Practicing Mindfulness: What is mindfulness and why is it so important for You?
Mindfulness is something we can do and practice to help us connect with ourselves and the world around us in the present moment. Mindfulness is important because it can help you feel happy and can help reduce and eliminate stress! Some mindful activities you might enjoy could include things as simple as listening to calming music, reading a book, writing in a journal, colouring, or taking a walk outside, practicing deep breathing, eating mindfully and doing meditation. In this article, we will look at 3 different mindful activities, how to use them and how they can improve your life!
- Breathing Buddy:
This mindful activity is a great way for you to find comfort and release tension quickly. You will need a stuffed animal (your breathing buddy) for this exercise! Next, you lie down on your back with your breathing buddy laying on your belly. Watch and focus your attention on the rise and fall of the stuffed animal as you breathe in and out. This activity teaches kids to breathe through their stomachs rather than just their chest. Good things about this activity: more energy, less stress, better blood flow, relaxation, comfort, and peace.
- Mindful Walking – “Noticing Walk”:
This mindful activity is a relaxing way to decrease stress, get you outdoors and improve focus. Going outside for a 10-30 minute walk can be very helpful and can boost your mood drastically! While you are walking around the neighbourhood, try to notice things you haven’t seen before. For 1-5 minutes of the walk, designate a moment of silence where you can pay attention to all the sounds you hear, for example: birds, people in the distance, cars driving past, lawnmowers or rain! This activity is great because it not only gets you outside but also improves your observational and attentive skills; it also can help with directional skills and make you feel more relaxed and comforted in your neighbourhood!
- Meditation practices – “The Balloon”:
Meditation can be challenging , but with practice, it can become very helpful and beneficial to improve energy, focus, and attention. This meditation activity, “The Balloon”, can be done standing or sitting. Relax your body and start taking deep breaths in through your mouth, and slow breaths out through your nose. When you take slow deep breaths in, try to fill your belly up with air, as if you were trying to blow up a big balloon. Then, slowly let the air out through the nose as you release the breath from your belly. Feel your entire body relax each time you exhale. Doing “The Balloon” or other meditation activities may take some work but they can be very helpful and calming. While you are breathing, think about the colour of the giant balloon you’re blowing up. If you want, when you inhale you can stretch your arms up above your head representing the balloon expanding and when you exhale, bring your arms down by your side again.
There are many different ways to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness helps us connect with ourselves at the moment, and the benefits can be long-term. The results of a study conducted by the “Journal of Child and Family Studies” in 2011 proves the effectiveness of an 8-week mindfulness program for kids ages 8-12 (especially children with ADHD or Autism), with results being reduced ADHD behaviours, reduced stress, improved mood and better performance in school. Finally, practicing mindfulness can be very important in your life because it can help reduce stress, improve mood levels and confidence, and overall it can help you live happy and healthy lives!
“3 Kid-Friendly Meditations Your Children Will Love.” The Chopra Center, 3 Oct. 2018, https://chopra.com/articles/3-kid-friendly-meditations-your-children-will-love .
“Are You a Chest or Belly Breather? (. . . and Why It Matters!).” Peak Potential Physiotherapy & Wellness, www.peakpotentialpt.com/blog/2018/3/30/chest-belly-breather
Beach, Sarah Rudell. “8 Ways to Teach Mindfulness to Kids.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 23 July 2014, www.huffpost.com/entry/8-ways-to-teach-mindfulness-to-kids_b_5611721
“Mindfulness for Children.” The New York Times, The New York Times, www.nytimes.com/guides/well/mindfulness-for-children.