Mind Matters: The Art of Mindfulness
With anxiety and stress on the increase in children as young as six-years-old, Jackie Hillegers discovers there is no better time than now to learn and teach our future generation the Art of Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is being fully aware of our thoughts, feelings and emotions in the present moment without judgement. It is being aware of what is happening around you in the here-and-now, rather than living in the past or worrying about the future.
It wasn’t until I was in my forties that I finally decided that I needed to find a way to naturally reduce my anxiety and stop living so much in my head. Google led me on the path of no return, no matter where I looked or what I typed into the search bar, the word ‘Mindfulness’ kept appearing. I took this as a sign that maybe this was the answer, so I took the leap of faith and attended a Mindfulness Teachers Course.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine how powerful mindfulness was for rewiring my anxiety-ridden, over-thinking brain. I had to teach my mind, my brain and my body to work together instead of separately – and learn the art of deep breathing, which melted away the tension and anxiety from within. I could not stop talking about how life-changing it was to others around me and I even encouraged some of my friends to quit their jobs and head down a similar path! I now proudly get to help people every day become more mindful and I love it.
With such a fast-paced, technology-driven and unpredictable world these days, giving children the gift of calm through mindfulness allows them to step off their daily roller-coaster ride and just enjoy the small joys that make us grateful and happy.
In a busy world our children have turned more to technology – robbing them of their need for outdoor play, creativity and human connection.
This can be an easy fix as they need more balance in their lives. By teaching them how to be more in control of their own body and mind at a younger age, they are able to tell when they require time-out from an activity.
They can feel when their anxiety is rising and they can catch their feelings and emotions earlier before they lead to anger outbursts, setting off the fight-or- light mode or just becoming frustrated.
Children’s bodies and brains are still under development so adding small 10-minute bursts of mindfulness to their daily schedule will strengthen the neuropathways in their brains, which will lead to life-long habits.
Mindfulness helps with their future mental health, self-awareness and confidence. The best news is that we all have that internal toolbox we can use at any time to helps us regulate our emotions, yet we do not access it enough.
Schools are starting to incorporate mindful techniques throughout their day, as it improves the children’s concentration and helps them to stay more engaged with their learning, thus avoiding challenging behaviours.
Mental Health issues are on the increase so it is more important than ever to put the time into our children for better self- regulation and fewer obstacles standing in the way of learning.
Being aware of when they lose focus and how to re-focus themselves is important for learning outcomes.
Children’s beliefs and values are still being formed, so as a parent we also need to be aware of our own mindful ways and actions. Children watch and learn by example from those closest to them, so the best way to teach your child mindfulness is to allow them to follow your lead.
Just remember it can be small changes in your children’s day-to-day life that eventually make a big difference.
Driving the kids to school can be the perfect time to practice mindfulness – after all they can’t go anywhere with their seatbelts on! Turn off the radio and ask each child to name three things they are looking forward to in their day or three things they are grateful for.
This is great for their listening skills, it starts their day off on a positive note, helps lift their mood and creates a safe place for them to talk to you if they have any worries.
Best of all, the superpower practice of mindfulness can be incorporated anywhere and at any time.
That’s something to keep in mind.
Using your five senses
Being in nature
DEEP BREATHING EXERCISE
Breathe from abdomen or belly area
Fill up your lungs slowly with air
Pretend to smell a flower (inhale)
Blow out a candle (exhale)
This helps to feel relaxed and calm
WHY MINDFULLNESS IS A SUPER POWER
• Reduces stress and anxiety
• Increases focus and attention
• Encourages a positive mind-set
• Strengthens self-control
• Helps to make better decisions
• Improves mental health
• Helps with social skills
• Reduces negative thoughts