Art by : Henck van Bilsen
Got to get the laundry done, school project is due tomorrow, how am I going to pull off this volcano for science class, forgot about that permission form again, wonder if I can make the gym tonight, crap what is for dinner, I think the car inspection is past due, when was the last time I called my mom? AHHHHHHH! Welcome to mind full. With our brains working in overload and thoughts racing to what comes next or what we have to do next we lose focus and lose the present. We are no longer present and in the moment for our family, job, friends, or ourselves.
So now that we understand what mind full is what is this mindfulness that everyone is talking about?
Well let’s start by taking a deep breath and see what this is all about…….
Mindfulness is something we all possess; but we have to learn and cultivate it much like a garden. It needs us to be present and in the moment. Anyone can use mindfulness and incorporate it as a way of living to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, declutter our minds like the cartoon illustrates, and live in the moment.
Mindfulness can be done in many ways.
Mindful Coloring. You can use any coloring pages for this activity. You can use colored pencils, crayons, markers or whatever materials you are comfortable with. The goal is quietly enjoy the activity on your own and if you make a mistake take a few deep breaths and move on from it. There are not judgments just being in the moment with the experience.
Nature Walks. Take a ten to fifteen minute nature walk to help breathe in fresh air and take in the environment around you.
Breathing. One major component of mindfulness is learning how to control our own breathing. There are breathing tones to follow, diagrams and ways to make it fun for children and on their level. For example using a pinwheel to show a deep breathe in and deep breathe out. Bubbles are also very helpful to demonstrate controlled breathing patterns.
Smell the Flowers Breathing Activity. This activity combines mindful coloring and deep breathing. Introduce scented markers and explain that this is a special activity you can only do with those markers. In a classroom, you can have students color and breathe in through their noses to smell as they go.
Practice Yoga. Spend ten minutes practicing some simple yoga postures, like tree, warrior, and half moon pose. If you’re not sure about how to teach the postures, you can always search for a video and play it while you practice together or follow examples on Pinterest.
Mindfulness 5-4-3-2-1. Use this technique to ground children and adults. This is a great skill to decrease anxiety as well and manage anger when it rises. Look around your surroundings and find five things they can see, four things they can touch, three things they can hear, two things they can smell, and one thing they can taste.
Bullet Journaling. This is a very effective way for self reflection and tracking your feelings, goals and personal growth. Pinterest offers many amazing ideas to utilize bullet journaling with mindfulness:
Recite Positive Affirmations. Positive self talk is a great tool for adults and children. It is uplifting and can be done anywhere. You can start your day by using a mirror to recite your affirmation to yourself.
Guided Meditations Find a spot on a rug or yoga mat and lie down. Close your eyes and just breathe in and out. Read a guided meditation to help kids visualize a soothing beach or a calm walk through the forest. You can find one online or make up your own. You can listen to a guided medication on an app or your phone, tablet or computer. There are many free and low cost apps providing guided visual medications. There is also a great resource called Ready Set Relax workbook that details short visual meditations! Within a few minutes, you will be more calm and relaxed. (these are my favorite!)
Listen to music. Play your choice of nature sounds, classical, or any acoustic music. You can play the music while kids are doing something independently or allow kids to just sit down and relax while mindfully listening to music. https://www.thepathway2success.com/
The goal of mindfulness is to become more aware of where you are and what you’re doing, without becoming overwhelmed by what’s going on around you. De-stress and unclutter your mind and decrease your anxiety. Try to incorporate some of the activities into your daily like and enjoy living in the present! Welcome to mindfulness!
Emily Pittman, LCSW
1 Northgate Square Suite 218
Greensburg, PA 15601