Mindfulness for Pregnancy I

By Magdalena Marzec

The Meaning of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the act of being fully present in the moment and maintaining an open mind while remaining aware of what is going on around you, without judgement (Sheridan, 2016). This includes paying careful attention to what you are experiencing in any current moment, whether it may be a physical sensation, thought, or feeling, and doing so with purpose, intention, and acceptance.

Pregnancy Mindfulness

Tapping into a state of mindfulness and resisting thoughts about the past or future can be difficult, and like any skill, tends to improve with regular practice. The most important thing to remember about mindfulness is the need to be kind to yourself as you acknowledge the details of your experience in the present moment, and simply remain curious and receptive to what is there instead of immediately deciding whether it is good or bad. You can start by practicing mindfulness for just a couple of minutes daily!

The Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness During Pregnancy

Pregnancy Mindfulness

There are numerous benefits to practicing mindfulness throughout various stages in life. Becoming more aware of what your body, mind, and surroundings are telling you is a form of self- care practice that can help you develop new coping strategies and stay happy and healthy (Sheridan, 2016). While this is useful in many different situations, it can be particularly helpful during pregnancy, when so many new changes are occurring. Practicing mindfulness throughout the prenatal period has been shown to reduce feelings of depression, distress, and anxiety associated with pregnancy, as well as worries related to labour itself, and improve overall mood among expectant mothers (Krusche, Dymond, Murphy & Crane, 2018).

Considering that prenatal depression is not only a predictor of postnatal depression but can also have a direct and significantly negative impact on the entire family unit, mindfulness may be especially useful in the appropriate management of intense feelings of sadness and hopelessness during pregnancy (Krusche et al., 2018). Furthermore, practicing mindfulness has been shown to improve pain management by separating physical experience from mental and emotional experience, allowing for increased emotional control over pain tolerance (Bonura, 2018). As a result, this can have a direct and positive impact on pain experience throughout pregnancy, specifically with regards to common complaints such as lower back and pelvic girdle pain.

Mindfulness Exercise Ideas

Yoga is a popular example of mindfulness exercise which includes not only a physical component focused on stretching and strengthening, but also breathing, deep relaxation, and mental meditation (Bonura, 2018). There are often numerous prenatal yoga classes offered throughout the community which focus on providing more of an intimate and personalized experience for expectant mothers specifically, as well as an opportunity to connect with and support one another (Bonura, 2018).

Pregnancy Mindfulness

Other mindfulness exercise ideas that combine physical activity with both breathing and focus strategies include martial arts such as Tae kwon do, Kung fu, and Karate, as well as traditional Chinese mindfulness practices like Tai chi and Qi gong (Bonura, Spadaro & Thornton, 2016). Although women who lack previous experience with martial arts may be advised to choose mindfulness exercises that are gentler, those who have engaged in such activities prior to pregnancy may be able to continue enjoying them after consulting their healthcare provider and modifying their practice as needed (Bonura et al., 2016).

Two specific mindfulness activities that can be practiced independently at home include the following:

3-Part Breath

Begin by moving into a comfortable seated position down on your mat, placing a cushion beneath you for additional support if desired, and crossing one foot in front of the other. Bring your knees wider if needed to ensure that your belly rests comfortably onto your lap and relax your hands down on your knees. Take a soft gaze and then close your eyes as you bring your awareness to your breath. First pay attention to its natural rhythm and then slowly begin to deepen the breath. As you bring each inhale deeper into the belly, visualize the oxygen-rich air moving into your uterus, nourishing your infant.

Pregnancy Mindfulness

Continue to inhale and imagine your ribcage expanding as well, and finally your chest. Pause at the top of the inhale just below the throat and then follow it with an equally slow exhale. Visualize the stale air leaving your body and your womb as your chest, ribcage, and then belly relax, in that order. As you reach the bottom of the exhale, pause for a moment and imagine that any negative thoughts and emotions are evaporating, releasing anything that no longer serves you and your infant. Repeat this cycle three to four times at your own pace, then return to a normal, comfortable pace of breathing and acknowledge any new physical sensations that may have arisen.

3-Part Breath Video

Video created by Magdalena Marzec 
1:37 mins, November 2018

Head to Toe Body Scan and Relaxation

Move your way onto your back, using blankets or cushions beneath you as needed. Allow your toes to flop out and your arms to relax down at your sides. Let your eyelids become heavy and then softly close and focus on releasing your body onto the mat below. Feel the floor hold you up completely. Bring your attention to your face and focus on softening the little space between your eyebrows, then the remainder of your facial features. Relax through the back of your head and down the length of your spine.

Pregnancy Mindfulness

As you mentally scan each individual body part one at a time, from head to toe, focus on softening it fully before continuing to the next one. Visualize your arms, hips, and belly relaxing. Feel your infant release completely in utero, and then move down your legs all the way to your feet, and finally the tips of your toes. Release any physical tension, tightness, tenderness, and pain as you go. Maintain this final position for a couple of minutes, enjoying your stillness, then wiggle your fingers and toes to bring awareness back into your body. Finally, check in with yourself for any new sensations that may have arisen.

Mindful Pregnancy Resources

Mindful Birthing

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“Mindful Birthing” is a resource for both pregnant women and those who are already parents, and the official website for the “Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting Program”. This program guides parents-to-be in yoga and mindful meditation practice and includes information regarding the process of childbirth, strategies for pain management during labor, advice on comfortable birthing position, as well as tips on breastfeeding and parenting after birth. It prepares expectant mothers and their partners for the challenges of parenthood through the development of both physical and mental awareness. The classes are offered internationally and teach participants about the importance of physical relaxation, mental engagement, stress management, confidence building, and effective communication, among other skills.

URL: http://www.mindfulbirthing.org/classes-training/parents/


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“Mindfulness4U” is a website that focuses specifically on the promotion of mindfulness for various aspects of life, including pregnancy and childbirth. A significant section of the website is dedicated to answering any questions that expectant parents may have regarding strategies in developing a mindful approach to pregnancy, labour, and birth. The benefits of mindfulness are discussed as well as its use in coping with both physical and mental pain, and even parenting itself. Specific tips are provided to enhance awareness and coping, including the importance of sleep, breathing, and social support.

URL: https://mindfulness4u.org/mindfulness-in-pregnancy-and-childbirth/


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“Expectful” is a meditation app that offers 10- and 20-minute segments of guided audio specifically for aspiring, expectant, and new mothers. The app includes videos regarding the benefits of developing a regular meditation practice during pregnancy, as well as physical exercise ideas. There are numerous different meditations offered, dependent on whether women want to engage independently or with their partners, and how far along through their pregnancy they currently are. Information is provided on fertility treatments, trimester expectations, and ways to occasionally take a break from thinking about parenthood, if needed. The app helps women become more mindful and grounded in preparation for birth.

URL: https://expectful.com/

Spotify (Guided Meditation and Relaxing Music for Pregnant Women)

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This section of the “Spotify” website provides pregnant women with numerous choices for relaxing meditation music. The songs feature gentle and soothing piano, flute, and harp options, and many of them are titled as though they are meant to relax the unborn infant in addition to the expectant mother. The music is a source of guided meditation, promoting mindfulness, relaxation, intimacy, and deep sleep, among other things. With a variety of both shorter and longer options to choose from, mothers-to- be are given an opportunity to enjoy physical and mental stress relief through sound.

URL: https://open.spotify.com/album/4RChB95tXEaZMGCnzINcPP

The Headspace Guide to a Mindful Pregnancy

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This novel, written by a Buddhist monk, is offered as a hardcopy, e-book, or even audio book version. Andy Puddicombe, an experienced father himself, uses his words to guide expectant parents towards developing a deeper sense of mindfulness throughout their journey through fertility, pregnancy, and childbirth, and finally into parenthood. The creation of a peaceful environment for both parent and infant is promoted throughout this novel, as a strategy behind easing mental stress and navigating the challenges associated with parenthood. Readers are encouraged to engage in just 10 minutes of meditation each day to begin reaping the benefits of increased awareness.

URL: https://www.amazon.ca/Headspace-Guide-Mindful-Pregnancy/dp/1444722220

Reference List

Bonura, K.B. (2018). Just breathe: Mindfulness as pain management in pregnancy. International Journal of Childbirth Education, 33(1), 6-9. Retrieved from https://icea.org/about/icea-journal/

Bonura, K.B., Spadaro, N.I., & Thornton, R.W. (2016). Mindful fitness: Guidelines for prenatal practice. International Journal of Childbirth Education, 31(1), 14-17. Retrieved from https://icea.org/about/icea-journal/

Krusche, A., Dymond, M., Murphy S.E., & Crane, C. (2018). Mindfulness for pregnancy: A randomized controlled study of online mindfulness during pregnancy. Midwifery, 65(1), 51-57. Retrieved from https://www.midwiferyjournal.com/

Sheridan, C. (2016). The mindful nurse: Using the power of mindfulness and compassion to help you thrive in your work. Charleston, SC: Rivertime Press.

