Between our kids, jobs, and other daily responsibilities, we can become overwhelmed by being pulled in so many directions. Above the physical tasks that we have, our conscience also can become a burden when we feel like we’re just not doing the best we can. You find yourself asking questions like: Am I a good parent? Am I giving my family enough of my time? Am I feeding my kids healthy food? Are my kids getting the proper education? Are they reading the right books? This internal chatter takes its toll, and if we’re not careful, it can transfer into our parenting. And guess where it goes next? Our self-doubt, pity, and lack of confidence radiate outwardly, and you know who's watching. Giving in to these negative thoughts validates our children’s right to take ownership of their negative thoughts and poor self-perception. There is no time better than the present to incorporate mindfulness into your family life.
If you are unfamiliar with the term, mindfulness is the human ability to be fully present. That means that you are aware of where you are and what you are doing at a particular time. Mindfulness minimizes our chances of becoming overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Being mindful and meditation is not religious. These practices are useful for all people, regardless of their spiritual or religious backgrounds or beliefs. Research shows that practicing mindfulness can help with focus, regulate emotions to feel empathy and compassion, manage stress and anxiety, and develop a positive outlook. It’s never too late or too early to introduce positive habits because those formed early in life will likely transform into adult behaviors. Mindfulness gives us the opportunity to gift our children the habit of being kind, peaceful, and accepting human beings. And the best part about it is that it’s easy, free, and there are no rules. Essentially, all you have to do is find a peaceful place to clear your mind and breathe.
Here are 5 tips to get you started:
1) Commit to a regular practice (once a week, twice a week, or daily).
2) Pick one place or identify several good places to meditate (a quiet spot at home, in a park, on a beach, or even in an open field).
3) Sit comfortably (legs crossed or feet flat on the floor, straightened upper body but not stiff, hands rested wherever they feel most natural, chin dropped, eyes closed or open without focusing on any one thing).
4) Breathe. Pay attention to the physical sensation of breathing -- the air moving through your nose or mouth, the rising and falling of your belly or your chest.
5) Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions. Be in the present.
…and that’s it!
If you choose to start slowly, using simple guided meditations are great until you get the hang of it. Below is a fun script by meditation expert and children’s author, Prince Daniels, Jr. This script can help your child face his or her fears and build self-confidence.
You Can Reach Your Mountaintop
1. Sit in a comfy position and close your eyes.
2. Slowly take three deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth.
3. Relax your feet and legs. Let go of any tightness and let them become heavy and relaxed. Imagine a huge gust of wind traveling through your body and relaxing everything it touches. Your legs are first.
4. Now relax your tummy, chest, and shoulders. The wind is blowing through and you are getting more and more relaxed by the moment.
5. Pay attention to your arms and fingers, and allow the wind to get through. Feel how relaxed you are now.
6. Finally, the wind has reached your head. It’s blowing through your hair and around your head. You feel completely relaxed.
7. Now I want you to imagine you are standing at the foot of a massive mountain, and you want to reach the top. You are little like a rock standing next to the mountain.
8. You start climbing. You have no fears, and you are thinking courageous thoughts. You climb and climb and climb and climb and climb and climb. You are halfway there. You climb further and you finally reach the top.
9. You’re at the top of the mountain now. The world is at your feet. You can do anything that you want to. You have reached the top and the world is yours.
10. Can you see everything beneath you? Good. Now take a seat. This is your special place. You can decorate it any way you want.
11. Think about everything you can do up there. Will you bring anyone there with you?
12. Know that when you are on the top of your mountain, you are really relaxed. This is a place to let go of all your thoughts, all your worries. You feel your best when you are at the top of your mountain.
13. Take a deep breath and allow yourself to feel very peaceful and relaxed atop your mountain.
14. This is a place that you can go any time you would like to feel more peaceful and calm. Know that your mountaintop is always available to you. You can visit here whenever you would like.
15. Now take a deep breath and imagine yourself walking down the mountain. Gently bring your attention back to the room.
16. You can open your eyes whenever you are ready.