We are the keepers of children’s possibilities
Our life is literally the creation of our mind. Mindful practices empower children to make kind, positive choices for themselves and the world.
Awide, wonderful window of opportunity exists to engage children with positive mindful possibilities – creative opportunities for children, of all ages, to nurture the ability to cultivate conscious, compassionate awareness.
Self-knowledge is the key skill that is developed – and the great news is that mindfulness training can be fun! A diverse range of creative, age-appropriate experiences can be shared and explored.
Mindful meditation for children is getting the attention it deserves. Mindfulness programs are being developed by universities and organisations in many different countries. Studies taking place in schools across the globe give evidence of positive outcomes for children when they commit to regular practice.
Mindfulness benefits for children include: • Elevated happiness and wellbeing • Improved concentration and academic
performance • Effective stress management skills • Improved execution function and
impulse control • Enhanced emotional and social
intelligence • Increased optimism and resilience Drawing on the key character strength of curiosity, an inquiry-based approach enables each child to ‘ join their own dots’ and make personal discoveries.
Often learning has an external focus. Yet there is so much to learn and discover about our inner world. Mindful meditation addresses this imbalance. Children can begin to deeply appreciate and begin to feel custodians of the magnificent inner resource of their bodies and minds. They can take steps to befriend themselves and life, as they practise the skills of awareness, acceptance, forgiveness, gratitude, and empathy and care for others.
In the excellent book ‘Educating from the Heart: Theoretical and Practical Approaches to Transforming Education’ Paul Houston says that education is about making connections and that if we can connect to the hearts of children: ‘… you will bring their heads along’. He also says, ‘ We are the keepers of children’s possibilities’.
Parents, grandparents, teachers and therapists are privileged to be ‘keepers of children’s possibilities’.
We know that physical health does not come about by chance. Physical wellbeing is the result of diet, exercise, hydration, rest and healthy relationships. Positive mental health exists in a symbiosis with physical health and is usually not the result of luck either.
The life skill of inner connectedness is vital for children to thrive. Mindfulness helps children develop a personal ‘root system’ – a strong, stable foundation, drawing on awareness of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual sources of energy.
Our life is literally the creation of our mind. Mindful practices empower children to make kind, positive choices for themselves and the world. n
Janet Etty-leal is a mindfulness educator, speaker, author and teacher. She has facilitated mindfulness training programs for over 15 years. Janet’s consultancy, ‘Meditation Capsules’ has provided mindful life-skill programs for organisations in Victoria and interstate. A key focus of Janet’s work is to provide services to the educational sector. She has facilitated courses for a diverse range of government, private and special Schools. In 2010 she published ‘Meditation Capsules: A Mindfulness Program for Children’.
1Mindfulness meditation allows you to become the observer of your mind and emotions. As you sit for a few minutes, you notice the mind activity, its contents and their effect on your body through emotions and sensations. Noticing does not mean that you have to do something about it. Rather you allow the thoughts to be there without being pulled into them, and you allow the feelings to be there, directly experiencing them. What helps to remain focused on this activity of noticing is the breath. The breath is the anchor to which we attach our conscious awareness.
2thinking in which the mind engages involuntarily. It helps us to dis-identify from the mind!
The same practices also allow us to choose better responses in reactive situations. Most importantly they allow us to become present or mindful.
Almost everybody is doing something 99% of the time. If it is not something physical that we are doing then it is our mind that is doing the thinking, analysing. Our thinking mind never gets a break and neither does our body. The body responds to the incessant thinking by feeling tired, tense, worried, anxious, frustrated… We can’t stop the mind from thinking but we can choose to focus our attention on our sense perceptions to come into the NOW, to experience the fullness of this moment – the aliveness of this moment, whether it is the clear blue sky, the flowers in our garden or the juicy plum we eat!
In order to do so, an awareness is required. An awareness of the need for awareness. We know that it feels good to the body. It rests the body, relaxes the body, grounds the body, allows it a break from the mind. Instead of being on automatic pilot with no awareness, we are now aware, alert and present.
Five steps toward creating mindfulness in your daily life: • Conscious breath • Conscious movement • Conscious sense perception: the
seeing, the listening • Being the awareness behind your
sense perception • Raising your vibration by engaging in an activity that nourishes your soul. n
Born in Pakistan and living in Australia since 2004, Tripty Hirani (PH.D.) is an ex-biochemist, now a certified holistic counsellor, reiki practitioner and mindfulness instructor to adults and children. She owns and operates Transformative Holistic Counselling in the leafy inner west suburb of Chapel Hill, QLD, and runs mindfulness programs for adults and children through Kenmore Community Education.