Mindfulness Part 2 The children

My last blog post focused mainly on adults but mindfulness can benefit children too. The class I took to learn mindfulness was designed to teach us so that we could go one to teach children in a classroom or their lives and help them calm before exams or deal with other stresses in their lives. To learn to be more caring and compassionate to themselves and others. I have also read books on using this to help children. As a result I have created a session I use with children when they become overwhelmed or anxious. Even some with ADHD.

With children I have them take their open hand with thumb towards their face and begin at the top of their head in the center. I call it their shark fin. They are to slowly bring shark fin down from the top of their head to their stomach saying SHH. Then deep breath in and back to top of head again. We do this 3 times. After the third time shark fin has called their super hero (whatever that is for them) Super hero comes and brings his/ her shield and completely surrounds the child. If there is an adult helping them the adult and child are inside the shield.When inside the shield it is quiet, safe and they are protected. It is calm, quiet and peaceful. They focus on their breath by feeling their abdomen or stomach. If the adult is present they must also be in a calm state and speak softly and calmly. It helps if the adult does the breaths when the child does so both are relaxed. Be silent at first and focus on the breaths. As you see the child relaxing you can calmly discuss the situation causing their stress by asking them to think of ways they or someone else could have handled it differently.Not with you lecturing or telling them how to solve the situation. Give them time to reflect and problem solve themselves as this will teach them to do that in the future when things occur and we aren’t there to assist. I have also told children that if they need quiet time as they start to feel angry, overwhelmed or stressed to raise their hand to shark fin position and it will be a signal to me that they need quiet time and I will stop what I am doing with them and grant them time. This may help them prevent bad behavior, melt downs or loss of control if they learn to self calm before reaching that point.

Another way I work with a child is to have them put their hand on my stomach and mine on theirs and try to match our breaths. It not only calms but brings a sense of closeness with the child.

This can help children calm but also teach them to be kind and gentle to themselves and others as even their self talk is to be kind and non judgemental and as we work with them we also need to reflect that.

While they are calm is also a good time to involve their senses and explore mindful eating , walking or observing their surroundings. Being outside and seeing not just the trees but the different color, the birds the rustle of the leaves. To teach them to be in the moment which in turn will help them learn to focus and concentrate better.

I have used this with a child with ADHD and could visibly see her body calming with the breaths.

I hope you find this helpful and you and your children or those you work with can enjoy peaceful times together.

Meditation or Mindfulness? Part 1

Is there a difference between meditation and mindfulness? When we think of meditation we sometimes think of prayer or formal programs like yoga?

When we think of mindfulness what comes to mind? Just being without thoughts?

Or are they the same? Is it a combination of the two or is it much more?

The definition of meditation is: a practice or technique where an individual focuses their mind on an object or thought to clear their mind and calm their mind and body.
It is commonly used not only in religion but also as a means to reduce stress, anxiety, depression or pain. It brings forth peace, clarity of mind and well being.

Meditation can help us understand our own mind. We can transform our mind from negative to positive, from disturbed to peaceful, from unhappy to happy. Overcoming negative minds can cultivate constructive thoughts.

The definition of mindfulness is: the psychological process of bringing ones attention to experiences occurring in the present moment which can be developed through the practice of meditation or other training.

Mindfulness helps us be present in each moment with non-judgemental awareness.There are several ways such as a body scan, letting thoughts arise and pass or in daily life being aware of the taste, smell and texture of what we eat. or see.

The benefit helps the brain self regulate by increasing activity in the anterior cingulate cortex. A shift from using the right prefrontal cortex is claimed to be associated with a trend away from depression and anxiety towards happiness, relaxation and emotional balance. It is said to be an effective means to reduce rumination and worry.

So the answer to the question are they the same or much more could be answered by Mindfulness can be both. Both methods can be effective and beneficial.

Personally I practice a combination but primarily mindfulness. AS an example of how I do it. I start by taking in a deep breath, hold for a few seconds and then exhale slowly. Some programs count breaths like as, in for 5, hold for 5, out for 7 called the 5-5-7 breath. I don’t dwell on the count I just do the length that works for me. I shift my mind to breathing in fresh air that is clean, calm and peaceful and breathing out all the stress or whatever comes to me at the time. After about 3 deep breaths I put my hands on my chest or abdomen and focus on my breathing. In and out normal breaths. I don’t count then but you can if it helps you focus. As my thoughts begin to wander which is normal I gently tell my mind to put that thought on the shelf for later and return to the breathing. I don’t belittle or judge myself for the wandering just gently tell myself to return the focus on the breath. In the beginning I could only stay with the breath for a few minutes but as I practiced more it has increased to as much as 15 minutes. I no longer time it as its just part of my quiet time and even a few minutes is beneficial. But longer is better.

In meditation many times they use a formal structure with specific positions or mantra. I don’t use any of those but its fine if you do. Some people do better with the structure some get stressed trying to achieve a certain position, pose or phrase instead of receiving the benefit of the meditation itself and then decide it doesn’t work for them or they can’t do it. It would be better for them to not worry about that relax and go with the flow.

In my case this usually leads to my prayer or worship time. My faith is in God, but its a good time to be with your “Higher Power” as you see it as meditation enhances the experience.

Practicing daily or several times a day is beneficial and to me it brings a sense of peace and calmness. Mindfulness can be used in many places throughout the day. Just stop and focus on the moment. Try mindful eating. As you take a bite before you chew stop and focus on the flavor and texture. When you chew feel the sensation of your teeth on the food.

As you walk practice mindful walking. Focus on your feet as they touch the ground. what comes in contact first heels or toes? Feel the earths energy as it flows through your body.

Look around you and stop. Using all your senses to be in that moment.How does the air smell or feel? What do you hear? What do you see up close and in the distance? Does it have a taste? Practice being in the moment for a few minutes each day. We get so busy we fail to enjoy whats all around us.

There are special benefits to use this with children too but for that see Part 2 of my blog on mindfulness.

I have recently added diffusing essential oils to enhance my sessions as they can be used for so may things. If you are interested in purchasing some go to Youngliving. com. Use my number as referral or consultant number which is 15383920.

As a Life and Health coach I have used mindfulness and essential oils in my sessions with clients. To learn more about life or health coaching call or email me at 770-917-9847 or granat149@ aol.com and schedule a free discovery session.

I hope you will try some of the things I mentioned and find peace, clarity and calm in your life. Natalie Manfull