For the last five years, Children and Family Mindfulness Coach, Founder of Mini Mindfuls and Co-CEO of YogaMagic has been championing mindful play for families across the Middle East.
This month we spoke to her and learned more about why families need a bit of mindful play in their lives at home and just how families like ours can introduce the concept of mindful play.
Here is what she had to say…
There are endless reasons to bring a practice of mindfulness to life at home for you and your children. While mindfulness has had a real ‘buzz-word’ presence in mainstream over the past ten years, today it has its own fields of neuroscience studies and is revered as a proven method for stress reduction, amongst its many other benefits.
When asked about mindfulness, I always reference these three benefits for people of all ages:
1. Mindfulness allows you to bring awareness to yourself and get better at feeling your feelings. From a social-emotional perspective, when we are able to lean into our feelings, we then have the opportunity to bring what we need in the moment to life. This leads to brilliant self-regulation.
2. Practicing mindfulness consistently is scientifically proven to positively impact our physical, mental and behavioural states. From better sleep to a responding over reacting approach in our daily lives, a regular practice brings all of these elements into alignment.
3. While mindfulness will not eliminate stress (this is not the reality of life) it deeply impacts our individual stress resilience - our ability to recover in moments of stress.
So many parents ask me about how they can practice with their little ones at home. It seems that so many people think it’s so much more complicated than it actually really is. So it is my mission to help families introduce mindful play at home in a fun and simple way.
Here are just three ways you can incorporate a practice of mindfulness into your daily life at home…
1. Take a Nature Walk -
Gather your family and head out, in your neighbourhood or to the park or beach. Walk together, in silence, with the aim of listening to all the sounds around you. Maybe you can hear the wind blowing through the trees, a plane overhead, other people passing or the waves rolling across the shore (if at the beach). Let your breath become steady and enjoy the pace. Bring the element of play into the nature walk by turning it into a nature hunt, keeping an eye out for certain items and pointing them out when you find them. What did you hear on your listening walk? How many items did you find on your nature hunt?
2. Building blocks & Puzzles -
We absolutely love building blocks and puzzles in our home. They are a great source of mindful play - encouraging the entire family to be in the moment without any thought too far into the past or future. They also cultivate beautiful connection and bonding time. What can you all create together in 15 minutes a day?
3. Build an Obstacle Course -
This is such a fun practice for the entire family and a real opportunity for us parents to bond with our kids on their level (and relive our own magical childhood memories). Map out your own in-house obstacle course and get to work. Once built, take turns completing the obstacle course.
If you are practicing any of these methods of mindful play at home, you can elevate the practice by adding a simple breathing practice into the activities. For instance, every time you find an item on your listening walk/nature hunt, take a deep breath. Breathe in, hold for a count of 3 and breathe out. Or every time you pop a lego or puzzle piece into place, take that deep breath together. If doing the obstacle course, use your breathing practice as you complete each obstacle.
These activities are a brilliant way to bond and practice a bit of mindful play. There are thousands of little daily activities your family can do to bring mindfulness into your daily routine. The most important thing is to just get started, have fun and let yourself be in the present moment together!
Lauren Butcher has spent the last ten years living in Dubai and is a Mindfulness Coach, creator and owner of Mini Mindfuls, and Co-Ceo of YogaMagic. She has spent the last five years on a mission to introduce mindfulness into family homes, schools and community organisations across the UAE to encourage family connection, mindful parenting and to help our little ones build their own set of tools and resources to aid their mental health as they grow.
She is also a mother of two little ones, aged 5 and 2 and has recently founded her own Digital Marketing Agency to work with small, female-run businesses aimed at making a greater impact in the world. @my.mini.mindfuls @yogamagic.store