What is Mindfulness?

Jon Kabat-Zinn has defined mindfulness meditation as “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally”.

 Mindfulness, explains David Anderson, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, is “Anything that helps everyone take a moment to slow down, stay present, and come together.” 

Mindfulness is the human capacity to be completely aware and be in the present moment. It is the awareness of where we are and what we are doing, and not excessively be reactive or distracted by what is happening around us. Mindfulness is the attribute that every human being inherently possesses, it’s not something that you have to conjure up, you just have to learn how to access it. Practising mindfulness involves breathing techniques, guided meditations, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.

The Benefits of Mindfulness Practice:

When we are attentive, we minimize tension, boost results, gain wisdom, and understand our mind. It also increases our sensitivity to the well-being of others. Mindfulness practice allows us a moment in our lives where we can let go of judgment and open our innate curiosity about the workings of the mind. It opens our mind to approach life experiences with warmth and kindness—to ourselves and others.

Practice Mindfulness As a Family:

There is so much doubt about the future and so many risks during the current pandemic (physical, social, emotional, and financial). It is perfectly natural to feel worried, nervous, frightened, and frustrated. These are all common and natural reactions to this abnormal circumstance. With the ever-changing status of schools and many parents working from home without childcare/help, it’s hard not to begin to spiral. Responsibilities seem infinite, the situation seems serious, and it seems that free time has become a thing of the past!

Mindfulness can help us understand the current situation, without letting us be swept away by intense emotions; it can, in turn, help bring us back to a focused and calm centre. Only then will we be able to see more clearly what it is that we have power over and what it is that we do not. Mindfulness also teaches us how best to proceed, with respect for ourselves and others.

Regardless of how far we wander away,  mindfulness is right there to snap us back to where we are and what we do and experience. Designating time for mindful activities as a family can help the members to feel less stressed and can help in family bonding. It might be through a regular family yoga session, dance session or a peaceful walk in the park, taking time to reflect on how the weather is, the sounds of birds and the scent of flowers. Another good family mindfulness idea is to invite everyone to list one good thing they’ve learned or seen over dinner that day. Being grateful for each day!

“Mindfulness isn’t complicated,” says Jill Emanuele, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute. Here are some simple activities  she recommends that you can try at home:

  • Squeeze Muscles: Starting at your toes, pick one muscle and squeeze it tight. Count to five. Release, and notice how your body changes. Repeat exercise moving up your body.
  • Belly Breathing: Put one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. Slowly breathe in from your stomach (expand like a balloon) and slowly breathe out (deflate).
  • Mindful Meal: Pay attention to the smell, taste and look of your food. No multitasking. No devices.
  • Meditation: Sit in a relaxed, comfortable position. Pick something to focus on, like your breath. When your mind wanders, bring your attention back to your breath. Stay with the breath.
  • Blowing Bubbles: Notice their shapes, textures and colours.
  • Colouring: Colour something. Focus on colours and designs.
  • Listening to Music: Focus on the whole song, or listen specifically to the voice or an instrument. Dance to the beat of the music.

“Just take a deep breath! It begins by taking your attention to the breathing. Remember to accept, have fun and be grateful for what you have!”

Links and Sources:

5 Mindfulness and Meditation Apps for Kids

Video on Mindfulness for Children

App for Sleep

Everyday Mindfulness Video

When Science Meets Mindfulness