Individual Counseling Insights From Westlake Village-Based Patricia McTague-Loft
No one knows exactly when people in ancient India began developing yoga as a practice to still the mind and enter a state of detached witness-consciousness. But it was already widely practiced by the fifth century BC and mentioned in sacred writings by then.
What does the history of yoga have to do with modern-day Americans? Aside from inspiring yoga studios to spring up in practically every town and millions of devotees taking time to practice yoga every day, it has greatly influenced another growing trend: mindfulness.
I have written before about how mindfulness can deepen your romantic relationship. But there are many other aspects to this interesting subject, and it is getting ever-growing attention.
Writing for Healthline, Crystal Hoshaw says, “The practice of mindfulness is gaining popularity as a way to ease stress, soothe anxiety, and be more present and engaged in life. Interestingly, some research suggests that mindfulness meditation may even be beneficial for issues like anxiety, chronic pain, and depression.” What’s more, mindfulness is not only being encouraged for a variety of benefits, it’s encouraged for people of all ages.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness, and most have a fundamental similarity with yoga — a focus on an awareness of being in the moment. Interested in practicing some mindfulness techniques? Then consider incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine. Hoshaw lists many techniques for people of all ages.
Mindfulness for Adults.
Gratitude List. Try taking a few minutes out of each day to think about people, experiences, relationships — really, anything you’re grateful for — and write down your thoughts and feelings. Thinking about something that you may have experienced hours earlier may not sound like something that will help you develop an awareness of the moment. But you may be surprised to find that as days go by you begin to appreciate those things you’re grateful as you experience them.
Mindful Eating. Too often we power down a meal while reading, watching TV or even working on the computer. Aside from losing out on the enjoyment of a delicious meal, you’re missing out on the opportunity to truly be in the moment. Hoshaw suggest that you:
- “Try eating with your non-dominant hand.
- Eat the first few minutes of your meal in silence and focus on the flavors, aromas, and texture of your food.
- Turn off your TV and put your phone away while you eat.”
Mindfulness for Kids.
Save an explanation of the theory behind mindfulness for another time. The best way to get kids involved in mindfulness practice is through games. Hoshaw lists a couple you might want to try.
Wiggle and Freeze Game. “This game is a fun way for kids to start practicing mindfulness and improve their awareness of bodily sensations using movement. It involves wiggling, moving around, shaking, stomping, or dancing until you say, ‘Freeze!’ Once everyone stops moving, encourage children to pay close attention to the sensations that they feel in their body.”
Calm Cards. “Sometimes, having little reminders can help kids practice mindfulness in difficult moments,” Hoshaw says. “This is another basic craft that provides kids with a tool to take with them in their day to day. Help the kids reflect on activities that help them feel calm, like drinking water, taking breaths, closing their eyes, reading a book, or hugging a friend. Then, ask them to draw pictures of these activities on separate cards. You can also provide them with printed pictures to paste… Kids can use the cards whenever they’re feeling upset, angry, scared, or sad to help them regulate their emotions and feel better.”
For more suggestions for mindfulness techniques for all ages, and to cope with issues such as anxiety, see Hoshaw’s full article here.