Our minds are constantly active. You might be watching television – but also thinking about the past, or worrying about something, or wondering what you’re going to have for dinner.
Mindfulness is about stilling your active mind. It has been defined in several ways, including:
- giving your complete attention to the present on a moment-by-moment basis
- paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment.
You can use everyday moments to build and practise mindfulness. The more you practise, the more benefit you’ll get.
You can also encourage your child to build mindfulness. In many ways, this is just about getting your child to do what she naturally does. Encouraging your child to be in the here and now can give him skills to deal with the stress of study, work and play as he gets older.
There are many ways to help your child build and practise mindfulness. For example:
- Colouring in is a great way to get your child focused on a task.
- Walking through nature with the family can get your child interested in exploring the beauty of nature.
- Taking photographs or drawing something interesting or beautiful.
- Looking after a vegetable patch encourages your child to notice how plants grow.
- Listening to music and focusing on the instruments or lyrics is a great way for your child to focus on the present without distraction.
Mindfulness meditation is a highly focused type of mindfulness. It combines meditation, breathing techniques and paying attention to the present moment to help you notice the way you think, feel and act.
You can do mindfulness meditation with an instructor, or you can use a guided mindfulness meditation app or CD.
There’s clear evidence that practising mindfulness can have health benefits for adults.
For example, studies suggest that mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) can reduce stress and improve other mental health issues. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) can help people with depression stay well and stop them from getting depressed again. It can work just as well as an antidepressant.
Being ‘present’ and less anxious can boost social skills and academic performance. It can also help people manage emotions.