Being a parent can be stressful and busy. We can find ourselves trying to get through the day without pausing or taking time to be fully present with our children. Mindfulness, as defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn, is "awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally." ( source ) By focusing awareness on what is happening in the present moment, being mindful can have a positive impact on parents and the entire family. These six mindfulness activities can help parents enjoy what is happening here and now.
We often go through an entire meal without actually tasting what we are eating. We may be in a rush, trying to hurry and eat to move on to the next thing we have to do. Practicing mindfulness can help us to be more aware of what we are eating, which can make mealtime much more enjoyable.
One of the mindfulness activities you can try today is mindful eating . Use all of your senses the next time you have a meal or snack. Take a moment to look at your food and observe the colors and shapes. Smell the food and take in the pleasant aroma. As you chew slowly, taste what you are eating. Notice the variety of textures in your mouth (crunchy, smooth, chewy, etc.). Savor the flavor of your meal and take your time.
Cooking can easily become a chore if we dread it or treat it as something we “have to” do. Being mindful in the kitchen may help us to actually enjoy cooking.
Put on your favorite music to create a positive atmosphere. Reduce distractions and limit social media/phone time so you can focus your attention on the act of cooking itself.
As with mindful eating, use your senses to increase your awareness. Feel the texture of your ingredients as you chop and dice. Smell the aroma in the kitchen, and listen to the vegetables and protein as they sizzle on the stove. Taste what you are cooking and adjust the seasoning. Finally, take a little time to create an attractive presentation on your plate when your meal is ready.
Yoga is one of the most revitalizing of the mindfulness activities. The movement required for yoga poses can increase our awareness of the body's sensations. As we maintain a pose or go through a flow of them, we can use mindfulness to feel our breathing or to observe any pleasant, unpleasant or neutral sensations.
For practicing yoga at home , follow along with your favorite YouTube yoga instructor or create your own gentle morning routine. Practicing yoga in the morning may foster more opportunities to be mindful throughout the day by “waking up” your senses and awareness.
Another way to be mindful of your sensations is through body scan meditation . When practicing body scan meditation we focus our attention on the sensations of our body, which we may be neutral, pleasant or unpleasant, without judgment.
Depending on how we choose to practice body scan meditation, it can help us to relax in the evening before going to bed by focusing on sensations rather than thoughts. Getting caught up in the constant stream of thoughts in our mind can distract us and may lead to difficulty sleeping. If we practice focusing on sensations, this can become helpful and relaxing.
Spending time in nature offers many opportunities to be mindful and to use multiple senses. You may choose to focus on one sense, such as hearing, and attend to all of the various sounds you hear during a nature walk. Another possibility is to use many of the senses by noting what you see, hear, and feel, such as the brilliant colors of wildflowers, songs from birds, the rough bark of a tree, and the firmness of the ground beneath your feet.
This is one of the best mindfulness activities that the entire family can enjoy together. Your children can be encouraged to go on a sensory scavenger hunt as they label all they hear, see, and feel during the walk. Bringing mindfulness to a walk outside can create a much fuller and richer experience.
It's very easy to get caught up in the problems or difficulties faced on a daily basis. But instead of completely focusing on all of the negative thoughts, we can learn how to acknowledge and be aware of what we are thankful for by practicing gratitude.
A gratitude practice can be as simple as naming one thing you are thankful for at the end of each day. It can be taken a step further by keeping a gratitude journal and writing down several things you are thankful for each evening.
Gratitude helps to focus our awareness on all we have and on the positive aspects of our lives. It doesn't take away stress or daily difficulties, but gratitude shines a light on what we love and cherish.
Jennifer created the blog Help Mama Meditate to help others find balance and harmony in their lives, as she herself learns how to practice mindfulness as a mom of two young daughters. She is currently enrolled in the Unified Mindfulness Foundations program to enhance her mindfulness and meditation coaching skills. Jennifer provides meditation and mindfulness advice through her blog and her Facebook group. She leads weekly guided meditations via Facebook Live. Feedspot.com recently named Help Mama Meditate a top 40 meditation blog. Jennifer was also interviewed on the Moms Who Know podcast regarding motherhood and meditation. A writer at heart, Jennifer also contributes to The Tattooed Buddha and Sivana. A rehab speech pathologist by background, Jennifer began meditating during the stressful times of graduate school ten years ago. Jennifer lives in Chicago with her husband, two daughters and King Charles Cavalier Spaniel. Her social handles are: Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter
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