Weekend's most read & watched: The South Auckland school that teaches children mindfulness

Source: 1News

This story was first published on Saturday August 25.

Psychologist Nigel Latta wants to see mindfulness taught in every school in New Zealand, saying it would make a vast difference to mental health in the country.

The call comes as Mr Latta's new TVNZ series The Curious Mind starts this weekend, and also in the week that TVNZ broadcaster Greg Boyed died suddenly in Switzerland after battling depression.

Seven Sharp reported students at Auckland's Point View School practice mindfulness every morning, and the subject is considered as important as maths at the primary school.

"If I could pass a law and if there was one thing I could do to change New Zealand forever, it would be to teach mindfulness to every kid in every school in this country," Mr Latta told reporter Carolyn Robinson.

"That would be the one thing that I would do. I would put mindfulness-based training into every school in New Zealand and the difference that it would make would be vast."

Mindfulness is the process of bringing one's attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training.

Mr Latta said anxiety and negative thoughts are making the lives of people struggling with this "a really terrible place to be. And the thing is it doesn't have to be".

He describes the human brain as a collection of departments, each with its own agenda. And sometimes it lies to us. 

"But if every time it happens you go, 'no it's not me, it's my brain doing that, and that's a deceptive thought, and it's not real. 

'So instead I'm going to think about the fact that actually I can do these things and people do like me and I have had these good experiences' - and you just make yourself do that, you literally do wire in a different pathway. And it becomes easier," he explained.

Nigel Latta said he did a meditation course when he was 24, "way before it was trendy or cool".

Point View School children are starting even earlier.

One of the students said: "It helps out health."

Another said: "I feel special and relaxed, as if i was in a cloud of fluff."

The school's principal, Robin Kirkham, said mindfulness gives children the tools to think before they act.

"I've spent a lot of time in colleges in my career and I often said to the kids, 'you're far too impulsive. Why did you just do that? You need to think before act!'

"We say it all the time, but don't give them the tools. And that's what mindfulness does."

Nigel Latta agrees.

The Curious Mind starts this Sunday 8.30pm on TVNZ 1.