Mindfulness for Children Part 4: Mindfulness Made Easy
In this article, I’ll wrap up this series by discussing how mindfulness tools are effective and can be used in our daily lives without further complicating them.
Firstly, mindfulness myths are yet to be revealed. We all currently think, or have thought in the past at least one of the statements below. No offense, but our internal state is a reflection of these words.
- Mindfulness is easy and simple
- Mindfulness is a new trend
- Mindfulness is practiced only through meditation
- It takes a long time out of your day
- Mindfulness is used for mental health issues only
- It will take a long time to realize the benefits
- Mindfulness is not a quick fix
- Learning mindfulness is not a linear process
- I don’t have time for it
- I can’t relax
- I am too old to do it or to begin now
- I am young and healthy I don’t need it
These are all statements that we keep saying to ourselves. We need to acknowledge that we do have a life to live, and it’s not always about meditation or mindfulness all of the time. Yes, and we do have emotions and need not always be optimistic, happy or successful. However, our greatest lessons come into our lives during our darkest moments.
It’s important to acknowledge these facts, and then let us wind it down to concentrate on how we can bring these practices into our daily lives without further complicating our routines. These are to be used as additions to your toolkit.
Mindfulness made easy in 6 steps:
It’s best to buddy up with a friend or a family member, so you don’t have to do this alone. Why not bring in another person as it can benefit both participants? As said before, children are the best mindfulness buddies as they have no filters in what they say or in reminding us when its time. Mindfulness is a gentle effort to continuously be present in our experiences. Remember, if it’s too strenuous then we need to stop and look at ways we can make it easier.
Use coloured post-it notes around your home, office, car, etc. to remind yourself about breathing, calming, pausing, and relaxing, or any words that your mind can use as an anchor to the present state. Choose a one-word theme or an acronym for a week as practice, rather than various acronyms all at once and potentially falling back away from mindfulness. For instance, KISS- Keep it simple steps. I like to use the traffic signal colors for a variance. Red – stop, Yellow – breathe/calm, green – proceed. 21 days of consistency is good to train our minds, and this habit helps us on rainy days as you will now have built the resistance to controlling your thoughts.
Set yourself up for success in practicing mindfulness. There’s no need to master it, but if you can remember to practice, that’s great. Sometimes well-intended goals like sitting every morning for 30 minutes doesn’t always work out or can even be forgotten when we get overwhelmed. If you notice that getting into a routine of a mindfulness practice has been difficult or is adding strain to your relationship, set the bar a little lower. Don’t beat yourself up for not doing it. This is not cheating or failing at something. This is a step towards a better life. In fact, it can be an excellent way to get you re-motivated. Start by just deciding to sit in a mindful posture every day for 10 breaths. That’s it! Once you are there doing it, if you should decide that you’d like to stay longer than 10 breaths, you can.
You can also try palm breathing. Stretch out your palm like a star with your fingers open wide. Use the pointer finger of your other hand and trace the fingers on your star-hand up and down. Slide up each finger slowly – then slide down the other side. Breathe in through your nose – out through your mouth. Put it together and breathe in as you slide up and breathe out as you slide down. Keep going until you have finished tracing your hand. You can do it as many times as you want.
Use your breaks to get back in touch with your body. Have a little stretch, go for a short walk, or take some deep breaths. When eating your lunch, or having a cup of tea, slow down and pay attention to the physical sensations. From the taste and texture of the food to the warmth of the tea. Eating is an excellent time to be fully present with the meal we are consuming. Maybe at the end, you can also take notes in your journal of what you did and what part you enjoyed the most so you can continue those practices long-term.
At the end of each day mention how many things you are grateful for. This keeps you thinking of the positive things in the day while rewinding the acts. Even if not so great things occurred, there might be a reason or a greater cause. Maybe you were stuck in traffic and were late for the office, (you’re probably thinking “what’s so great about that?”) but at least you are safe, and perhaps while sitting in the car you noticed a cute puppy near the road. There is gratitude everywhere if you take a moment to look around.
Now, don’t freak out that you will need an extra hour in day on top of everything else to do this. No, not at all. I am a firm believer of short meditations rather than the long ones. Just sitting calm while watching your feet is a form of meditation. So is sitting down doing a body scan which only takes about 7 minutes. Keep it simple and time permitting, you can always increase.
I wish you all the best with your practice of mindfulness. Remember, this is for you and positive change for your wellbeing and life. When you are aboard an airline flight, the air hostess gives instructions for safety. They always mention the oxygen mask is to be used for the adult first and then for the child. It’s only when we are safe that we can best look after the kids. That is so true. Here’s to a green light for us, and the rest will follow.
Thank you for reading this 4-part series on mindfulness for children, and us too.