THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MINDFULNESS AND MEDITATION
Although similar mindfulness can be practiced formally or informally and is about living in the moment , being aware and paying attention to your thoughts and environment around you whereas meditation involves intentionally setting time aside to focus on clearing the mind of all thoughts.
There are endless ways to practice mindfulness with kids and every child (mental health concerns or not) will benefit from mindfulness activities. It’s about exploring what works for them so don’t be afraid to try different approaches .Here are just a few techniques you could try :
JUICE/BEVERAGE CEREMONY :
You can do this with your child with any drink, paying attention and being fully aware of the process of preparing the drink and expressing gratitude.
BREATHING EXERCISES :
Theses can include Drawing a square with your finger using a breath for each line you draw or concentrate on how many counts each breath takes and gradually add an extra count to encourage the to breath deeper and become more aware.
SCRIPTED GUIDED MEDITATION :
Tell a story and take them on a journey
BODY SCAN MINDFULNESS EXERCISE :
A great meditation to do if they feel stressed or anxious, scanning the body can help identify areas of the body holding onto stress.
THE BENEFITS OF MINDFULNESS INCLUDE :
The goal of mindfulness is to intentionally focus your attention on the body and the breath, but because of the way we’re wired, we naturally get distracted
The ‘magic moment’ in mindfulness is the term used for the moment we realise we’ve lost focus (and likely started thinking about what we’ll eat for lunch or if our friend is mad at us) and intentionally bring our focus back to our body.
When your child practices consciously shifting their attention it is the equivalent of their brains self-control muscles lifting weights.
They are literally reinforcing and strengthening the neuropathways that underlie focus and self-control.
Lower’s anxiety and stress
Kids are more stressed than they’ve ever been due to fast-paced schedules, academic pressures and less time spent in play and outdoors.
Mindfulness exercises are an extremely effective way to stop the symptoms of anxiety in children (stomach aches, rapid breathing, fast heartbeat etc) and re-regulate blood pressure, breathing and heart rate.
Increases positive moods
Essential to the practice of mindfulness is an acceptance of the present moment, just as is. Much of the anxiety and depression we experience as humans stems from the avoidance and resistance of our felt emotions.
It’s easy to discourage your child from expressing their intense feelings (because it’s uncomfortable!) but this is the most common mistake in raising an emotionally intelligent child.
Feelings, both pleasant and unpleasant are universal and the sign of an emotionally healthy human being! Mindfulness activities teach your child to accept their emotions and experiences in the moment, without critical or negative judgement, allowing them the space to be acknowledged, felt, and as a result, worked through.
Better decision making
The heart of mindfulness is bringing our awareness to the present moment. Studies have shown that adults who practised only 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation were able to make faster and better decisions because of a decreased tendency to get stuck in past narratives (holding you back from deciding) or project into the future.
Improves Emotional Regulation Skills
The ability to regulate emotions means we can effectively manage our moods and upsets in a healthy and productive way.
Research shows that mindfulness changes the brain regions (in both structure and in function) in the areas responsible for a child’s emotional regulation skills.
Many kids struggle with a negative self-image and are overly hard on themselves. mindfulness-based interventions can significantly raise self-esteem due to the emphasis of self-acceptance and self-compassion. Which leads us on to number 7.
Improves Health and Body Image
Mindfulness practice has been found to not only improve physical health but also promotes a positive body image. Studies have shown that mindfulness-based interventions can help positively impact our hearts, brains, immune systems, and more!
Improves social skills and communication
Mindfulness exercises will help your child get it better touch with their thoughts and feelings. With increased awareness of how they’re feeling in the moment, comes less emotional reactivity and a greater ability to listen and communicate more thoughtfully and effectively.
Do not underestimate the positive effects of practicing mindfulness with kids , anxiety or not, mindfulness will improve the behaviour and emotional well-being of all kids