By Lucia Ferrara
As I was thinking about what to focus on this new year in terms of self-reflection and practices, I couldn’t help but think about mindfulness practice not only for me but for my entire family. Everyone needs some time out for themselves. But what about practicing mindfulness as an entire family? I asked myself what benefits would this have.
Let us begin by defining what we mean by “mindfulness.” Mindfulness is about focusing on the present moment and being aware of one’s mental state right now. Mindfulness can be achieved by noticing your feelings, thoughts, and sensations throughout your body. Mindfulness is a set of powerful and intentional practices that can bring peace and focus to the practitioner.
In her article in Parents magazine online, Meryl Davids Landau defines it this way, “Mindfulness is the practice of detaching yourself from the craziness of the outside world and your racing thoughts by honing in on the calm center that is always inside you.”
Mindfulness activities are known to reduce stress and anxiety and promote happiness and well-being in people of all ages and cultures. I would conclude that the practice of mindfulness could really bring more Zen into your daily life as a family.
All the articles in the Family Matters series are available here.
Let’s talk about ways you can incorporate mindfulness into your daily activities as a family. Family is so very important and our mental and physical health is the key to having healthy and positive relationships with our loved ones. Taking a listening walk together can be very beneficial. For starters, you can go to your backyard, neighborhood, park, countryside or nearby trail. Walk together in silence. Begin intentionally by listening to the sounds around you in nature. Maybe you’ll hear a waterfall or leaves rustling in the grass, even a creek. Listen for birds chirping or look for a deer poking its head out of a bush or tree. While doing so, notice your steady breath and body sensations. Nature is especially relaxing, so take as long as you need. Once you are done, talk among yourselves about what you just experienced together as a family.
Another way to enjoy meditation or mindfulness is yoga. Yoga is meditation in motion and it’s easy and fun for the entire family! Yoga is an ancient practice that takes on many forms and is a simple way to introduce inner peace to the whole family. Parenting magazine online also offers some tips for practicing yoga with kids.
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I have one last suggestion about when to introduce some mindfulness into your family’s daily routine: bedtime. Getting to sleep can be difficult for parents and kids. Nighttime can be very chaotic with things like getting homework and chores done. Mindfulness and guided meditation can help.
Here’s one exercise to try. Gather the entire family sitting or laying down somewhere comfortable. No television, no social media devices, just a quiet atmosphere. Center yourselves and begin speaking about imagery. For example, visualize yourself laying in the sand on the beach: feel the warmth of the sun; listen to the waves; feel the earth beneath you. Speak slowly and steadily while taking deep breaths and full exhales. Notice how your body and mind relax. This encourages you to stop and be present in the moment and increase focus while calming your mind. All these activities promote health, better sleep, less stress and more precious time together as a family.
[Lucia Ferrara is the Director of Hospitality at Precious Blood Renewal Center and the lead organizer here of Parent Cafes. Share your thoughts with Lucia or ask her questions by using the form below or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about the Parent Café here.]
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