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Staplehurst mother-of-three Claire MacGillivray meditates with her children everyday, now she wants to bring the art of zen into schools

By Luke May

When a 50-foot fall left her partner unable to walk or talk, Claire MacGillivray refused to let her family succumb to disaster.

At the age of 29 she was caring for the father of her two young children and was thrown into the world of work.

Five years on, her partner Trevor McBean is back in work and the 34-year-old has started her own business, promoting meditation at home and in schools.

Claire MacGillivray of Staplehurst and her children Freya, seven and Aiden McBean, nine. Claire wants schools to introduce meditation in the mornings. Picture: Chris Davey. (6772505)
Claire MacGillivray of Staplehurst and her children Freya, seven and Aiden McBean, nine. Claire wants schools to introduce meditation in the mornings. Picture: Chris Davey. (6772505)

The Staplehurst entrepreneur said: “After we left the hospital I became Trevor’s carer, I had to do everything for him in the early days.

“I found myself on YouTube looking for ways to help my mindset. I didn’t want to become a victim of the situation, that when I started meditation properly.

“It was also good for Trevor, I could offer a positive perspective during a really difficult time.”

Freya and Aiden wheel their father, Trevor McBean, out of hospital after he fell 50 feet from a tree
Freya and Aiden wheel their father, Trevor McBean, out of hospital after he fell 50 feet from a tree

Two years ago, with Trevor’s road to recovery well under way, the MacGillivray’s had their third child, but the Scottish-born mum suffered another setback, when she developed Bell’s Palsy, a condition which temporarily paralysd her face.

She said: “My face was contorted and I had terrible anxiety if I had to go outside.

Freya, Aiden, Claire and husband Trevor while she lived with Bell's Palsy, after the birth of their third child, Connor (6901434)
Freya, Aiden, Claire and husband Trevor while she lived with Bell's Palsy, after the birth of their third child, Connor (6901434)

“I was having to rely heavily on my meditation at that time so I wouldn’t fall into asking ‘why is this happening to me?’”

After three months, the mother-of-three’s face recovered and she decided to quit her career in network marketing, the job she took up after Mr McBean’s fall.

Instead she set up the Mindset Mum last February, helping spread the word of meditation to support other mother’s feeling the pressure.

Aiden (9), Freya(7) and Connor (2) (6901440)
Aiden (9), Freya(7) and Connor (2) (6901440)

Through her website, themindsetmum.com, Mrs MacGillivray has helped teach other parents to meditate and help share the process with their children.

Last year also saw Mr McBean return to work, swapping his former job as a tree surgeon to become a gardener at a school in Hastings.

This month marks a year since the website was set up, and Mrs MacGillivray is now working to bring meditation into the classroom.

All three of the 34-year-old’s children, even two-year-old Connor, take part in daily meditation with her.

She said: “To give children five minutes a day to just sit down with their own thoughts is something we generally don’t do, unless there’s a phone or a book in their hand.

“When I watch my children’s faces when they meditate, there’s a real sign you can see they’re engaging their minds. Connor normally sits for about two minutes before he starts to move, but he’s still in the room.”

“My eldest child, Aidan (9) used to get quite upset if he found things difficult at school, through meditation I’ve encouraged him to have confidence to speak up and ask a question.

“It’s given my children the confidence to make mistakes and it’s changed the way they communicate.

“I heard my daughter Freya (7) tell her friend ‘it’s okay to make mistakes because that’s how you learn,’ to hear that from your child and see the effect meditation has had on her, it’s amazing.”

Having seen the results with her own children, Mrs MacGillivray now wants to see meditation sessions in schools.

Through her website, schools can purchase meditation training, which teachers can use to provide five-minute meditation sessions everyday.

Mrs MacGillivray said: “Meditation isn’t something you do once and it’s fixed. It has to be regular like brushing your teeth.

“I know schools are busy, but taking five minutes before the register could really help the children settle down and help the teacher too.

“There’s so much pressure on children today, mental health problems are rising and we’re not giving them enough to cope with it.

“People talk about anxiety being on the rise and the pressure of exams isn’t going to go away, but meditation gives children the chance to focus their minds and do better.

“It can give them the chance to leave the school run or the playground behind and focus, it can massively help everyone in the classroom.”

Magic Moments Meditation launched in January.

Mrs MacGillivray said: “I’ve had quite a lot of interest from different schools, even some overseas, there’s a lot in motion at the moment.

Projects to promote mindfulness in schools have gained popularity in the United States, and are growing in popularity in the UK.

But Mrs MacGillivrary says her product is different: “Mindfulness is about focussing on one thing, either your emotions or an object.

“Meditation is more about clearing your mind, so you can do it in a shorter amount of time, I’d almost describe it as recharging yourself.”

Find out more at tinyurl.com/mindsetmum.

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