Mindfulness is For Everyone to Share

_MG_3412.jpg

Last week I held a workshop for parents and children at a playgroup. Many were very small so it was as much for the parents as it was for kids! I used Making Mindful Magic as a basis and parents and children did these experiences from the book together. It was a wonderful reminder to me of why this all started for me – the goal was and remains to bring adults and children together so they can live a more mindful life, one where it is normal to take life slower and more purposefully rather than the constant rushed life that can easily become normal!

As we all shared the mindful experiences, adults and children alike and as I spoke with parents afterwards, I realised more and more that we all need these mindful moments and reminders. I’ve been told by many adults that they use the book for themselves as much as for their children. I love to hear this and it, of course, illustrates the point that as adults we need to be aware that being mindful needs our attention and by taking the time to practice, the more it becomes embedded in our lives and flows down to our children.  

Especially at the beginning and with kids, we need a plan to put mindful moments into practice!  It maybe sounds very formal and in a way, the antithesis of being spontaneously mindful but actually diarising a mindful experience is a really good way to begin to remind us to be mindful! So, what if we all knew that at the start and end of every day we would sit, adults and children, for 2 minutes and be still and quiet and to breathe slowly and calmly?  What difference do you think that could make to a household or a classroom? I think those couple of minutes could make a huge difference with little effort. You can start this as early as you like with your child. If you sit still and breathe calmly yourself and ignore any call for attention, I believe they too will adopt this practice as their own because that’s their normal. They come to think, it’s just what happens in my life, I know it and I do it. 

_MG_3121.jpg

You can not only be the example but you can be the coach as well – try wrapping yourself around them from behind and being the security blanket that keeps them in place. You can use props – timing bells to start and finish, a cushion which is always the ‘sit quietly cushion’, a special crystal to hold that tells them it’s time to ‘sit quietly’, slow, calm music to set the mood. The reward is everyone leads a less stressful life as being in this calm moment becomes almost addictive as we search for me of and that’s how it can become our ‘normal’!

_MG_3101.jpg

I like to think our book, Making Mindful Magic is for everyone and I hope you can use it as a conversation starter, a motivator and tool to create your own mindful experiences with the children in your lives. You’ll find a guide for adults at the back of the book if you’d like a little more background or theory. Visit our website to buy the book and have a ‘hold it in your hand’ reminder to leave on the coffee table and you’ll also find there more ideas and resources. I also invite you to Join us every Friday on Instagram - we're @makingmindfulmagic - for our Weekly Mindful Activity. You’re always welcome and we love sharing!  Being educated about mindfulness and practicing it as an adult invites us to share the gift with our children!

Building Mindfulness in Children

Last week-end I had lunch with a group of people who I don’t know really well but I see once a month as part of an interest group. One of the women gave me a compliment that meant a lot to me. Without knowing my passion for mindfulness, she said, ‘You always seem so calm’. It got me thinking about cultivating that because other than my regular morning routine I hadn’t done anything else deliberately mindful that morning. I think you become calmer because you have a desire to be and as you practice more and more often to be mindful, it slowly filters into your everyday life. Being calm just feels normal eventually. Of course, there are times when we are reactive and agitated but over time these become fewer in frequency and shorter in duration.

Last week’s blog was pretty much about that theme and when we focus on children at home or school it makes total logical sense to invite them to participate in mindful experiences as almost a medium that will ultimately deliver them into a self-induced mindful way of living their lives.

_MG_2885.jpg

With this in mind, we’ve introduced a weekly mindful activity into our social media regime. Mostly they will be easy and inexpensive and always fun! They will be delivered on a Friday in case you need to plan for the experience and it also opens the opportunity for it to be given some priority in family life in much the same ways as swimming lessons – maybe put it in your diary or make a sign and stick it on the fridge. Perhaps it could then become a bit of a random game you can play once you have collected a number of ‘mindful experience cards’ and can be done however often you can.  In my workshops (link here) as a parting gift I give each child a card with a mindful activity written on it. I invite them to not only do the activity but also to use it as a reminder to be mindful by putting it in a prominent place at home – maybe on the fridge or noticeboard.

