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Posted on 12-02-2016

A Brief Interview with Dawn Mountain’s Family Educator, Simone Woodage

Tell us about your journey to becoming a mindfulness teacher.

I grew up in an untraditional family with no religion at all, and I was always a seeker.  One day my brother gave me a copy of the Dalai Lama’s book The Art of Happiness.  I read it, and it made sense to me.  When I wanted to explore further, I searched for a Buddhist Center in Houston and found one within walking distance of my house.  That was Dawn Mountain, in its old location on Bissonnet St. – 12 or 13 years ago.

I had spent many years working in the very intense environment of hospital emergency rooms as an ICU nurse.  Then I became a mother to three sons. I transitioned into my next career as a community educator  teaching families and children about healthy sexuality and human relationships.  I continued to practice meditation at Dawn Mountain, and my teacher there, Anne Klein, asked me one day whether I would be interested in starting a children’s program with them.  I was honored and excited, but wanted some specific tools, so I completed trainings with Susan Kaiser Greenland in California and with the Mindful Schools program in Massachusetts, along with lots of personal study.

What excites you about teaching mindfulness to young children?

I am always amazed.  Children are amazingly articulate and insightful.  They’re way more aware than we give them credit for.  I love listening to them talk honestly about their feelings.  And I love being able to offer them the space to just be; our mantra in class is “Nothing here has to be perfect.”  When we do an art activity, it’s just about enjoying the process. 

Talk a little about your motivations in working with moms’ groups.

When I became a parent, I was very clear that I did not want to repeat some of the patterns of my own childhood.  I also saw pretty quickly that motherhood can be lonely, isolating, and filled with second-guessing ourselves and comparing ourselves to others.  Moms need support, they need the space to sit quietly (which the body craves) and be in compassionate community with other moms.  We pair this in our groups with solid advice from some great books on conscious, mindful parenting, in hopes that we can all build our resources for extending calm and connection in all of our relationships, especially those with our children.

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