“I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the ‘monkey mind’ — the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
Mindfulness is characterized by stopping, paying attention on purpose, peace, and compassion Mindfulness is a way of looking at experiences with emotional balance and compassion for self and others.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Mindfulness gives the individual a way to deal with negative experiences. More intimate connections with others are accomplished and regrets are not focused on. Mindfulness enhances physical health by decreasing stress, blood pressure, pain, and improving the quality of sleep. Mindfulness can supplement mental health treatments by improving symptoms related to depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Siegel (1999) reports that the structures and functions of are brain are molded by interpersonal experiences. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve neural growth in the brain. The more you engage in an activity the better the body will become at doing it due to this neural growth; therefore, it is important to engage in mindfulness daily.
Stress comes from contemplating about the past or worrying about the future. Living your life in the current moment and focusing your attention on the activity you are doing at the moment does not leave space for other things to invade your thoughts, such as fears, worries or anything that may be stressful. When meditating, your attention is on the meditation object, which may be your breath or mantra. This focus allows your mind to quiet and to be fully present in the moment. Performing activities such as schoolwork with mindfulness leads to improved outcomes. Not only is stress and worry decreased, focus is improved.
HOW DO I TEACH IT TO MY CHILD?
Teaching children mindfulness can be tricky. After all the art of doing nothing is hard to learn in our frantic society. A simple way to demonstrate mindfulness to children is to show them how to check in with their breath. Props such as stuffed animals or hoberman spheres can be used. Children love to pretend the props are riding the breath on their tummies. Also, there are several books that introduce mindfulness. One of my favorites is “Peaceful Piggy Meditation. ” So spend a few minutes at the end of the day being mindful, and before you know it you will have a mindful child.
Boyce, B. (n.d.). The secret of success for MBSR. Retrieved from http://mindful.org/in-body-and-mind/mindfulness-based-stress-reduction/the-secret-of-success-for-mbsr
Helpguide.org. (n.d.). Cultivating mindfulness to reduce stress and anxiety. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/mindfulness.htm
Siegel, D. J. (n.d.). The science of mindfulness. Retrieved from http://mindful.org/the-science/medicine/the-science-of-mindfulness
Siegel, D. J. (1999). The Developing Mind. New York, NY: Guilford Press.