Mindfulness seems to be a fashionable word at the moment, but what is it? What does it actually mean?
Ok, let’s get back to basics. How about going for a walk in the park..?
When introducing children to any kind of mindful or meditative practice, it is important to make it fun for them. So, we can take a walk in our local park with the intention of introducing some mindful practice in a fun and memorable way to our kids.
Mindfulness In The Park
Paying attention to what we see is a great place to start. As we walk through the park, we can bring awareness to things that are far away. “Look at the trees at the top of the hill kids. See how small they look far away. Look at this tree next to us. How big it is up close. Wow, look at the ants down there. Don’t step on them. Remember love and compassion.”
Stand still for a while and enjoy watching the ants and the tree with no other purpose than simply being there and watching, encouraging your children to do the same.
Next, we can begin paying attention to what we hear by bringing our awareness to the sounds around us. There is a symphony of sounds going on around us everyday, but our busy minds manage to filter them unless we bring our awareness to them. “Can you hear that bird kids? Sounds like a blackbird. Oh and there’s a wood pigeon. Can you hear that stream rippling? There’s a dog barking. Oh, and listen to the wind rustling through the leaves.” Give them time to notice and absorb each sound before pointing out the next.
Then simply stand quietly and listen for a while with no other purpose than just being there and hearing the sounds.
“This is hungry work kids, let’s go to the cafe over there.”
Now is an opportunity for mindful eating. Simply bring awareness to what and how we eat. Actually encourage them to taste the food, rather than scoffing it down. “Mmm, this hot chocolate is delicious. Can you taste the chocolate? Can you feel the warmth in your tummy? Wow, these sandwiches are yummy. I’m going to enjoy every bite and chew well and slowly.”
Related article: Meditation for children
Once again being aware of the eating with no other purpose than just being there eating and noticing every sensory perception that goes with it.
Mindful eating is also an opportunity for gratitude and to be thankful. Simply saying “thank you for this food”, is a way to bring awareness to that we actually have the food to eat. Not everyone has food, and it’s easily forgotten without mindfulness of this fact. This helps to teach kids to appreciate what they have and realize how lucky they are.
Walking back home or back to the car is an opportunity to bring it all together. Walking slowly and mindfully we all should be in a heightened state of presence after these mindful exercises. We can gently bring awareness to what we see, hear and feel on the way home. It can be a joyous experience that we can practice daily.
If you like the idea of introducing mindfulness to your kids and recognize how it will be of benefit to them in their daily lives, then you and your child may enjoy my book, The Muddy Road. This book is a short story for children about two characters named Tanzan and his dog Ekido, and their mindfulness experiences as they walk along the muddy road together. Find out more about The Muddy Road here.
Article by Greg March