Mindfulness has a lot of different meanings. As a Therapist, I find that Mindfulness is a very useful strategy to focus awareness on the current moment without judgement. This is very useful for kids to learn and parents to practice.
In this three-part series I will describe the different parts of mindfulness as I learned it in a therapy called Dialectical Behaviour Therapy. I have found it useful in my own life, with my kids and other children, adolescents and adults.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness has a history in various religious traditions and in the last 20 years has also been used in a secular manner in modern psychology. Some people associate mindfulness with a state of relaxation, but mindfulness is different to this. It is being aware of the current moment and the current moment may be painful or irritating so then we would be mindful of our pain and irritation.
Mindfulness is different to meditation in that we are living our lives, eating, talking and driving and we can still do this mindfully. We do not need a quiet space or a blank mind to be mindful.
I see that mindfulness is like a lighthouse beam. We are the lighthouse and we can choose to focus our beam of awareness on our experiences. We would call this mindfulness.
If we think of mindfulness in this way then we can really see the benefits to children as focusing brings more awareness of the thing they are focusing on, their bodies, thoughts and emotions.
Mindfulness Exercise to Teach the Concept of Mindfulness
This first mindfulness exercise is called the lighthouse beam.
Give your child a torch at night time.
Ask your child to sit on a cushion and tell them that they are going to be a lighthouse. The lighthouse needs to shine the torch around the room slowly and be on the lookout for any boats. Boats are anything that is a rectangle shape and they need to do this slowly and carefully as they don’t want to miss any boats.
You can change the object that you are looking at to suit the age of the child. For example, you could look out for objects that start with a certain letter or are made from cotton, or whatever you like.
Explain to your child that they are like the lighthouse and that their mind is like a torch beam. Together you are going to learn to have a stronger focus.
Check out the other posts in this series:
About the Author
Carolyn Fitzgibbon is an Occupational Therapist registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and currently practicing at Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) Brisbane. She has extensive experience in Mental Health and works with children, adolescents and adults on improving emotional well-being. Carolyn has also trained as a meditation teacher. Carolyn’s work as an Occupational Therapist involves supporting people to fully engage in their lives and reduce stress, anxiety, depression and self-harm. You can contact her via her website.