5 Mindful Minutes...
"It's easy to stop noticing the world around us. It's also easy to lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling and to end up living 'in our heads' – caught up in our thoughts without stopping to notice how those thoughts are driving our emotions and behaviour."
Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre
Mindfulness is a technique that focuses on bringing your attention to the present moment. It involves noticing what is happening to your surroundings by using your senses, without casting judgement. Mindfulness is about just being, stepping ‘out of your head’ to pay attention to your body and the world around you.
Although Mindfulness is simple, it can be difficult to those constantly on the go. For children, Mindfulness can be especially hard, as they’re eager to be involved in various activities, and the thought of sitting and just ‘being’ sounds a little boring! With that in mind, we’ve gathered five Mindfulness activities that you can practise with your little people, to encourage them to be a little more mindful. We’ve designed the tasks to be a little more engaging, but the intent remains the same. Each task is designed to last at least five minutes, but you can practise for as long as you like.
1. Guess the object
Pick a small selection of items in a variety of shapes and textures. Have your little one close their eyes and then pass them one item at a time, having them guess what they’re holding. Ask them open and closed questions (examples below) to encourage them to try to work out what the item is.
What shape do you think this item is?
What material do you think this item is made out of?
Does this item have any type of smell?
Do you think this item is heavy, or light?
Does this item remind you of anything?
When do you think you would use this item?
2. Go on a Mindful walk
Go for a walk (either through the streets or somewhere a little rural) and chat about things you can see, hear, smell and touch. If you are walking through the streets, observe the variation of houses/doors/gardens. Together, see if you can imagine the people that may live there, or the pets they may have. Remember to be mindful of people’s privacy, and not to touch any property or pry into any houses!
3. Practise Cookie Breathing -
This is a simple breathing exercise to practise with your child, but you can do this as simple or as elaborate as you like. When you inhale, breathe in through your nose, imagining the smell of your favourite cookie. When you exhale, breathe like you are blowing out a candle, or (in this instance) cooling down a cookie. Practise this several times. To prolong this activity, ask your child questions such as “what can you smell?” and facilitate a discussion about the cookie, such as the shape, texture, smell and taste.
4. Animal steps/high intensity movements
Take turns picking different animals, and then spent 30 seconds stomping around like said animal. You can either choose verbally, or each write down your choices and put them into a hat/bag to pull out. You could even add in various emotions, such as “Angry Elephant” or “Happy Tiger”. Ask questions such as “can you feel any changes in your body?” and “how do your legs feel after stomping like an elephant?”.
5. Listen to the noise -
Collect kitchen items such as a pan, bowl, cup, and spoon, and take your little one somewhere quiet. When you’re both ready, use the spoon to tap (gently) on the
items, one at a time, and listen for how long the noise is made. Be careful to not use items of value, or that may break easily. Facilitate a conversation around the variation of noises, asking
your little one to describe what each sounds like.