Mindfulness for Childbirth

Mindful Childbirth

By Jenny Anderson and Michelle Harbott

Having a Mindful Childbirth

The process of childbirth is not for the faint-hearted. Whether women decide to use pharmaceutical or non-pharmaceutical pain remedies, vaginally delivering a baby can be a long strenuous journey. Luckily, there are many helpful tools to prepare for childbirth, one of them being mindfulness.

Mindful childbirth

Mindfulness is the act of deliberate and open-hearted attention to the present moment that is unfolding, both in the external and internal world (Hughes, Williams, Bardacke, Duncan, Dimidjian & Goodman, 2009). It is cultivated through training of the mind and body using guided meditation and thoughtfulness. With practice, individuals can learn to cultivate moment-by-moment, non-judgmental awareness of their thoughts, feelings and body sensations as they arise. The practice of mindful birthing was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979 for the use of helping hospital patients to cope with pain (Szalinkski, 2018). It started as an adaption of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program to alleviate stress, depression, anxiety and pain. There are three components of pain: sensory, cognitive, and emotional (Figure 1). These components magnify each other, so increasing negative thoughts and anxious feelings increases pain sensation and the painful experience (Sheridan, 2016).

Pain in childbirth
Figure 1: The three components of pain.
Mindful childbirth

Fear and anxiety have been shown to magnify pain during labour and practicing mindfulness in preparation for childbirth can help decrease anxiety and empower a woman to feel more in control of her body during this very intense experience (Duncan, Cohn, Chao, Cook, Riccobono & Bardacke, 2017). Mindfulness is one’s ability to be completely present in the current moment and is the antithesis of being scatterbrained or on autopilot (Sheridan, 2016).


Strategy 1 – Breathing 

Breathing strategies are widely recommended for a variety of relaxation, meditation and mindfulness practices. Some areas of focus are listed below and will aid in mindful breathing and can serve to help relax the woman in labour and provide a distraction from pain and the negative emotional and cognitive processes associated with it. Typically, women will determine for themselves what speed, depth and rate of breathing works best for them in labour; although care should be taken to stay within a range of ½ to 2x the normal rate of breathing so that adequate oxygen is being taken in (Amis & Green, 2014).

Breathing awareness
Breathing Pace and Pattern
Click to view larger version of these instructions

Strategy 2 – Imagery and Visualization

Visualization allows a labouring woman to focus during labour, which can minimize fear and anxiety (Beaumont Hospital, 2018). Purposely directing thoughts to relieve stress can provide a sense of relief and relaxation (Perry, Hockenberry, Lowdermilk, Wilson, Keenan-Lindsay, & Sams, 2017). A variety of strategies can be employed where the woman thinks of relaxing imagery, or she can become mindfully aware of what her body is doing.


Some examples are:

● Visualizing rhythmic ocean waves

● Imagine being surrounded by your favorite colour. Think about breathing in a relaxing colour and having it extend to every part of your body, and then exhaling a colour associated with tension

● Visualize the pedals of a flower opening

● Try to picture your cervix ripening and opening

● Imagine your baby’s position change as it moves through the pelvis

● Visualize the baby coming down the birth canal. This has been known to enhance pushing efforts (Perry et al., 2017)

Visualize waves

Strategy 3 – Observe your Pain

In order to manage the different aspects of the pain experience, one can use mindfulness to be aware of the emotional, cognitive and sensory component. This includes acknowledging the sensory perception can decrease the negative emotions like fear and anxiety that are often associated with pain (Sheridan, 2016).

Guided Pain Observation

Strategy 4 – Biofeedback

In order for biofeedback to be effective, the woman is aware of her body and its response to pain and uses practiced techniques for relaxation. It uses mental processes of thinking and focusing to control body responses and functions to pain (Perry et al., 2017). For example, if the woman responds to contraction pain by tightening muscles, frowning, moaning and holding breath, her partner uses touch and verbal feedback to promote relaxation.

Strategy 5 – Yoga

The practice of yoga has been associated with pain relief and a reduced length of labour (Perry et al., 2017). Practicing yoga poses during labour can also help position the fetus into the correct position for delivery. Practicing yoga in the antenatal period has prepared women to cope better with the overwhelming sensations of labour for many years. Yoga brings awareness to the mind, body and spirit and can serve as a relaxation practice to prepare the body and mind for childbirth and beyond (Weller, 1981).


View Our Video: Mindfulness in Childbirth Exercise- A Guided Meditation During Labour

Video created by 
Jenny Anderson and Michelle Harbott
2 mins, November 2018 in Adobe Spark Video

Mindful Childbirth Resources

Mindful Birthing

Training the Mind, Body and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond

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This is a website dedicated to the Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting Program (MBCP), which was organized by Nancy Bardacke, a certified midwife, author and mindfulness teacher. Because it is promoting classes, there is some bias, however, there are videos, and free resources on the website that provide education and strategies for someone who is curious about what mindfulness in childbirth looks like. Classes are offered regularly and are scheduled in 9-week blocks, available across the United States, and internationally. The section of the website with the richest information is the Resources and Research section where there is a comprehensive list of links to academic articles, popular articles that can be accessed for free; additionally, there are links to books that can be purchased, and to affiliated organizations.

URL: http://www.mindfulbirthing.org

University of California San Diego Health

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Sometimes academic sources are not very easy to read or navigate, but that is not the case with this university website. The section on Mindfulness Resources, is easy to get to and even easier to follow. There are many guided meditations and other resources that are simple to download and share and would be a useful tool for a labouring mother to have on her smartphone or other device. Clear, descriptive titles make the selection straightforward and the accessibility is a testament to the intentions of this institution which are “to further the practice and integration of mindfulness into all aspects of society,” as stated on their website.


The Chopra Centre

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Calming and serene, this website instantly relaxes the reader. It provides simple-to-understand information on the effects of relaxation on mother and baby and offers step-by-step written instructions for guided meditation that can help reduce anxiety before labour. There are links to courses and events, and even products like massage oils and creams that can be purchased to assist in labour. The affiliation with Deepak Chopra lends credence to this resource as he is a prominent figure in mediation, mindfulness and alternative medicine.

URL: https://chopra.com/articles/meditation-for-childbirth-how-to-calm-your-nerves-before-labor

Northwest Mindful Birthing & Parenting

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This website is affiliated with MBCP and provides links to sign up for the classes, but the homepage also serves as an introduction to mindfulness and its application to childbirth. Immediately upon looking at this resource there are a multitude of links to articles, awards, blogs, and online magazines. Not only does it provide a plethora of media options for the wide variety of parents, but it speaks to the credentials and reliability of the organization and the content. There is a tab for student resources, that is only accessible with an account, so there is likely supplementary information to the courses available online.

URL: https://www.nwmindfulbirthing.com


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The tone of this website is more casual, which makes it accessible to the majority of the population. It discusses mindful childbirth, but also provides a lot of basic information on mindfulness in general. The site is well organized, with easy-to-navigate links and tabs. This resource would be an excellent starting place for someone who does not know much about mindfulness, but also has a lot of information that is helpful for those who are more practiced.

URL: https://www.mindful.org/mindful-childbirth/

The Bonapace Method

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This website offers an online course for couples to prepare for childbirth. There are many other resources within the website to ask questions and get personalized help. The online course covers topics of mindfulness such as pregnancy yoga poses, breathing to relax and control the mind, finding zen during pregnancy, and activating the gate-control system.

URL: https://www.bonapace.com/en/course-outline/

Manage the Pain of Labour with Meditation

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The website has several guided meditations to try when preparing for childbirth. It also explains the benefits of meditation and different types of meditation that is easy to understand. Main points are bolded for emphasis in order to guide readers into different types of meditation such as deep breathing and visualization. These meditations have been known to lower blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety as they decrease stress hormones of cortisol and adrenaline.

URL: https://www.exploremeditation.com/meditation-manage-pain-labor/

Meditation and Mindfulness Made Simple

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This website helps readers to learn to meditate and live mindfully. They provide hundreds of themed sessions such as stress, sleep, focus or anxiety. On their app, there are “bite-sized” meditations for busy schedules, and even guided meditations specially for childbirth. On a blog post, a woman claims that “it is of paramount importance to create space for mindfulness as part of the birth preparation and to cultivate mindful relationships with your partner, your family, and most importantly, yourself. Mindfulness may not give you the birth experience you want, but it helps you fall in love with the birth experience you get”. Headspace is a warm and friendly place to learn and practice the act of meditation online, in addition to a convenient app.

