Take a minute right now to pay attention to what’s going on around you. What do you hear or see? Do you notice anything new? Now, turn your attention inward. What are you thinking, and how do you feel? Mindfulness—as you just experienced—is tuning into yourself and paying attention to the present moment without judging or analyzing what you are thinking or feeling. Although it seems quite simple, it is not easy. Our busy minds are constantly darting and drifting, telling stories about what has happened in the past and what might happen in the future.
Mindfulness is a strategy that can help us become more fully aware of what’s happening around us and, in turn, feel more fully alive. We’ve probably all heard the word “mindful,” but when we’re talking about mindfulness as an approach to life, we’re talking about something different. We’re talking about very purposefully paying attention to what is going on in the present moment, without worrying about the past or the future, and without judging ourselves in the present. When we are mindful, we focus on our thoughts, feelings, and what is going on in our bodies—and accept whatever that might be. We slow down, and notice the world around us. In the process, we also become aware of things we had no idea we were missing!
Our lives appear to be moving faster than ever. We are in a constant state of information overload due to having a digital device constantly at our fingertips and access to around-the-clock news. We may have overbooked schedules and multiple commitments, and lack a healthy balance between work and downtime. It is common to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, tired, and stressed out. Similarly, children and teens are exposed to many sources of stimulation throughout the day, not limited to the computer, smartphone, and other electronic devices. They may also be involved in many social, academic, and extracurricular activities that keep them on the go and their minds constantly moving.
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