As you might have already decided for yourself – encouraging mindfulness is not hard. It just needs in the first place for us as adults to be mindful enough ourselves to remember it as a priority and to provide not only the example to be mindful but also opportunities for our kids to practice being mindful. We are then also offering them the opportunity for that feeling of peace and calm to become a part of who they want to be. Peaceful, calm children who become peaceful, calm adults may be the perfect antidote to the increasingly crazy world we live in.

The Naturally Mindful Synergy of Kids and Nature

It is part of our basic belief at Making Mindful Magic that being in nature offers all of us and especially children free, authentic, inspiring opportunities for mindfulness and that is reflected in the many experiences set in nature in our book, Making Mindful Magic. 

Read More

Offering Opportunities for Mindfulness to Children

I’ve started running a new mindfulness workshop for kids. I call it Slow Down …. Mindfully. I strongly believe kids don’t need complicated theory but instead learn from the experiential so this workshop is very practical and designed to give them a taste of how it feels to be mindful. 

Read More

Discovering and Nurturing our Children’s True Nature

One of our challenges is to seek, accept and nurture our children’s true selves as we help them become the best version of themselves on all levels, emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically. This is different to encouraging them to be the person who can make the most money or have the most prestigious career, as western society often demands. If it is truly not in a person’s nature to be following a particular career-orientated path then it is likely disconnection from themselves and a withering of their spirit will result.  

Read More

5 Easy Ways to use Music as a Mindfulness and Meditation Tool for Kids

VIA PINTEREST

VIA PINTEREST

Music can be a powerful, practical tool to bring mindfulness and meditation into our lives as well as our children’s lives. Here we present five easy ways to use music as a tool for mindfulness and meditation with the children in your lives, be it at home or in the classroom. Read our recent more general posts on music for meditation and mindfulness here and here for more tips and information on the links between these two calming, positive practices!

1. As a tool to calm children

In our ebook (find it here), music is used as a tool to calm children in preparation for a better night’s sleep. In the same way, music can be used anytime as a tool for calming children down, to a place where it is easier to be peaceful and more focused on the present moment in much the same way meditation is used. In the article above you’ll find suggestions for some pieces, you might like to try.

2. As a tool to help concentration

By bringing our minds to a calm, peaceful place we can help children become better at focusing on the task at hand. During our workshops music is always used as a part of that process, using finger plays with younger children and action, interactive songs with older ones. If you’re in the classroom use action songs to re-focus after the often highs experienced during lunch break or if you’re at home, try them before homework time.  The very act of putting together words and actions in song requires being fully in the present moment and re-grounds us for better concentration. We like this link here for some ideas on finger plays and action rhymes for young children and you’ll find some good examples to use with older kids here  

Remember any song can be an action song – just add some arm movements. Get the kids to make them up if you’re not feeling too creative or just because kids have brilliant ideas!

3. As a tool for kids to feel their emotions

Just like meditation and sitting quietly are important ways for each of us to connect with our inner selves, listening to emotive music is a tool you can use with your children to help them connect with themselves. Our recent blogs, and last week's about Letting Go talk about why this is so important for emotional well-being and mental health and its early establishment in children is a gift for ongoing healthy lives. After some quiet, deep breathing to bring focus to the moment, try any of these songs that may help children find quiet space within themselves for self-reflection 

https://www.google.com.au/search?q=emotive+music+for+reflection+and+meditation&rlz=1C5CHFA_enAU733AU733&oq=emotive+music+for+reflection+and+meditation&aqs=chrome..69i57.19723j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

4. As a tool to use with dance for self-release and self-love

Music is an inspiration and accompaniment for free dance which itself is a cathartic tool to release deep emotions and to focus on the present moment in much the same way as meditation. Children love to move – it is almost a pre-requite of childhood so use music to help establish dance as a tool for self-expression, self-love and self-release. Any of the above pieces (in tool 3) can be used for moving in free dance. We need to establish as adults that there are no rules for free dance and self-expression, it is all good! It releases the soul and acknowledges an acceptance of ourselves and others in a most profound and healing way and without judgment we can be fully ourselves in the present moment.

