4 Basic Mindfulness Techniques You Can Learn As A Family
These easy-to-do mindfulness activities can be a great way for the whole family to maintain overall wellness, and to find calm and joy together.
Mindfulness has become a buzzword of late, increasingly so with the new normal. Said to be a therapeutic solution to mental strain, mindfulness is a state of mind wherein one’s awareness lies in the present, acknowledging thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations. In this state, there is no judgment, only acceptance.
A mindfulness practice for the family can be beneficial in maintaining overall wellness, increasing mental strength, and preserving joy. See how your own family can benefit from this practice through various ways even kids can follow — yoga mat not required!
Pranayama: Box Breathing
Box Breathing is a fun breathing exercise to try out with kids. This pranayama involves holding your breath. It can help clear the mind and relax the body, so this is perfect for whenever a child (or adult!) feels anxious or upset.
This can be done anywhere. Just find a comfortable seat — whether on a chair or the floor with legs crossed.
- Breathe in through the nose, counting from 1 to 4. Observe how the air fills the chest.
- Hold the breath for 4 counts. Try not to exhale just yet.
- Begin to exhale to the count of 4.
- Hold the exhale for another 4 counts.
- Repeat this breathing pattern until you feel calm.
Consider box breathing when you feel the need to refocus. As my 4-year-old says about his breathing exercises, "It helps me not be angry. It helps me feel better and not feel frustrated." So, instead of taking a timeout, why not self-regulate and do a “time in” instead?
You don’t have to stay still for hours on end to reap the benefits of this exercise. You can meditate on your own for a few minutes. Just find a quiet space (even your bathroom will do!), and sit comfortably with eyes closed or gently open.
Observe the inhales and the exhales, paying attention to the texture of the air as it gently enters and leaves the nose. Pay attention to how the belly expands with every inward breath, and how the belly shrinks with every outward breath. Stay relaxed throughout while holding your awareness for several breaths.
Let your breath be your anchor. Listen to your breath, especially if the mind begins to wander.
Stay still for as long as you can and notice how the mind feels clearer afterward.
When you practice with the kids, ask them: how did that feel? It may feel intimidating at first, but it gets easier with practice. Now if you (or the kids) are the type to get lost in your thoughts, you can get guided meditations through apps and platforms such as Calm or Headspace (they have kid-friendly practices!), and then you can go back to trying it on your own when you feel ready.
Cultivate a gratitude practice
Think of one thing you are grateful for when you wake up and then do it again before you go to bed. Simple, right?
A gratitude practice can help shift the mind’s perspective and put the person at ease during difficult times.
I personally recommend this mindfulness technique for families, as it gives parents a peek into what matters and brings delight to our children. I enjoy hearing my kids be thankful for even the smallest things — like my little one saying he found a new rock to add to his rock collection, or my older child expressing gratitude for our meal. Hearing these words from our children also benefits us parents — it reassures us that despite the chaos around us, our children are still secure in our care. It’s a gift that keeps giving.
Through time, maybe this practice becomes a habit, as the list in your gratitude practice increases. And if that means your day is filled with thoughts of gratitude, then you can bet you’re going to have a good day.
Apply mindfulness exercises in your daily activities
You can incorporate mindfulness into your daily routines. For example, when children brush their teeth, teach them to be aware of moving from one tooth to another, making sure no tooth gets skipped.
Or when the family exercises or plays games, parents can ask children questions that promote better awareness of their bodies. Try asking which body parts move at a time. Was it the left arm? How about the right leg? Ask: can you tilt your head up and look towards the sky? Can you touch your toes?
Mindfulness is not a cure-all, but it is a helpful tool to keep stress at bay.
As a parent, there will always be days when you feel like you’ve lost control, and emotions get the better of you. This is a learning opportunity in itself. Take time to assess what led to the situation, ask what you could have done better, and move forward. Habits take time to develop.
The process of learning more about yourself and how you respond to situations benefits the entire family. Take your family’s mindfulness practice as an open invitation to live fully, to savor every moment, no matter the circumstances.
About The Writer
Trina is a wife, a full-time mom to two boys, and a Vinyasa, Prenatal, and Postpartum Yoga teacher. A yoga student since 2003, she is a believer of mindfulness and a consistent “off-the-mat” yoga practice. Before becoming a yoga teacher and a full-time mom, Trina enjoyed a 14-year career in broadcast media. When she’s not on her mat or doing chores, you’ll likely find her experimenting in the kitchen.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and do not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.