‘Mindfulness’ is a concept that is becoming increasingly popular particularly with educators and employers.
Mindfulness, the act of maintaining a present moment of awareness through means such as meditation, breathing or relaxation, is certainly not a new psychological phenomenon.
It has, however, been given a lot of weight by schools that are focused more than ever on health, wellbeing and educating ‘the whole student’. For Christians, mindfulness also allows us to better use our space and time to be quiet in the presence of God in prayer.
In addition to helping strengthen our relationship to Christ, research shows that mindfulness in children is linked to improved attention, memory processing and decision-making abilities; increased self-awareness, social awareness and self-confidence; and increased ability to self-regulate emotions, especially difficult ones, through breathing and other grounding techniques.
It has also been shown to: improve empathy and the awareness of others; help build positive awareness; and improve academic success.
Mindful awareness can be strengthened through practise. So why not try it at home?
Here are seven activities for encouraging boys to be mindful.
1. Muscle relaxation (body scan)
Have your son lie down on his back on a comfortable surface and close his eyes. Tell him to squeeze every single muscle in his body as tight as possible. After a few seconds, release all the muscles and relax for a few minutes. Encourage him to think about how his body feels throughout the activity. This exercise makes children more aware of their bodies and helps them find a way to be present in the moment.
2. Heartbeat exercise
Tell your son to jump up and down in place or do star jumps for one minute. When he has finished, get him to sit down and put a hand over his heart. Instruct him to close his eyes and pay attention to his heartbeat and, perhaps, his breathing as well. This exercise shows children how to notice their heartbeat and helps them practise their focus.
3. Mindful breathing (meditation)
Get your son to sit quietly and focus on breathing or a word or phrase he repeats quietly. Tell him to allow thoughts to come and go and try not to judge them. When the mind starts to wander, tell him to gently lead it back to his breathing or the word or phrase he’s chosen. He can practise mindful meditation on his own or with the help of apps, such as Smiling Mind.
4. Power of touch/smell
Give your son an object to touch or smell, such as a feather, stone, sprig of lavender or piece of orange peel. Ask him to close his eyes and describe what the object feels or smells like. Then trade places. This simple exercise teaches children the practice of isolating one sense from another, and tuning into distinct experiences.
5. Focus only on the present moment
Ask your son to close his eyes and pose some of the following questions: What is happening for you right now? Is your breathing fast or slow? Are you tired? Are you hungry? How do you feel? Do you feel hot or cold? What does the air feel like on your face? What sounds can you hear? Tell him to try not to be judgemental about things he notices. Don’t label them as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Just notice them and let them be.
6. Power of prayer
The practice of mindfulness can help us to focus prayer. Giving oneself over to quiet contemplation with Christ can be uplifting and comforting for your son. It enables him to reflect on all that he has and should be thankful for. Prayer can provide spiritual guidance and comfort.
7. Connect to God
Through prayer, mindfulness can help you to connect more deeply to God. It can allow you to have a more intimate conversation with God when in prayer. As a practitioner of mindfulness, you minimise distracting thoughts so that you can focus on your relationship with God and the amazing grace of the Gospel.
Our mission at Trinity Grammar School is to provide a thoroughly Christian education for boys from Pre-Kindergarten to Year 12, imparting knowledge and understanding of the world we live in, and recognising the importance of spiritual qualities in every sphere of learning.
Trinity’s Pastoral Care guidelines focus on the fundamentals of good parenting — providing both care and discipline — enabling boys to grow into self-confident, trustworthy and resilient young men. Combined with an ongoing partnership between the School and home, your son will thrive in a consistent, caring and nurturing environment.
Our Life Skills Programme is part of a whole School approach to health and wellbeing. In conjunction with the development of ethical, moral and religious values, its goal is to enhance boys’ capacity to be emotionally resilient and socially competent.
To discover how Trinity exposes its students to real life situations and issues, developing important interpersonal and intrapersonal emotional, cognitive and behavioural skills, download our Year 7 Life Skills Programme now.