More and more Americans are turning to meditation — and a form known as mindfulness — as a way to relieve stress and feel more connected. It's now offered in schools, workplaces and even in the military.
Author Kathy Walsh is part of a growing field that believes mindfulness and mediation can start as early as toddlerhood. She has written many children's books and even a parenting guide to raising children in this way.
"I think mindfulness is really just a way of being. It's kind of setting an intention for how you're going to be in the world," she said. "Positive thinking, gratitude and putting an energy of love out there."
Walsh said her books help parents implement these practices.
"You're planting the seed that their thoughts have energy, that today is a new day, that today is a new beginning, and that the world and the universe are supporting you just the way you are," she said.
For those parents who see this method as too touchy-feely or abstract, Walsh said gratitude is an idea everyone can grasp.
"That's not abstract, but it's a life-changer, it's a game-changer," she said. "It's totally the way to joy. If you put out gratitude everyday, you can't imagine what comes back to you."
The idea of mindfulness also involves teaching kids to feel negative feelings, Walsh said. Her book, 'The Bright Blue Ballon,' is all about teaching kids to embrace — and then let go of — these feelings. In the elementary school class Walsh's sister teaches in Vermont, her students draw balloons and put their feelings inside of them. Some talk about feelings of sadness and anger about being picked on.
"Feeling those feelings and being able to let them go is really the path to finding joy in your life," Walsh said.
To listen to the full interview, click on the blue audio player above.