Mindfulness has garnered much interest and you may be wondering what is it all about? Often, there is a misconception that mindfulness is about achieving calmness and emptying our mind. However, mindfulness simply defined, is paying attention to what is occurring in the present moment, non-judgmentally. It could be related to our experiences – such as what we think and feel and what we experience through our five senses.
I’d invite us to think about how many times we’ve operated on ‘autopilot mode’ (not paying attention to what we are doing in the moment/just going through the motion). For instance, washing the dishes and thinking about what needs to be done next, watching television or using our phones mindlessly, having a meal with loved ones and scrolling through social media.
A growing amount of research has shown the benefits of mindfulness for youth’s wellbeing and mental health, such as, helping them recognize worry, increased coping and resilience, problem-solving skills in social and emotional aspects, self-esteem, and self-regulation of behavior (Carsley et al., 2017; Zenner et al., 2014).
The practice of mindfulness may include formal practice such as mindfulness meditations and informal ones. For instance, noticing the colour of leaves when out for a walk at the park, blowing bubbles and noticing the shapes, intentionally slowing down and focusing on a part of their morning/evening routine – noticing how the soap or the water feels when their taking a bath. With children, it may require some creativity, like my favorite one from Dr. Russ Harris – to mindfully eat a gummy sweet and to notice the smell, colour, taste, and texture (it’s also a kid favorite too, because who doesn’t like candy!).
MSPS, Registered Psychologist