URL: https://www.headspace.com

Childbirth Connection

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This is an excellent online resource for evidence-based information about maternity care practices in the United States and resources about pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. It offers tools to plan your childbirth, starting off with choosing your healthcare provider and location of birth. They provide detailed information from high-quality research on a few common interventions, like cesarean birth (C-section) and labor induction, and on other important childbirth topics, including labour support, coping with labour pain and preventing pelvic floor problems. In addition, they offer tips for making decisions and plans and getting the care that is right for the family.

URL: http://www.childbirthconnection.org

Mindful Birthing – Pregnancy and Newborn Magazine

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This online magazine contains articles that outline meditation-based approaches to childbirth and parenting that “does not deny pain but helps acknowledge and manage it”. It opens the dialogue regarding mindful meditations, and the benefits of the practice during pregnancy and childbirth. It shares personal stories of mindful techniques that worked for mothers during the labour process and beyond birth.

URL: https://www.pnmag.com/pregnancy/labor-delivery/mindful-birthing/


Amis, D., & Green, J. (2014). Prepared childbirth: The family way. Plano, TX: Family Way Publications.

Beaumont Hospital. (2018). Breathing Exercises & Visualization Retrieved from

Duncan, L. G., Cohn, M. A., Chao, M. T., Cook, J. G., Riccobono, J., & Bardacke, N. (2017). Benefits of preparing for childbirth with mindfulness training: a randomized controlled trial with active comparison. BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth, 17, 1–11.

Dunn, C., Hanieh, E., Roberts, R., & Powrie, R. (2012). Mindful pregnancy and childbirth: effects of a mindfulness-based intervention on women’s psychological distress and well-being in the perinatal period. Archives of Women’s Mental Health, 15(2), 139–143.

Hughes A., Williams M., Bardacke N., Duncan L. G., Dimidjian S., & Goodman S. H. (2009). Mindfulness approaches to childbirth and parenting. British Journal of Midwifery, 17(10), 630–635.

Perry, S., Hockenberry, M., Lowdermilk, D., Wilson, D., Keenan-Lindsay, L., & Sams, C. A. (2017). Maternal Child Nursing in Canada. 2nd edition. Toronto: Elsevier (Mosby).

Sheridan, C. (2016). The Mindful Nurse: Using the Power of Mindfulness and Compassion to Help You Thrive in Your Work. Charleston, SC: Rivertime Press.

Szalinkski, C (2018). Mindful Birthing. Retrieved from https://www.pnmag.com/pregnancy/labor-delivery/mindful-birthing/

Weller S. (1981). Preparing for childbirth the yoga way. Australian Nurses Journal, 10(11), 37–39.

Mindfulness for Parents of Young School-aged Children II

Mindful Family

by Cherrie Lo


Mindful father

In Canada, children enter elementary school at the age 5 or 6, where they may start to learn independence and gain responsibilities (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2015). During this time, some children may find friendship more important than relationships with their parents, and spend more time on social activities (Stanford Children’s Health, n.d.). Social experiences from outside the family may change the family dynamic, as well as the parent-child relationship. Through practicing mindfulness, parents of young, school-aged children can learn to be “present” in their parenting – giving their full attention to their children, and recognizing both challenging and rewarding moments (Marlowe, n.d.). Mindfulness is defined as “the ability to be fully present and attentive in the moment” (Sheridan, 2016, p. 29). Mindfulness is not just a spiritual tradition, it is scientifically proven to reduce stress, burnout, and anxiety. In this blog, a couple of mindfulness exercises are described for parents to try and experiment with.

Mindful parent

Exercise 1: Daily Mindfulness

While parents may find young school-aged children spending less time with them, there are different mindfulness exercises which allow parents and children to spend time together and bring awareness to the present moment. One mindfulness exercise is “being present with your child” (Marlowe, n.d.). This requires parents to choose a daily interaction with their child and be fully mindful during the entire interaction. For young school-aged children, daily interactions can include walking to school, playing table games, playing oral spelling games and preparing simple meals (Perry et al., 2017). It is important for parents to focus less on other thoughts such as work and chores, and fully participate and be mindful during the daily interaction (Marlowe, n.d.). If the parents’ thoughts start to wander, they should try to let those thoughts be, then reconnect to the present again.

Mindful with children

Here are a few questions parents can reflect on in order to recognize the importance of being mindful in daily interaction with their children (Marlowe, n.d.):

  1. How do the daily interactions with your child differ when you are being mindful? For example, do you enjoy the walking your child to school more?
  2. What do you tend to think about when you lose focus while trying to be mindful during daily interactions with your child? What are some ways you can keep from being distracted?
  3. How does being mindful during the daily interaction benefit your relationship with your child?
  4. Could you list at least one way to become more mindful during the daily interaction with your child?

Repetitive interactions like walking to school may become a daily routine or task for parents. However, these experiences compose an important part of their relationship with their children. Parents should practice being present with their children to “experience these little moments as precious moments” (Marlowe, n.d.).

Exercise 2: Mindful of the Good Times

Mindful father

As young children gain independence, they may start to reject the parents’ ideas or companionship (Perry et al., 2017). For example, children at 6 years old may start to have strong food preferences and refuse certain food items, and children at the age of 7 may spend more time with peers instead of with family. Some parents may experience rejections from their children and feel hurt.

One mindfulness exercise is “reflecting on positive moments with our children” (Marlowe, n.d.). Instead of thinking about the moments where they were rejected by their children, parents can focus on the happy and positive experiences with the children. For example, the joyful conversation while walking the children to school and while preparing meals, or some funny moments while playing table games and oral spelling games with the children. Parents of young school-aged children can take five minutes and reflect at the end of each day (Marlowe, n.d.). For parents who have been through a rough day, they can try setting an alarm before bedtime reminding themselves to spend five to ten minutes on thinking about a joyful moment or two with their children. If parents have trouble thinking of a positive moment, they could think of things that they appreciate about their children instead,

Exercise 3: Mindful Yoga

Taking care of a young school-aged child, such as meal prepping and studying with the child is time consuming and hard work for parents. Parents can practice yoga to bring a peace of mind to themselves at the end of the day, or to provide a morning burst of energy at the beginning of the day. Yoga is a mindfulness practice to help bring awareness into the present by focusing on the bodily sensations (Woodyard, 2011.). There are different types of yoga such as hatha, vinyasa, and yin, and each involves different movements and dynamics. I particularly like the smoothness of vinyasa yoga, also called vinyasa flow, where yoga poses are connected to each other like dancing. Vinyasa yoga is a moving meditation that does not only benefit mental health, but can also improve physical health (Cespedes, 2018). Some studies have found that vinyasa yoga can improve sleep, reduce stress, strengthen muscles and reduce excess weight.

Mindful Yoga

Vinyasa yoga often starts with breathing regulation, such as Ujjayi Pranayama, an ocean sounding breathing through the nose which is demonstrated in the video below. The following is an example of a vinyasa flow which consists of three different yoga poses (Pizer, 2018): the Plank, Cobra, and Downward Facing Dog.

Plank Pose

Begin this routine by assuming the Plank Pose.

Plank Yoga Pose

Cobra Pose

From the plank pose, lower your knees and chest to the ground to achieve the cobra pose.

Cobra pose
Cobra pose

Downward Facing Dog

From the cobra pose, use the strength of your back to lift your body off the ground to achieve the Downward Facing Dog pose. Repeat step one to three for a vinyasa flow.

Downward Facing Do

These poses should be synchronized with deep, steady breathing. However, parents who are beginners at yoga may find it difficult to do so. Instead, they could start the regulated breathing whenever they find losing the breathing pattern.

Mindfulness Technique Video

Check out the mindfulness technique video on yoga breath regulation:

Video created by Cherrie Lo
2 mins, November 2018


Mindful family

The three mindfulness exercises allow parents of young school-aged children to be “present” during parenting moments. The first two exercises, “being present with your child” and “reflecting on positive moments with our children” improve parent-children bonding as well. A common advantage of these exercises is that they do not require any special location or venues, and can be practiced anywhere and at anytime. Moreover, parents can practice the first two exercises while carrying out their daily tasks with their children, which does not take any extra time out of an already full schedule. Before or after a busy day of work and after taking care of the children, parents can take 10 minutes to practice the third mindfulness exercise – yoga – or do the routine with them. Just a 10-minute session of meditation is found to be associated with lowered blood pressure and daily heart rate, and “reduced heart rate can be a sign of reduced stress” (Cespedes, 2017).

Mindful Parenting Resources

Parent Support Services Society of BC

The Parent Support Services Society of BC, a provincial charitable organization, aims to promote wellbeing of both children and parents, as well as to “build support, advocacy, education, research, and resources” in their communities. One support service which can be beneficial for parents of young school-aged children is “parenting education”. This includes workshops and events that provide information to address problems in relationships, finances, child-rearing among parents. For example, there are workshops which educate parents about Registered Educations Saving Plan and when, why and how to talk to the children about sexual health.

