Adam Avin saw his peers hurting and wanted to help them. In this interview, the now-16-year-old talks about the innovative ways he shares mindfulness skills with other kids and teens, sowing seeds for a happier and more peaceful future.
Mindful: In your TED talk you say that your grandfather introduced you to a mindful and positive approach to life. I’m curious, did he call that approach “mindfulness” or was that a word that you learned later?
Adam: No, he didn’t actually use the word mindfulness specifically, but we like to say he was a yogi at heart. He had a yogi mindset, and he had his positive mantras: “Think well to be well,” “Smile and the world will smile with you,” “Smile and say thank you.” So I kind of had those messages in my head from a very young age. My mom also had a yoga teacher, Erika, who was a big part of our lives for a long time. She did yoga and meditation with my mom, so when I was little, I would pop into the sessions when I was home, for some reason.
An Opportunity To Do More
M: Often, we kind of see mindfulness as a personal, individual practice, not really something that you would share with other people. What inspired you to take it further and share it with other children and teenagers?
A: As I grew up, so did our organization. Basically, as I was entering high school, I saw how a lot of my friends or just the people around me honestly were overwhelmed, with all the homework and extracurriculars and social life, whatever. I saw the stress and the anxiety, in myself too.
That’s when we really took the opportunity to create the Mindful Kids Peace Summit. It’s a digital online video library, mostly for teens, where we [Helen Maffini of MindBe-Education, and I] interview over 80 experts who—some give demonstrations or presentations—but it’s mostly interviews and we discuss topics like diversity, inclusion, communication, kindness, anti-bullying, mindfulness as a tool to deal with stress, positive psychology, social-emotional learning, self-awareness, self-compassion, empathy, so much more, and it’s a great tool for teens to use in the classroom. So as I got older, we definitely took the opportunity to expand and say, “Hey, I’m seeing this on a daily basis, we need to create a curriculum for other kids.”
We used to say things like yoga and meditation, and now, it’s definitely grown into mindfulness, which yoga and meditation are a part of. And it’s also social-emotional learning and empathy. All we really want to do is to help teens become less depressed and anxious, and just live healthier and happier lives altogether. So that’s what furthered my interest in mindfulness.
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