A MINDFUL NEW YEAR
It can be easy to get caught up in the business of our everyday lives and forget to take time to be aware in the present. Being mindful helps us to think intentionally, find gratitude for what we have, and be more understanding toward others and ourselves. Research shows that mindfulness also reduces stress, improves memory, enhances empathy, and lessens anxiety and depression. What's more, your whole family can practice and benefit from mindfulness together.
-Jenny Friedman, Executive Director
TAKE NOTICE OF THE WORLD
Make a Difference....
Practice living in the moment - and teach your children to do the same -- with these fun, simple exercises:
- Raisin experiment. Give each family member a raisin. As you eat, be aware of all your senses. First, talk about what the raisin looks like (wrinkly, dark purple). How does it feel? Touch it to your tongue. Hold it in your mouth. Take one small bite. Talk about what you taste and feel at each step. Afterward, ask your kids how it felt to use all their senses and put so much focus on one raisin. Did they enjoy eating more or less than usual?
- Patience experiment. Ring a bell or turn a rain stick. Be still as you listen to the noise slowly dissipating. Have your children raise their hands when they hear the sound go completely silent.
- Breathing experiment. The age-old practice of focusing on your breath can be a valuable response for when any challenging or emotional situation arises for your children - or you. It's a great way to get re-centered. Pick a time (such as before bed) and together focus for five breaths. As you breathe in and out you might say -"Breath in, breath out..." or choose a mantra to learn. For example "Breathing in, I bring joy and energy into my heart and my whole body! Breathing out, I share energy and joy from my heart and my whole body with the world!" (from http://move-with-me.com )
- Find more kid-friendly meditation practices here.
BEING MINDFUL MATTERS
Talk About It...
How can we remember to enjoy what we are doing right now?
What are some others foods we can eat slowly and notice our senses?
What did it feel like to listen to your breathing?
Does taking a few breaths when you're angry make you feel better? Why do you think that is?
How can we be more loving and understanding to those who are different from us?
How can we remember to be thankful everyday?
Learn About It...
Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda by Lauren Alderfer (Wisdom, 2011). In this simple story, children are introduced to the concept of mindfulness as Happy Panda shows Monkey how he can find joy in everyday moments.
Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children by Thich Nhat Hanh (Parallax, 2011). A wealth of activities, conversations and research to teach and practice mindfulness, gratitude and stress release with children.
"Simple practices like conscious breathing and smiling are very important. They can change our civilization."
– Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step