Mindfulness Resources: Online

 

Joyful Parenting

With the immense amount of information, facts, tips, ideas, videos and resources readily available online, it feels like we have the world in our hands. With mindfulness currently being a growing practice, new research and resources are becoming available often. This means that if you have no access to professional classes or workshops, or it’s just not convenient to you as a parent due to your schedule, you could still easily embark on a journey with welcoming mindfulness into your life. We have compiled a list of online resources for you that is diverse and very helpful in your journey with mindfulness, whether its for yourself, your children or even your children’s educators who you may want to share it with.

The following is a list of videos that can be found on YouTube:

  • This Guided Mindful Meditation for Parents focuses on self-love and joyful parenting. It helps you connect with yourself and help you realize that the central source of love in your life is you. On their YouTube channel you can find many more mindful meditation videos, other parents testimonials and tips and tricks not just for parents but for everyone welcoming mindfulness into their lives. They also have a website that focuses on joyful parenting and in which you can sign up and receive many free benefits! 
  • This Mindfulness and Parenting TEDx Talk is very informative and allows you to learn about mindfulness in a different and easy way. In this video Mary Ann Christine Burnside, a developmental psychologist, talks about the meaning of mindfulness and how it applies to parenting. Her talk focuses on “being the change you wish to see in your family”.

  • The Cosmic Kids YouTube Channel is a great resource for parents to facilitate mindfulness for their children at home. Specifically this Candle of Concentration video focuses on children’s concentration, helping them focus their mind and breathing, as well as body posture. Their channel overall provides guided meditations that integrate fun with the young ones and that includes some visuals to help strengthen the focus of young children. Parents can play the video for their children and even engage in it with them. Their channel’s main focus is yoga for kids – meaning the mindful guided meditations are only a fraction of the range of interactive videos available for children. You can also find more information, tips and ideas on their Cosmic Kids Website.

 

The following is a list of websites and blogs:

  • The voice notes on this Mindfulness website are of great use for helping children engage in mindfulness. Focused on helping children develop concentration and self awareness, the voice notes are mindful guided meditations designed specifically for children aged 6 to 10. We mentioned these voice notes in a previous post but due to them being such a great source, we though it’s important for them to be part of this list.
  • This Mindful Kids Website is a resource bank for sharing mindfulness with children. It contains an immense amount of games, ideas and meditation practices for children. It lists other helpful resource websites and it is also listed as a place to share your own mindfulness ideas.
  • Teaching Children Meditation is another great website filled with resources for not just parents but for all adults who are facilitating mindfulness for children and teens. It includes a link to their blog, easily accessible videos, as well as relaxation CD’s and mindfulness books for sale. What we found unique about this particular website is that it offers training on how to teach children of a different ages meditation, through an online course.
  • Sara Marlowe, who is a clinical social worker as well as our university professor has her own website, in which she shares her passion about mindfulness. Her focus is on creating mindful families through sharing her knowledge on mindful parenting. The website is filled with practices for parents and families, practices for children, tips, parent stories, mindful songs & stories and a link to an online trailer of her own book No Ordinary Apple. She also lists mindful parenting programs, workshops and presentations available in our community, which she facilitates.
  • As educator’s ourselves, we have learned the importance of keeping up to date with different ways of helping children develop to their fullest potential. We strongly believe that incorporating mindfulness into our programming and facilitating it in our classrooms is highly beneficial for children of all ages. This Mindful Teachers website is a great source to help educators do just that, by focusing on mindful practices for teachers with information on how and why they should implement it in their classrooms. It contains a variety of resources such as activities, articles, book recommendations, quizzes and a blog.

 

Mindful Teachers
Mindful Teachers

 

Mindfulness Resources: Community

 

Within the community there are ton’s of mindfulness programs available for both you and your child. Attending mindfulness workshops and classes is a great way for both you and your child to strengthen your knowledge of mindfulness and enjoy doing what you love with others that share your passion. Below are a variety of mindfulness programs offered within the greater Toronto area.

 

Well-Bean kid’s Yoga and Mindfulness Programs  offer both yoga and mindfulness classes that are age-appropriate and that purposefully blend both yoga and mindfulness together in a energetic and creative way. During these classes children are offered the opportunity to engage in a variety of experiences that bring awareness to their body, thoughts and feelings. In addition to children’s yoga and mindfulness, Well-Bean offers a variety of other programs such as, family yoga and mother and daughter yoga. Classes are thirty minutes long and are offered at three different locations. You have the option of $10 a class or $40 for four weeks.

