What exactly is the meaning of mindfulness? While one can find many different explanations of it and the one I connect with best is as follows:
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing and not be overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
Everyone is capable of practicing mindfulness, adults and children alike. To some it comes naturally and to others it is a process that consists of focusing on being in the moment by simply stopping and taking a few breaths or counting to 10 to prevent yourself from lashing out when you’re upset or stressed. Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere, at any time. It is said to activate parts of the brain that are not being used when doing normal tasks. Being mindful has also been said to increase emotional intelligence, reduce stress, and expand working memory.
Adults have the capacity for mindfulness (whether we practice it or not), but we need to practice it on a daily basis so it’s readily available to us when we need it. In other words, just as we exercise to work our muscles to be strong, we need to train our brain to be mindful. We have to set aside some time and space to pay attention to what’s going on in the present moment without judgement. If we lose our “centeredness” we need to remind ourselves kindly to return to the present moment. Incorporating meditation to regulate our breathing is a great way to relax our mind and body.
How can we teach children to be mindful as well? We take a few minutes in the classroom to teach breathing, stretching, focusing exercises, and relaxation techniques. We encourage parents to do the same at home and, because they are children, we also need to make it fun, to peak their interest, and keep them wanting to practice on a daily basis. Practicing mindfulness with children gives them the skills they need to feel less stressed, putting them in a happier place mentally and emotionally. Practicing mindfulness will eventually help them create a better environment and world for themselves and others around them.