5. As a tool to write about our feelings and thoughts.

Journaling is long held method for connecting with the present moment. You can use emotive music pieces to encourage children to focus inwardly in a similar way to meditation used before writing. A little quiet listening to music before writing about feelings is a great way to focus. You can use fstimulus statements like, ‘When I listen to this music I feel…..” or “When I listen to this music it helps me remember …..” Very young children can draw instead of writing with similar results. Again the emotive music in Tool 3 could be used but experiment and try different styles and pieces – most likely different emotions and situations will be evoked.

‘In the ancient cultures of India, Egypt, and Greece, music played a therapeutic role in the lives of people. It was created and performed with the intention of bringing about well-being and health. By the Middle Ages, the idea of music as entertainment took over. But down through the centuries, many industrious, stubborn and creative souls have kept alive the use of sound and music as medicine for the body, mind, and spirit.’ Jeffrey Thompson

Let’s be part of making music, medicine for the soul – for ourselves and our children! 

Sharing the gift of Mindfulness with Our Children

We recently changed our name from Making Mindful Children to Making Mindful Magic, the reason being we became increasingly aware that mindful children need mindful adults in their lives. That’s where and how it starts if we are to encourage and foster a new generation of mindful souls! Many of our posts and blogs challenge adults to think mindfully, to be in the present moment, thoughtfully living each experience as it comes and to be mindful enough to make choices in our lives that reflect our own values. When we are mindful ourselves we become open to paying the gift forward.

Where and how do we start sharing these values and beliefs with the children in our lives? It starts at the very grass-roots level of being the person you want your children to be, to provide experiences that show them what you value and to encourage them to value those things too so they can bring them into their own lives as they grow. If we’re talking about mindfulness as one of the values that we want to share then be the person who values slow, quiet time, who appreciates the need togive purposeful attention to your children and to your own activities and to make choices that reflect your values.

It can start simply with sharing. I know a very connected young father who passionately and regularly shares his beliefs with his children. He told me the simple story of when out bike riding with his three-year-old as his passenger, he shares his passion for being present with her. His story inspired me to write this verse, so moved was I by this unpretentious but effective way of sharing ideals and fostering passion.

 
   Poem by  Lea McKnoulty , Watercolour & pencil original artwork by   Mathilde Cinq-Mars Illustration

   Poem by Lea McKnoulty, Watercolour & pencil original artwork by Mathilde Cinq-Mars Illustration

 

This is what we love, the simple ways of sharing the gift of mindfulness with the children in your lives. We like to think our book Making Mindful Magic is a tool you can use to begin and to foster the act of sharing your passion for mindfulness. It's available on our website here in Australia and on Amazon in the UK, here and in the US, here

 

 

Are You Doing Too Much For Your Kids?

'My Childhood' by Sveta Dorosheva via Pinterest

'My Childhood' by Sveta Dorosheva via Pinterest

How being a mindful parent can help kid’s independence

Yesterday was Mother’s Day in my part of the world and it got me thinking about a variety of mothering issues that we all face. One of them is how much we should do for our kids?

As a mother I would say that I did too much for my children, going in to bat for them when problems arose. Looking back I wonder why? Maybe it was based on protecting them from pain but maybe also it was a better reflection on me if they were successful and didn’t stumble. Ouch!

In the long run experiencing pain and being allowed to live their own lives, mindfully being in their own moment, living the experiences they are meant to live, teaches them resilience and self-reliance which are big factors in building self-confidence.

I was once asked by a friend how to build self-confidence in children. As a former early childhood teacher who had studied child psychology perhaps they thought I had the answers. For my own children I think It would have been more helpful if I was more mindful to paying attention to where they were in their own life journey to independence and to allow them to find their own answers more often and to suffer the consequences of their own choices.

Now I’d answer my friend’s question by saying trusting them to deal with their own lives from as early an age as possible is really important – be the mindful parent and watch for when you can comfortably ‘look on’.

That definitely does not mean we start ignoring our kids – it’s just the opposite! We pay a lot of mindful attention to what they are doing and what stage they are at but then letting them make choices or even ignoring choices but living the consequences themselves rather than us trying to protect them and to dictate what happens in their story!

And that can be really challenging – believe me I know!