The Learning Disabilities Association of Toronto District is a non for profit charity that offers a large variety of programs for any person or family with a learning disability. They believe that every person should have equal opportunities, and their goal is working towards a society where everyone can participate fairly. The Idatd offers different programs for mindfulness for both children and adults. The mindfulness programs are designed to assist both children and adults in developing an understanding of what mindfulness is and how it can be a positive addition to their life, to increase their awareness, ability to be present throughout their day, and to contribute to their awareness of their body, thoughts and feelings. There is a fee for these classes, which varies depending on the program you choose. Also, classes are limited in space to ensure everyone who is participating is getting quality attention.

Mindful Families, created by Sara Marlowe, offers a large variety of programs and workshops for children and adults. Some of the programs offers are: Breathe in and Shine: Mindfulness for Children and Families, and Breathe In Sing Out: Music Mindfulness and Fun for You and Your Little One. In these mindfulness based classes Sara incorporates a variety of elements to engage participation for example music and songs.  In additional to mindfulness classes, Sara also offers workshops and presentations. The workshops and presentations that she offers are both informative and interactive for all the participates. Please visit Mindful Families to view the programs in their entirety and check for upcoming classes and workshops.

Mindfulness Resources: Books

 

Parent Reading with Children

Books are an amazing resource to use with children. Through books, children are invited into another world. Through both pictures and words children are given a better understanding of a topic, in this case, mindfulness. Books also help facilitate thought and reflection. Reading books with your child regularly is extremely important in creating a strong and secure bond between you and your child. Below is a compiled list of books that is diverse and very helpful in your journey with mindfulness. Most of the books below are available at your local library.

The following books are recommended for children:

No Ordinary Apple, by Sara Marlowe is a great book to use with children before practicing mindful eating. In this story, the main character a little boy named Elliot, is first disappointed when his classmate hands him an apple as he had wanted candy. However, as the story progresses, Elliot discovers that he has no ordinary apple through the experience of mindful observing and mindful eating of the apple. This book assists children in slowing down, noticing and appreciating the many properties of their food before, while, and after eating it. To view this book online please visit No Ordinary Apple Book Trailer.

A Handful of Quite by Thich Nhat Hanh is a book based on the practice of pebble meditation. Pebble meditation is a type of mindfulness that is playful and fun for children of all ages.Through the use of pebbles, children are directly involved in this hands-on experience which brings awareness to their connection with nature. The practice of pebble meditation can help nourish gratitude, relieve stress, help children deal with difficult emotions, and increase their concentration.

 

Visiting Feelings by Lauren Rubenstein is a sure delight for both parents and children viewing this book. This book is centred around emotional awareness and the importance of being present in each and every moment, and acknowledging the feelings that you have when they appear. Lauren Rubenstein explores feelings in the book in a unique way – rather than putting specific labels on children’s feelings, such as sad or mad. This book allows children to explore what that feeling looks and feels like without having to give it a name, as Lauren Rubenstein describes in her book, “befriend any feeling with acceptance and equanimity”. 

Meditation is an Open Sky by Whitney Stewart is an easy and fabulous book to use with children when beginning to practice mindfulness. This book teaches children age appropriate instructions for how to practice mindfulness. The book provides simple exercises to assist children in finding focus, managing stress and emotions, and ways to face challenges. Through this book children will also learn valuable tools to assist them in their day to day life, such as ways to feel relaxed when anxious or calm anger when they are frustrated. This is a great resource to have available for your child to access when ever they see fit freely.

The following books are recommended for adults:

The Mindful Child by Susan Kaiser Greenland is a great tool for parents in assisting their child with mindfulness. This book goes through step by step instructions of how to teach the practice of mindfulness to your child in an easy and fun way. Additionally, throughout this book, you can find ton’s of exercises to do with your child, ranging from games, fables and songs. In this book, Susan also supplies a wealth of knowledge around mindfulness and stress management, ADHD, and anxiety – just to name a few. If you would like to know more about this book, I welcome you to watch this interview with Susan Kaiser Greenland and hear her experience and knowledge with mindfulness.

 

Fully Present by Susan Smalley and Diana Winston has been said to be “…one of the clearest introductions to mindfulness in the flied” by the Library Journal. What makes this book great is that it brings together the new knowledge and science behind mindfulness and clearly explains how and why mindfulness practices work. Through the use of this book, Susan discusses how to make mindfulness a daily practice in your life and the benefits that come along with doing so. To hear more about this book and the act of fully participating and being present in mindfulness, you are welcome to watch this interview with Susan Smalley.

