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A Mindful Re-Entry for You and Your Queer Kids

 

Mindfulness is something we could all use more of as we re-enter the real world, especially kids. Despite our efforts to limit it, the amount of screen time they’ve had this past year has skyrocketed because of distance learning on computers for hours throughout the day. 

And, as if that wasn’t enough, they have been isolated at home, without face-to-face contact with their affirming friends, family, and community. 

Suffice to say, this last year has been anything but normal. Quite the contrary. We could say it was as rare as a unicorn... albeit an isolated unicorn, at home on the computer. You get the point.

Now that we embark on returning to socializing, having somewhat of a real summer, and going back to school in the Fall, it’s important to support your kiddos with Mindfulness practices as they transition back to the real world.

 

What is Mindfulness? 

Mindfulness is awareness of the present moment, with kindness and curiosity, and without judgment. Simply put, it’s being aware of what’s happening in the present moment while also being kind to yourself and curious about your experience.

Mindfulness helps you stay in your “Window of Tolerance,” a term coined by Psychologist Dan Siegel. In other words, Mindfulness helps you stay emotionally regulated and cope with stressors.

This plays out as you being available at each moment to attend to your kids’ needs and be available to meet your needs, all while staying emotionally regulated. It’s a total win-win. 

 

What’s the research on Mindfulness with children?

Studies have shown that Mindfulness can reduce anxiety, improve attention, and improve social-emotional resilience in children.

Other studies show improved executive function, increased empathy, and improved well-being.

 

 

How will Mindfulness help ease this transition for your kids?

Here’s an example. Let’s say your kid wants to hang out with an affirming peer over the summer but they don’t know how to set it up, or maybe they need you to do it for them. You can support them by helping them reach out and navigate the conversation. If they have a phone but aren’t quite comfortable communicating over text or a phone call, you can help them think of what to say. 

You can also help them feel comfortable being their authentic self back in the outside world and with what they may encounter, such as some people not wearing masks and some people not getting vaccinated (depending on where you live). 

This is where the “without judgment” aspect of Mindfulness can help. Staying open-minded toward yourself and others fosters compassion and kindness.

Here’s another example. Let’s say your child just came out during the pandemic. Many people have done so this past year with the time and space to self-reflect so it’s not surprising if your child did as well. Mindfulness practices can support them in remaining confident as their authentic self, regardless of what others may say about how “queer” they are, and can help them remain non-judgemental toward others who do not accept them.

By not spending a lot of mental energy on people who are not accepting of them, your child will have the capacity to stay present with who they are and show up authentically in the LGBTQ+ community.

It’s an entirely NEW world out there and your child is going to need your help navigating it. Encourage them to seek out supportive and kind friends, and remind them that they are loved and supported just as they are.

Being aware of both their needs and yours in each present moment is going to help ease this transition until we get back to something a little more familiar.

 

How to integrate Mindfulness into your daily routine:

Integrating Mindfulness into your daily routine will support your entire family. Our family (me, my husband, and our now 13 years old) started practicing a daily 2 min. Mindfulness Meditation a few years ago and has built an incredibly supportive foundation for us.

A regular Mindfulness practice calms your nervous system and strengthens the part of your brain that helps you make decisions (the prefrontal cortex) while also reducing activity in the fear center of your brain (the amygdala). 

Let that sink in. Everyone starts their day calm and focused.

Sounds pretty good, right? That’s what we have experienced as a family and I am incredibly grateful for this practice and how it has fortified our ability to cope with stressful events and frustrations. It’s been a total game-changer.

Imagine starting your day, as a family, calm and focused. Yes, please!

And, no, Mindfulness is not going to eliminate frustrations but it can reduce them by giving you skills to cope with them and stay in your Window of Tolerance. 

Mindfulness is a life skill you can use for the rest of your life. It will support you through every struggle and help you get to the other side of it, in turn building your emotional resilience. That’s the magic of it.

 

 

Here are a couple of Mindfulness practices to help you get started:

  1. Name 5 things using your 5 senses: Our bodies exist within the present moment. When you tune into what you are sensing, you are naturally tuning into the present moment. Give it a try. Name 1 thing in your environment for each of your 5 senses (See, Hear, Smell, Taste, Touch). Notice how you feel after this practice. What are you more aware of? How has it helped you be more in tune with the present moment?
  2. Two-minute Mindfulness Meditation practice: In this practice, you are bringing your awareness to the breath while sitting in stillness. Find a comfortable place to sit with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Use a timer and set it for 2 mins. Close your eyes or look down, whichever feels most comfortable to you. Sit up nice and tall and start taking long, slow inhales and exhales. Whenever your mind wanders, simply bring your awareness back to the breath, without judging yourself. Relax your shoulders and arms. You may also wish to tune into the sounds around you to anchor your attention in the present moment. After 2 minutes, notice how you feel after this practice. Do you feel a difference in your body and mind? What are you more aware of? If this is new to you, give it a chance, over time it becomes easier to sit in stillness and focus on your breath.

Rinse, lather, repeat. Practicing regularly builds your ability to tune into the present moment. Much like building a muscle, the more you practice, the stronger it gets, and the more you can tap into your ability to be calm and focused in every moment.

 

 

Resources:

There are many resources available to support you in developing a Mindfulness practice. I highly recommend www.Mindful.org for articles and a variety of Mindfulness practices, as well as the InsightTimer app and Stop, Breathe & Think app to support you and your family in developing a regular Mindfulness Meditation practice.

Despite how much our lives have been turned upside down this past year, one thing I DO know is that we are all in this together, and we will get through this together, one mindful moment at a time.

Enjoy discovering the benefits of Mindfulness!

 

 

About Lisa Love:

Lisa Love (she/they) is a Queer (bisexual/nonbinary) Life Coach who has taught Yoga & Mindfulness for 10+ years. They offer 1-on-1 coaching and online courses and soon will be offering Human Design readings. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, their nonbinary teenager, and two playful house cats.

 Find out more about Lisa Love Hall at www.lisalovehall.com.

Follow Lisa Love on Instagram and Facebook.

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