In the age of fidget spinners and iPhones, kids can have an understandably difficult time focusing. Even adults have a hard time paying attention when they’re bombarded by distracting tweets or incessant emails. Enter mindfulness, a type of training that helps you learn to be fully present and pay attention.
With proven benefits of reducing anxiety and depression, mindfulness has gained traction among people hoping to relieve their stress—most recently, the Dallas Police Department was in the spotlight for implementing a mental health program that involves mindfulness training following the shooting of five police officers last year.
Psychologist Anne Friedman teaches mindfulness to adults and children, and on August 2, she’ll lead a family-focused mindfulness session at Houston’s famous Rothko Chapel. The event comes as part of the Twelve Moments Series, a monthly program at the chapel in which leaders from different spiritualities and faith traditions lead educational, often meditation-based, practices that feature everything from prayers to chanting.
“This summer, we wanted to focus on offering for the whole family, thinking that children are out of school for the summer,” said Ashley Clemmer, Rothko Chapel's program and community engagement director. “I think mindfulness doesn’t have to wait until you’re an adult in terms of really learning tools for how to quiet your mind.”
July’s Twelve Moments offering was family-friendly as well, featuring MD Anderson Chaplain Stephen Findley, who led a session of laughter meditation. According to Friedman, children are now experiencing stress and anxiety even at very young ages, and techniques such as mindfulness and meditation can help them respond healthily.
During Friedman’s session, she will teach exercises that people of all ages can do at home to respond to stress. She has found that after attending the classes, families often start practicing at home. Young children are especially open to practicing mindfulness exercises with their parents at home, she says.
“In school, we’re told very early on to pay attention. No one ever really teaches you how to do it, how to notice when your mind has drifted off and you’re thinking about recess in the middle of math,” Friedman said. “No one ever teaches us how to notice and come back.”
Family-Friendly Mindfulness Meditation, August 2 at noon, suggested donation of $10. Rothko Chapel, 3900 Yupon St. Visit rothkochapel.org or call 713-524-9839 for more information.