Mindfulness for the whole family

It’s not just for kids!

Mindfulness for the whole family

Mindfulness – the mental state achieved by focusing awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations – is a therapeutic technique enjoying increasing popularity.

We here at HVParent frequently point you to articles that help you introduce it to your kids, or we offer hints at how you, as a parent, can benefit from it. Today, we do both. This Parents.com piece by Meryl Davids Landau, shows how you can incorporate mindfulness in family activities.

Simply put, mindfulness is the act of paying attention. But simple as that sounds, the modern world, especially the pandemic world, is laden with distraction. Children and adults alike are encouraged to multi-task, to hustle, to produce, to beat the clock, to “be best.”

But we find that doing all those things is apparently making everyone miserable. We are anxious, depressed, overwhelmed, and having a hard time paying attention. It’s dangerous. For years, mental health professionals and scientists have extolled the virtues of mindfulness, and the stresses of life with Covid-19 have made it even more important, and valuable. 

Landau, who also authored of Enlightened Parenting: A Mom Reflects on Living Spiritually with Kids, advises a “listening walk”: “Go someplace—even your backyard—and walk together in silence, listening for sounds you typically overlook: leaves rustling, a pine cone falling from a tree, your own steady breath. To enhance the quietest sounds (and make it more fun), you can turn paper cups into amplifiers by cutting a hole in the sides of two cups and hooking them over your ears, drinking side facing forward.”

Landau also advises paying attention to your food. I did this in a mindfulness workshop, and it’s fun and fascinating. First, look at it, then hold it in your hand (or fork or spoon), then slowly eat it. It can be remarkably grounding. She also recommends the “body scan.” Lie on your back and slowly move your attention from your toes to the top of you head. Note how each body part feels.

READ MORE: How to raise emotionally intelligent kids to conquer stress

Another tip is silence. Landau writes: “During a period of enforced quiet, everyone goes through their regular routines—but they don't speak. Start with 5 or 10 minutes and try to work up to an hour or more. (A family I know observes silent Saturdays from wake-up until noon.)”

These and other activities she recommends are so simple, that it is easy to see why people would be suspicious of them. But they shouldn’t be. That suspicion, while often helpful, can also be the exact kind of distracting chatter that mindfulness can remedy.

Other articles by HVP on Being Mindful

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  • 10 activities to encourage mindfulness

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