The term “mindfulness” is popping up everywhere these days. There are books and apps and whole pages dedicated to mindful moments in popular magazines. There are mindfulness exercises to help us slow down, eat less and lose weight, focus more, and work harder.
There’s even mindfulness activities that promise to help us be better parents.
I’ll admit it, I’ve bought in.
Mindfulness has been wonderful for me. It started slowly, years ago when I began taking yoga classes, in a tiny studio with only three other students and a teacher who had trained for hundreds and hundreds of hours.
These classes slowed my mind and I learned to observe the stories constantly running through it, without judgement or action.
Now, I’m by no means someone who sits and meditates for an hour everyday — there just isn’t time! Let’s be honest, some days…okay most days…I can’t even find just 10 minutes to sit quietly, let alone a whole hour!
But, still, the lessons I’ve learned in mindfulness are always quietly running through my head. They help me to be more present, calmer, and empathetic with those around me, especially with my child.
I’m not the only one who has seen the benefits of mindfulness. Researchers have published studies that compare brain images of those who regularly practice mindfulness and those who don’t.
These studies have found that those engaged in mindfulness activities have an increased brain capacity for decision-making, rational thinking, emotion regulation, learning, memory, kindness and compassion.
These studies also show that mindfulness practices decrease brain activity in areas involved with anxiety, worry and impulsiveness.
If studies done with adults show all these benefits, I couldn’t help but wonder if similar impacts would be seen in children. Here’s what I found out.