Many definitions of mindfulness are linked to meditation or yoga-type practices, By contrast, Ellen Langer, professor of psychology at Harvard, describes mindfulness as “the simple act of actively noticing things,” with a result of increased health, competence and happiness. She writes that our experience of everything is formed by the words and ideas we attach to them. When we actively notice new things about another person, the person comes alive for us and the relationship is strengthened. This applies to our interactions with children. Her research points out that we can re-imagine our children’s actions and characteristics in much healthier ways. For example, if someone is labeled “gullible,” what happens when we come to see that person as “trusting?” If we are concerned that our child is overly rigid, might we begin to view his or her stability as an attribute? If our child is perceived as disorganized...what happens to our relationship with this child when we begin to view his actions as “refreshingly spontaneous?” With the flip of a perspective (mindfulness), we can discard all sorts of interpersonal conflict and resistance.Can we model a “love of learning” related to school by finding joy in what was previously experienced as drudgery... by re-naming it as play? (i.e. new perspective on homework?) Dr. Langor writes that when we can come to a place where “now I see that the things that happen to me (or defined by me) are a function of my view of them, I needn’t be so afraid.”
Benefits of practicing this type of mindfulness:
1. Relationship building/trust - our child feels embraced by the positive tenor of the interaction.
2. When fear is removed from the equation, we are more authentic and compassionate in our interactions and responses - and more effective in connecting well with our children.