Based on Buddhist philosophies, mindfulness is described as “the meditative state of being both fully aware of the moment and of being self-conscious of and attentive to this awareness; a state of intense concentration on one’s own thought processes; self-awareness”.
Although the research into the benefits of mindfulness for adults is quite extensive, for children and teenagers there has been less focus on this type of awareness until recently.However, the research that has been done in relation to children and teenagers has shown positive results, in fact, two recent systematic reviews and twenty individual studies of mindfulness interventions with school aged children has recently shown that adolescents who are mindful tend to have more friends, experience greater well-being, less negative emotions and less anxiety.
Being young is difficult; you are constantly learning new things, trying to navigate puberty, school, home life, friends and much more, all the while trying to get enough food, sleep and exercise. Honestly, it’s exhausting! But with a little bit of mindfulness all of these challenges can be navigated much more easily, or at least much more peacefully. The aforementioned studies also showed that mindfulness interventions can contribute directly to the development of cognitive performance skills, working memory, problem solving and reasoning skills, and a recent school experiment in London has shown that children who practiced mindfulness for ten minutes every day improved their concentration markedly.
Not only is mindfulness easy to carry out, it’s also free, and can help in all aspects of life from reducing stress and anxiety, to boosting self-esteem, improving sleep and increasing focus; all things which will help any adolescent have a smoother transition into adulthood and beyond.
Also described as “purposeful, non-judgmental awareness”, mindfulness can often be a tricky practice to get teenagers and children interested in, especially with the stimulation and excitement of films, games and technology, but with the help of a few mindfulness based smartphone apps, you can ease them in slowly. It may seem a bit ironic to get a teenager to use their smartphone more in order to destress and relax, but once they learn the basic techniques and develop an interest in the practice, they can ditch the phone!
Mindfulness isn’t just a way for teenagers and children to improve their memory and awareness, it is also a vital tool which they can apply to each and every aspect of their lives no matter what age they are, or what they are going through.