A new picture book by a Beijing author explores mindfulness in a way that parents and children can share together.
Dalida Turkovic discovered mindfulness at a low point in her life, when a friend advised she should see a therapist. “Don’t send me to anyone who’s going to ask me to talk about my parents!” was her response. Instead, she was introduced to Al Chambers, who helped her use mindfulness practices to transform her life. Dalida is now an executive and wellness coach who has founded the Beijing Mindfulness Centre. We talked to her about Mindfulness for Beginners.
What inspired you to write the book?
After each coaching session I had with my coach and mentor Ann-Marie McKelvey I took time to draw the experience and share with her as a form of a diary. At times I drew every day, sometimes only once a week but eventually I started to share the drawing with my friends and the response was often the encouragement to continue to draw as the sketches triggered their own understanding of the practice.
A year ago one of my friends suggested that it would be good to share my work with my clients and general public. In June 2015 I also read an article about a seven year mindfulness project implemented in 756 schools in the UK. I was inspired by that initiative and the desire to create something was getting stronger and stronger.
Finally, one day in August, my coach challenged me to write and draw a book in five days. The challenge was intriguing; I accepted it and finally managed to draw the first draft in three days. The whole process of drawing, editing, finding a publisher and confirming the final version took six months.
Who is the book aimed at?
I intended to write it for children at first and now I hear the grownups saying that it is too difficult for them. I don’t think so… The difficult part could be to explain what these concepts mean if children start asking questions. From that perspective the book is intended for any person who is interested in beginning their mindful journey, as well as those who are trapped in conceptualization of mindfulness (understanding from their mind but not feeling in their bodies) – it is a book for beginners as well as those who have the beginner’s mind – curiosity about the practice of mindfulness.
Why a picture book?
I realized that the more I tried to explain how I was experiencing mindful practice the more I was stuck in my mind. As the main objective of my personal practice was to connect with my body and emotions, I used my body to explain the experience of mindful practice. This is how the drawings came to life.
Why is mindfulness important for children?
Children observe who we are and what we do. We pass our own anxieties and concerns to them. The education system requires for children to produce right answers and to aim for excellence. Parents and general environment also project these messages, and soon we teach our children to stop playing and being curious, happy and carefree. We teach them responsibility and perfection instead.
Playfulness, creativity, curiosity, optimism, gratitude and self-awareness are major components of mindfulness. Through positive psychology research we can see the proof that these traits directly correlate to improved health and boosted immune system, better relationships, a general sense of happiness and success as well as expanded neuroplasticity. By practicing mindfulness we generate chemicals in our brain that are necessary for us to handle stress and difficulties in our lives.
Imagine a generation of children that is calm, positive, creative, and able to handle adversities with self-awareness and capacity to express themselves in an authentic way. I believe that we would have better leadership, less wars, more sustainable solutions for the environment, and a creative way of building sustainable communities. For this we need to invest time in our own skills so we can guide children to navigate through ego, without letting go of the traits that are the key components of happiness and success.
Mindfulness for Beginners is available at the Beijing Mindfulness Center, or via Amazon:
Photo: Andrew Killeen