When thinking of the term mindfulness many tend to picture sitting alone, still and quiet for long periods of time. While this type of meditation is a great way to become more mindful, it may not be suited to everyone and there are many other ways you can practice mindfulness and meditation during everyday activities. This is known as informal meditation and there are many ways you can practice this which involves the whole family including your children.
The main thing to remember is that mindfulness is about bringing your mind into the present, the mind is focussed only on the current activity, the world around you and your feelings and thoughts.
In today’s society, we are constantly busy, checking our phones and moving from one place to another. We think about the future a lot, worrying about the days and weeks ahead or even thinking about the past and what we may have done differently. Additionally, for children, their minds are constantly wandering and their attention span is a lot shorter. While this is all normal and it is good to think about the future and reflect on the past, it is also very healthy to take time in your day to reconnect with your body and mind and feel present in the moment.
There are many mindful activities that you can incorporate into home life for you and your children, anyone can have a go and they are all great and easy ways for you and your child to start being more mindful.
As many of us know exercise has been proven to be good for both our mental and physical health but it is also a really good way to practice mindfulness. When you are exercising and practicing different movements you can not help but bring your mind to the present and focus. Any type of exercise is good for this but a particular exercise that is good for you to easily do in your home and with your children is Yoga.
Yoga is good to practice mindfulness as each move is posed and gentle so you have to really focus on each part of the body in order to do it correctly. It also brings attention to your breathing which is key when being present, focussing on your breathing in and out and how your body changes can make you feel at one within yourself, your body and your mind. Yoga can be as simple as you like and there are lots of videos online aimed at beginners and even some specifically for children.
Spending time outside in the fresh air and surrounded by nature is another good way to feel present with and appreciate the world around us. A simple way to do this is by planting some flowers, seeds and herbs and tending to them daily. Children can help out with this too, and you can water, plant and look after them together. In this activity your mind is focused on what is best for the plants to help them grow, not worrying about the day or week ahead.
Additionally going for a walk around a garden centre and looking at all the different varieties and colours is another way you can practice mindfulness, as well as buying flowers and arranging them in a vase. You and your child can see what colours will work well together, tend to them and appreciate them in your home. To engage your child, ask them which is their favourite, how are the textures different and what differences they notice in the plants day to day.
Art in general and getting creative is another great mindful activity, your mind is focussed on the picture or object you are creating and so it has less chance of wandering elsewhere. A good starting point is mindfulness colouring books, there are a wide variety of them from children to adults and also books targeted to specific interests such as film franchises, travel and cooking. There is something for everyone, and each picture is detailed and intricate allowing you to get lost in the colouring for hours.
When doing creative activity try to really focus on the colours you are using and how they work together, any materials and textures you are working with and how they are contributing to your picture. Think about how it makes you feel and who you can show once you’re finished. The aim with creative mindfulness is always to not be too worried about the end result but on the experience of making it and being in the moment.
Amazing for the mind and body and a great way to discover your local area. Walks are good for many reasons but when mindful walking the main focus is bringing your mind to the present, really focusing on the walk and what you see around you. A way to make this walk engaging for your child is to make it into a challenge, ask them to pick a particular item they want to look out for on the walk, this could be leaves, animals, flowers or even particular colours around them. This way their mind won’t wander as much as they will be focussed on looking around for their specific object.
Set aside time each week for the family to get together and to talk about things that each of you are grateful for. This may be people in your life, items you own, things you have achieved, something that has helped you or things you have learnt. This is a simple but amazing way to appreciate the world around you and everything you already have. This is a healthy habit to get into for both you and your child to help you develop a more positive outlook.