When we were back at school, you might have heard your child mention ‘doing mindfulness after lunch’ or going to a lunchtime club for ‘mindfulness colouring’. So what exactly were they doing, apart from having quiet time or colouring, and why?
Being mindful is being aware of now. What your body notices in this very moment - how it feels, what’s happening around you, as well as noticing what’s happening inside your mind in a given moment.
Practising mindfulness is a great way to improve our ability to focus. We learn to pay attention to the important things AND to pick up on the smaller details. We learn to concentrate for longer, manage our emotions and respond thoughtfully and intentionally to stressful or uncomfortable situations.
Studies have shown that it also has an impact on:
decreasing stress and anxiety
developing better problem solving skills
managing your impulsivity
being aware of the needs and feelings of others
Even if we practise mindfulness, we will still experience difficult feelings and mental chatter. However, with mindfulness, we can change our relationships with our emotions, thoughts and negative self-talk.
Formal practice is mindfulness meditation where you sit, usually with the eyes closed, and focus attention on one thing, usually either your breathing or the sensations experienced within your body.
With informal practice you bring the same kind of improved attention that you might get from formal practice to everyday situations. This involves directing your full and non-judgemental attention to the activity you’re undertaking at a particular moment – it might be washing the dishes, brushing your teeth, chatting with a friend or - you guessed it - colouring in.
Other ways to be practise mindfulness:
Notice and name body sensations, thoughts, and emotions.
“My chest feels warm and I feel so happy when we are playing in the sun like this.”
“It sounds like you might be nervous about this new situation. What do you notice in your body right now?”
The more insight our children have into their experiences, the more they are able to choose appropriate responses.
Describe your own process of noticing, naming, and breathing to calm yourself. “Wow, I am feeling overwhelmed right now. I need to walk away and take a few deep breaths… Whew, okay, now I feel calmer.”
Eat a mindful snack. Together, use your senses to observe the food. Enjoy the first few bites with careful attention to appearance, scent, feel, and taste.
Information adapted from