Mindful March

What are your self-help tools when you feel sad?  How about afraid? I find myself drawn to increase my mindfulness practice. This is the one thing that keeps me grounded and brings a sense of calm back to the here and now.

March is my favorite month of the year, not only because my son and I both celebrate March birthdays but  March also brings warmer weather and spring flowers (at least here in California:).  This time of year draws me to explore nature, soak in the fresh air, and be mindful of the changes and newness around me. For that reason, I’m planning to devote March to increasing my mindfulness practice by adding one short mindfulness activity each day.  I made a calendar for myself and hope you’ll try it out too (see attached below).

Mindfulness (or full awareness and acceptance of each moment, without judgement) is a practice I have tried to use in many ways throughout my life. To be mindful, I pay attention to simple events, like taking a few moments to savor the smell of my chamomile tea and to taste the honey that sweetens it.

Finding mindful moments varies with each person—the moment might come during a walk outside, a yoga pose, or while listening to music. I’ve introduced the concept to my kids, and we do breathing routines together to create calm and relaxation, especially before bedtime. 

As a parent trying to practice mindfulness meditation with my children, I have appreciated the book Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents) by Eline Snel, with a forward by Jon Kabat-Zinn and a 60-minute audio CD of guided exercises read by Myla Kabat-Zinn. (The Zinns popularized mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), currently accepted as a therapeutic tool.)

Sitting Still Like a Frog is a playful book that offers simple practices to help children ages 5–12 feel calmer, concentrate and sleep better, and manage anger. The book includes 11 practices, along with short examples and anecdotes. Jon Kabat-Zinn says this book guides children in cultivating “presence of mind, presence of heart, and presence in the body.”

I’m encouraging my sons to develop mindfulness to help them appreciate each moment and manage the demands of daily life as they grow up. If you’re a parent, teacher, or therapist, try out some mindfulness exercises with the children in your life.

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