These are a few of my favorite things...

 

As an art therapist and mindfulness instructor, I tend to think about everything from a mental health perspective.  So when thinking about the holiday season and all the wonderful smells, tastes, sights, and sounds, there are so many opportunities to bring mindfulness to each day this holiday season.  Remember, being mindful means bringing your awareness to that activity without judgement.  When you bake, you pay attention to just baking.  Notice the sounds of baking, what it feels like to stir, the yummy smells, etc.  Bringing your awareness to the activity can have a calming effect, even mundane tasks such as washing dishes.  Bringing calm awareness to the hustle and bustle of the season can help you enjoy it more peacefully.  However, our senses can get overloaded so remember to take some quiet time for yourself and bring your awareness to your body and breath.  Notice in your body where you might be holding tension…the spaces around your eyes, your jaw, your shoulders?  This is especially important for children who are can get overwhelmed by all the excitement and change in routine.  I wanted to share a few of my favorite mindfulness tools to help children manage their emotions during this time of year and to help bring more peace to the season…

Mindfulness tools

Mindfulness tools

 

Singing bowl – This is a great tool for times of transition.  Ring the bell and try to pay attention to the sound of the ringing for as long as you can hear it…kids love this challenge!  This helps them practice sitting still and quiet. 

 

Hoberman sphere – This is a fun visual for children to see what filling up their belly with breath looks like.  Pairing with your inhales and exhales, expand and contract the hoberman sphere slowly to help practice their belly breathing, which is known to have a calming effect.

 

Hoberman Sphere

Hoberman Sphere

Ooze timer – Another fun visual for a “calm down” toolkit.  Kids (and adults, let’s be honest!) love to watch the ooze slowly fill up one end while watching the air bubbles pop on the other end.  You can try having older children imagine negative thoughts popping at the bubbles pop.

Ooze timer

Ooze timer

 

Breath – Ahhhhh.  Something we always have with us.  It feels so good to take a nice deep inhale through our nose and let an audible “ahhhhhh” out of our mouth.  You can also try to pair it with shrugging your shoulders up by your ears as you inhale and releasing down on the exhale.  Another good trick for kids is to pair the inhale/exhale with tracing their 5 fingers on one hand with the pointer finger on the other hand.  Breathe in, trace your finger to the tip of the thumb/breathe out, trace back to palm and continue onto next finger for a total of 5 breaths. 

 

Apps – My favorite mindfulness/meditation app is Insight Timer.  There are thousands of meditations to choose from for adults and children alike.  You can also just set a timer if you want to sit in silence for a bit.  There’s a tracker of how often and how much you meditate that motivates you to keep up with your practice. 

 

Slow down and remember to bring small moments of true presence throughout this season!  Have a safe, peaceful, and heart-filled holiday season from Mindful Roots! 

��L@

'Tis the season...for GRATITUDE

 
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With Thanksgiving upon us, this is the perfect time to start reflecting on what we are thankful for.  Mindfulness isn’t always just being in the present moment…we can also intentionally cultivate positive states such as kindness, generosity, and gratitude.

 

Gratitude means being thankful for what you have in your life.  When you think about what you’re grateful for, you will literally change your brain to think about things more positively in your life.  You’ll see things differently and make choices to be happier and feel more connected.  When you are grateful, your body releases chemicals that make you happier and calmer.  Even in your darkest, saddest, most depressed moments, you can probably find something to be grateful for.  And you don’t have to be grateful for material things.  In fact, you can be grateful for your breath, for the earth that nurtures you, or for people in your life who love you (Mallika Chopra, Just Breathe: Meditation, Mindfulness, Movement, and More).

 

There are so many fun ways to get kiddos thinking about what they are grateful for.  Each day for the rest of the month, try to share something you are thankful for with your family at dinnertime.  Encourage each family member to do the same. Or tape a large sheet of paper on the wall for the month and draw or write on the “gratitude wall” each day.  See if you can go the whole month without any repeats! 

 

Here is another fun activity that you can prepare for big family gatherings during Thanksgiving weekend…

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Warm oven to 170* (or turn to “warm”).  Place river rocks or smooth rocks on a cookie sheet and warm them up in the oven for about 10 minutes.  Have an adult take the cookie sheet out of the oven and place the rocks on wax paper (using an oven mitt!).  Use crayons to color on the warm rocks and the crayon wax will melt right onto the rock, making lovely designs!  You might have people use an oven mitt to protect their fingers while decorating…rocks will be HOT!! 

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Once the rocks have cooled and the wax has hardened, use a sharpie to write something you are grateful for on the rocks.  Then you can use the rocks as part of a Thanksgiving centerpiece or put them in a “peace garden” outside!

 

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And finally, check out this super sweet and beautiful children’s book on gratitude this month or during the holiday weekend is All My Treasures: A Book of Joy by Jo Witek, a favorite of mine and my children!

 

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In gratitude,

Mindy, Mindful Roots