URL: https://www.parentsupportbc.ca/

The BC Association of Family Resource Programs

The BC Association of Family Resource Programs (FRP-BC) supports healthy family development through family-centred programs. The five core service areas of FRP-BC are “family support, play-based learning, early learning and literacy, parent education and, information and referrals”. It collaborates with community-based centres to provide services and resources. For instance, FRP-BC houses the Abbotsford Family Centre – The Parenting Place, providing services such as the “Father Involvement Program” and “Young Parent Program”. These parenting-programs are usually for parents of children up to six years old.

URL: http://www.frpbc.ca/

Spirit of the Children Society

The Spirit of the Children Society is an Indigenous non-profit organization that supports and provides resources to families in Burnaby, New Westminster, and Tri-Cities. The unique cultural values and beliefs in Indigenous children and parents are considered in this organization, providing safe and respectful environment for the service users. Parents of young school-aged children can benefit from programs and services such as the “Aboriginal Family Housing Support”, “Family Strengthening Program” and “Traditional Aboriginal Parents Program (TAPP)”. For instance, TAPP applies the Medicine Wheel in teachings to encourage personal healing in parents over a course of 11 weeks. These teachings include stress management, child development, and discipline.

URL: https://www.sotcs.ca/programsservices/traditional-aboriginal-parents-program-tapp/

Smiling Mind APP

The Smiling Mind is an app developed by psychologists and educators to promote mindfulness in both parents and children. It sets daily meditation reminders for the user, and provides guided meditation and mindfulness techniques. An example of guided meditation is “body scan”, guiding the users through audio to be aware of bodily sensations, and to relieve tension. The APP features a “10 minutes a day is all you need” to see the benefits in improving mental health. Moreover, all guided meditation and mindfulness are tailored to the specific population, such as parents and children.

URL: https://www.smilingmind.com.au/smiling-mind-app

Raising Children Network

The Raising Children Network is a parenting website, supported by the Australian Government, which provides information on the growth and development of children at different stages. This specific URL from Raising Children Network focuses on children of five to six years old. It breaks down child development into different categories such as playing and learning, feelings and thinking, allowing parents to help their child to grow healthy according to the developmental stages. In addition, the website educates parents about when to be concerned about the child’s development at this age period. Throughout the webpage, there are underlined phrases that prompts readers to click on for further details. For example, parents can click on “looking after yourself” in the “parenting a school-age child” section for tips to balance personal life.

URL: https://raisingchildren.net.au/school-age/development/development-tracker/5-6-years


American Academy of Pediatrics. (2015). Parenting School-Age Children. Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/Pages/Parenting-School-Age-Children.aspx

Cespedes, A. (2017). Meditation and Heart Rate. Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/ article/249472-meditation-and-heart-rate/?ajax=1&is=1

Cespedes, A. (2018). What Are the Benefits of Vinyasa Yoga? Retrieved from https://www. livestrong.com/article/332693-what-are-the-benefits-of-vinyasa-yoga/

Marlowe, S. (n.d.). Mindful Parenting. Mindful Families. Retrieved from http://www.mindfulfamilies.ca/ index.php/mindful-families/mindful-parenting/mindful-parenting-home

Perry, S. E., Hockenberry, M. J., Lowdermilk, D. L., Wilson, D., Keenan-Lindsay, L., & Sams, C. A. (2017). Maternal Child Nursing Care in Canada (2nd ed.). Toronto, ON: Elsevier Canada.

Saoji, A. A., Raghavendra, B., & Manjunath, N. (2018). Effects of yogic breath regulation: A narrative review of scientific evidence. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. doi:10.1016/j.jaim.2017.07.008

Sheridan, C. (2016). The mindful nurse: using the power of mindfulness and compassion to help you thrive in your work (1st ed.). Lexington, KY: Rivertime Press.

Stanford Children’s Health. (n.d.). The Growing Child: School-Age (6 to 12 Years). Retrieved from https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=the-growing-child-school-age-6-to-12-years-90-P02278

Pizer, A. (2018). Introduction to Vinyasa Flow Yoga. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfit. com/introduction-to-vinyasa-flow-yoga-4143120

Woodyard, C. (2011). Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life. International journal of yoga, 4(2), 49-54.

Mindfulness for Young School-aged Children

Mindful child

By MacLean Myers and Michelle MacMaster

When we teach mindfulness to children, we share with them ways to cope with life’s challenging moments. The earlier we do this, the better the opportunity to help them demonstrate resilience as they grow.

In a world of rapid change, young children have to navigate a variety of unique social and emotional challenges (Calm Schools Initiative, 2016). As much as parents feel the worry involved with making the best choices for their child, exposure to often violent and negative media, and a general sense of feeling rushed, developing minds are all the more sensitive to potential stressors. Young children are learning how to manage all of their emotions and figuring out how to make important choices. They are learning how to show kindness to themselves and others, all while adjusting with going to school, making new friends, and learning new skills. Incorporating and developing what is known as mindfulness can give kids the tools to help them along their path (Verde, 2017).


Mindfulness is not a new concept, and it is experienced by us all on a daily basis. For example, when we take a deep breath to calm ourselves, when we slowly savour our food and appreciate its complex tastes. When we walk along a beach and feel the sand between our toes, or when we truly try to listen to what some else is telling use, we are being mindful. However, what if we tried to practice these skills? What if our children developed these habits at an early age?


Mindfulness is being fully present and attentive in the moment, when we are aware of our current experiences, and choose to focus on what we feel, see, hear, and think (Sheridan, 2016). By purposefully giving our attention to the here and now, we can hold back on our common feelings of worry and judgment. There is a growing amount of scientific evidence the shows the positive effects that mindfulness can have on the brain and body, especially in young children. Research has demonstrated that mindfulness practice positively helps kids control their emotions, make decisions, and be empathetic towards others (Calm Schools Initiative, 2016). Learning mindfulness exercises can not only improve a child’s attention, but it also helps to separate their thoughts and feelings from themselves (Verde, 2017). This ability can be essential in helping a child to choose their responses rather than simply react.

Mindful Child

It is wonderful to think of a world where children can better understand themselves and grow up with improved kindness and compassion. By learning to pause and find calm, through mindfulness teachings, kids can develop a lifelong appreciation for self-awareness, patience, and resilience (Calm Schools Initiative, 2016).


So, when is the right time to practice mindfulness? You can practice mindfulness anytime however if you want to have a schedule, you can practice mindfulness:

  • Before getting out of bed
  • Before class starts
  • After lunch
  • Before class ends
  • Before going to bed
Mindful Kids

Remember for ages 5-7, keep it simple! Beach (2017) suggested that mindfulness is noticing our thoughts, what our body feels like, what our ears are hearing, and anything else that is around us and happening right now.

What kind of mindfulness activities are there to practice? There are many mindfulness activities you can practice. Find something that you like!

Mindful child
  • Meditation – great for calming your feelings, focus on feelings the ‘here and now’ (Burnett, 2018).
  • Yoga – helps you stretch your body, rest your mind and focus on breathing (Burnett, 2018).
  • Deep breathing – focus on caring, feeling, connecting and meltdown.
  • Body Scanning – focus on relieving tension and stress, can do this before sleeping.
  • Mindful walk – this can be done anytime, while you are walking with your child, try to remind them to take deep breathes and feel the air entering through their nose, ask them what they smell and pay attention to the path they are walking on.
Mindful school




Spidey Senses is a fun mindfulness exercise that caters to young children.

  • Tools – a poster of the 5 senses
The five senses
  • Method – ask your child to switch senses up to a superpower level just like Spiderman. They can stay in this state for 2-3 minutes. Ask them the following (Cassie, 2018):

What can you hear?
What can you see?
What can you taste?
What can you smell?
What can you feel?

To extend this exercise to children 7 years of age make it a 5 Sense countdown; this can be used to help calm a busy mind (Cassie, 2018). This activity takes about 5 minutes. Ask them to think of:

5 things you can see,
4 things you can touch,
3 things you can hear,
2 things you can smell and,
1 thing you can taste

(Cassie, 2018)
Happy children


Shark Fin is a fantastic activity that children can use to help them calm their minds and bodies even when they are not ready to do so (Cassie, 2018). This activity is about 5 minutes long and requires no tools or supplies.

Shark Fin

Method – Get the child to find a place to sit down or if they are standing ensure that they are in a safe area. Guide the child to:

  • Place their side of their hand on their forehead, with palm facing out to the side,
  • Ensure their eyes are close and guide them to:
  • Slide your hand down your face, in front of your nose,
  • Say “shhh” as you slide your hand down your face
  • Repeat this 5 times
  • If you are sitting down, you do the 5 S’s while you move your hand: Sit up straight, sit still, sit silently, soft breathing, shut eyes while doing this.
  • o If you are standing do the same but you are standing straight, still, silently, using soft breathing and shut eyes while you move your hand down your face (Cassie, 2018).
Mindful boys

These are two mindfulness activities that the child can do on their own or through guided help. The wonderful thing about these two activities is the child uses their own body and mind to help them calm down (Gerszberg, 2018). They can do the Spidey Senses and the Shark Fin mindfulness activity while they are in school or at home. Anytime they feel they are getting frustrated, sad, angry and silly, these activities help them to focus and pay attention to their own senses or feelings. The child can start with Shark Fin mindfulness when they feel they are easily distracted especially when they are in school. The Spidey Senses is great to incorporate with children showing signs of increasing inattentiveness.

