Posted on 05/23/2017 at 09:00 AM by YMCA of Greater Des Moines
It’s free, it’s good for you and you can do it anywhere for as long (or as short) as you’d like — discover why mindfulness is not just a fad and how it can provide considerable benefits to you and your family.
“Mindfulness is the practice of quieting the mind by focusing only on the present moment without judgement,” Wendy Saunders of YMCA of the USA explains. “An intent focus on one’s breathing is one common way this is achieved. Mindfulness is proven to reduce stress, improve physical and psychological health, and result in better behavior in both children and adults.”
Mindfulness has been around for centuries but has been gaining popularity recently as additional studies, classes and mobile apps have made the practice more accessible and trusted.
The Mayo Clinic reports that empirically supported findings show that mindfulness increases and supports positive emotions, relaxation, empathy, self-esteem, positive relationships, memory, immune response and much more. It also works to decrease conditions such as anxiety, depression, physical and emotional pain, insomnia and addictive behaviors.
And the benefits aren’t just limited to the person who’s practicing mindfulness. Kate McCracken of the YMCA of Greater Los Angeles found in her study of caregiving and mindfulness that “healthy child development begins with caregivers who are attentive, present and sensitive to children’s physical and emotional needs—states that stressed caregivers may find more challenging to achieve.”
In addition to the indirect benefits your child can receive from you being more mindful, children themselves can practice mindfulness. Take for example an elementary school in Baltimore that has replaced detention with meditation. “With the first year being so successful, I started seeing a difference in their behaviors,” Carlillian Thompson, the school’s principal, reflected. “Instead of the students fighting or lashing out, they started to use words to solve their problems.” Suspensions at the school also fell to zero.
Intrigued? Desperate for some peace of mind? Try it right now with these steps from Y-USA’s Wendy Saunders:
One of the most powerful mindfulness practices involves your breath and can be done with eyes open or closed:
Can’t quiet your mind or sit still for three minutes? No judgment. This is a lifelong practice, not something you conquer in one week. Give yourself a break — inhale, exhale. Rinse and repeat.
“Mindfulness is likely the missing piece,” McCracken argues. “Alone, it’s not going to fix everything, but when combined with other supports, it can help nearly anything."
Have you tried some of these practices? Share your experience in the comments.