 

 

 

Mindfulness Resources: Phone and Tablet Apps

Continuing with the resources available to assist you on your journey with mindfulness is the topic of technology. It is safe to say that the majority of adults own a phone or tablet. Since technology is so present in our everyday lives, apps that we can access on our phones or tables are so convenient and overall so easily accessible. There is an ample amount of apps available for facilitating mindfulness. Most focus on meditation but we will be providing a list that is diverse and varies with the different ways mindfulness can be practiced. All apps mentioned will also be free of charge to download.

 

The following is a list specifically for children and youth: 

  • Settle Your Glitter: Perfect for parents to help their children accept and welcome their own feelings and emotions. This app helps children focus on breathing and in turn self-regulate their emotions independently. It facilitates the mindful practice of focusing on the now by taking a step back and ‘pausing’ before reacting. Children benefit from this tool as they can pair their deep breaths with a visual that is calming and comforting. Available for iPhone users. 

 

 

  • Smiling Mind: A simple tool for meditation focused on helping ‘put a smile on your mind’. It was developed by a group of psychologists, which are experts in youth and adolescent therapy. What’s unique about this app is that it provides mindfulness meditation programs for four different age groups (7-11 years; 12-15 years; 16-22 years; & adults) as well as extended meditations. Available for iPhone users. 

 

 

 

  • Super Stretch Yoga: Encouraging in its nature, this app is a child-friendly guide to different yoga poses. Yoga is a great way to practice mindfulness and to bring awareness to present thoughts and feelings. This app offers explanations and animations that are age appropriate and that in turn gets children actively involved and most importantly allows them to have fun! Available for iPhone users.

 

The following is a list for adults: 

 

  • Daily Yoga: This is a yoga studio in your pocket – ideal for both beginners and experts. It contains yoga and meditation exercises & programs, videos, yoga poses, soothing music, voice guides and more. It also allows you to connect with the community. Available for both iPhone and Android.

 

 

 

 

  • Headspace: This is an app that guides you and assists you through meditation sessions. The first ten sessions are free of charge – but once you become a subscriber you have access to an abundant amount of content that is categorized for easy access. It also has a ‘buddy system’ that allows you to connect with others that are on the same journey so that you can support each other. Available for both iPhone and Android.

 

 

 

  • Insight Timer: Rated as the top meditation app that is free of charge as it contains a large amount of ‘customizable features’ that assist you during your meditation practice. Examples are guided meditations, courses, talks and music tracks. Available for both iPhone and Android. 

 

 

 

  • Stop, Breathe & ThinkA meditation app that focuses on developing kindness and compassion. This app is great if you are looking for something that is both flexible and adaptable when used, as it contains both short and long meditation sessions that are easy to follow. Available for both iPhone and Android.

 

 

 

 

  • Relax Melodies: Descriptive in its name – this app contains sounds and melodies to help you relax. The beauty of this is that it is adaptable to your individual need. You can choose from the many sounds and melodies available to help you with sleeping, meditation, or other mindful practices. It also contains related articles that are helpful for different needs and a feature that allows you to upload your own sounds, melodies or mixes. Available for both iPhone and Android.

 

 

 

References:

Cowans, S. (2015, June 22). 6 Best Apps for Yoga and Meditation. Retrieved March 27, 2016, from http://www.yogajournal.com/slideshow/6-best-apps-for-yoga-and-meditation/
Meditation Apps for Kids. (n.d.). Retrieved March 26, 2016, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/lists/meditation-apps-for-kids
Tlalka, S. (2015, September 05). Free Mindfulness Apps Worthy of Your Attention – Mindful. Retrieved March 27, 2016, from http://www.mindful.org/free-mindfulness-apps-worthy-of-your-attention/

Beginner Tips for Children

First and foremost in order to best and successfully teach mindfulness to children, one should be practicing mindfulness themselves. Having an understanding of what mindfulness is through your own mindfulness practices will make you more effective at teaching mindfulness to your child(ren). Below are some easy to follow tips to use and incorporate into your mindfulness practice with your child.

Choosing a time

Clock

Start by choosing a time for mindfulness. Children are used to routines, whether they are in school already or not, children engage in routine practices throughout their day. Having a set time everyday to practice mindfulness will help children become used to incorporating it into their daily schedule. There is no ‘best time’ for everyone – start by looking at your daily scheduled  and seeing first, if you have enough time allotted in a given period to practice. As an example, maybe before or after dinner or you could also look at a time when it will be most needed or effective. Also, feel free to also practice more than once a day – and spontaneously when you see fit.

 

Mindfulness environment: setting the stage

Child putting away toys

Before your child begins practicing mindfulness clear the space in which they will practice in. This involves putting away anything that may distract them while being fully engaged, such as toys, food, books – unless you are using the specific item for the mindfulness practice. Having the area or room set up in this manner will assist your child in being more focused, and allow them to get the most out of the experience.

