Mindful Moments with St.Amant Jordan’s Principle
You may be wondering what makes a moment or an activity “mindful”. Mindfulness is a word described by expert Jon Kabat-Zinn as, “the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” But how is paying attention to the moment related to health? Over the past 20 years researchers have found that practicing mindfulness can help us to notice and understand our emotions, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, improve short-term memory, help with focus and attention, experience more positive emotions, and more (Davis & Hayes, 2011).
Although practicing mindfulness may sound simple, it is helpful to have activities you can use to get mindful. This is why the Jordan’s Principle Social Work & Counselling team at St.Amant put together this booklet along with online videos, to give some examples of mindful activities that families can do at home.
Chair Yoga & Positive Affirmations – Introduction
Positive affirmations are like repetitive exercise for our brain, just like running and stretching are for our muscles. But instead of making our physical body healthier and more energetic, positive affirmations help our minds become healthier, happier and more peaceful.
It is anything you think or say. The content of these thoughts and talk have the precious ability to change our lives. When repeated consistently, positive affirmations can help “rewire” your brain to support the changes you are hoping to achieve by using them.
They help you visualize and create positive changes in your life.
An affirmation might be a cute little note that you see each day as a reminder. Positive affirmations can be practiced in a way you see fit such as writing down, saying it aloud, listening to it, or even reflecting upon it. It’s about whatever feels the best to you!
I am mindful.
I don’t need to worry. I can try again
I feel connected.
I am love.
I am happy.
I am whole.
It’s okay to ask others for help.
My heart is full of kindness and courage.
I am worthy.
Everyone makes mistakes, and I learn from mine.
I will be good to myself.
Nature is my friend.
My heart is open, forgiving & full of hope
I am free to express my ideas.
Here are five of my favourite affirmations that I have used to inspire my yoga practice and improve my life over the years. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have
I am joy.
I am enough.
I am love.
I am mindful. I am confident. I am limitless.
My heart is open, forgiving, & full of hope.
I invite you to take a few moments at the start of your practice to close your eyes and plant the seed of intention in your mind. Choose a couple affirmations that are our powerful to you and recite them out loud to yourself before we begin.
To really reinforce that positive message, take a minute or two to meditate on your intention at the end of your practice. Once the seed’s been planted, you can water it with your words and actions off the mat, which can in turn uplift and inspire other people too.
Chair Yoga Poses with Positive Affirmations
*Feel free to choose your own affirmations for each pose!
Breathing Pose – Say, “I am kind.”
- Start with a clean slate: Sit up tall at the edge of your seat and place your hands on your waist.
- Take a deep breath in through the nose, expanding through your sides and abdomen, then exhale slowly. Repeat for ten breaths and, with each inhale, repeat the affirmation, “I am kind.”
- Sun Salutations – Say, “I am courageous. I am mindful. I am limitless.”
- Sitting tall, breathe in and lift your arms, pressing your palms overhead.
- On an exhale, float the arms back down to your sides. Bring awareness to the way your arms rises and falls.
- Staying for five full breaths repeat the affirmation, “I am courageous. I am mindful. I am limitless.”
Sun Salutations with Twists
Repeat the previous exercise, adding a twist as you exhale. Repeat five times on each side, holding the last twist for five seconds.
High Altar Side Leans – Say, “I am joy.”
- For a deep spine and shoulder stretch, lift your arms and interlace your fingers together in front of you. Then, turn your palms to the sky as you straighten your arms above your head.
- Lean-to the right for three breaths, then to the left for three and repeating the affirmation “I am joy.”
Hug & Twist – Say, “It’s okay to cry.”
- Cross your right arm over your left as though you were giving yourself a big hug.
- Slowly turn your body from left to right for five breaths. Pause.
- Release both arms out to the sides as you inhale.
- Exhale and hug yourself with the opposite arm on top. Repeat the same movement.
Reverse Arm Hold – Say, “My words have power.”
- As you inhale, stretch both arms out to your sides, palms down.
- As you exhale, roll both shoulders forward a little, which turns your palms, so they’re facing behind you, bend your elbows and let your hands swing behind your back.
- Clasp hands in any way you like (fingers, hands, wrists, or elbows) and gently pull your hands away from each other without releasing your hold.
- If you gripped a wrist or elbow, note which side it’s on.
- After you’ve taken five slow, even breaths with arms clasped this way, re-clasp the other wrist or elbow and hold for five breaths repeating to yourself “My words have power.”
Eagle Pose- Say, “I believe.”
- Inhale slowly and lift your arms so that they are in front of you.
- Your elbows should be bent at a 90 degree angle, with your forearms pointing toward the sky.
As you exhale, cross your arms over each other at the elbows and rest the backs of your hands together.
- Hold this position with your arms out in front of you for 20 to 30 seconds while echoing the words “I believe.”
- Remember to continue to breathe slowly and deeply as you stretch your muscles in this pose.
Cat-Cow Stretch – Say, “I’m kind to all.”
- Come to sit on a chair with the spine long and both feet on the floor. Place your hands on your knees or the tops of your thighs.
- On an inhale, arch your spine and roll your shoulders down and back, bringing your shoulder blades onto your back. This is a cow position.
- On an exhale, round your spine, drop your chin to your chest, and let the shoulder and head come forward. This is a cat position.
- Continue moving between cow on the inhalations and cat on the exhalations for five breaths and
Forward Fold – Say “I have the power to create change”
- Finish with a calming forward bend, which lets blood flow to the brain.
- First, sit tall and straight. Then, fold over your legs, letting your head, neck and body hang limp. Hold for as long as you want before rolling back up to a sitting position.
Reading A Book
Reading is an important activity that can be done in many ways. Reading can include chewing on a book, stacking and playing with books. Making up their own story, singing or acting out the story. Talking about the pictures with a friend or loved one or even reading to yourself.
What you will need:
- a book
- a comfy space
Benefits of Reading:
It is never too early to start reading. Allowing children to play with books when they are young is taking steps towards building a love of reading. Reading is also a time where a child can bond with their parent through engaging in a peaceful calming activity. The book I read today was talking about emotions and feelings. Talking about emotions and feelings can help encourage emotional regulation and awareness of their own feelings.
Body mapping is an activity meant to help children, youth and their caregivers to become more aware of their emotions. We know that in order to be in control of our emotions, we first need to work on understanding them. This is a great way to bring more attention to our feelings and the impacts they can have on our physical bodies.
What you will need:
Feelings chart (optional)
Colouring tools such as crayons, pencil crayons, markers, etc.
A comfortable spot to colour!
Body mapping can be a fun way for caregivers to connect with their children and better understand their emotions. When children understand their own emotions and communicate them to an understanding caregiver, they become better able to cope with these feelings. It is also a way to tune into the bodily sensations that may accompany our feelings.
Ask your child to draw their face on the body outline in a way that shows how they are feeling inside.
If your child is able to write, ask them to write some feeling words beside the body outline. If they are not able to write, just ask them for at least 3 words that explain how they are feeling.
Ask your child if they can think of another time in past when they felt this way.
Next ask your child if they can remember what this feeling does to their body (example: “When I am worried I feel like my shoulders are up by my ears, my throat feels like it’s closing, and my stomach feels like there are butterflies inside.”).
Go through each area of the body beginning with the neck/shoulders/chest area, working your way down to the toes. Ask your child to colour each body part in a way that shows how each part feels.
Ask your child to explain why they chose each colour they used.