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I’m assuming you’re reading this because you’re seeking change; you hope to reshape, refine, or alter what you’re doing now as a parent. Maybe you want a whole new level of patience, presence, and understanding as a mom while helping your kids achieve true success and happiness. Or perhaps you’ve heard of the benefits of mindfulness for kids before, and how it can not only help you become more present, but increase your children’s confidence, focus, and compassion as well.

So what is mindfulness, and how can we teach it to our children? Mindfulness can release stress and liberate us from reactions. We know that it’s good for our kids, and there’s plenty of research and news out there about the benefits of using both mindfulness and meditation together. It’s been brought to the education system, military training, corporate America, and medical professions for good reason. It increases optimism and happiness, decreases bullying and aggression, increases compassion and empathy for others, helps to resolve conflicts, and improves cognitive focus and attention. It also expands our ability to calm down when we’re upset. You make better decisions when you are mindful, and don’t get trapped in emotional ups and downs.

Mindfulness is a way to remain true to yourself and not get lost when you’re going through tough times. With all of these great benefits, it makes sense that everyone is on the lookout to achieve mindfulness for themselves and teach it to their kids.

On the one hand, all we really need to know are the benefits of mindfulness and how to implement them, but I’d like to go a little bit further than that. The word mindfulness is one of those words that’s been tossed around, recycled, and used as a spiritual hierarchy. So let’s first examine the explanation and meaning of mindfulness, and get to know it intimately, so as not to take it for granted.  Then we’ll go over exercises and daily practices that will help develop this sought-after experience in our children.

The actual definition of mindfulness is,  a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” This means: to have your attention on what’s currently happening, what you are currently doing in the now, as well as the witnessing awareness of your thoughts and emotions in the moment. It is purposefully paying attention in the present; being the witness of what’s happening in and around you.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Actually, it sounds crazy to some parents. How on earth can we get distracted toddlers to pay attention on purpose? How, as busy moms with kids all vying for our attention, is that possible?

Today’s mom is frequently overworked, often multitasking. Her attention is divided either by multiple children or trying to balance work and home life; she’s fighting sleeplessness, trying to fulfill other people’s needs, and little by little losing herself in the process. She surely craves that ideal, mindful state, but is doubtful on how to get passed being engulfed in her conditioned responses, patterns, the stories of her life, and where she currently finds herself.

So let’s illustrate mindfulness (paying attention on purpose, being the witness beyond our conditioned reactions) in a real life scenario.  Let’s use the example of getting ready to leave the house, and you’re helping your child put on their shoes. Most certainly, you’re aware that you’re helping your son with his shoes, but it doesn’t mean that you’re helping him put on his shoes mindfully.

If you’re like many moms, you’re overwhelmed with the tasks at hand, and your mind is off somewhere with a list of 101 different things. You’re likely not purposefully paying attention, not being aware of the present moment, of your own thoughts and feelings, of your body sensations and how to assist your kids with tasks that encourage mindfulness in that moment.

At best, you’re habitually vaguely paying attention; maybe other kids are also tugging on your coattails, and only a small amount of your awareness is absorbed in putting on the shoes, and you’re even less aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Most of the time we end up on autopilot thinking the same conditioned thoughts as we did the last time.

In fact, statistics tell us that 80% of our thoughts are the same thoughts as we had yesterday! WOW, talk about programmed ways of being. Unfortunately, most of those habitual thoughts are of anger, cravings, depression, revenge and self-pity; basically, they’re stories of how our life should be or how it isn’t. We’re almost always arguing with what is, yet if the moment is what is, then how can we argue with it? It just is! Arguing with what is, is actually the cause of pain and frustration, more so than the things that actually happened in the past or could happen in the future. 

If you want to create emotional freedom, non-reaction, release good versus bad, eradicate judgment, and start living in a state of mindfulness while reaping all of the benefits that come with it, then we need to allow and acknowledge the moment for what it is. We need to be in our experience, not arguing with it, focusing on the present moment and allowing what is to be what is – even in the moments when we recognize we aren’t being mindful! If we’re arguing with the fact that we aren’t being mindful in a situation, which is “what is” in that moment, we are perpetuating struggle, self-judgment, and disconnection instead of tenderness and presence!

