MINDFULNESS is behind everything I do, create, and share. Mindfulness has become a powerful revolution, because we are discovering that the more present and focused we are, the happier and more fulfilled we will be. It's a practice that offers a pathway to better physical and mental health, productivity, creativity and joy.
Most critical to this 'mindfulness revolution' is the ability to reach our children.
Teaching mindfulness to our kids is one of the most important things we can do as parents and as a society. In light of the tragic events we are experiencing throughout the world, the distractions and overstimulation brought on by a technology-based culture, the academic expectations placed upon them - it can create an overwhelming feeling of responsibility, even helplessness, for our youth as they try to learn in school amidst what can feel like chaos. It's crucial we provide our children with the tools they need to foster a centred, balanced and joyful life. It's important we cultivate mindfulness in the home, be present with our children, and help them to listen to and to trust their own inner guidance system.
In Dr. Shefali Tsabary's beautiful book, The Conscious Parent, she writes:
"No matter how it manifests, our children's essence is pure and loving. When we honour this essence, they trust we understand that their internal world is good and worthy, regardless of what manifests externally. Our ability to stay connected to their essence, holding steady through those periods in which their external world may be falling apart, conveys the message that they are of immense value."
Our children want to know that they're seen, that they're worthy, and that they matter. They need to feel safe, supported, and empowered. They must learn how to go INSIDE to cultivate self-love, happiness, joy and peace. We can show them the way... and we might learn a little bit in the process.
"Inner work teaches us that despite all the things that happen outside our control, our
responses still mean that we can author our own lives." ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD
Here are 5 simple activities we can teach our children that will foster mindfulness as a daily practice:
1. FOCUSING ON THE BREATH
When children are feeling anxious, overwhelmed, nervous, or angry, taking just a few minutes to breathe deeply, in and out, is an incredibly powerful tool. It calms the mind, relaxes the body, and relieves stress. It can be done anywhere, any time, and is a practice that can help kids feel connected, safe, and able to stay calm and attentive.
2. WRITING IN A GRATITUDE JOURNAL
Making a list of 3 things to be grateful for every day encourages us to see the beauty in the little things, and helps us to recognize and focus upon our many blessings. Your child might thank their ears for enabling them to hear, or the friend at school who helped them with their math homework, or perhaps they're thankful for the beautiful blue butterfly they saw on their way home. In any case, practising gratitude will promote happiness and will enable our children to recognize - and to expect - all of life's many miracles.
3. USING THE SENSES
Focusing on each of our senses throughout the day is an activity that promotes gratitude, creativity, and helps children to live in the moment and enjoy new experiences. We can remind our children to slow down, get quiet, and use their senses. Do they see something new? Can they hear something off in the distance? Did they taste something sweet today, or perhaps they felt a fuzzy object that made their fingers tingle? This activity can result in some pretty special discussions with our kids at the end of each day.
4. PRACTISING KINDNESS
I believe our children are inherently kind, and we can expand upon their genuine loving nature by teaching them to perform random acts of kindness without expecting anything in return. We can teach them how valuable they are by volunteering for organizations we care about, helping the elderly with their groceries, donating to causes that are important to us, and the list is endless. The more children practice kindness, the more empathetic, compassionate, and loving they will become.
5. CHOOSING OPTIMISM
This one's big. It's impossible to teach our children how to be optimistic if we don't practice what we preach, so it starts within. The good news is... if we focus on choosing a positive perspective in every situation, if we can choose an optimistic approach to every encounter because we know our children are watching and mimicking, it will be extremely beneficial in all aspects of our lives and the lives of our children. It's not always easy, but it is possible, and it's well worth the work.
Integrating these practises into our daily lives and the lives of our children takes time, but I'm willing to give it everything I've got. I'd love to hear about your own experiences with your children, and what has been working for you!