Mindfulness seems to be a bit of a buzzword at the moment and yet it has existed in many cultures for centuries. Below are some ideas of how to introduce children and teenagers to mindfulness, which is something that I have been teaching for a while. Once you have learned how much better it will make you feel it is a great tool you can draw on for the rest of your life.
Right now I am blogging from an asian adventure and whilst in Bhutan last week (see picture below) it struck me how frantic and full to bursting western lifestyles have become. We try to fit so much in and we pile on the responsibilities so that even our social lives, which should be fun and relaxing, have become rushed and stressful.
Mindfulness is being in the moment. It is not thinking about what has just happened or what might happen next but taking a moment or several moments in a day to root yourself firmly in the present.
Staying in the moment helps children to stay with the facts. A great deal of fear and anxiety comes from reliving something unpleasant that has happened or imagining/fantasising about something awful or stressful that might happen. Neither of those are truthful in the present so are unnecessarily causing your child to release stress hormones and become wound up.
There are many ways that you and your family can embrace mindfulness...
Take time after breakfast or before bedtime to stop and sit quietly for 10 minutes thinking of nothing. If thoughts come into your head just acknowledge them, be pleased that you noticed your attention had slipped and then come back to the present. It sometimes helps to have a guiding voice recording to listen to and these can be downloaded at little expense. These also help you to remember to breathe in and out deeply and suggest how you could further relax.
If you have young children try playing spotting games on the walk to school. Looking for things and being aware of your journey takes you out of your thoughts and into the present. You can also go on a sound walk where everyone stops talking for 5-10 minutes while you are listening to all the sounds that you can hear.
Create something visual for your children to look at such as a glitter jar, which can be shaken to provide a swirling movement. Guide them into focusing on breathing in and out deeply whilst looking at the swirling glitter in the jar. For instructions on how to make your glitter jar click on this link. www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Calming-Glitter-Jars
To explain mindfulness in a simple but funny way look at the animations by a company called Headspace. I particularly like the animation that shows life as a busy road with traffic rushing past.
They have a programme called Take10, which you can download in the form of an app, onto your smart phone giving you daily 10 minute meditations to help you on your way. The first 10 days are free and you can listen to these downloads over and over again. www.headspace.com
If you want to find out more about mindfulness and to see exactly how to go about it you can book a session with me. I teach mindfulness to individuals and groups and can get you started. If you've already had a go and would like advice on forming a 'mindfulness' habit I also have a lot of tips to help keep you on track.
Take a positive step towards lowering your anxiety levels today by ringing 01363 775935 to arrange a convenient time!
Photos from Pinterest.com