Try Our Quick Guided Breathing Video

Video created by 
Michelle MacMaster and MacLean Myers
2 mins, November 2018

Mindful Child Resources

Common Sense Media

Provides lists of the various meditation apps children can use to help them be mindful, focus and calm. Parents will need to subscribe and pay for some of the apps to get access however there are some apps that are free.

URL: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/lists/meditation-apps-for-kids

Cosmic Kids

Provides children and parents with tips and strategies of mindfulness activities they can initiate at home. Children can use their creativity using some of the things found at home such as a cereal box and mason jar. The website offers videos, blog and ideas and other resources also for meditations. No subscription required.

URL: https://www.cosmickids.com/mindfulness-activities-kids/

Kids’ Stuff World

Offers insightful awareness of the benefits of living life mindfully. This resource has 10 mindfulness exercises: children can practice with mindful smelling; breathing buddies; active listening and a gratitude habit. No subscription required.

URL: http://kidsstuffworld.com/2015/04/10-mindfulness-exercises-to-do-with-your-kids/


Offers meditation for kids. It highlights 5 themes for kids to pay attention to such as calm, focus, kindness, sleep and wake up. To access this resource the parent/child needs to sign up or subscribe (for free) to get the full benefits it offers.

URL: https://www.headspace.com/meditation/kids

Left Brain Buddha

Offers various tips and strategies for parents. For example, the mindful mantras for kids. The website has lessons and colouring sheets, calming phrases for children to use when they need to deal with their anger, nervousness, or frustration. No subscription needed as its free. The lessons plan and colouring sheets are easily downloadable and printable.

URL: https://leftbrainbuddha.com/mindful-mantras-for-kids/

I Am Peace- A Book of Mindfulness by Susan Verde

A wonderful addition to a series aimed at young readers that includes I Am Yoga and I Am Human, I Am Peace is a gentle and helpful tool for cultivating kid mindfulness. Beautifully illustrated, vignettes of the child grounding himself in the sand, feeding birds, and meditating beneath a magically sprouting tree help to reinforce the message of presence, self-awareness, and compassion. With an easily read narrative the key components of mindfulness are presented, encouraging children to breath, taste, smell, and be present to the here and now. Included in the end of the story is a practical guided meditation example that could easily be incorporated by parents.

URL: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34324424-i-am-peace

Calm app

The mission at Calm is to make the world a happier and healthier place, and their meditation and mindfulness app is consistently top rated in this category. The app blends an extensive library of guided mediation, daily calm activities, and sleep stories, with purposefully chosen music and images to promote relaxation and presence. What makes the use of this tool particularly appealing is its usability among any age group. Not only could the app help promote mindfulness habits in parents, but there are specific guides and activities geared towards young children. In fact, Calm feels so strongly about the incorporation of mindfulness at a young age, that they have developed The Calm Schools Initiative. They have a goal of providing free mindfulness training tools and app access to all teachers in the world, so even if parents do not want to pay for the app, they can promote the idea to their child’s teacher.

URL: https://www.calm.com/

Zenergy Chime and Hoberman’s Sphere

Although specific tools do not need to be purchased in order to effectively practice mindfulness, there are tools available that have received positive reviews for their ability to help promote mindfulness in young children.

Zenergy Chime- With a single tap of the mallet this crime produces powerful and resonating sound, allowing kids to redirect and focus their attention to their sense of the surrounding sound. The sounds lasts for an extended period, allowing time to take deep breaths, listen, relax, and refocus. Sounds like this are often used in meditation and mindfulness practice, and this tool provides a quick resource that can enhance mindful practice.

Hoberman’s Sphere– Not a new toy by any means, this expandable ball is gaining a resurgence as a popular mindfulness tool throughout classrooms. This geodesic dome can be expanded and folded in and can be used to provide a great visual component to breathing activities. Often referred to as the breath ball, it can mimic the movements of breathing through the sphere’s movements.

URL: https://www.amazon.ca/John-N-Hansen-Hoberman-Sphere-Rings/dp/B0000E6I1F/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1543623830&sr=8-1&keywords=hoberman+sphere


Although initially designed to be incorporated into K-2 classroom curriculum, MindUp has also created brain focused strategies and mindful learning to be engaged with at home. The program has a variety of lessons with well explained activities that are easy to use by parents helping to improve resiliency in children and promote healthy dialogue among family members. Strategies are well backed by current research and it gives parents the tools that it takes to help raise children with compassion, the ability to self-regulate, and foster a positive mind set in life.

URL: https://mindup.org/

Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn

The resources above are mainly directed for parents to support their kids on the journey to improved mindfulness. However, helping your child in this process can only be improved with a richer understanding of mindfulness yourself. There are no shortage of effective writings on the topic, but this one by Jon Kabat-Zinn provides a solid base for mapping out a simple path for developing mindfulness in one’s self.

URL: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14096.Wherever_You_Go_There_You_Are


Beach, S. R. (2017, June 28). 10 Ways to Teach Mindfulness to Kids. Retrieved November 29, 2018, from https://leftbrainbuddha.com/10-ways-teach-mindfulness-to-kids/

Burnett, C. (2018, July 26). Mindfulness for Kids: 9 Apps to Help Them Be Calm, Focused and Relaxed. Retrieved November 29, 2018, from https://childhood101.com/mindfulness-for-kids/

Calm (2016). Calm Schools Initiative [PDF file]. Retrieved from http://cdn.calm.com/documents/teachers-onboarding-manual.pdf

Cassie. (2018, April 30). Mindfulness for Children: 5 Minute Classroom Mindfulness Activities [Blog post]. Retrieved November 29, 2018, from https://www.teachstarter.com/blog/classroom-mindfulness-activities-for-children/

Gerszberg, C. O. (2018). The Future of Education: Mindful Classrooms. Retrieved November 29, 2018, from https://www.mindful.org/mindfulness-in-education/

Pixabay [Mindfulness Images]. (n.d.). Retrieved November 29, 2018 from https://pixabay.com/en/photos/meditation%20mindfulness/?

Sheridan, C. (2016). The Mindful Nurse: Using the Power of Mindfulness and Compassion to Help You Thrive in Your Work. Charleston, SC: Rivertime Press.

Verde, S. (2017). I Am Peace A Book of Mindfulness. New York, NY: Harry N Abrams.

Mindfulness for Younger Adolescents I

Mindful Girl

By Matt Tucker

The Adolescent’s Desire for Independence & Autonomy

Mindful teen

As an adolescent, one of the most important developmental tasks is achieving a sense of autonomy – the ability for one to make one’s own choices without the need to rely on others, such as parents (Shaffer & Kipp, 2010). In order to have a healthy parent-child relationship, both the adolescent and parent should remain mindful of one another’s intentions, desires, and goals. Robert LeVine (1988) explained that parents all around the world share three common goals: to provide safety; to provide the child with the skills to become economically productive adults, and to ensure the child acquires the same cultural values as the parents. Adolescents should remain mindful of these parental goals as they desire greater autonomy and independence. Although greater independence is something that all adolescents need for a successful transition into adulthood, having too much independence may cause poor adjustment (Shaffer & Kipp, 2010). It is also important to be mindfully aware that the amount of independence given to an adolescent is based on several factors, such as the age of the adolescent, gender, cultural expectations and parental attitudes (Bumpus, Crouter & McHale, 2001). Although it is easy to make comparisons between peers, remember that each parent has their own approach to raising their child with the three parental goals in mind.

Importance of Family and Mindfulness in Adolescence

Warm and supportive parenting along with a strong sense of connectedness with family provides a source of support throughout childhood development. Family provides the adolescent with a secure base enabling them to widen their social environments and explore new things (Kim, Woodhouse & Dai, 2018; Allen et al., 2003; Byng‐Hall, 1995). Having a positive relationship with one’s family offers many benefits in terms of daily life and healthy development. A supportive and warm family relationship fosters social competence, self-esteem, independence and resiliency (Thomas & Joseph, 2013; Steinberg & Morris, 2001; Brennan, 1993). The importance of mindfulness increases during early adolescence as their views, desires and interpersonal goals may conflict with that of their parents (Shaffer & Kipp, 2010). Although some conflict between the adolescent and parent is normal, too much may have negative implications on both well-being and development (Moed, 2015). Fortunately, mindfulness can help reduce parent-child conflict by bringing attention into the present moment and allowing both sides to perceive each other’s thoughts and feelings more accurately (Duncan, Coatsworth & Greenberg, 2009).