Getting your child involved

Parent and child practicing mindfulness

Children enjoy to be given responsibility, from very young children to older school-agers, to be given a task or job is a great way to get them fully involved in what they are doing. Depending on which practice you choose to do there are a number of ways in which you could enlist your child to assist you. For example, if engaging in mindful eating, ask the child which food they would like to use, and for guided mindfulness or music listening mindfulness, ask the child for their input in picking the song or the guided track.

You share, then they share

Parent and child sharing

Children look up to their parents as a source of support and moreover as a role model. Sharing your experiences of mindfulness with your child will better enable them to be open to share. For example, you could start by sharing how using mindfulness in your life has helped you possibly deal with different emotions, for example helped you to focus or breathe through frustrating situations. Once you have shared, invite your child to share what they have noticed through their own practice. This sharing time is also important because it allows both parent and child to hear things that may have not be heard otherwise.

References:

Cowan, M. (2010, May 13). Tips for Teaching Mindfulness to Kids. Retrieved April 01, 2016, from http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/tips_for_teaching_mindfulness_to_kids/

 

 

 

 

 

Beginner Tips for Parents

When you decide to begin to include mindfulness in your everyday life, you are embarking on a journey that is both rewarding and full of possibility.  As previously stated in this post, practicing mindfulness looks different to everyone and that is why there are numerous ways you can engage in mindful practices.

With that being said, it is important to keep in mind that mindfulness is process. As a beginner, it involves patience and practice, and overall becoming aware of our surroundings and appreciating them as as they come. This allows for mindfulness to be able to happen anywhere and for it to be present whenever we welcome it.

The following are some tips and things to keep in mind as you embark on the wonderful journey of including mindfulness in your life:

  • Mindful breathing

    It all begins with your breath. Breathing is what supplies oxygen in our bodies and it affects our body as a whole. This article is a great source to inform you about its importance. Mindful breathing welcomes relaxation, creating an opportunity to take a step back and in turn bring your attention to the present moment. As a parent you face challenging moments, but breathing allows you to “pause” before you react. Focusing on the breath-in and breath-out is a great way to start.

 

  • Mindful eating

    Take the opportunity to get in tune with your senses. Mindfulness can happen even when we are doing something as simple as eating. As you place that Hershey`s Kiss in your mouth, take the time to enjoy its simplicity. Hold it on your tongue and let it slowly melt. Bring awareness to its sweetness, texture and multiple characteristics. This allows you to fully appreciate the food your are consuming and begin being conscious when you are over-indulging. Begin by trying to apply this mindful eating practice at least once throughout the day.

 

 

  • Mindfulness

    Include mindfulness in your everyday life. Become aware of times when you zone out. Are you washing the dishes, cooking dinner for your children or stuck in traffic? These are perfect moments in which you can take advantage of practicing bringing back your attention to the present moment. This means bringing more awareness and focusing on the activity you are engaged in.

 

 

  • Mindfulness meditation

    Find a mindful practice that you love. There are a number of ways you can practice mindfulness. As a beginner, you may try out a few of these different ways, until you find one that you feel the most comfortable with and that best suits your individual situation as a parent. Being a parent means so much to do in so little time – and one of the many beauties of mindfulness is that it is so easily adaptable that it excludes no one.

 

  • Mindfulness yoga

    Enjoy mindful practice with others. There are mindfulness workshops, mindfulness groups or just mindfulness teachers in your community that can help you in your journey. Practicing with others allows you to support one another. Even just taking some time to practice mindfulness with your children, spouse or friend can be helpful.

 

 

Cultivating mindfulness in your daily journey as a parent is a great form of creating healthy habits that will not only benefit you, but also your children. If you practice it yourself, you will be better equipped at facilitating mindful practice for your children. This also means being able to create opportunities to connect with your children by finding times throughout the day to practice mindfulness with them.  This time can be rewarding as you can focus your attention on only your children and nothing else allowing you to share meaningful moments together that will strengthen your relationship.

 

 

References:

10 Tips To Start Being Mindful Now – Mindful. (2013, March 14). Retrieved April 9, 2016, from http://www.mindful.org/10-tips-for-being-mindful-right-now/
Gill, F. (2016, March 04). Beginner’s guide to mindfulness- Expert tips to create a mindful moment everyday – Independent.ie. Retrieved April 9, 2016, from http://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/mental-health/beginners-guide-to-mindfulness-expert-tips-to-create-a-mindful-moment-everyday-34511242.html

Rossman, J. (2009, October 12). Mind-Body-Mood Advisor: Why You Should Breathe Like a Baby. Retrieved April 2, 2016, from http://www.rodalewellness.com/health/diaphragmatic-breathing-and-health

Mindfulness Practices for Children

Mindfulness for children:

The following practices are recommenced and suitable for children, including: toddlers, preschool, kindergartens and school-agers. The main difference in practice with children of varying ages will be the length that they are able to participate for.