Besides, there is ALWAYS a gift in the present when we learn to pay attention to it. Isn’t that why they call it “the present”? Sounds wonderful hey? A life where we’d love to hang out in and live fully. I know it might seem untouchable and dreamy to some of you (and I haven’t even gotten to how to teach that to our kids yet), but trust me, what I’m going to share with you will help you develop mindfulness easier than you think.

So let’s make it simple and get right to it: you actually already possess the ability to be present. The answers you seek are already within you. The essence of who you are is the one witnessing this article. This is not something we have to search for. That said, deepening this inner relationship does have to be cultivated; it will take a little discipline, but that’s what I’m here to help you with.

The bottom line is that intimately knowing and connecting with your inner self; that authentic, wise voice within, and teaching our kids the same, is the only thing that allows for mindfulness. Remember we don’t “do” mindfulness; it’s a state of being developed through daily practices that result in the ability to be present and aware in the moment. 

Now, let’s take a look at a few exercises and daily practices we can do with our kids that cultivate the state of mindfulness. When we take those couple of extra moments each day (literally, it can be ten minutes twice a day to start), we will begin to experience this new witnessing awareness.

I know that the article title says, “mindfulness for kids” but I’d like to cement in the idea that your practice comes first; you can’t teach what you don’t possess. We need to be the change before we can pass this on to future generations.

I believe that, as a parent, it’s your responsibility to break the cycle of busyness; being overworked, pushing yourself to exhaustion, perpetuating the idea that success is about financial wealth, academic progress, or stardom. Rather, we want to promote the idea that true success is about knowing and finding your purpose and place in this world, confidently embodying love and kindness and service to those around you, and increasing your connection to something bigger than yourself so that abundance of all things flows to you.

These daily practices are as much, if not more so, for you than your children, so you can model for your kids what mindfulness is, which will enable both of you to cultivate life-long tools and encompass the inner capacity to live a fulfilled life of meaning.

Now that you understand your mindfulness practice comes first let’s get to it.

As a parent, the thrill of fostering in our kids the skills to possess their own inner resources, inner confidence, and mindfulness, is like nothing else. Here are the daily practices that will help you accomplish just that. The goal is that some, if not all of these practices, become a regular, normal part of your daily routine.

1 – PRACTICE OF DAILY MEDITATION

The number one thing on the list is to introduce your children to meditation – the practice of Raja Yoga (controlling and using the energy of the mind to experience your inner self and your connection to the Universe). Meditation is simply the most direct way to connect to your innate wisdom and resources, experience mindfulness, and connect beyond your limited sense of self. At the same time improving both physical and mental health.

There are many different types of meditation. Obviously, being a child of Transcendental Meditation (TM®) and since becoming a Chopra Certified Primordial Sound Meditation® teacher, I truly believe in mantra meditation being one of the most profound, life-long meditation practices you can partake in.  That being said, I am well versed in candle meditations, guided meditations, heart breathing, breath-focused meditations, and have practiced all of these with my children.

Another great meditation practiced is the observation of “presence.” What does it feel like to not only feel your body fully but also your energy body? Having kids see if they can feel their feet or hands, by bringing their full attention there and eventually to every cell in their body, they are witnessing presence in that moment, and they usually very quickly feel the tingling, warm energy in their hands.

Keep in mind that meditation as a daily practice is vital. The discipline to practice regular, consistent meditation is actually all that you need to profoundly experience mindfulness. (Click to learn how to receive your own personal mantra.)

IMPLEMENTATION OF THIS IN DAILY LIFE:

Dedicate a few minutes, once or twice a day, to meditation practice. A good gauge of time for kids’ ability to meditate is the same amount of minutes as they are old; therefore, a child of six can sit for a six-minute meditation.

A wonderful way for younger children to focus on a mantra, candle, or breath meditation is to use a Mala to lead them. Just before bed, brushing their teeth or sitting up for dinner, etc., they set a soft timer or use a Mala for a certain number of rotations.

Guided meditation can be timed differently because children’s imaginations are so profound, they can typically engage for a longer time. (Download “I Am The Seed” guided meditation here).

KIDS BOOKS REFLECTING THIS IDEA:

Peaceful Piggy Meditation by Kerry Lee Maclean – How do young piggies find a peaceful place in a frustrating world? They meditate!

