Mindfulness is a practice that has made its way into mainstream culture with books, resources, and classes popping up across the country. Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhist meditation and is defined as "maintaining moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment..." (www.greatergood.berkeley.edu). According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), mindfulness has a positive impact on both our mental and physical health. It has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety (NIH, 2012).
Incorporating mindfulness into the everyday activities of busy family life can be short, simple, and fun! Below are some ways in which you can practice mindfulness as a family:
1) While eating dinner ask your child to describe the taste of their favorite item on the dinner plate. What's the texture? Is it savory, sweet, spicy, juicy? Is it cold on your tongue, warm, hot? Does it taste differently after you take a sip of your drink or after trying another item on the plate?
2) When outside have your child use all of their senses to describe their environment. What do you feel, smell, see, hear, taste (if applicable)?
3) During tuck-in time for bed ask your child to describe the difference between sleeping on top of the covers, sleeping under one cover, or sleeping under all of the covers. Does each sheet have a different feel to it? Is it breezier when sleeping on top of all of the covers?
4) Have a bubble gum blowing contest! Grab a piece of bubble gum and see who can blow the biggest bubble. Explain before the contest that to blow a big bubble you have to take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Practice breathing before the game officially begins!
5) What's that Sound Guessing Game. Using different items from outside and around the house, have your child close their eyes while you crinkle, jiggle, ring, tap, or pat, each of the items. See if your child can guess each item. For younger children--show them all of the items before playing the game.