Mindfulness and breathing techniques have helped me and my students better understand our thoughts and emotions, and how they are chemically based. Our thoughts dictate our actions, and with practice, we can learn to monitor our thoughts better.
Growing up, I knew no other way to process my thoughts and feelings, except to act, more often than not, with my fight-or-flight response. I was being controlled by a tiny gland at the base of my skull called the amygdala. I would run from situations I felt slightly uncomfortable in or I would fight it verbally. No winners there, obviously.
I have since learned better ways to deal with my emotions through yoga. You can do the same and pass it on to your kids. With this understanding, they will hopefully be better equipped to face challenges and better control negative thoughts and unhelpful ways of dealing with stress. They are, after all, just part of life.
Read: Start ’em young: easy yoga for kids 4 and up
Here are 5 reasons to practice mindfulness for yourself and with your children:
We are hardwired since our creation to be on alert for bad things to happen and we hold on to these lessons, so we can avoid them again in the future. This has enabled us as a species to survive.
However, we need to understand that this is a built-in ability that we don’t need anymore, and in fact could be damaging to us. We no longer have to be on such a high alert like we were during our cave-dwelling days — it causes us to overreact to anything we might perceive as a threat.
Being on high alert can be exhausting, too. Getting stuck in this mindset makes it harder to see the positive. If left on autopilot, we will never find peace.
Physically, the mindset takes it toll as well. High stress levels cause inflammation, which causes all sorts of diseases.
Read: Common causes of anxiety in children
Unfortunately, many of us will continue to tell ourselves we are hard done by and play the victim. We tell anyone who will listen all the stored up negative things that have happened to us, and completely forget all the positives.
We need to work on storing up some positives by maybe having gratitude for what we do have and enjoy in life. Give your family and friends a break from hearing about your hard day and invite them to enjoy life with you.
Here are things to keep in mind and practice for better mental and physical health:
References: Black, A. The Little Pocket Book of Mindfulness. 2012.Cico Books, London, New York.
# If you’d like to learn more please join one of my classes for kids, workshops or teacher training.