Goldie Hawn’s MindUP

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I find NLP and yoga are great techniques to stay grounded and to be able to tap into your inner resources. In the process of rethinking how these practices feed mindfulness and connect to learning, I’ve stumbled upon a great project: Goldie Hawn, is into strengthening focus in school children, running a project that came out of her experience of post-9/11 America, as attention-deficit issues, depression and over-medication were noted to be on the rise. She’s created an agenda dedicated to bringing children happiness, enlisting the help of neuroscientists and positive psychologists to create a school curriculum called MindUp, helping children get in touch with their feelings, aiming to create a classroom of happiness. It’s a 15-lesson curriculum, including focussed breathing, attention, relaxation and awareness-building. Children are taught how their brain works; that when their mid-brain is overactive, their prefrontal cortex (the executive function) is blocked off and dims. In order to open up for learning, children need to be able to quiet their mind, which controls their cortisol levels, and they learn the necessary techniques to do so. In addition, they are taught empathy and pro-social behavior, which helps them balance their emotions and find their place in the universe. They learn that acts of kindness cause their system to emit dopamine, making them feel good. So overall, then, the curriculum entails:

  • Focus: 1. How Our Brains Work; 2. Attention; 3. Awareness: The Core Practice
  • Senses: 4. Listening; 5. Seeing; 6. Smelling; 7. Tasting; 8. Movement I; 9. Movement II
  • Attitude: 10. Perspective Taking; 11. Choosing Optimism; 12. Savoring Happy Experiences
  • Mindful action: 13. Acting with Gratitude; 14. Acts of Kindness; 15. Community Action

She and Dr. Dan Siegel, who has developed a concept of self-understanding and tuning into others that he calls “mindsight“, presented the program at TEDMED 2009. For more, see the MindPU site.

Recent write-up in the Huffington Post

Published materials for the curriculum


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