Mindfulness can be defined as the ability for an individual to be fully present and attentive in the moment (Sheridan, 2016; Gehart, 2012). Being mindful means accepting thoughts as they occur and allowing them to unfold without judgment (Gehart, 2012). A difficult concept to master is to let go of thoughts and notions of what “should” be and to investigative the deeper meaning of what is occurring (Gehart, 2012).

Mindful family

For example, Tom, a 15 year-old-boy reacts angrily at his parents who forbid him to stay up past 11 pm on a Wednesday night. Without being mindful, Tom believes that his parents are punishing him and not allowing him to “grow-up”. However, If Tom were mindful, he would understand that his parent’s intention was to allow him enough rest so that he would be able to perform well on his math test the following morning. Furthermore, mindfulness would have enabled Tom to avoid reacting automatically, investigate his parent’s reasoning and intentions, and in evaluating his own thoughts, feelings and emotions (Raski, 2015; Swart, Bass & Apsche, 2015). Mindfulness also has positive implications for family communication patterns, conflict resolution, and family cohesion (Brody, Scherer, Turner, Annett & Dalen, 2018). Therefore, the practice of mindfulness beginning in adolescence cannot be overstated.

Benefits of Mindfulness

Mindful teen

The literature examining the benefits of mindfulness is extensive. Mindfulness is associated with improved emotional regulation, well-being, attention, self-compassion, empathy, acceptance of self, and ability to respond with awareness (Baer, 2010; Kocovski , Segal & Battistam, 2009; Brown & Ryan, 2003; South, Doss, & Christensen, 2010; Birnie, Speca, & Carlson, 2010). Evidence also suggests that practicing mindfulness can reduce stress by creating a relaxation response in the brain (Gehart, 2012). Research examining the benefits of mindfulness-based activities in adolescence has shown favourable effects on self-esteem, sleep quality and duration, academic performance, self-regulation, social skills and well-being (Tan, 2016; Biegel, Brown, Shapiro & Schubert, 2009; Greco, Baer, & Smith, 2011). Daily mindfulness-based practice helps improve quality of life and the ability to handle the stress associated with adolescence (Tan, 2016). In addition, mindfulness brings an awareness to different manifestations of stress and anxiety, enabling the adolescent to respond accordingly (Malboeuf-Hurtubise, Achille, Sultan & Vadnais, 2013). Thus, the stress and anxiety which can easily build up throughout adolescence can be quickly targeted using mindfulness, creating peace of mind (Malboeuf-Hurtubise, Achille, Sultan & Vadnais, 2013).

Modifications to Mindfulness Practice in Adolescence

Mindful teen

Many of the current mindfulness-based activities do not take developmental considerations into account. In order to practice mindfulness effectively as an adolescent, modifications are required (Tan, 2016). For example, adolescent’s ability to focus attention on a single activity is limited when compared to adults (Tan, 2016). Therefore, mindfulness-based activities will not exceed a duration longer than that of which the adolescent can maintain focus. In addition, mindfulness-based activities will aim to incorporate multiple senses, such as the need for movement and physical activity (Tan, 2016). Although young adolescents are in Piaget’s formal operations stage, they are only beginning to develop complex cognitive skills, such as verbal fluency, abstract reasoning, and conceptualization (Tang, 2011). Therefore, all mindfulness-based practices should consider the childs age and stage of development.

Mindfulness Exercise 1: Mindful Breathing

Mindfulness practice enables the learner to obtain a more positive way of relating to thoughts, feelings, and experiences. In addition, it allows the adolescent the ability to implement better problem-solving strategies and more effective responses to problems (Oberle, & Schonert-Reichl, 2014). The benefit of mindfulness practice is that it can be practiced on anything that can be the focus of one’s attention (Gehart, 2012). The foundation of mindfulness practice is the focus on one’s breath. Researchers have shown several benefits of mindfulness breathing, such as promoting optimal brain functioning (Siegel, 2007). Mindful breathing requires the individual to sit in a chair in a dimly lit room. It involves a process of focusing one’s attention on their breath, over and over. Through focusing on one’s breath, the individual successfully refocuses their attention to the present moment (Sheridan, 2016).

Mindful breathing

To begin mindful breathing, set a timer for 5 minutes and sit in a comfortable chair. The goal during the five minutes is to focus your attention on your breath as you inhale and exhale. If and when you notice other thoughts creep into your mind, remind yourself to focus on your breath by using a cue word such as “thinking” (Sheridan, 2016). Returning focus to one’s breath also requires the individual to accept whatever thoughts occur without judgment (Gehart, 2012). The individual must also display self-compassion and not beat oneself up about losing focus (Sheridan, 2016; Gehart, 2012). Do not worry about the number of times you have to refocus your thoughts on breathing. Mindfulness-based exercises take patience and practice. Daily mindfulness practice will positively influence the rest of the day by bringing increased attention to the moment and reducing negative emotions and mental preoccupations (Sheridan, 2016). It is important to note that mindfulness breathing can be done throughout the day in a variety of settings and does not require much time.

Mindfulness Exercise 2: Mindfulness Art

As indicated previously, to maximize the benefits of mindfulness practice during adolescence, activities should incorporate multiple senses (Tan, 2016). In addition, including practical elements which encourage active participation in present-moment activities are beneficial for adolescents (Kabat-Zinn, 2003). Mindfulness art is a form of mindfulness practice which has the individual partake in creative activities, such as colouring and drawing. Beckwith (2014) explained that colouring pre-drawn mandala’s shifts the adolescent’s attention towards the present moment and increases awareness of their current experiences.

Mindful art

Mindfulness art has shown beneficial results for reducing stress, anxiety, fatigue, and rumination while promoting feelings of relaxation (Carsley & Heath, 2018; Mantzios & Giannou, 2018; van der Vennet & Serice, 2012). There are hundreds of colouring-books available for purchase and can be implemented effectively with little cost. However, when one is performing mindfulness art, avoid thinking about things other than the activity. As with mindful breathing, the individual will have to accept thoughts as they occur without judgment. However, instead of refocusing on one’s breath, the individual refocuses on their art.

Try The Body Scan Video

Video created by 
Matt Tucker
2:27 mins, November 2018
In Adobe Spark Video

Mindful Adolescent Resources

The Greater Good Science Center

Be Kind

The Greater Good Science Center offers a variety of science-based activities, such as compassion, kindness, forgiveness, empathy, gratitude, and mindfulness. The website, hosted by the University of California, Berkeley, offers suggestions, guidance and the time required to complete each activity. For example, the mindful breathing activity requires 15 minutes and for the individual to find a relaxed and comfortable position. In addition, features on the website allow the user to mark activities as complete or to save it for later. The aim of The Greater Good Science Center is to provide the user with the resources and tools to live a happier and more meaningful life. However, as noted on their website, the tools and resources provided are not a substitute for therapy or to serve as a form of mental health treatment.

URL: https://ggia.berkeley.edu/

Mindfulness for Teens

Mindfulness for Teens is a website which provides information, resources and tools to successfully apply mindfulness into everyday life. The website was designed by Dr. Dzung Vo, a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine at British Columbia Children’s Hospital. His website includes a detailed description of what mindfulness is, its practical applications as well as firsthand accounts from adolescents who have implemented mindfulness into their lives. A goal set out by Dr. Dzung Vo is to promote resiliency in young people to help them thrive in today’s world. The website also provides guided meditation instructions on mindful breathing, sitting meditation, body scan, walking meditation, mindful movement, loving-kindness, and mindfulness of thinking. Lastly, the website provides additional resources such as websites, apps, and books which focus on mindfulness practice.

URL: https://mindfulnessforteens.com/


Foundry, a Canadian based company, provides information, resources, and tools to help improve access to health and social services for young people throughout British Columbia. Hosted by Providence Health Care, the website offers information on the basics of mindfulness including the benefits and different ways to be mindful. Foundry also provides a list of recommended apps, such as Calm and Headspace as well as links to where one can find help and support. Their interactive map helps youth find local programs and community services which may offer them additional assistance. Foundry also provides resources for friends of individuals who may need help. For example, the website includes information on how you can help a friend; signs your friend may need support; concerned about a friend’s alcohol or substance use; tips for talking with your friend; and tips for supporting a friend’s mental wellness.

URL: https://foundrybc.ca/

Healthy Living Toolkits

Kelty Mental Health Resource Center offers a variety of toolkits for adolescents and their families. The online Family Toolkit offers detailed and practical information on healthy eating, physical activity, stress management, and sleeping. The resource also offers video’s on how to set S.M.A.R.T goals as a family. The online and in-print Family Toolkit is offered in English, French, Korean, Farsi, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and Punjabi. If needed, the printed version of the Family Toolkit can be borrowed from BC Children’s Hospital. The Family Toolkit offers links and titles to additional resources on all topics covered. In addition, the online resource offers contact information of trained parent and youth peer support workers which can aid adolescents and their family’s on weekdays from 9:30am-5:00 pm.

