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Quick tips for youth mindfulness with Rachelle

By Rachelle Gibbs

Mindfulness for children and youth simply means paying attention.

We are purposefully paying attention to our thoughts, feelings and what is happening around us. We can pay attention when we are playing, riding our bike or going for a walk.


Children develop great mind-body awareness and reliable tools they can return to in moments of challenge, stress or distress.

There are great benefits of mindfulness for children and youth including:

  • Decreased stress and anxiety.

  • Increased self-awareness.

  • Increased resilience.

  • Increased self-esteem.



In the coming weeks I’ll share some of my favourite ways to share mindfulness with children and youth. With any mindfulness practice, we want to first consider how we set up our space.



  • We want to make sure that we have a clear, open space.

  • We have a quiet, relaxing environment.

  • Soft music might be helpful.

  • Lowered lighting (dark lighting may make it challenging for some.)

  • We want to create choice and agency for youth; mindfulness should be something they enjoy and want to return to.

  • Object to hold on to or place on the belly (I like textured objects, such as a squishy toy or ball.)

  • Eye pillows can be supportive. One of the most important elements of creating a mindfulness practice with children and youth is creating a safe, warm and inviting space. Connection is key. This week we’ll start with a simple easy breath.



Easy Breath (Calming Mindful Breath.)

Benefits:


Focuses the mind.

Increases awareness of breathing patterns.

This can be done sitting, standing or laying down. Hands can be placed on the lap or down at the side. Closing the eyes or keeping them open.




  1. Inhale through the nose.

  2. Exhale through the nose.

  3. Pay attention to the breath. Noticing as it comes in through our nose and back out.


Checking in with ourselves.

  • How do I feel today?

  • How does my body feel?

We aren’t trying to modify our breath here, just letting it be.

For some youth this might be challenging!

Short practices are best to start (2-5 minutes) and building from there.


A fun trick is to place a rubber duck on the youth’s belly and ask them to watch the belly float up and down, just like in the water!



Sunshine Arms and Ocean Breath (Calming Mindful Breath.)

Benefits:


Calms the mind.

Releases tension in the neck and lower face.


This mindful practice is one of my favourites!

It is best done in a seated position.



1. Bringing your hands to your sides, inhaling, reaching the arms out to the sides and around, reaching up overhead and bringing the hands together.


I like to use the visualization of sunshine filling us up with joy, peace and happiness.


2. As we lower our hands to the chest, we exhale making an audible sound … ahhhh! Just like the ocean waves.



With this segment I use the visualization of the ocean carrying all of our worries and fears away. You can do this for 3-5 rounds and then place your hands on your lap.


We continue with the imagery on sunshine filling us with happiness and joy and the ocean taking away all of our worries and fears.

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