Mindfulness exercises can be beneficial at any time, but even more so during times of difficulty or stress.
Mindfulness has been a hot topic for quite some time now, but even so the idea of actually implementing it in your home can seem daunting. When we are able to calm the chaos of the mind, we are better equipped to focus on the events around us but where do we begin?
To start, what is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is purposely bringing our awareness and attention to the present moment—being fully immersed in each moment as it occurs. So often we are caught up living in the past, or worrying about the future that we forget to pause and appreciate the here and now.
Starting your day with a positive intention or positive thought can be incredibly beneficial to beginning the day on a high note. Encourage each member of the family to share a thought for the day, something simple like “I am enough” “today I will find joy in the little things” “kindness matters” or “I choose to be happy” can work just fine.
If you choose to begin each day with a bit more of a meditative focus, I encourage you to find a space in your home that feels calm, comfortable, and invokes a sense of peace and serenity. Perhaps this is your bedroom, a favorite chair, the living room couch, a patio or front porch, or maybe it’s the snack pantry where you hide from your kids. Take a few moments to acknowledge the flow of breath. Set a deep and even pace of breath that you can return to throughout the day when things get overwhelming. You can choose to sit quietly with the breath, use a meditation app, or maybe read through a meditation script like the ones at the end of this article. Meditations can also be done in the evening as a way to unwind, relax, and prepare the mind and body for a peaceful night’s sleep.
Journaling is another great form of mindfulness.
A gratitude journal is an easy way to remind ourselves of all that we have that is good in our life, even amidst chaos and times of uncertainty. This can be done in your head, through a journaling app, in the notes feature of your phone, or in a designated journal. A simple lined notebook does the trick, or you can purchase any number of pre designed gratitude journals with various prompts or activities.
Art is a great outlet for stress, anxiety, or worry and can help calm a racing mind and encourage you to be present. Coloring is an easy and relaxing activity for kids and adults. Drawing mandalas, painting, or using art apps are options as well.
Focusing on the breath can bring you back to the moment any time you are feeling overwhelmed. The breath is a natural source of calm. When we are stressed our breath is short and shallow. Actively focusing on breathing in through your nose and letting the breath fill the chest, belly and diaphragm before slowly exhaling. This allows you to regain control over the depth and rhythm of your breathing. For children, a simple reminder of the breath is to tell them “smell the flower, blow out the candle” and encourage them to do so slowly.
A simple hug is not only a moment of bonding between loved ones, but when the moment is held for 3 to 5 deep breaths and is done with intention, it becomes a mindful moment of loving kindness shared between two people. Whenever a family member is feeling low or stressed, offer a hug and allow it to last for a few deep soothing breaths.
Getting out in nature helps reset our body’s natural rhythms and soothes the mind. Take a walk as a family. Really take time to appreciate the sights, sounds, and smells around you. Breathe deeply and try to clear the mind. As you walk imagine your body and mind filling with peaceful cleansing energy on the inhales and on the exhales imagine you are releasing anything that is weighing on you.
Another easy mindfulness exercise is a light meditation. This can be done with a candle as well (candle gazing) but for younger children I prefer to do a color changing light. If using a candle, sit in a comfortable seated position. Gaze softly at the flicker of a flame and breathe in and out slowly for at least ten breaths. Increase the time to as much as you wish. As you focus on the flame and your breath, everything around you in your peripheral vision seems to fade away. The mind becomes quiet and the body becomes still. With a colored light, encourage children to place their hand on their knees in a seated position. Have them gaze softly at the light maybe even softly saying the color of the light as it changes. This is a great transition activity or useful for anytime a child could use a moment to calm down and relax.
Music meditation is easy to implement. Find a soothing playlist or create your own that just makes you feel good. Devote a few minutes to laying down or sitting quietly and allowing the music to fill the soul with peaceful or positive emotions.
Mindfulness doesn’t have to be a long or arduous process. It can be built into just about every moment of your day. Find what works for you and enjoy the process. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t stick right away or is not immediately well received. Like any new habit, it can take time to adapt into your daily routine. Below are a few sample mindfulness scripts, feel free to create your own!
Every day is an opportunity to learn new things. Every day can be a great day. I choose to enjoy this day. I choose to practice kindness and positivity.
I am Enough. I appreciate who I am, what I am, and all that I am capable of. I do not compare myself to others for I am exactly who I am meant to be in this very moment.
Take a moment to appreciate the start of a new day. Fill your mind with thoughts of hope and joy at all of the opportunities that each new day presents to you. Take a few deep breaths and encourage yourself to find small moments of peace and joy throughout this day. As you focus on a slow pace of breath bring a smile to your face. Hold this smile and tell yourself. I am worthy, I am loved, I am important, and today will be a good day.
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