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Strengthening family bonds through mindfulness

Most of us will have heard of mindfulness. But if asked to explain what it is or what it involves, we would struggle. It can be often associated with wealthy people with too much time on their hands. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Mindfulness is actually just about learning to be more aware and accepting. We can all benefit from this, including our children. With the help of one of our practitioners we unpack what mindfulness is and how it can help families grow together.

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What is mindfulness?

In a nutshell, mindfulness is learning to notice what is happening around us at present, without judgement. You might focus on your mind, body or surroundings. It has a lot in common with meditation and can be practiced by children and adults alike. 

The idea is that being more self-aware helps us feel less stressed, make better decisions, cope with difficult thoughts and be kinder to ourselves. We all have the tools to be mindful but there are proven techniques to access them. This can be seated, walking standing or moving mediation, short pauses throughout the day or merging mediation with other activities, such as sport. 

Many families find practicing mindfulness together can improve their relationships and overall well-being. 

Mindfulness in sessions

girl and mother practise meditating on a couch

Mindfulness in sessions

David is one of our healthy activities practitioners. He uses mindfulness to get families active and doing something constructive together. 

‘I don't give away too much about what I do in my personal life. But sometimes I tell the families I see that I like martial arts and I am big on mindfulness. This often resonates with them and that is where the idea to use it in the sessions begins.’ 

Gentler sport

‘Sometimes the family request mindfulness themselves. There have been instances where they have come to me saying they are quite inactive. They are looking for something a little gentler and more holistic to get back on track.’ 

Taking it online 

The beauty of mindfulness and mediation is that it is easily transferable to an online setting. Yoga videos are especially popular on YouTube and this only increased during lockdown. Alongside other practitioners, David had to adapt to running sessions online. 

‘I saw a mother and daughter during lockdown. We had to purely work together online. We would meet via Zoom and do sessions there.’  

three men sitting outside a cafe talking

Daniel and Sam Daniel and Sam

When Sam's son Daniel took two overdoses in a week, he knew he had to act fast. His son nearly lost his life to depression, anxiety and substance use. He would do everything to stop it happening again. 

Working online

The video sessions worked surprisingly well with the families I saw.

‘I started a WhatsApp group system. I would post short video clips of me doing things like yoga poses and send them out on the groups. This gave families something to follow along with. They would often post videos back showing what they had done that day.’ 

Something for everyone 

While he does not use mindfulness for all of the families he sees, David believes we could all learn a thing or two from practicing it. 

I actually think everybody could benefit from a mindful approach.

‘There's a lot of science behind it. How it affects the brain and helps with anxiety, stress and general mental health.’ 

’It's an invaluable tool. I think as with all things, some people gravitate more towards that approach than others.’ 

Change perceptions

‘Unfortunately, there is sometimes a negative stereotype of people who practice yoga and mindfulness. They think it is only for the really wealthy and/or spiritual. But they are wrong.’ 

‘That is why, when I use it, I try to keep it lighthearted. It's a very powerful tool, but it is important not to be too serious. You've got to be patient with people’s views.’  

It's interesting how perceptions change when people try it.

Teenager closing eyes and meditating in the long grass

Part of the bigger picture

‘It is great for accompanying clinical approaches when helping young people and their parents with mental health issues. Mindfulness is just one piece of the puzzle. And I think that it has its place.’  

'For some people, it's not appropriate. And that's fine. But I think that it is something that's becoming more widely accepted.’ 

I hope more young people will be introduced to mindfulness. It can make all the difference.

boy at bus stop smiling at camera

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Across the country, young people like Daniel are not getting the mental health support they need because of complicated referral processes and long waiting lists. 

Your donations mean that our project workers can be there for families before a child reaches crisis point.