Mindfulness is allowing our thoughts to come in the front door and out the back without entertaining them or serving them tea.
Written by Sue D
What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is all about living in the present moment. Many of us go through life on autopilot, sometimes not even being aware of the moment at all. We are flooded by thoughts that take us into the past or future, removing us from this time zone: the present. In this day and age, it’s affecting our children far more than we realize which is why I’m happy to share some tips that I use in my daily practice, about how these youngsters can learn to slow down and rebalance as part of their daily routines. This is key to their wellness. I am excited to be creating some w
I decided to begin my relationship with you all by talking about Mindfulness and why it’s so important for everyone to practice and incorporate into their everyday living. It is especially important to help our children learn and experience these practices so that they can choose what works best for them as they move through their sometimes very stress-filled lives.
We need to empower our children with these amazing but simplistic tools to help them manage their lives in a more calm and connected fashion – being connected to themselves that is.
Mindfulness takes place within you. It helps us to reduce or lessen the chatter in our minds – the worry, the anxiety, the rampant thoughts. With a mindful practice, we can acknowledge the thoughts but not get caught up in following them down a path. I describe this process as one where we allow the thoughts to come in the front door and out the back without entertaining them or serving them tea. The benefits of practicing mindfulness are plentiful for all of us, especially our children, and here are some reasons why.
i. Keeps kids and adults calm and centered
ii. Improves immune function and concentration
iii. Improves self-acceptance and self-esteem
iv. Strengthens our resilience
v. Helps us control our emotions
vi. Decreases our stress
vii. Make better decisions and improve self-regulation
Creating a mindfulness practice is just like going to the gym to build your muscles and strength, or playing a sport. Our mindfulness muscle needs to be built too in order for it to become a natural part of our lives. This requires practice, repetition, and routine, like brushing our teeth and having breakfast. Mindfulness needs to be built into our daily habits and practices to become integrated into our lives. When we have these in our back pockets, we are more apt to be able to focus on them when we most need it – in class, with our parents, or even with friends – during those times when we feel like we are losing it.
Five mindfulness practices that are great for kids:
NUMBER ONE – JUST BREATHE
The first of my favourite mindful practices is something that we can use anywhere and everywhere. It’s always available to us, and that is our breath. As life is moving fast and we feel like we are on a hamster wheel, using and focusing on our breath is a simple way to rebalance, reset, and ground us in the moment. My suggestion and favourite daily practice is to focus on taking three long deep breaths, a deep inhale and then really exhale focusing on allowing the air to be exaggerated as it leaves your body with focused attention. This is a beautiful mindfulness practice that can be incorporated into your everyday life.
NUMBER TWO – THE ACT OF GRATITUDE
A second favorite is the mindfulness act of gratitude. Whether you use a gratitude journal or are just thinking of your most grateful thoughts each day, this can play a huge role in present moment awareness. It also creates an enormous shift in our attitude. Studies show that you cannot be grateful and depressed or sad at the same time.
NUMBER THREE – TRY A BELL EXERCISE
No really. I wasn’t joking – try it! A bell exercise is another fabulous practice in mindfulness for children. As you ring a bell, listen closely to the vibration of the ringing sound. Remain silent as the sound of the bell stops, and listen for one minute afterward to hear whatever sounds are coming to your attention. An additional fun exercise you can add onto this (you might have to help your kids out with this part which can also be super fun) is once you are done, write or just verbally share what you heard during that additional minute. This practice truly connects us to the present moment.
NUMBER FOUR – MINDFUL EATING
Mindful eating, my fourth recommendation, is a highly underrated mindfulness practice. To be a mindful eater, you can actually be totally silent and truly experience every aspect of what you are eating by using your senses. As you see the food, think about what it looks like to you. Next, listen to see if the food makes any noise as you are eating it. Our next sense is
NUMBER FIVE – PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR EMOTIONS
Mindfulness is another opportunity to pay close attention to our emotions and our physical sensations that accompany these emotions. This is also an exercise that we can do anywhere at any time. Paying close attention to our body in relationship to our emotions can offer us so much information into the mind and body connection as well as keep us present. Children need to be trained to understand this connection so they can go through life being aware of their emotions through their own body sensations. For example, when you feel angry or tense, notice what happens in your body. Perhaps your stomach muscles tighten, you feel warm, your fists become clenched, your heart might race a bit. This is an awesome way to connect with our mind and body and how they operate in sync in the moment.
For our children, there so many other ways to connect with ourselves and the world around us in a mindful fashion. These are just a few of my favourites. Keep in mind that practicing the various exercises that feel right for you in the classroom and at home, will help you and the children to integrate mindfulness into your daily life. Mindfulness is so important in being truly connected to oneself and to the world around us and I look forward to finding new and fun ways to help teachers, parents, and caregivers enjoy these practices.
In the meantime, if you have any questions or requests for tips, please reach out to myself at my contact info below.