Mindfulness Starter Pack for All Ages

May 06, 2024

How Can My Family and I Practice More Mindfulness?

Less stress, better sleep, more energy.

Doesn’t that sound nice?

You may have heard about mindfulness and its benefits. You may have even given meditation a shot. How hard could it be, anyway?

You find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and turn your mind off.

Only it won’t go off.

You remember that report due at noon tomorrow. Your son has a little league game in an hour. And what about dinner?

That’s it, you think. You just can’t seem to get your brain to sit still for a couple minutes. Maybe mindfulness isn’t for you.

Fortunately, mindfulness isn’t about turning your brain off. It isn’t even about quieting your thoughts. Done right, engaging fully in everything you do can give you greater clarity of mind – even in the midst of life’s busyness.

First Thing’s First: What Exactly Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is being fully aware of what’s happening around you. Those with a strong mindfulness muscle are better able to create distance between the things that happen to them – including their thoughts and feelings – and their reactions to them. It’s like shining a light on your inner world – you become more aware of yourself.

Think of it like this: It’s 4pm on a Friday. Your boss asks if you can “quickly” jump on a rush assignment before the end of the day.

Instead of stressing about having to work late and cancel your weekend plans, you simply recognize that you’re stressed, then set that feeling to the side and focus fully on getting the assignment done.

That’s mindfulness in action.

Practicing Mindfulness: Kids Ages 6 to 11

You don’t need to force your kids to meditate for them to benefit from mindfulness.

Instead, try something simple like minimizing the distractions in their lives. This can be as easy as reducing their screen time, listening to good music, and encouraging them to go outside and play.

Out there, they’ll touch the air, smell the grass, and feel the sunshine, grounding them in the world happening right in front of them.

By the time they’re 8 years old, you can begin introducing simple breathing exercises. Alternate-nostril breathing is a simple five-minute tool for this age group. These don’t have to be long – a few minutes will do – but you should plan some time in the morning and evening to help your kids open and close each day with intention.

Adolescents Ages 12 to 17

Once kids hit adolescence, they’re able to benefit from structured practice. This could take the form of yoga, prayer, meditation or even journaling. Alternate-nostril breathing, guided online meditation and sun salutation are other great options.

If you don’t know where to start, there are plenty of guided options online, and there are apps that can help your kids keep to a schedule.

Adolescents really like body-based practices, so try doing a few guided body movements in the morning. This gets the blood flowing and readies their minds for the day ahead, which can help them keep a greater sense of awareness throughout the day.

The best part of adding some body movements to your kids’ mornings is that you can get everyone involved, turning it into a fun, healthy family activity.

Adults Ages 18 and Up

But what about adults? We’re all busy running from one activity to the next.

Luckily, you don’t have to set time aside for mindfulness; you can turn your daily activities into mindfulness exercises. Practice eating your meals more mindfully. That means turning off electronics, setting your work aside, spending a little extra time on each bite, and feeling all the sensations that come with chewing and swallowing.

Driving, exercising and even doing chores can all be done with the same focus and attention.

One of the best – and most rewarding – ways to practice mindfulness is to be more present in your conversations. Look directly into the eyes of whoever’s talking to you and weigh every word they say.

Not only can this help you build a greater sense of compassion, it can also make your relationships stronger.

It’s a win-win for everybody.

No Matter What You Do, Do It Consistently

Regardless of your age or preferred mindfulness exercise, the most important thing to remember is you have to do it consistently for it to work.

Here and there won’t do. Aim to spend at least 20 minutes a day, five days a week or more, being more mindful.

You’ll start noticing the difference in no time.

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