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Foundations of Mindfulness

being present, awareness, compassion, self-compassion, curiosity, acceptance, awe, beginner’s mind, playfulness

Do you ever wonder why children ask so many questions? It’s because children are naturally curious, open and mindful and we can learn from this.

Approaching moments in life with a "beginner's mind" - a sense of curiosity and awareness, as if experiencing something for the first time - is one of the principles of mindfulness. This quality of mindfulness allows us to shift our perspective, and fully experience moments that might otherwise pass by.  

There are many ways to define mindfulness. This section focuses on some main ideas that shape what mindfulness is - and is not.

Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and without judgement.

Being present, not perfect 

Mindfulness is not a way to become the ‘perfect parent,’ or turn into a calm person that never gets angry. Sometimes, we will still make mistakes. We might hurt our child’s feelings, or express our emotions in a big way.

A mindful attitude helps us to access compassion by acknowledging we are doing the best we can. We are going to make mistakes. Mindfulness is about being present in our day, with our child - imperfections and all.  

How we pay attention is as important as what we pay attention to. With mindfulness, we can pay attention with an attitude of curiosity, openness and kindness, as opposed to judgement and criticism.

This attitude also gives our children permission to accept themselves as they are. 

Anytime, anywhere

Thankfully, you don’t need extra time to be mindful. You are also probably more mindful than you think!

One step towards mindful awareness may be to simply notice how you feel as you read these words...

Or you might choose to take one intentional breath right now...

There are many ways to be more mindful in our everyday lives, including our parenting:

  • We can practice using our senses. Appreciating a fragrance, listening to a child’s laughter, tasting a hot chocolate with a loved one.
  • We can pay attention to routine activities like folding the laundry, waiting to pick up your child from school, doing the dishes, showering, brushing your teeth.
  • Another way to practice mindfulness is to set aside specific time to be mindful, or to listen to guided meditations. This is called formal practice.

A way of living, a way of being 

Mindfulness is not... 

A self-help technique or a quick fix. It's not therapy, just a relaxation strategy, or a downloading of responsibility for parents. 

Mindfulness has historical and cultural roots in wisdom traditions such as Buddhism, but it is not a religion. Everyone is welcome to practice it. 

Living life more mindfully is not another thing you have to add to your to-do list. It does not mean you have to sit still or be silent to practice mindfulness. It's not about having zero thoughts, rather the more mindful we become the more we can notice our feelings come and go.

Mindfulness is not passive and it is not a substitute for addressing systemic challenges and oppressions such as racism, discrimination and injustice. At its best, mindfulness can help us interact with our children – and the world – in a more effective and compassionate way.

Mindfulness is... 

A way of being present in the world, a way of noticing and responding to ourselves and others. When we pay attention on purpose, and in a kind and non-reactive way, it is possible to honour our deepest values, including the way we wish to parent.

Mindfulness invites us to channel our inner child, and get curious!

Where You Are Podcast

Through real stories, expertise, and practical tips, this podcast helps families promote their mental health and wellness, navigating important topics to meet you where you are in your journey.