URL: https://keltymentalhealth.ca/toolkits

Breathr: Mindful Moments

Breathr is an interactive app developed by the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre to help adolescents develop mindfulness and improve overall health. Available on both Android and Apple, the app provides the user with several mindfulness activities as well as the science behind each practice. The aim of the application is to provide the adolescent with a fun, easy to use, developmentally appropriate tool to benefit their well-being and health. Breathr guides the user through several exercises, such as body scans, mindful breathing, and SOBER coping space. The goal of these activities is to improve mindfulness and switch attention to the present moment. Finally, Breathr allows the user to set reminders and notifications of when to perform mindfulness practice. In addition, the user can select which type of mindfulness activity they would like to perform at specific times throughout the day.

URL: https://keltymentalhealth.ca/breathr


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Kocovski, N. L., Segal, Z. V., & Battista, S. R. (2009). Mindfulness and psychopathology: Problem formulation. In F. Didonna (Ed.), Clinical handbook of mindfulness (pp. 85–98). New York, NY: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-0-387-09593-6_6 .

LeVine, R. A. (1988). Human parental care: Universal goals, cultural strategies, individual behavior. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development1988(40), 3–12.https://doi.org/10.1002/cd.23219884003

Malboeuf-Hurtubise, C., Achille, M., Sultan, S., & Vadnais, M. (2013). Mindfulness-based intervention for teenagers with cancer: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials14(1), 135.https://doi.org/10.1186/1745-6215-14-135

Mantzios, M., & Giannou, K. (2018). When Did Coloring Books Become Mindful? Exploring the Effectiveness of a Novel Method of Mindfulness-Guided Instructions for Coloring Books to Increase Mindfulness and Decrease Anxiety. Frontiers in Psychology9.https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00056

Moed, A., Gershoff, E. T., Eisenberg, N., Hofer, C., Losoya, S., Spinrad, T. L., & Liew, J. (2015). Parent–Adolescent Conflict as Sequences of Reciprocal Negative Emotion: Links with Conflict Resolution and Adolescents’ Behavior Problems. Journal of Youth and Adolescence44(8), 1607–1622.https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-014-0209-5

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Sheridan, C. (2016). The Mindful Nurse: Using the Power of Mindfulness and Compassion to Help You Thrive in Your Work. Charleston, SC: Rivertime Press. ISBN: 978-0-9933245-2-9.

Siegel, D. J. (2007). Mindfulness training and neural integration: differentiation of distinct streams of awareness and the cultivation of well-being1. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience,2(4), 259–263.https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsm034

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Mindfulness for Younger Adolescents II

Mindful Teen

By Michael Izatt

Mindfulness for Adolescents & Teens

Mindful teen
Source: Green Charmeleon. Retrieved from http://realisticshots.com/post/126994769222/000109

Being a teenager can be really tough at times. With the pressures of school, friends and other relationships, home life, extracurricular activities, or trying to figure out who you are in this world, things can get quite stressful! Whether you are struggling from something particular or just feeling overwhelmed with everything going on—you are not alone! In fact, according to the American Psychological Association (2014), current stress levels among adolescents and teens are significantly high, which from a mental health perspective is problematic, as their ability to cope with stress and anxiety has become increasingly difficult. The good news is, there are many things adolescents and teens can do to effectively manage daily stress and anxiety. One effective tool is the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness can help you manage your stress and anxiety so you feel more calm and grounded as you live your life. In fact, mindfulness has been medically proven to reduce stress, increase mental toughness, and create ways that can help those who use mindful techniques gain a healthier perspective on both themselves and the world they experience (Bluth & Eisenlohr-Moul, 2017).

Benefits of Mindfulness

Source: Blake Verdoorn. Retrieved from http://realisticshots.com/post/130616915364/000137

Better sleep
Decrease in stress & anxiety
Improved mood
Stronger relationships
Improved focus & concentration
Fosters compassion and trust
Allows us to “live in the moment”


How Do I Practice Mindfulness? What Can I Do?

You don’t have to be a spiritual guru or an expert in yoga to practice mindfulness! Anybody can do it and it’s really easy to learn and practice. While there are more advanced practices that will improve your mental and physical health (e.g. things like meditation, yoga, spiritual retreats, etc.), there are a few simple mental exercises that will allow you to calm your mind, relax your body, and live in “the now.” Here are two mindfulness techniques recommended by Anxiety Canada (2018) that can easily be done from your home or any other quiet place where you’re able to relax. Give them a try! Your mind and body will feel much more relaxed after!

Three Senses Technique

First, put your cell phone away and turn off all other connective-technology and find a quiet and safe place to sit and relax

Three Senses Technique

Next, take a few big breaths in with long exhales. Feel your body as it sinks into the chair.

Then, calmly ask yourself:

i.) What are three things I can hear? (the birds, my breathing, a fan, etc.)
ii.) What are three things I can see? (the chair, the clock, the door, the lamp)
iii.) What are three things I can feel? (my socks, my chair, my hair on neck, my shoes)

Calm Breathing

Mindful teen

i) Mindful Breathing

Find a quiet place to lay down or sit. Close your eyes and begin to breath naturally. Place your hands on your stomach and feel your stomach move in and out as you take deep breaths in from your nose and exhale through your mouth. Focus your thoughts on each breath in and nothing else. If your mind wanders to a random thought, redirect it back to thinking about each breath in and out. Let your body sink into the bed or chair and continue to take deep breaths in for 3-4 minutes.

ii) *Box Breathing- See video below!

Mindfulness Technique-Box Breathing Video

Video created by 
Michael Izatt
3:18 mins, November 2018

Mindful Adolescent Resources

Mindfulness for Teens

Lotus Blue

Wonder what mindfulness looks like for teens? Check this link out! Created by Dr. Dzung Vo (MD), a pediatrician who specializes in adolescence medicine at BC Children’s Hospital, this website has everything you need and is specifically tailored for teens. Included is a brief description of what mindfulness is and things we can do to practice mindfulness. The best part? This website even has ‘youth voices’ that includes stories from other teens who use mindfulness as a way to reduce anxiety and de-stress. With a ‘guided meditations’ section, this website even has videos that teach you breathing techniques, mindful thinking, body scans, and much more! A great resource for teens who wish to benefit from mindfulness.

URL: https://mindfulnessforteens.com/

MindShift App (iOS and Android)

Lotus Blue

Feeling stressed about an upcoming exam or just life in general? Anxiety or fear getting in the way of your daily living? Download this app and get your mind back on track! This app is completely free (donations accepted) and was created by Anxiety Canada with the help of BC Children’s Hospital and helps those suffering from anxiety. Use it at home or when you’re out with your smart phone—this app has everything from education about anxiety, useful tools and strategies, inspirational quotes and much more! Don’t let anxiety and fear debilitate you anymore! Get this app and start controlling your anxiety and keep it in check! For an additional resource, check out https://youth.anxietycanada.com/

URL: https://www.anxietycanada.com/resources/mindshift-app

Smiling Mind App (iOS and Android)

Lotus Blue

Who doesn’t like free apps? This mindfulness app was designed and created for people of all ages and even has programs designed for specific age groups! Feeling stressed about planning for the future? Changing schools or entering a new grade? School or family got you feeling overwhelmed? Download this app and pick a program that will help you manage your thoughts, feelings, and moods. Equipped with guided meditations, mindfulness activities, and progress trackers, this app will help you develop a mindful approach to any stressful situation or event. It’s completely free with no hidden fees and is extremely user-friendly! Give it a try! For more resources check out https://www.smilingmind.com.au/

URL: https://www.smilingmind.com.au/smiling-mind-app/

Psychology Today: 10 Ways to Protect the Brain from Daily Screen Time

Lotus Blue

This link provides 10 evidence-based strategies that will help your brain from overstimulation caused by too much screen time. Written by Dr. Victoria L. Dunckley (MD), these strategies help you reduce your screen time so you can improve your mood, sleep, diet and energy levels. Each strategy explains why it will help your mind insofar as how it affects your brain chemistry and hormone levels. In a world riddled with phones and computers, try putting them down for a bit and give these practices a try and see how well it improves your mental well-being! P.S. It even has something on mindfulness!