 

Mindful breathing 

Child practicing mindfulness

The practice below has minor changes to the adult version provided on the previous blog post. Some changes include providing children with an image to their action, for example when asking the children to exhale, you can say “blow out the candles”. Also, in the adult version there was the option to sit or stand, whereas for the child’s mindful breathing it is recommenced that they are sitting to allow them to fully be able to focus on their breath, and to avoid distractions.

This type of practice can be done just about anywhere, at any time. The key component of this practice is focusing on your breath. Begin by choosing a comfortable sitting position and closing your eyes. Next, start by breathing in and out slowly. While the child is breathing you can ask them to put their hands on their stomachs which will allow them to feel the rise and fall of each breath.

While you are breathing in and out try to take your time so that one cycle of breaths lasts roughly six seconds. As you begin your breaths remember to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, allowing your breath to effortlessly flow out and away from your body. When the child is exhaling you can say “blow out the candles”. This will assist them on a powerful exhale of their breath.

As you continue to breathe let go of any thoughts you may have, and things you have to do later. Simply let yourself be present in the current moment. As you do this bring awareness to your breath, while noticing how the oxygen you inhale fills you up as it enters your body, and then noticing how it works its way out into the world.

 

Mindful Eating Game

Mindful eating

This is a great practice to engage in with your child while eating. You could start by telling them that you’re going to play a game called mindful eating.

Begin with a simple breathing exercise. Invite your child to observe the food that they will soon eat and the many characteristics of it: the look, smell, feel, and even how any utensil that they may use to eat the food, looks and feels. Once they have spent several minutes doing this, invite them to then taste the food and slowly chew. Chewing for roughly 20-30 seconds. If the food does require a utensil ask them to put it down until they are done chewing to really allow them to focus on the food.

Once the child has finished their bite and swallowed, ask them if they noticed anything about the taste, smell, or texture of their food. Discuss their response and then follow that with another breathing cycle, followed by another bite.

 

Guided Mindfulness Meditation 

Mindfulness meditation

Guided mindfulness meditation exercises are simple, but provide multiple benefits for your child. Start by finding a place that your child enjoys and feels comfortable in, maybe their bedroom, living room, or even outside in a quite area if weather permits.

Once the spot has been chosen, have you child, depending on their age either sit on the floor/ground in a comfortable position, or if able to, at a child appropriate chair that they are able to place their feet directly on the floor. While siting have the child begin by closing their eyes and beginning to slowly breath in and out. As they breath they should be paying attention to their breath. A way to assist children in doing this is having them place their hands on their chest to feel the rise and fall of each breath.

Remember you are acting as the guide and facilitating your child’s practice so take your time and speak calmly. There are many different types of “scripts”-both written and spoken that are available online that you are able to use, and adjust as you see fit to walk your child through a practice. Below is an example of a spoken practice I highly recommend called guided mindfulness breathing for children.

 

Mindfulness Yoga 

Mindfulness Yoga

Mindfulness yoga like the other types of mindfulness listed above first and foremost focuses on the breath. In mindfulness yoga begin by finding a comfortable place to engage in this practice. This could be somewhere in your home where there is open space and either carpet or a place that a mat could be placed on the ground, ensuring that the child is comfortable while practicing.

Begin by telling the child to get into a “tree pose”…

Tree Pose

Remember that depending on the age of the child, accommodations can and should be made. For example for a toddler or preschooler, you can guide them to do the “tree pose” by standing straight, with both arms in the air and both feet planted on the ground.

30 easy to-do yoga poses for kids is a great resource for children as it provides step by step directions on how to do each pose along with pictures.

When practicing mindfulness yoga with your child also feel free to modify your practice as you see fit by either adding more poses and changing up the poses you use from time to time. As with anything, remember to always have fun!

References:

Harris, A. (2015, May 31). Guided Meditations for Children. Retrieved March 01, 2016, from https://www.samharris.org/blog/item/guided-meditations-for-children

James, A. (2016). Pocket Mindfulness. Retrieved March 30, 2016, from http://www.pocketmindfulness.com/6-mindfulness-exercises-you-can-try-today/

Six Ways To Teach Mindfulness To Children – Mrs. Mindfulness. (2013). Retrieved March 30, 2016, from http://mrsmindfulness.com/how-to-teach-mindfulness-to-children/