Mindfulness means “the awareness that arises by paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and without judging the unfolding of experiences moment by moment.” (Joh Kabat-Zinn) It is an active process that involves staying aware of the external environment and internal bodily sensations in the present moment without judgment, positive or negative.
Children live in a world where they are told what to do: what time to wake up, what to eat, where and when they have various activities such as school, sports, music classes, etc. This can lead to going through the motions of life without awareness. For example, if you ask them what they ate for lunch, they may not be able to answer you. This is not simply due to poor memory, but more likely because they weren’t paying attention at the time.
Children tend to be much closer to their experiences than adults. Watch a baby experience something for the first time; They look at it, touch it, feel it on their face, taste it. Every experience is fresh and new. They live in the moment by reacting emotionally and immediately to the stimulus, and then moving on to the next experience.
However, children also exist on autopilot, they are easily distracted, forgetful, lack concentration, have little self-control, and often do not understand themselves or the world. Mindfulness exercises address these concerns and can help children live with attention and awareness of themselves and their surroundings.
Taking into account the needs and abilities of children is key when adapting mindfulness exercises to different age groups. Children learn through concrete activities with clear and descriptive instructions. They also enjoy engaging their imagination and creativity. And don’t forget the power of humor or the need to play.
Be sure to start with short activities that will lead to success. Starting with a five minute focus activity will be better than a 15 minute sitting meditation.
Like all activities, mindfulness training improves with practice. As they learn mindfulness techniques, children can practice independently in everyday life: while walking, eating, playing. Deliberately participating in its various activities will actively shape the mind and help children to live deeply each moment of daily life.