While some might be quick to dismiss mindfulness as one of those hipster trends that’s all hype and no substance, Charlene Teo, a counsellor at Shan You Counselling Centre, rebuts: Mindfulness is simply a mind-body based training in which an individual learns to direct his attention to an experience as it unfolds, moment by moment.
“In other words,” she explains, “Mindfulness draws a person’s attention to thoughts, feelings and body sensations to become directly aware of them, and better able to manage them.”
In addition, “early research suggests that mindfulness may provide young people with a valuable life skill by supporting them in a number of areas: to feel calmer and more fulfilled, to get on better with others, to concentrate and learn, to manage stress and anxiety, and to perform well in music and sport,” Charlene adds.
Related: Mindfulness for busy moms
Kids are more focused
Chiltern House Preschool, which has been holding weekly mindfulness sessions for its children for 1.5 years, has seen results.
Founder and director Julia Gabriel, explains: “We are all very conscious that children are subjected to a great deal of distraction these days. Even from an incredibly young age, they’re given an iPad to play with and they are not used to sitting and being.
“Maybe where they would in the past have sat and read a book, drawn or played with their toys, it’s now all bing! Bing! Bing!” she adds, imitating the bells and whistles of the flashy games kids play.
“We see it in the classroom that it affects their ability to focus and concentrate,” she elaborates. “Many children in classes are struggling not because of their lack of intellectual or academic ability to keep up with the curriculum, but because they can’t focus.”
Even parents have noticed improvement in the kindergarteners who attend the class. Jean Tan recounts a time when her son Ethan had piped up in the middle of an argument she was having with her husband: “I was raising my voice and suddenly Ethan – who was only five then – said, “Mum, calm down, okay? Breathe; you have to breathe.’”
Surprised, she asked him where he had learnt that. “He told me, ‘I learnt it in mindfulness. You have to breathe in and breathe out, and then you can calm down and not get angry.’
“I thought meditating was more for adults, and if you had asked me previously, I would have said I didn’t think it would work. But now I see that it does,” Jean concludes. “Ethan has actually quelled a few heated discussions within the family,” she says with a chuckle.
Watch these videos with your child and help them learn how to be more mindful.
MINDFULNESS FOR KIDS: PART 1
MINDFULNESS FOR KIDS: PART 2
MINDFULNESS FOR KIDS: PART 3