Mindfulness practice for children

OptiStart Chiropractic
April 12, 2018

Mindfulness practice emphasises focused attention to internal and external experiences in the present moment of time, without judgment. In a paper (available at the front desk of the practice), the authors argue for adapting mindfulness techniques for work with children. The following information is a mix excerpts from the paper, and summaries by Dr Adam. 

Have you ever arrived at work, only to realize that you do not remember any scenery or landmarks during your drive? At the end of your shower, have you ever realized that you are not sure whether you washed your hair? Or more important, think back to your last conversation with a loved one: Do you remember the details of what you talked about?

For many, these examples highlight the fact that we live much of our days in automatic-pilot mode. We have our routines at home and at work, and we go through the motions, not truly paying attention to what we are doing. Our minds wander elsewhere, and we end up eating without tasting, looking without seeing, and talking without knowing what we are saying.

Stop for a moment and reflect on the following questions: Have you been paying attention to the room you are in? What is the temperature? How does it smell? What are you sitting on? Is it comfortable? And your body: Do you have any aches or pains? Are your muscles tight or relaxed? Is your stomach pleasantly full or is it painfully empty? There are many things going on right now, such as stimuli surrounding you in your immediate environment, sensations in your body, and thoughts and feelings in your mind of which you probably were not consciously aware. 

We can teach children to begin to pay attention to those things in the present moment that they never noticed before through a process called mindfulness. Mindfulness is defined as “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experiences moment by moment.”

Mindfulness practice in children (and adults!) may have a role in…..

      - enhance children’s attention and focus, and improve memory

       - self-acceptance, self-management skills, and self-understanding

       - stress and Chronic Pain

       - anxiety

       - depression.

       - cognitive Change  - clearer, easier thinking.

       - Relaxation

       - self acceptance. 

Mindfulness practice for children is not dramatically different from that for adults. Exercises can be adapted to fit different ages and abilities. There are various techniques for developing a mindfulness practice in children including…..

     - Mindfulness of the Environment

     - Mindfulness of drawing technique.

     - Awareness of Self in the Environment

     - journal writing for self awareness.

     - Mindfulness of the Body - In walking, standing, sitting, or lying down

     - Attending the Senses

    - Awareness of the breathe.

    - Awareness of thoughts bubbles, arising and passing.

    - Visualization practice - creativity and imagination.

                  (For more details on these techniques please read the article)

One of the best ways to bring mindfulness practice to our children is to practice it ourselves.