Mindfulness is about ‘tuning in’ to the moment and being fully engaged and undistracted. Being mindful means being fully present, aware of where you are what you’re doing and the space that you’re moving through.
And the experts tell us that being mindful is good for us. In fact, the suggestion is that being mindful has a number of positive effects on our mental health and wellbeing including reduced stress, improved focus, better emotional intelligence, improved relationships, greater positivity and improved performance at work and better physical health.
We’re all capable of being mindful and it’s a skill that can be learned and strengthened. But how can we maintain a moment-by-moment awareness of what we’re thinking, feeling and doing at home when life can be at its most unpredictable and chaotic?
Here are some tips and suggestions for practising mindfulness at home:
Focus on your breathing. By concentrating on taking deep, even breaths and listening to the sound of your breathing and the sensation of air being taken in and exhaled will bring you back to the present moment.
Don’t set unrealistic expectations. Aim for small pockets of mindfulness - even during your daily tasks. When you’re chopping vegetables in preparation for a meal for example, you can be calm and mindful by paying attention to the sound of the knife on the board, experiencing the sensation of slicing or chopping and taking in the textures and aroma of the fresh produce.
Set aside a window of time for mindful play with your children. Give them your full attention and if other thoughts start to distract you, simply acknowledge them and ‘park’ them and return to your child. Use the child as the anchor for your focus and make sure there are no unnecessary distractions nearby like mobile phones or the TV.
Encourage the family to spend a few minutes in silence at the start of a meal. This doesn’t have to be at every meal, but if you create regular opportunities for the whole family to spend a little time focusing on the present, engaging with their meal, appreciating the taste of the food, how it feels in their mouths, noticing the feel of their utensils in their hands - everyone will benefit from these mindful moments.
Step away from the desk. If you have students in your household, you can encourage them to take regular breaks from their studies for a couple of minutes to practice mindfulness. Encourage them to take deep, even breaths and focus on being calm, peaceful and fully immersed in the moment.
Turn household chores into mindfulness sessions. If you’re folding laundry for example, notice how the clothes feel and how they smell. Pay attention to the different colours, textures and patterns and try and be fully engaged with the task so that you stay in tune with the moment and in harmony with the world.
Do a ‘listening walk’ with your family. Encourage everyone to listen to the sounds and sights around them. How do the noises of their feet sound on the pathway? How do their clothes feel on their bodies? Are they aware of wind in their hair? Are they noticing the details of the world around them, the bark of a tree or the colour of the houses? What sounds can they hear? By paying attention to all your senses, these walks - or any walk actually - can be an exercise in mindfulness.
There are plenty of opportunities to practice mindfulness in the home. Both adults and children will benefit enormously when they take time to be conscious of slowing down and noticing what’s really going on in the present moment.
In fact, more and more forward-thinking schools are cottoning on to benefits of mindfulness for children.
For example, at the network of Nido Early School childcare and early education centres, educators are trained to help children with mindful awareness practices and they also have yoga classes as a regular feature on the daily curriculum. If you’d like to find out more about Nido Early School and their premium childcare and early education centres, please visit www.nideoearlyschool.com.au or pop in for a friendly chat at one of their schools nearest to you.