Jon Kabat-Zinn, an authority on mindfulness defines it as – “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally. It’s about knowing what is on your mind.”
In children, especially, mindfulness can be very quickly and successfully taught and cultivated. All you need to do is encourage them to stay focused on whatever it is they are doing.
For example, we put out a bowl of coloured pasta and encouraged our students to sort them out onto similarly-coloured plates. Then they counted the pasta pieces. It was an activity that involved activities but also involved quiet and concentration. Every child was given the time he or she needed and the others were encouraged to watch and focus, too.
When they are in the kitchen helping cut a fruit or vegetable, we create the space they need to stay engaged fully in the activity. This not just helps them finish their tasks to their satisfaction, but also helps them build a skill more fully.
And, of course, there is yoga, which is filled with moments of mindfulness
As this wonderful piece points out – “We cannot expect our kids, or ourselves, to be intentionally mindful every minute of every day. But I do believe that we can use the concept of mindfulness to bring a little bit more peace to each day; in fact the essence of the practice is the act of redirecting our attention when faced with stress, anxiety, or complexity. We can also equip our children with a skill that will last a lifetime, a skill that many of us are just trying to learn as adults. What an advantage that would be!”
At Elements are true believers in this philosophy. By allowing our students to get the time, space and resources they need to begin exploring mindfulness, we hope that we are helping them develop skills that will always steady them.