Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation

Do you ever find yourself thinking about the past or worrying about the future? By starting to build Basic Mindful Awareness as part of IGA’s Family Program Mindful Matters, you and your children will find yourself focussing your attention on the here and now.

Mindfulness is a state of being fully awake to life; being aware and undistracted in the present moment and observing life as it unfolds without analysis or judgment.

But we all need to start somewhere.

Mindfulness is one simple tool that will aim to give you and your children clarity and contentment.

Why is mindfulness so important today?

While the practice of mindfulness has been around for centuries, its popularity has surged in recent years with clinical studies from a range of institutions revealing the positive health impacts of mindfulness.

Brain imaging has demonstrated how mindfulness meditation changes the brain reducing the activation areas of the brain that generate stress responses.

Smiling Mind even completed the largest research program worldwide over an eight-week period, evaluating its technology assisted program through Australian schools.

The results showed that the program can assist students with sleep, well-being, managing emotions, concentration and school behaviour.

Our society is experiencing major and rapid changes, including increased pressure on students at school and for us to perform at work. No doubt you see it in your own day-to-day family activities with your children’s busy schedules and experiencing digital overload in your own life?

But just as a muscle can be strengthened through exercise, mindfulness is a skill that we can all develop overtime – including together, as a family – through regular practise. As little as five minutes a day is all that is needed to start seeing benefits!

How can we all start?

Mindfulness and meditation can be practised in a number of ways. But first, let’s define the two.

Meditation is formal mindfulness; we sometimes refer to it as the ‘boot camp of mindfulness’ – you meditate to strengthen your skills of mindfulness.

Mindfulness, in the informal sense of being aware throughout the course of a day.

Focusing our attention on the breath is one of simplest forms towards this awareness, but we can also practise meditation by non-judgementally observing any or all of the five senses: sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch.

A great way to start your ‘bootcamp’ is by playing Smiling Mind’s The Bubble Journey. This practice explores bringing awareness and attention to the breath by asking you and your child to start by placing your hands on your belly and feel the breath move in and out of the body.

The Bubble Journey

Listen to the activity below, where you and your children will be guided through counting your breath, before breathing in a warm and glowing bubble that takes you through a body scan as the bubble travels through the body, relaxing each part. Now we invite you to find a calm, quiet spot and try it at home:

An important part of practising mindfulness with your children is debriefing the experience after each activity, where it’s essential to normalise any physical or emotional reactions they may have had and provide them with support if you think they need it. Here are a few questions that will help you to start the conversation with them:

  1. What was your experience and how did you find that?
  2. How did you feel?
  3. What did you learn?
  4. Did your bubble have a colour?
  5. Were you able to move your bubble to different body parts?
  6. How did the bubble’s glow make you feel?