The term mindfulness is receiving a lot of attention– lead articles in the New Yorker (January 29, 2014), Time Magazine (February 3. 2014), and the Huffington Post (February 5, 2014). The Seattle Seahawks even sing its praises in ESPN: The Magazine (April 21, 2013).
It’s a somewhat simple idea – giving one’s full attention to one thing at a time- preferably in the present moment. Sounds easy- until you try it- especially in a multi-tasking world with numerous distractions, and a continuous bombardment of sensory stimulation.
But the truth is, it works. It reduces stress, and promotes feelings of health and well-being. Its benefits are well known. So why the current interest?
Maybe because scientists can now document positive changes in the brain’s neural pathways when people practice mindfulness. These changes occur in areas of the brain associated with attention and memory- important to navigating an increasingly distracting world.
Maybe because so many people are plagued by anxiety and fear. Approximately 1 in 5 Americans take some form of anti-anxiety medication. Others seek more traditional ways of controlling their symptoms using yoga and/or meditation to bring the mind under control. Practitioners learn to use mindfulness techniques to divert the brain’s attention away from nagging concerns, and back to the reality of the present moment.
Whatever the reason for the growing interest in mindfulness, children with early trauma histories are sure to benefit from the trend.
Practicing mindfulness helps children resist the urge to re-enact old trauma. Repeated encouragement and support to remain involved in and attentive to the present moment builds needed resilience. They learn to move beyond old adversities toward a more promising and hopeful future.