If we want our children to grow into mindful habits as quickly as they grow out of their clothes, I believe that the best thing we can do for them is to model being mindful when, where and how ever we can. For some of us this might be by getting on the yoga mat amidst a clutter of toys or sitting in meditation as family life swirls around us. Whilst some children will eagerly jump on the mat or sit in stillness with you for 5 minutes, others will show little interest in what you’re doing (don’t worry though, they will be noticing on some level of their awareness which is great!). If your child is not interested in what we might call formal practice, you can encourage them to notice what is real for them in their present moment in different ways. 

As a creative and artistic soul, I have naturally always paid attention to the shapes, colours, textures, light and shadow I see around me; this is how I live in the world and I’ve learnt that when I focus on noticing the beauty around me, the more of it I notice and the happier, more peaceful and inspired I feel. I have noticed that my noticing, and being conscious that I am noticing, is a habit my daughters are picking up. Now, at ages 8 and 11, they often call through the house ‘Muuum – come and see the colours in the sky, they’re sooo pretty!’, drag me into the garden to show me the perfect, tiny spirals of a snail’s shell or point out the patterns of frost on the car window on cold mornings. My response is one of delight and of giving them, and what they have discovered, my full attention. Together we share a precious, golden moment of presence which is, I believe, essential to their well-being.

One of my most joyful and enriching mindful practices is to photograph the curious and wonderful things around me that draw my attention when I am present, particularly when out in nature. I feel that with the ease, quality and flexibility our phone and tablet cameras allow us these days, anyone can use photography as a key to enter their own present moment and find heart-warming gratitude for the wonder of life along the way!

So, let’s see if this practice speaks to you and your child. Do you have your device to hand? Great!

Oh, and before we start, just take a moment to notice your thoughts and feelings in reaction to the idea of using photography in this way. Please note that this isn’t about taking an award-winning picture; there is no agenda other than to notice what interests you right now!

  • Ok, now, you might want to feel your feet on the floor and take a breath letting your shoulders drop away from your ears. Nice!
  • Now focus your attention on your environment – let your attention wander until something draws your curiosity, it might be the shape of a leaf, the shadows made by the light passing through the colander on the drying rack, the colours of fabric in the washing basket or a reflection in a glass.
  • Look at whatever it is through the camera lens and play with what you see – explore it by moving in really close or changing your perspective by moving around the thing.
  • When you like what you see on the screen take the picture and notice how you feel.

It would be great to see your mindful photography; if you’d like to share, tag brilliant_beings on Instagram!