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Mindfulness: should we pay attention?


Buddhist monks have been practising mindfulness for more than 2,500 years, while actor Goldie Hawn is working with neuroscientists and educators to develop a mindfulness program for schools.

But what is mindfulness, why is it taking over the world, and should we pay any attention to it?

Mindfulness is described as a state-of-mind of awareness that involves tuning into the present moment, rather than worrying or thinking about what is to come. 

To do this, more and more people are practising mindfulness through meditation or through everyday activities such as walking, eating or conversation.

In her research, Evidence for the Impact of Mindfulness on Children and Young People Professor Katherine Weare says the practice of mindfulness is easy to learn and can improve the mental, emotional, social and physical health and well-being of young people.

She also says it can contribute to the development of cognitive and performance skills and executive function.

Other research shows that mindfulness training may help with improved attention, memory processing and decision making abilities and increase a person’s ability to self-regulate their emotions.

So, as a parent, how do go about helping children practise mindfulness. We have some tips:
  • Dedicate a window of time each week to “mindfully” play with your child or children. This means putting the iPhone away and turning off all other electronic devices.
  • Spend some time listening to soft music and think about how it makes your feel.
  • Take time out to sit quietly each day, even if only for a few minutes.
  • Go for a walk or a bike ride with your child and encourage them to listen to the sounds around them. Encourage them to be silent for a minute or so and take in what they can see and hear.
  • Eating in silence, even if just for the first few minutes, can help children enjoy their food and dinner time just that little bit more.
  • Build mindfulness in to your daily tasks, for example, encourage children to brush their hair while thinking about how the brush feels and what sound it makes.
  • Look after a vegetable patch or do some colouring in.
Source: Raising Children Network
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