Meet Cheen Tan, whose journey from juggling too many demands to finding health and balance in his work and home life led him directly to a mindfulness practice.
I come from a family of teachers: my parents, younger brother and sister-in-law are all teachers. I was the odd one out, spending the last twenty years in the IT industry. When I decided to become a mindfulness teacher, it felt like coming home, returning to my family.
I came to teach mindfulness rather serendipitously, through a chain of events: my father passed away; I was trying to juggle multiple business and personal demands; I was on an emotional roller coaster, with an unending list of things to do. Overwhelmed, within two weeks after my father’s death, I suffered a mental breakdown.
My doctor kept insisting that I learn meditation to cope with the many things on my mind. I finally attended a ten day meditation course, curious about how focussing on my breath could help me manage my stormy thoughts. It turned out to be hard work, as I battled to attain moments of focus. The retreat also offered something unexpected: my arthritic-like food allergies disappeared! I am pain-free now.
A doctor friend explained that my autonomic nervous system (ANS) had been stabilized. The open, safe retreat environment encouraged my immune system to resume its healing functions. As soon as I returned, I offered to teach my immediate family what I’d just learnt, wanting to share this gift that I benefitted from. While my wife picked it up easily, my three children were super-bored from my instructions to sit still and focus on the breath. However, as a caring parent, I was determined that my kids learn this restorative life skill.
I realized I wanted to go deeper and learn how to teach mindfulness to youth. When I searched online for “teaching mindfulness to children,” there was Mindful Schools. I received my Mindful Schools Certified Instructor accreditation in 2015. Besides the science and techniques of mindfulness, I have also gained many practical class management skills to guide the bored and hyperactive kids during instructions. The one-year certification course has also highlighted the need to have empathy for our children during lessons.
Besides my own children, I have been blessed with the opportunity to teach mindfulness to youth across a range of backgrounds, from students at elite schools in Singapore to kids from underserved communities. Branching out beyond my Mindful Schools training, I have conducted several adult classes and corporate seminars. Every time I lead a class, the same feelings of groundedness and contentment swell within me, hinting that I am getting closer and closer to home.
Cheen Tan still works in the IT industry in Singapore, and is certified to teach mindfulness to youth as well. He graduated from our Year-Long Certification Program in 2015. You can read more about his work on his website and Facebook page.