Mindfulness for Children
I recently happened upon a book, ‘Making Mindful Magic‘, that made even I, frenetic/ever-fidgeting/always moving me, slow down *briefly*. Look, to be honest, I do try very hard to embrace mindfulness – I just do it at a faster pace than some! I try to live mindfully, be present in things I am doing and I have, at times, practiced meditation with great success. I have a number of mindfullness meditations on my phone which I listen to, I just need to make those times more regular! My favourite meditations I have saved are those done by my dad, and #backboy AKA husband, often falls asleep to the dulcet sounds of my dad talking him into a calm, pain-free sleep :). Dad is pretty fab at self-hypnosis, brain training and mindfulness, which is quite in contrast to his day job as an academic professor specializing in violent extremism, organised crime and knowledge managed policing…HA! You can read more about him on his website here.
Back to the book I am talking about! ‘Making Mindful Magic’ is by first-time author/illustrator Lea McKnoulty, a former early childhood teacher and founder of a children’s arts festival. Lea is keen observor of the evolution of family life and the postivie benefits of mindfulness for families. She says:
I see mindfulness as threefold. Firstly there is the pure mindful meditation time, when thoughts can dissipate, when real quiet can be found – bliss, really! Then there is the mindfulness that relates to being fully present with whatever you are doing at any particular time; not thinking about what happened in the past and not contemplating what might happen in the future. The third prong is about living a mindful life. This means to me that you are consciously making decisions about what you eat, where you buy your food, what products you choose to use in your house and on your body, the list is endless when you really begin to explore the notion of living mindfully.
As for the book and writing it I really gave myself permission to follow my intuition and to let the ideas flow and to believe in them and eventually I produced Making Mindful Magic. The book begins with a ‘Sit Quietly’ activity which is really a pre-meditation experience for children. Perhaps it’s not something that children or many adults think about – perhaps not even realising that it’s ok to sit and do nothing! ‘The Take As Long As You Can’ experience is something in the same vein whilst the remainder are to prompt children into engaging with the present moment – Walk Barefoot on Grass, Find Stars to name just a couple.
I do find it interesting that there are not more books for children on the topic of mindfulness, perhaps people think the idea is beyond them? In Making Mindful Magic the word ‘mindfulness’ is never mentioned outside the title but I believe given the chance they can explore the nature of mindfulness at any age if given the encouragement, some tools and the example.
I see hundreds, if not thousands of books a year, so for a book to catch my eye, it has to be pretty special. ‘Making Mindful Magic’ stands out for its innovative approach to introducing the practice of mindfulness to young readers and their parents, gently and with subtlety. It can be read from cover to cover, as we first did, and then it can be delved into time and time again and opened at any random page. Each page contains a heading such as ‘follow a bird’, ‘walk barefoot on grass’ or ‘watch waves’, followed be a verse about how to be in a mindful state whilst doing each of these things. There are detailed notes at the back of the book for parents/caregivers/teachers on how you might talk about these concepts and activities with young people and how practicing mindfulness makes us more grounded, brings inner calm and clarity of through.
I very much like books which can be read, and then left around the house to be explored at a child’s leisure, for this is when the magic happens – a book and a child connecting. PudStar (7) came to me just before we left for our beach holiday and insisted we pack ‘Making Mindful Magic’ so that we could ‘watch waves’ and ‘count stars’, ‘because we will have lots of time with daddy at the beach’. We lead a really busy life, I know we do and I know my followers on social media know we do :), but in the midst of all that busyness, there is actually lots of time for quiet, lots of time to ‘do nothing’, ‘be bored’ and ‘sit quietly’. Our family life is never going to be calm and ordered, and that’s how we like it, but mindfulness practices can bring times of rest – and those times, however brief, are so important and so worth practicing with our children.
In the spirit of mindfulness, Pud and I are doing Bettina Rae’s free ’14 Day Yoga Reset’ which kicks off on January 1st. It’s about hitting the reset button, setting some intentional habits and doing a ten minute yoga class each day (which is the bit that Pud – and probably ChickPea!) will do with me. I love Bettina’s yoga with kids book, and Bettina herself just inspires calmness – I’m sure my frenetic energy probably sends her brain into tailspin! You can get her ‘Yoga with Kids’ e book as a download from her website – 69 pages of easy to follow images and instructions to get help you and your kids start having fun with yoga.
If you are after meditations for children, you cannot go past these ones here; they are simply fabulous and I’ve used them for years and years at school, and more recently at home.