What is mindfulness?
And why is it important for our young dancers – and children, in general?
Mindfulness, quite simply, is noticing what’s happening right now at this very moment
In your mind, your body, in the space around you…
(And if you’re dancing or moving, it means noticing the music right now, the feeling in your body as you move)
What exactly you can see, hear, and feel right in this moment?
Just by doing this – paying attention to the present moment – negative thoughts and chitter chatter in the mind is paused.
And the more often we do this the more often our mind feels a release, and has chance to ‘reboot’ and ‘recharge’, away from worry or negative thinking that so often floods our minds.
We often can’t help it. No matter how positive a person you are, by default the human mind is set to a negative bias and will always return to this – when given chance!
Mindfulness for children is about teaching them healthy mental habits, tools they can use to pause and relax in moments of anxiety or stress, and a way to release to any negative thought patterns they might feel (now or in the future).
And the beauty of mindfulness is, it doesn’t have to be practised for long!
Even just a few seconds can have a great effect.
What are the main physiological benefits of mindfulness for a child?
- Positively effects mental well-being
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Boosts focus and attention
- Helps children deal with difficult emotions
Incorporating a little mindfulness here and there for children can help them grow more focus and concentration, help them to learn to listen within themselves and become more in tune with their bodies, their senses, their feelings, getting to know what’s good and what’s bad for them as individuals.
Mindfulness helps us turn up the volume on our own intuition, and turn down the volume on negative thoughts about ourselves.
Why Mindfulness for Children – aren’t they too young?
Part of the reason why mindfulness is so effective for children can be explained by the way the brain develops.
ALERT! Here comes the science bit…
While our brains are constantly developing throughout our lives, connections in the prefrontal circuits are created at their fastest rate during childhood. Mindfulness, which promotes skills that are controlled in the prefrontal cortex, like focus and cognitive control, can therefore have a particular impact on the development of skills including self-regulation, judgment and patience during childhood.
(That wasn’t too complicated, was it!)
Mindfulness has also been scientifically proven to help people achieve at higher levels in dance, sports, music, and across other diverse areas of life.
Teachers, why not try this with your students? Perhaps incorporating a short, child-friendly mindfulness exercise within one of your classes this week.
Groove Child® includes many visualisation and moments of mindful movement for you to choose from, but as a start follow the below exercise with your younger dancers (Either at the beginning of class or after a fairly active part of the session) and see how they react during and afterwards…
The Candle and the Flower
“Sitting up tall and cross-legged, hold up your right hand and pretend you are holding a pretty flower. It can be any colour you like.
And now, in your left hand pretend you are holding a candle. The tiny flame is lit on the top and is gently flickering as you hold the bottom of the candle still in your hand.
Now, take a big breath in and, as you do, smell the flower….
And then ever so slowly blow on the candle flame, so that the flame gently dances flickers…
Try it one more time.
Don’t blow too hard, we don’t want to blow the flame out!
Big breath in to smell the flower…
Gentle breath out to make the flame flicker…
Now gently take a huge breath in and reach your hands up high, to tickle the ceiling!
And breathe out as you relax your arms down.
Everybody stand up.
We’re ready to begin!”
The Groove Child® Dance Syllabus is a refreshing and creative dance syllabus for dance teachers who believe the deeper success of their dance practice ultimately is in raising healthy minded dancers, and awesome human beings. Human beings who go forward in life remembering all the creative and vital life skills they learned through dance. Dance School Owners & Freelance Dance Teachers – we’d love to meet you and introduce you further to the benefits Groove Child brings. Check our full details of the syllabus and our courses at the main website: www.groovechilddance.com