So hopefully, if you follow the link below, what you read may be helpful in understanding how mindfulness can help children develop their concentration skills, and also how we, as carers, can use our own awareness to help them along the way too.
Happily, being invited to write this article also provides me with material with which to talk about another benefit of mindful practice – that it can do wonders for self-esteem and confidence.
Seeing my words in print is a wonderful thing for me. I was a shy child and the thought of ‘being seen’ in the world turned my insides upside down! This continued into adulthood as a lack of faith in my abilities, a shying away from attention and a limiting feeling that I was never really fulfilling my potential.
With continued mindful practice over the last 8 years however, much has changed!
This can be explained neurologically as research is showing that mindful meditation activates and strengthens the areas of the brain responsible for self image and personality (a function of the prefrontal cortex) coupled with the revelation that the thoughts we experience need not be listened to.
Sitting in stillness and watching the experience of thinking shows us the range and volume of attention grabbing thought our brains constantly create…it’s just what they do! Meditation does not stop thought but it can train us to pay less attention to it, so that we are in charge rather than the thoughts themselves leading us through life. Mindfulness has helped me recognise that I am not my thoughts, they are something I experience but don’t need to cling too or believe if they make me feel bad or worthless.
So these days if I notice myself going into an old ‘I can’t do that’ thought, I simply choose to notice the effect it has on me, breathe and then reaffirm that ‘I can’. When our patterns are very set it can be a challenge to untangle ourselves from what we have believed is true for so long in order to forge new pathways AND it is absolutely possible none the less. The result of my endeavour to change my relationship to my thoughts is a flourishing of self belief. It still takes courage to say ‘yes’ to new opportunities (like writing an article!) but understanding that I don’t need to listen to fearful thoughts that would have discouraged me in the past has opened me up to embracing my limitless potential, enhanced my contentment and helped me feel at home in the world…. this is what I endeavour to pass on to the children I work with.
PS – For parents this video of Tara Brach talking about thought and meditation is very insightful; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kNXhJf6jOM