There are many studies, articles and research papers surrounding why it is important for children to use mindfulness as a way to boost their mental health. Taking the time to concentrate on matters arguably more important than how to play a recorder or when I comes before E. Yoga and Pilates have become two of the most popular pastimes for adults – they are fantastic ways to be mindful. However, we are only now beginning to talk about ways in which children can look after their emotional wellbeing in the same way. The fact that that is changing can only be a good thing.
We’ve seen the stats and they make for scary reading. Thankfully, more and more is being done though. There are charities that children and adults can to, schools are being encouraged to upskill staff in children’s mental health, and the stigma of mental health is being chipped away at on a daily basis. There’s a lot more that needs to happen though and the earlier we start to educate children, the better.
“1 in 8 children have a diagnosable mental health disorder – that’s roughly 3 children in every classroom”
As people who work with thousands of children, we see first-hand the effects that everyday life can have. Unfortunately, a lot of children don’t have the support system in place either. They don’t have people they can turn to and this is one of many reasons why schools need to be doing everything they can to help their students.
What Can Be Done?
There have been calls for mindfulness to feature as part of national curriculums worldwide. That would illustrate huge strides forwards and demonstrate that it is a problem we are facing up and trying to change. What no one can argue with is that it is an issue that needs tackling head on and the sooner the better. The idea of this post however, is not to be all doom and gloom. We’ll leave you with a very simple and slightly different mindfulness exercise.
You’ll need a raisin! Failing that, you could try this with a chewy sweet or similar:
- Holding – First, take a raisin and hold it in the palm of your hand or between your finger and thumb.
- Seeing – Take time to really focus on it; gaze at the raisin with care and full attention—imagine that you’ve just dropped in from Mars and have never seen an object like this before in your life. Let your eyes explore every part of it, examining the highlights where the light shines, the darker hollows, the folds and ridges, and any asymmetries or unique features.
- Touching – Turn the raisin over between your fingers, exploring its texture. Maybe do this with your eyes closed if that enhances your sense of touch.
- Smelling – Hold the raisin beneath your nose. With each inhalation, take in any smell, aroma, or fragrance that may arise. As you do this, notice anything interesting that may be happening in your mouth or stomach.
- Placing – Now slowly bring the raisin up to your lips, noticing how your hand and arm know exactly how and where to position it. Gently place the raisin in your mouth; without chewing, noticing how it gets into your mouth in the first place. Spend a few moments focusing on the sensations of having it in your mouth, exploring it with your tongue.
- Tasting – When you are ready, prepare to chew the raisin, noticing how and where it needs to be for chewing. Then, very consciously, take one or two bites into it and notice what happens in the aftermath, experiencing any waves of taste that emanate from it as you continue chewing. Without swallowing yet, notice the bare sensations of taste and texture in your mouth and how these may change over time, moment by moment. Also pay attention to any changes in the object itself.
- Swallowing – Then you feel ready to swallow the raisin, see if you can first detect the intention to swallow as it comes up, so that even this is experienced consciously before you actually swallow the raisin
- Following – Finally, see if you can feel what is left of the raisin moving down into your stomach, and sense how your body as a whole is feeling after you have completed this exercise
Hopefully you enjoyed that and you took something out of it. Children understanding the importance of their wellbeing from an early age is so important and something we can all do more to improve.