Milton’s Secret by Eckhart Tolle – Teaching about being in the now

2 – PRACTICE CONNECTING WITH NATURE

Nature holds the space and memory of infinite possibilities and creation itself. All of nature instinctively operates by the natural laws of the universe, they even create community – “A tree can be only as strong as the forest that surrounds it.”. By spending regular time in nature, you can’t help but be profoundly touched by the experience. This might sound corny but try listening and connecting to the forest, to the flowers and the birds. Ask them questions or just experience sitting beside a tree, seeing if you can feel their energy and essence.

My “I Am the Seed,” guided meditation walks you through the experience of being the seed, the tree, and the creation itself. It helps kids of all ages explore nature at a deeper level. It maps out how you can deeply connect both during the recorded meditation and when you are in nature.

IMPLEMENTATION OF THIS IN DAILY LIFE:

As a family, frequently spend extended time engaged in nature (hikes, outings or wilderness camping). Ask your kids to see if they can hear the trees speaking or feel them. Potentially use the, “I Am The Seed,” meditation as a guide to see if you can experience wildlife and nature in a whole new way.

KIDS BOOKS REFLECTION THIS IDEA:

You With The Stars in Your Eyes – by  Deepak Chopra, M.D. – A little girl’s glimpse at cosmic consciousness

The Secret Life of Trees – Peter Wohlleben – The Astonishing Science of What Trees Feel and How They Communicate

3 – PRACTICE QUESTIONING LIMITED IDEAS AND UNCONSCIOUS THOUGHTS

Questioning authorities, families and our conditioned beliefs, and limited concepts is healthy when done from a place of curiosity and lightheartedness (not out of rebellion, anger, or judgment). It allows for the acceptance of not knowing the answers and releases the judgment of being wrong, which allows us to make decisions from a place of clarity, and learn to be mindful of the overall concepts and choices in a significant new way.  All of which also cultivate mindfulness and compassion for others.

When we question with a sense of wonder, we discover we don’t always have to have an answer. Wonder means to be open to possibilities so that we aren’t rigid or stuck. This opens the door to not take on other people’s beliefs, worn-out concepts, or limited ideas about things as our own and instead encourages listening deeply to our inner voice and intuition. It’s a process of not only questioning the validity of others programming but also our own subconscious programmed ways of thinking. This creates a witnessing awareness and confidence in ourselves that takes most people years to develop.

Byron Katie’s, “The Work,” is a beautiful illustration of this. “The Work” suggests these questions:   

1. Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)

2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)

3. How do you react, what happens when you believe that thought?

4. Who would you be without the thought?

IMPLEMENTATION OF THIS IN DAILY LIFE:

Encourage the use of these questions with small, less emotional situations at first – maybe when your kids are talking about something they heard at school or on social media. If you hear yourself making limited statements, use those statements as an example for them. But don’t be taken aback when they end up asking you these questions to something you said. The role of a teacher is never one-sided. Remembering to ask from a place of wonder and light-heartedness without having to know the answer at that moment, the gift comes purely from the self-inquiry.

KIDS BOOKS REFLECTING THIS IDEA:

No Excuses – Wayne Dyer – Teaching on how what you say and think can get in your way

Tiger-Tiger, Is It True? – Byron Katie – Four questions to make you smile again

4 – PRACTICE SEEING THE BLESSINGS (GOD IN EVERYTHING)

Another buzz word people use and are somewhat afraid of is Karma. Wouldn’t we all love to transcend Karma? This is one of the exercises that releases Karma, making room for deeper levels of mindfulness, compassion, and ease.

We are connected to everything; what we do to one we do to everyone. Yet we are not going to occupy 100% divine qualities (love and compassion) in all of our actions. If we’re trying to live up to that perfect idea of who we think we “should be,” we’ll either end up hiding or turning a blind eye to the truth and feeling bad in the process.

When we find ourselves yelling at a driver or our kids, the important part regarding Karmic consequences is the “come-back” or release – the action of “blessing the situation”; not you personally blessing it, but creation itself. Through you. You’re giving it up to something bigger than you. Adding blessings to the whole situation (you and the others involved) changes the effect.

This doesn’t mean you get to use it as a crutch to feel okay about choosing ill-intended actions. We aren’t going to break the ten commandments all week just to ask for forgiveness on the weekend. Karma means action – so in this release, you set free the Karmic grip on that action.

