What is Mindfulness?
A simple way to explain mindfulness is: paying attention to the here and now with kindness and curiosity and then choosing how to respond. But what does this really mean? And how should children learn to practice mindfulness?
Paying Attention to the Here & Now
So often, our minds are in the past, thinking about what happened, what we should have done. Other times, we are focused on the future - worried about what we have to do and what will happen next. Mindfulness is when you are focused on the present and paying attention to the here and now. It doesn't have to be "achieved" by an hour-long sitting meditation - being in the now can be as simple as paying attention to your breath, or what you see outside your window.
Kindness & Curiosity
As humans, we have the ability to be great friends to others, but not always when it comes to ourselves. Approaching the here and now with a sense of kindness helps us learn patience and acceptance. It can also help us feel more at peace, ease stress and make it easier to deal with whatever emotions occur.
Curiosity is equally important. By being curious about what we are thinking, feeling, or experiencing right now, we are able to add some distance between ourselves and the experience.
Overtime, mindfulness teaches us to separate ourselves from disturbing thoughts and emotions and observe them without immediately reacting.
We are able to form a response rather than just react.
Teaching Mindfulness to Children
Mindfulness has been shown to help children with a range of conditions including but not limited to ADHD, anxiety, autism spectrum disorders, depression and stress. At Pause with Panda, we believe that mindfulness can benefit all children and particularly those showing signs of mental and emotional disturbance. We also believe in 3 core principles when teaching mindfulness to children - each of which we've instilled when creating Panda:
1.) Rooted in Science - Panda's Pauses are built using science-backed methods of mental health professionals based on decades of research. We pay special attention to the words we choose (and don't choose) when creating these instructions and guidance for children.
2.) Fun & Quick - Children learn best through play which is why we've distilled the essence of mindfulness through a fun, loving character and not a screen. Panda audibly guides children through exercises that are bite-sized and tailor made just for them.
3.) A Part of the Solution - Mental health can be complicated. We believe that the best solutions for children experiencing mental and emotional issues be a combination of what their family and health professionals find helpful. While we believe in the power of mindfulness practice, we also believe it is a part of the solution - not the solution.