Implementing Mindfulness with Yourself and Your Children
In last week’s article I wrote about Goldie Hawn’s MindUp program and how this is being implemented in schools to teach mindfulness and other positive behaviours. This week I continue with the benefits of Mindfulness and how you can incorporate Mindfulness into your life and your family life. To review, the definition of Mindfulness is to:
Pay attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally
What is the goal of Mindfulness?
The goal is not to become more relaxed but to be aware of and accepting of whatever state the body and mind are in. Mindfulness can be practiced by meditation but also be being mindful in our daily actions such as mindful eating, mindful driving, mindful walking etc.
What are the benefits of Mindfulness?
- Mindfulness can create cognitive change as one practices non-judgmental thinking and recognizes that not all thoughts are true and that we are not our thoughts
- Mindfulness enhances self-management as we learn to observe certain triggers or urges without impulsively reacting to them. We can notice that these thoughts or feelings have arisen and just observe and accept them
- Although relaxation is not the goal, a mindful meditating person can become more relaxed as there is a slowing of the continuous thoughts, which happens as one takes time to notice and observe each thought. This often leads to a decrease in muscle tension, and a slowing of the breathing and heart rate
- One experiences greater self-acceptance because in Mindfulness one does not fight the negative thoughts and emotions but accepts them like an ocean wave passing over and moving on
- One also experiences increased understanding of one’s own thinking process and how one experiences the world
Some exercises for practicing Mindfulness
- Meditation: for adults start with 15 minutes and for children start with 5 minutes. Focus on your breathing, noting the air coming in through the nostrils and out through the mouth. Use breath counting, if that is helpful, such as “1-2-3-4-5” on the inhale and then “5-4-3-2-1” on the exhale. As thoughts, feelings and body sensations interrupt your focus on the breath, just notice them and name them, such as “thought” , “judgment”, “itch”, “worried”. Try to think of these thoughts/feelings/sensations as waves on the ocean that pass over us and move on. They can also be thought of as clouds in the sky drifting over us and then moving on, or bubbles floating by. Notice them and then return to the rhythm of your breath
- Try to recall your morning routine or ask your child to recall his/her morning routine. Perhaps, in time, you/they will be able to add a little more detail to each account of the morning routine
- Give yourself/child a mini-marshmallow or raisin and pretend that you’ve never seen this food before. Hold it in your fingers, feel it, examine it, place it in your mouth and move your tongue around it, hold it between your teeth and just notice it, then after a couple of minutes, bite down and slowly eat it. Talk about the texture, the taste, the feeling of holding it in your mouth. Make it a habit to slow down and eat meals more mindfully.
- Mindful walking: with your child pretend that you are walking on egg shells or a fragile glass floor. Be aware of each movement that is made. Feel the heel and toe as they touch the ground, notice the thigh muscle lift the leg and move it to the next position, concentrate on the left leg and then on the right leg. As you go for a walk, focus your attention on being in the present, noticing every movement of your body and every smell of fresh air. As thoughts and feelings come, let them go, and return to focusing on the soles of your feet
Afflictive emotions-our jealousy, anger, hatred, fear-can be put to an end when you realize that these emotions are only temporary, that they always pass on like clouds in the sky.
~ Dalai Lama
My mental state, I think, is quite peaceful, quite calm. If there’s some sad news, some heart-breaking news that comes, for a short moment, I am very disturbed, very sad, but then it goes. So like an ocean, the waves come and go, come and go.
~ Dalai Lama
Lastly, another great quote:
Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today, it’s already tomorrow in Australia.
~ Charles Schulz (in Zen Paths to Laughter)
Have a wonderfully, mindful and grounding week as you connect to your “soles”,
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