I’ve heard Deepak say to grab the concept, idea, or situation that you don’t want creating negative outcomes in your life, and in your mind’s eye, drag it into the trash-can or hit the delete button. Often I have put a big red X in the sky over the thought, belief or statement that I don’t want to have any residual Karmic energy.

Likewise, if Karma is in the action, then how we deal with an injury or such dictates the Karmic effect that it carries out further into our life. Quite often we (and most definitely kids) tend to “pull away” when hurt (their energy actually moves away from the hurt finger or knee and is usually accompanied with holding their breath), they are no longer present, and energy actually gets “stuck” in their body somewhere. Energy never goes away, but it can be transformed. Later, there is usually a blame or self-pity that resides.  When we are present and look for the lesson, gift, or what needs to be released, we no longer repeat Karmic ramifications but get to use them for growth.

IMPLEMENTATION OF THIS IN DAILY LIFE:

When you notice situations where you didn’t mean to say, think or wish something about others (at first it might be afterward) give it up to something bigger, drag it into the trash can and bless it.

Teach your children (and yourself) to stay in the present when they have an accident. I usually say, “Okay, okay, now breathe. Can you feel your energy leaving? Bring it back. See if you can’t bring all your energy into the hurt area. Now release the stuck energy, let the healing and light energy replace it”. Once that is done (most times it is a while afterward) I ask the questions, “What was the gift in this? What is the message? What am I  meant to take away from this experience?”

There is always a gift – even in the gravest of situations. There is example after example out there on social media or in films of stories where people admit it was “the best thing that ever happened to them” because they were open to seeing it. It is a choice where we focus our attention.

KIDS BOOKS REFLECTION THIS IDEA:

On My Way to a Happy Life – Deepak Chopra – Keys to living a happy and meaningful life

I Think, I Am! – Louise L Hay and Kristina Tracy – Finding the difference between a negative thought and a positive affirmation, and how children can capture negativity and turn it around.

5 – PRACTICE SELF-INQUIRY

The most important relationship we can nurture and establish is the one we have with ourselves and the Universe (God). This trains kids in the reality that this deepening relationship is an ever-changing evolution of who they truly are.  The self-inquiry questions are: 

1. Who am I? (Ultimately this is not an image, idea, or concept, yet it may start out that way as our ego’s identity is tied directly to possessions, positions, and titles and can have a hard time releasing them).

2. What do I truly want? What are my deepest desires? (Not the surface things that I may think I want but my soul’s deepest desires).

3. What is my purpose? How can I serve? (Knowing why you are here, what your gifts are, and how to share them is something most adults still struggle with).

4. What am I grateful for? (Where attention goes energy flows; we end up attracting more things to be grateful for).

This process of inquiry builds the foundation of intimately knowing yourself and your place in the whole, allowing more mindfulness and knowing Spirit more deeply.

IMPLEMENTATION OF THIS IN DAILY LIFE:

Regularly ask these questions each day; maybe it’s a dinner table or bedtime ritual, or prior to meditation. Keeping a gratitude journal is a good option, also. Remember to approach the questions from a place of wonder; not requiring the answers all the time. The gift comes in the act of the questioning, and blossoms and ripens over time.

KIDS BOOKS REFLECTION THIS IDEA:

I Am – Dr. Wayne Dyer – From meditation to the daily inquiry of thoughts, beliefs, and actions, our kids (and ourselves) will begin a journey of intimately knowing their true selves. This will teach our kids mindfulness – the ability to be present for, and witness, one’s life, and connection. 

In closing, giving our kids the gift of inner resources and tools to live a fulfilled life by choice is unparalleled! They will soon begin to see choices where they didn’t before, identify their place in the world, embody a deep confidence in who they are (not in how they are, which is action-based) and feel the spiritual connection to something bigger than themselves.

Keep in mind that it’s not about achieving spiritual perfection.  Trading up one hamster wheel for another that contains more mindfulness and awareness, is simply and divinely perfect too.

Let’s be the change!

Keli is no stranger to mind, body, and spirit awareness, having been introduced to meditation at 6 years old. With well over 1600 hours of personal development course experience, Keli and her husband, Shawn currently run a full time Coaching business called The Ollin Group of Coaches. Keli has also raised three incredible children, impressing upon them the importance of awareness and presence, as well as helping them live their purpose and passions every day.

Ask Keli a Question   |   Learn more about Keli’s Course   |     Work with Keli

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