the learnt concepts and to support each other in future.

Being the facilitator, I am grateful to be given the opportunity to conduct the first Mindful Parenting Program in Malaysia. I am also thankful to be given such wonderful parents to work with as my first kick start. The encouraging feedback and learning will serve a good platform for me to continue promote this program to the community. I would also like to dedicate appreciation to Dr. Phang Cheng Kar, Sis. Low Mi Yen, Sis. KC Chiang and Bro Pheh Kai Shuen for the continuous support and trusts that enabling me to have the courage to make the first step out. I look forward for more to come.

Prepared by,


Clinical Psychologist,

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mindful-TEEN Program

A Malaysian version of Mindful-TEEN program made its humble debut at the Samadhi Rainbow Program (SRP) Youth Camp, which was held from 22-24th March 2014. The camp was organized by Buddhist Missionary Society of Malaysia (BMSM) in collaboration with KL Buddhist Mental Health Association (BMHA), and was held at the Samadhi Vihara.  Twenty teenagers aged between 12 – 17 years and a 9-year old boy attended the 9-hour program which aimed at promoting emotional resilience within them. The program consisted of 3 main themes which are the “what, why and how” of mindfulness, dealing with difficult emotion, and kindness to self. 

For the “what” of mindfulness, the participants were introduced to the definition by Jon Kabat-Zinn – “Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment in a non-judgmental way”, which they memorized with enthusiasm. They were taught the “how” by paying attention to the 5 senses, movement, breathe and emotion. The participants played competitive games and engaged in activities to experience “paying attention” to hearing, touching and movement. An activity that the participants enjoyed especially was the rhythmic “cup clap” movement featured in the music video “the cups song”. In this activity, the participants had to pay attention to the hand movements as well as to the tapping and clapping sound of the group so as to be in unison.  Immediately after the routine, they observed 3 breathe followed by 3 sounds which most of them could do so without much difficulty.  However, the “why” which was mostly about mindlessness did not elicit much response from the participants.   

In the session on “paying attention to emotion”, the participants listened to music and expressed their feeling through drawings.  A 3-step approach – pause, observe, choose – was introduced as a method in dealing with difficult emotion.  It was emphasized that we can choose our response wisely when we are mindful. 

Lastly, the concept of “non-judgmental” was illustrated visually through optical illusions and video on awareness test. The participants appeared to be thrilled by the visuals and explored them curiously. To encourage kindness to self, the participants were asked to make a list of what they like about themselves and another on what they like about each of the group member. When they each compared the lists, it was revealed that they had overlooked many of their good qualities. It was pleasing to note that most participants beamed and giggled when reading out the lists made by others.

While the Mindful-TEEN program was ongoing, May, another Mindful-Gym trainer was conducting Mindful Parenting Program with the parents. At the end of the program, a joint session for the teenagers and parents was held. Both the teenage participants and parents shared what they had learnt and a short video on Learning to Breathe – a mindfulness curriculum for adolescents was screened to close the program.

I wish to highlight some interesting feedback from the teenagers, such as “they sort of knew what mindfulness was before but now they are clearer”, “mindfulness can help them to calm down”, and “they could pause by paying attention to the breathe, body sensation", "I feel fresh (after mindful-STOP), etc”, and one participant asked, “what is the difference between meditation and mindfulness”. Awesome!

I am very grateful for the support from BMSM, Aloka Foundation especially Sis. Sumangala, Sis. Jivani, parents of some of the participants and all volunteers who worked very hard during the camp to make sure we were comfortable. To the young, enthusiastic and energetic facilitators from Dhammaduta Youth (D2Y), and my son Shi Hoong, thank you for saving me from physical exhaustion! Last but not least, Dr. Phang (developer of Mindful-Gym), thank you for your guidance and your trust in me.  

Prepared by,
Clinical Psychologist,
Mindful-Gym Trainer, BMHA.

Note: Both Sis. KC & May are clinical psychologists in private practice, and co-trainers of the Mindful-Gym program. The Mindful-TEEN & Mindful Parenting Programs are extensions of the Mindful-Gym program. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

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