Growing up as a Mindful Generation

Children learn so much more from watching what we do than from listening to what we say so, being mindful ourselves, is the first step in teaching children how to live a mindful life.

What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment, without judgment or trying to change it. It is being aware of body, mind, thoughts, feelings and surroundings, with focus and openness. By bringing mindfulness into our everyday life while working, one will not only find beautiful energy that one never even knew existed, but also be able to experience the joy of what is happening while it is actually happening.

Too often, we find ourselves on autopilot and react automatically to situations. Mindful awareness will allow us to change our behaviour and perceptions, as well as our attitude towards ourselves and our children. Many studies have shown that by practicing mindfulness you can actually change the chemistry and wiring in your brain.

MRIs confirm that after an eight-week course of mindfulness practice, the brain’s “fight or flight” centre, the amygdala (collection of cells near the base of the brain) starts to shrink. This area, associated with fear and negative emotions, is involved in initiating the body’s response to stress. At the same time the pre-frontal cortex, associated with functions such as awareness, concentration and decision-making, becomes enlarged. By practicing mindful awareness over time, one will notice more patience, calm and ease.

‘You cannot stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf on them.’ (John Kabat Zinn)

There are many ways to teach ourselves and our children mindfulness: directly, indirectly, with sounds, stories, through guided meditations and books. But the most important and beneficial way to begin is to start with your own yoga or mindfulness practice. Helping our children through difficult times is not only done by working with the child alone, but the greatest improvement was when mindfulness was practised.

The more aware you are of your triggers, patterns of action and reactions, the more often you are likely to choose how best to model healthy behaviour, and how to live more mindfully as a family.

Our actions speak to our children and not our words. If we show our children that we are practicing self-care by doing yoga and meditation or such practices, they will start to embrace and value it themselves. Remember, children are small sponges – they absorb easily what they are exposed to.

The sacred morning routine-To practice morning ritual can be meditation, morning walks, first thing in the morning. No words, no stimulation, just spending time on focus.

Teaching children how to use their breath- when we see a very upset child the best thing to say is “take a deep breath” – child feels resentful as that was not what he/she wanted to do at all as they are actually showing the world how their feelings are.

This is why it’s important to teach our children to have a good relationship with their breath before a tense situation occurs. But if body and mind are already tuned into calming down, by daily mindfulness practice, it is be easier for children to actually listen, stop and act on it.