Mindfulness is about being fully in the present moment and what better way to bring our attention to the present than through our senses. Sensory mindfulness practice is particularly easy at this time of year with so much to engage with. The smell and sight of blossom, the sound of birdsong and the feeling of sunshine on your skin, even if it may still be a bit chilly. And of course, there may be some chocolate around.
Practising this in a conscious and active way can be both fun and engaging and helps people of all ages develop better focus and the ability to choose where they want to place their attention.
Here are some ideas to connect with the present moment you can practice with your children during the school holidays.
Take a sensory stroll
Each family member has five minutes to wander in the park with nothing to do but notice five things they see, five things they hear and five things they smell. Smell may be a bit of a challenge so be flexible with your group.
This is an opportunity to take time and really pay attention to each sense and everything around you in a more conscious way. If it’s a nice day you can then discuss over a picnic with a tasty snack.
Children usually love engaging with their sense of taste so this is a fun game you can play at home. This can even encourage children to be more adventurous in their eating habits. You will need four or five different types of food, as diverse as possible, and some paper and pens for children to note down their responses and reactions to each food.
Suggested foods could be kiwi fruit or grapes, raisins, chocolate or sweets, cheese, cherry tomatoes. If you are introducing this game to children other than your own, remember to check for any food allergies, intolerances or religious preferences.
Bring each plate out, one by one, letting the children anticipate the taste. You can either chat about their response to each food or they can write it down or draw it on a piece of paper.
As they taste each item, talk them through the experience from holding it in their hand and feeling the texture and smelling it before placing it in their mouth. Invite them to eat it as slowly as possible and savour each moment.
What did you notice about eating this way? Did it taste different to how you normally eat? What was it like paying so much attention to each piece of food? Did you find some of the foods weren’t what you expected?
You can then introduce mindful mouth at snack time or mealtimes, eating in silence and giving your full attention to the experience. This often leads to some interesting conversations.
If you’re looking for activities inspired by mindfulness for children, Mindful Monsters is a monthly subscription box which gives your little ones essential life skills and also supports parents to give their disabled children the best start in life.