Wheaton Montessori News
You may be very familiar with mindfulness, or you may have a vague notion of a buzzword that has something to do with meditation. Regardless of your experience, we are here to detail the ways in which mindfulness can be beneficial to your children. Being more mindful helps people reap a multitude of benefits, anyone can participate, and learning alongside your child can be fun!
Merriam Webster defines mindfulness as:
also: such a state of awareness
Sometimes it can be helpful to define mindfulness by stating what it is not. Mindfulness is not about clearing the mind. It is not about silence or ending conflict. Mindfulness is definitely not a quick fix for anything. Mindfulness provides us with a way of looking deeper at our lives. We learn to observe events, sensations, and feelings while acknowledging them and accepting them for what they are.
In today’s society it can be easy for everyone – children included – to get caught up in the daily rush. Mindfulness allows us to slow down and be present. Many who are new to the practice may wonder how they might find the time to squeeze in one more thing. Once you form daily habits of mindfulness you will see your schedule open up, and you may realize your life feels a lot more free and flexible.
It’s important to remember that mindfulness is nonjudgmental. Although it does tend to help people in many ways, it wouldn’t be fair to try it with the intention of making a child become, say, more attentive. Improved attention and focus are a likely outcome, but cannot be expected. Mindfulness is different for everyone, and acceptance of oneself and each other is a healthier and more realistic goal.
On a more basic level, you may be excited to try these exercises and ideas, while your child may not be. We find that many kids do love the meditations and games detailed below, but they’re not for everyone and that’s okay. So, as you give mindfulness a try with your children, keep in mind that they are their own independent people. Everyone will take away something different from the practice.
Mark Williams and Danny Penman have written a great book entitled Mindfulness, an Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World. This book is written for adults, and we highly recommend it as a resource. It’s full of scientific explanations regarding how behaviors are dictated by brain function and what we can do to create change within our own lives. As a bonus, it contains a link to meditation audio files. Although not a book for children, there is a fantastic exercise contained within that kids love: the raisin meditation.
Dr. Erika Knuth, a clinical psychologist and Wheaton Montessori School parent, uses the exercise in her practice to help her clients practice mindfulness and take a moment to relax, slow down, and tune into your senses.
It can also help if you have the goal of …. “raisin” your mindfulness practice to a new level. (See what we did there?)
Sit in a quiet space with your child. Ask your child to open their hand, palm facing upwards, and place a single raisin in the middle. Tell them not to eat it just yet and take another raisin for yourself. The goal of this exercise is to slow down and pay close attention, seeing if you can notice attributes that are typically overlooked during the business of our everyday lives. We use all of our senses to zoom and observe this raisin closely.
This activity can be repeated with almost anything, and it’s a great idea to do so. Wait a few days and try the whole process over again with a chocolate chip, slice of cucumber, or whatever else you happen to be eating. At mealtimes, take a few moments to be intentional about appreciating your food. Notice what it looks like, smells like, feels like, and chew slowly to discover more about how it tastes. Most importantly, have fun while doing so!
Looking for more mindfulness games and activities? Try these ideas:
These videos will give you examples of some common, basic mindfulness meditations. We recommend that you use the videos for their audio. Children should not be watching the screen as they listen so they can focus on all their senses.
Body scan meditation: Direct your awareness to specific parts of your body, noticing sensations (or lack of sensations).
Loving kindness meditation: Take time to love yourself and send loving thoughts to others.
We hope this post has been interesting and informative. If you try any of the meditations or ideas with your children, we would love to hear how it goes!