Teaching children to practice mindfulness
On Mindfulness Day, we are reminded of how being aware of the present moment can, in the words of Diwa Tharan Sanders, "create a ripple of positivity for well-being." Diwa is the author of Kaya's Heart Song, a story of mindfulness that encourages us to listen to our hearts and to find peace and joy from following the beats of our own drums. But how can we cultivate in our children the habit of mindfulness? Diwa, who teaches meditation and breathwork classes, shares some great and practical advice*
My inspiration for Kaya's Heart Song was to write about a little girl who wanted to be happy, because I felt (and still do) that we sometimes forget the importance of following our hearts by unconsciously drowning-out the voice of our hearts living our day-to-day lives the way we’re ‘supposed to’. Thinking about happy hearts, led to the idea of a heart song and it was in discovering my own heart song as I wrote the book, that the theme of mindfulness revealed itself. And so yes, Mama is right in saying, “If you have a heart song, anything is possible. Even magic!”
And it’s finding this magic that I think is the best thing about practising mindfulness. Give your child (and yourself!) space to take the time to feel and listen for the magic that’s in us all. It is found in many different forms: in new ideas, finding new emotions, expressing these emotions, in having the courage to speak up for what you want or love, in being creative and even in simply being happy and content in the moment.
Whatever makes your heart sing is mindfulness working its magic.
Here are a couple of suggestions of mindfulness practices to do with your child (thank you to my friends who willingly brainstormed some of these ideas with me):
The next time your child does something you badly want to discipline them for, be mindful about it. Calm yourself with 10 – 15 deep breaths before explaining to your child why they should take some time alone to be with themselves and think about what they did. Ask them how they feel after.
The next time your child asks for your smartphone or gadget to play with, offer them something else like a piece of paper, an empty box or nothing at all and watch what happens. Regardless of how they react, you’re creating a space for them to be with their emotions and essentially express themselves. This also opens their mind to thinking out-of-the-(electronic) box and stimulates their creativity.
Set aside joint ‘mindfulness time’. It could be a walk in the park to observe the trees, a colouring activity, sitting down to breathe together in meditation or silence or anything that feels like it would stimulate you and your child.
Listen to your heart song. Our hearts are often the truest barometers of
how we’re feeling at any particular time. Make a conscious effort to tune in; ‘zoning-in’ instead of zoning-out and take the time to notice what’s going on inside. Sing, hum, whistle, speak, move, tap or drum whatever it is you hear. Self-expression has been for me one of the best ways to connect deeper to my own heart and to feel more mindful.
There are many advantages of practicing mindfulness. For me, the most precious one is the love, honour and magic that we give to ourselves when we do so, because this is what then flows out into the world. Mindfulness starts inside, with us all and can be an amazing gift to unravel when we find the time to journey inward. Imagine how incredible it would feel to live amongst those who are creating and sharing magic every single day!
*Excerpt reposted from Our Book Reviews Online
Diwa Tharan Sanders teaches meditation and breathwork classes in Malaysia and makes intuitively-designed mala necklaces and bracelets for healing, happiness and inspiration. Visit her website www.diwatharansanders.com