Practicing Mindfulness With Your Littles
There is no question that we lead increasingly busy lives. Sometimes we keep that in balance, and sometimes we find it more challenging. In those times, when it feels like you are juggling two thousand things at once, and then somebody gives you one more, you can feel like you’re spiralling out of control, and start to stress out.
Our kids actually feel our stress, regardless of their age. Chances are they are feeling their own stress too, between school and home lives, friend and peer issues, homework, extracurricular activities, and increasing levels of device distraction.
Because of the busyness and distractions and the stress that come with the culture of the world we live in, we have to consciously take a step back to relax. To unwind. To unplug. To breathe. Easier said than done, right?
Relaxing and just being present are learned skills. Practicing mindfulness is a fantastic way of teaching yourself to let go and just live in the moment. Here is a simple exercise that you can do with your children, that will teach everyone to let go of the electric shroud in a simple, quick, and playful way.
Practicing mindfulness is essentially a sensory meditation, especially for children. It draws attention to one sense at a time, and teaches us to “tune out” everything except what our focus is.
Find a space where you are comfortable; even better if it can be outside. Pick the sense you want to draw on, for example hearing. Everyone closes their eyes, with the instruction that once you give “the word,” there will be no chatting, only listening to the sounds they hear around them.
Give them about a minute, knowing that the first couple times you may have to quietly and gently remind them not to talk.
After the minute is up, everyone opens their eyes, and you ask them what they heard. You will be amazed at what they tell you, even as toddlers. Make sure everyone gets the chance to weigh in as they wish, then have everyone close their eyes, and listen again. After another minute, touch back in to find out what everyone heard again. Any difference? Did they listen more intently?
You can do this with each sense—I bet you can come with some neat ideas on your own to isolate the others. One of my faves is to cut up tiny pieces of fruit and hide them under a tea towel. With eyes closed, each person tries a sample of the fruit and describes what they taste. They might literally go bananas.
These are just a couple of ways you can teach your tinies to step back from the noise and just be. Chances are that the three minutes this takes will leave everyone feeling a little more peaceful, and a lot more recharged.