URL: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/mental-wealth/201704/10-ways-protect-the-brain-daily-screen-time

The Mindfulness Summit

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Feel like obtaining some guru-like wisdom in your life? Listen to these videos by Jon Kabat-Zinn (Ph.D.), a pioneer in mindfulness and founder of mindfulness- based stress reduction (MBSR). Focus on awareness, patience, the power of letting -go, trust, and living in the moment to help you live on life’s terms and not your own. Blend in with life and its events in a much more calm and mindful way. Whether you just want to listen to some calming videos by Jon Kabat-Zinn or find other mindfulness videos from a variety of mindfulness speakers (both free and by subscription), check out The Mindfulness Summit and find all kinds of helpful links and strategies for mindfulness. https://themindfulnesssummit.com/

URL: https://themindfulnesssummit.com/sessions/9-powerful-meditation-tips-jon-kabat-zinn/


American Psychological Association. (2014). Stress in America: Are teens adopting adults’ stress habits? http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2013/ stress-report.pdf

Anxiety Canada. (2018). Mindful exercises. Retrieved from https://youth.anxietycanada.com/ mindfulness-exercises

Bluth, K., & Eisenlohr-Moul, T. A. (2017). Response to a mindful self-compassion intervention in teens: A within-person association of mindfulness, self-compassion, and emotional well-being outcomes. Journal of Adolescence, 57, 108–118.

Mindfulness for Older Adolescents

Mindful Teen

By Haylee Hansvall

What is Mindfulness?


Mindfulness is rooted in ancient Eastern philosophy and is defined as “the ability to be present and attentive in the moment” (Sheridan, 2016, p. 29). What does it really mean to be present? We are truly present when we focus on only what is happening right now (Agarwal & Dixit, 2017). Mindfulness asks that you do not judge or dwell on what is happening in the present moment, but that you become aware of it and acknowledge it. Focusing on the present moment sets you up to let go of the past and not worry about the future, which can lessen feelings of anxiety and regret (Healthwise Staff, 2017). There are many forms of mindfulness practice. Focused meditation draws your attention to one thing such as your breath, and image, or how your body feels. Loving-kindness meditation asks you to think of something you like about yourself and other people you know (Oberle & Schonert-Reichel, 2014). Consistent practice of loving-kindness meditation has been shown to improve our self-esteem and feeling of social-connectedness.


Why Mindfulness is Awesome

Adolescence is a period of heightened stress due to many psychological, physical, and social changes all occurring at once (Agarwal & Dixit, 2017). Have you felt your heart race before an exam? Have you ever had trouble focusing on a specific task at school or work? Have you ever felt your mind jump endlessly from thought to thought? Have you ever panicked under pressure? Have you ever lost your temper over something little? It’s okay – most people your age have. There’s good news, though! We can train ourselves to be able to handle these situations better. While stress is a fact of life, but being stressed-out doesn’t have to be (Beach, n.d.). Mindfulness can help you make stress work in your favour by improving your concentration and being less likely to get thrown off track by distraction.

Mindfulness Benefits

Mindfulness can help us learn how to calm ourselves, lessen stress, and help improve our mood (Sheridan, 2016). Adolescents who practiced mindfulness training experienced an improvement of their ADHD symptoms and improved the quality of life of adolescents with depression (Tan, 2015). According to Anxiety Canada Youth (n.d.), focusing on the present moment makes it really hard for us to feel anxious because anxiety is connected to the past and the future. Did you know that mindfulness can improve the health of our bodies, too? Mindfulness has been shown to improve sleep, lower blood pressure, and improve symptoms of people who have chronic conditions like diabetes (Healthwise Staff, 2017).

How to Practice Mindfulness

In order to reap the benefits of mindfulness, the more you do it the better. Luckily, mindfulness can be practiced anytime, anywhere, and by anyone! You don’t have to be in a quiet room or a spiritual person to be mindful (Sheridan, 2016). So how do we practice being mindful? In the beginning, you may notice your mind wander. That’s expected as mindfulness is a learned skill. Try to refocus it back to the present moment when you feel it drift away. Here are some examples of ways to practice mindfulness:

Body Scan

Bosy scan

This exercise connects the mind with the body in the present moment. First, sit or stand comfortably. Focus your attention on your entire body, starting at your feet. Feel your toes wiggle and slowly work all the way up your body, ending at your head. Note the places where you feel tense or in pain. Send energy with your breath to relax these places (Healthwise Staff, 2017). This exercise can be done anywhere, at any time.

Mindful Eating

Mindful eating

Do you pay attention to the food when you eat? Many people tend to eat in a rush without paying much attention. This exercise asks you to really focus on eating a meal. Observe the food on your plate. Smell the aroma of the food. Notice what your stomach is telling you. Are you hungry? Notice what your mind is telling you. Do you like these foods? Focus on chewing and swallowing each bite in the present moment. What flavours do you taste? (Healthwise Staff, 2017). Eat slowly, with intention. How do you feel? Do you feel calm? Do you feel connected to the present moment?

Loving-Kindness Meditation

Loving Kindness

In her book, Sheridan (2016) describes the following loving-kindness meditation. Start by sitting or standing comfortably. Close your eyes. Slowly inhale and exhale three times. Picture yourself standing in front of you. Who do you see? Extend kind wishes to the image of yourself in front of you. Feel the kindness that you are sending yourself. Now, picture someone you know who has helped you. Send them kind wishes and connect this kindness with your breath in the present moment. Notice what you are wishing them. Next, picture someone you kind of know, but not well. Do the same for them. Next, picture someone you find difficult. Stay focused on the present moment and acknowledge your feelings you have toward this person. Send them genuinely kind wishes. Repeat the phrases to stay focused. Picture all four people in front of you. Bring your attention to your breath and slowly open your eyes. How do you feel?

Mindful Music

Mindful music

This exercise lets you choose your favourite song (or any song). Listening to music mindfully, not passively (really paying attention) can be a good stress reliever. First, sit comfortably and get rid of all distractions. Close your eyes and take two deep breaths, connecting yourself to the present moment. Take note of the silence and the sound of your breath before the music plays. When you hear the song play, focus on the beat of the music. Is it slow or fast? What does the song do to your heartbeat? Focus on how it makes you feel. What emotions do you feel? Listen to every lyric. What instruments do you hear? (Beach, n.d.).

Video: A One-Minute Meditation (“OM-M”)

Everyone has a minute or two to spare in their day. Watch the video below and follow along with me!

Video created by 
Haylee Hansvall
1:53 mins, November 2018
In Adobe Spark Video


Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS)

How mindful are you? The Mindful Attention Awareness Scale is a tool that will allow you to rate your own level of mindfulness. All you need to do is rate from 1-6 how frequently you experience each scenario on the list. Calculate your score by finding the average. The higher your score, the higher your level of mindfulness. Go ahead, give it a try!

URL: https://ppc.sas.upenn.edu/sites/default/files/mindfulnessscale.pdf

Headspace Mobile App

Headspace is a popular app that teaches you how to be mindful through guided mindfulness and meditation exercises. Examples of topics include stress, anxiety, sleep, procrastination, and focus. Some exercises also include interactive videos. You can even get started with Headspace’s Basics course for free!

URL: http:// https://www.headspace.com

Mindfulness – Foundry BC

Foundry BC is a health and wellness initiative designed for youth ages 12-24. This website has a wealth of information about mindfulness and where to find more support. You can also learn new ways to be mindful and read personal stories about how some teens have managed their mental health challenges.

URL: https://foundrybc.ca/resource/mindfulness/

Mindfulness for Teens

The website has several guided meditations that you can listen to from eating a raisin mindfully to being present as you feel your toes wiggle in your shoes. Other meditations include mindful movement, walking meditation, and loving-kindness meditation. The audio recordings range from three to thirty minutes. Try listening to one today!

URL: http://mindfulnessforteens.com/guided-meditations/

Growing up Stressed or Growing up Mindful?

Did you know that teenagers are the most stressed out aged group in America? Balancing a social life, school, planning for college, part-time jobs, and relationships – sometimes it can be a too much to handle. In this 20-minute TEDx talk, Dr. Chris Willard explains what happens in the body and in the mind during the stress response, and how being mindful can actually help you make stress a good thing.

URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znlsoaM_ALQ


Agarwal, A., & Dixit, V. (2017). The role of meditation on mindful awareness and life satisfaction of adolescents. Journal of Psychosocial Research, 12(1), 59–70.

Anxiety Youth Canada. (n.d.). Mindfulness exercises. Retrieved from

Beach, S. R. (n.d.). Mindfulness for teens. Retrieved from

Headspace. (2018). Logo [Digital Image]. Retrieved from https://www.headspace.com

Healthwise Staff. (2017). Mindfulness-based stress reduction. Retrieved from

Foundry BC. (2018). Logo [Digital Image]. Retrieved from https://foundrybc.ca

Oberle, E., & Schonert-Reichl, K. (2014). Mindfulness in adolescence: New directions for youth development, 142. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com

Sheridan, C. (2016). The mindful nurse: Using the power of mindfulness and compassion to help you thrive in your work. Charleston, SC: Rivertime Press.

Tan, L. B. (2016). A critical review of adolescent mindfulness-based programmes. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 21(2), 193–207. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/1359104515577486