What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness at its very core is the simple state of being fully focused on the present and allowing your thoughts to float by without any judgment. It is the psychological process of being aware of where we are, and what we are doing at one point of time – basically being fully present at the moment and not thinking about other events, or our overall life in general.
Why follow the practice of mindfulness?
As a new-age parent, you cannot ignore your child's mental health. Today, we have more studies and research than ever to prove how paramount mental health and stability is for the holistic development of an individual.
No person can ever be entirely free from obstacles and challenges in his/her life. Undesirable incidents, whether minuscule or huge in scale, are bound to happen from time to time. Consequently, stress becomes a frequent occurrence in our lives, or if not frequent, at least a recurring one. When prolonged, or intensified, it can have an adverse impact on your daily functioning, and also spill into the household – your spouse, relatives, kids, etc. Many young children and adolescents suffer from such internal disturbances too. There are numerous methods to cope with these disturbances, an important one being the practice of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is backed by numerous scientific and academic papers that show its effects on the prefrontal cortex of the brain (the part which helps focus and pay attention). It impacts the cognitive abilities of the brain which shows greater development in the earlier stages of childhood. Through mindfulness, the child can regulate his emotions and establish much more effective and thoughtful communication with others. This is extremely helpful to deal with or prevent situations of bullying.
Fun Mindfulness Games & Exercises for Kids
The following exercise games can help trigger this state of mindfulness both in you and your child. Make sure to refrain from playing these games if the child is fidgety or restless. Let them calm down first. Also never use these physical activities and games as a disciplinary tool as that will corrupt them in the minds of the children.
- Every hour, set aside a break for 10 seconds, and do two things – take a deep breath plus stretch your arms out. And try to “notice” your immediate environment. This will help you to be mindful of the time, place, and the work that you are doing, and take your mind off whatever your mind was up to, prior to this exercise.
- Close your eyes for a minute. This will suddenly heighten your audio senses. Try to keep external thoughts out of consideration and take in the audio stimuli that you receive.
- Perform a mundane activity – watering plants, pouring a glass of water, ironing a shirt, sweeping the floor with a broom, etc. - and think only about this particular activity while at it.
- Use your non-dominant hand to carry out activities such as eating food, drawing, writing, combing your hair, or even brushing your teeth. Every menial task which you might have performed thousands of times throughout your lifetime will feel different and would require you to be consciously present in the moment and will not allow your mind to wander away.
- Synchronized breathing with your child. Sit back-to-back with your child. Make sure to straighten your backs. No need to be frigid, just alert. Start noticing each other's breathing activity. You'll be able to feel the rise and fall of their back and the pace of it as well. As you keep focusing on the other's breathing, you'll soon realize that the breathing activity between the two of you is synchronized.
- Guess different items blindfolded. Throw in different items in a bag, box or pouch and let your kid feel and shuffle through them. Don't let them take the article out of the bag. First, give them a chance to describe the properties of the object they are experiencing and then let them guess the object. The goal here is to allow the child to experience the sensations of having physical contact with the object through a different lens. You can reverse the process by letting your child choose the objects and you guessing. This will make it a true family activity.
- Blind Taste Testing: Blindfold your child and present before them a bunch of different ingredients and food articles. The first step is to feel the ingredient between their hands and describing its shape, size and texture. Then they can sniff it to discern any smell coming from it. Finally, let them take just one small bite and identify the sensations on their tongue.
- Go through the STOP process –
a) Stand up and breathe
b) Tune in to your body
c) Observe your surroundings
d) Possibilities – assess what lies ahead of you in the immediate few minutes of your future.
The basic essence of mindfulness is to “notice”. Notice what you are doing. Notice yourself. Notice your surroundings. Notice the activity that you are currently involved in. These simple steps shall help you be in sync with the current period of time, and undoubtedly decrease the possibility of you dwelling over past events or worrying about future events, which are nothing but utter wastages of valuable time and energy. Access to mindfulness is as easy as it gets. You don't require any external equipment as this is in-built and just needs to be tapped into.
Stay Tuned, Stay Relevant!