I am a mindfulness educator (M.A. Psych) based in the UAE, an author of children’s books, a life-long student, and parent. I love every one of those roles, as difficult as it is sometimes to fulfill them simultaneously! I’m passionate about bringing mindfulness to people, big and small, as I know that practicing it can be life-changing.
I have experienced the transformative power of mindfulness practice and I have read scientific evidence reflecting my experience. For this reason I try my best to live mindfully and to talk about mindfulness to whoever is ready to listen. The former isn’t always easy, no, but I try every day.
In my work I combine mindfulness with psychology, knowledge of which I have gained over the last decade. Like me, you might have been affected by mental health challenges whether in yourself or in others. Because so many of us have, I advocate for more conversation about our psychological well-being. Talking about mindfulness helps to get this conversation started.
So what is mindfulness?
It is a way of paying attention to the present moment – purposely directing it to whatever is here, with no judgment towards what we observe. It means infusing our attention with kindness towards the self, others and the world at large.
Other aspects that are cultivated as a part of mindful living are openness, curiosity and gratitude. Mindfulness is practiced with acceptance towards our experience, just in that very moment, which helps us proceed in a non-reactive way.
There is an increasing amount of evidence for the role of mindfulness in mental health. It is being used to work with challenges like anxiety, depression, ADHD and substance abuse. Though it cannot be claimed to be a cure, it has been found to sometimes be as effective as medication and to support cognitive and social functioning as well as increase in life satisfaction.
Don’t take my word for it however, there are many studies on this topic. Most of them have been conducted on adults but the pool of research on children, those typically and atypically developing ones, is rapidly growing and showing highly promising results.
Here are some examples of studies and media articles discussing what mindfulness is and what impact it has:
- Ames, C. S., Richardson, J., Payne, S., Smith, P., & Leigh, E. (2014). Innovations in Practice: Mindfulness‐based cognitive therapy for depression in adolescents. Child And Adolescent Mental Health, 19(1), 74-78. doi:10.1111/camh.12034
- Bluth, K., Roberson, P., Gaylord, S., Faurot, K., Grewen, K., Arzon, S., & Girdler, S. (2016). Does Self-Compassion Protect Adolescents from Stress? Journal of Child & Family Studies, 25(4), 1098-1109
- Brown, K. W., West, A. M., Loverich, T. M., & Biegel, G. M. (2011). Assessing adolescent mindfulness: validation of an adapted Mindful Attention Awareness Scale in adolescent normative and psychiatric populations. Psychological Assessment, 23, 4, 1023-33.
- Conner, C. M., & White, S. W. (June 01, 2014). Stress in mothers of children with autism: Trait mindfulness as a protective factor. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 8, 6, 617-624
- Duncan, L. G., Coatsworth, J. D., & Greenberg, M. T. (2009). A Model of Mindful Parenting: Implications for Parent–Child Relationships and Prevention Research. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 12(3), 255–270. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10567-009-0046-3
- Flook, L., Goldberg, S. B., Pinger, L., Bonus, K., & Davidson, R. J. (2013). Mindfulness for teachers: A pilot study to assess effects on stress, burnout and teaching efficacy. Mind, Brain and Education : The Official Journal of the International Mind, Brain, and Education Society, 7(3), 10.1111/mbe.12026. http://doi.org/10.1111/mbe.12026
- Flook, L., Goldberg, S. B., Pinger, L. & Davidson, R. J. (2015). Promoting prosocial behavior and self-regulatory skills in preschool children through a mindfulness-based kindness curriculum. Developmental Psychology, 51(1), 44-51. doi:10.1037/a0038256
- van de Weijer-Bergsma, E., Formsma, A. R., de Bruin, E. I., & Bogels, S. M. (2012). The Effectiveness of Mindfulness Training on Behavioral Problems and Attentional Functioning in Adolescents with ADHD. Journal Of Child And Family Studies, 21(5), 775-787
- Vickery, C. E., & Dorjee, D. (2016). Mindfulness Training in Primary Schools Decreases Negative Affect and Increases Meta-Cognition in Children. Frontiers In Psychology, 1-13. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.02025
- Getting Started with Mindfulness in Mindful Magazine
- Mindfulness Can Literally Change Your Brain in Harvard Business Review
- How Meditation Helps You Handle Stress Better in Time Magazine
- What is Mindfulness? in Greater Good in Action