Mindfulness: treating the whole patient
Mindfulness is one of many complementary health practices offered through the Integrative Health Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Mindfulness means paying attention to something and slowing down to notice what you are doing. When you are mindful, you notice your thoughts and feelings without thinking they are good or bad. Mindfulness is based on many religious and yoga practices. Mindfulness can be practiced in different ways: through meditation or other exercises, and in everyday life by being present in a moment or an activity and putting aside distractions.
Examples of mindfulness include:
- Feeling the temperature of the air in your nose as you breathe in and out.
- Noticing thoughts or emotions.
- Being present during everyday moments, such as feeling your toothbrush while you brush your teeth, or noticing sensations on our hands while washing them, or tying your shoes.
Who can benefit from practicing mindfulness?
Research has found many health benefits from mindfulness. It can help people stay calm when they are stressed or upset, help with pain and depression and lower heart rate and blood pressure. Mindfulness may also help to pay attention better, be less distracted, and enjoy things more.
Mindfulness can be practiced every day throughout your child’s life.
How CHOP brings mindfulness to patients & the community
Mindfulness sessions may be part of a yoga session for patients in the hospital at CHOP. We also partner with the Penn Program for Mindfulness which offers classes in mindfulness for any preteens and teens.
In each session, an instructor will guide your child through different mindfulness practices. Your child will also learn about stress and stress management. Everyone in the class will sit or lie down and be asked to close their eyes. They will be asked to pay attention to a specific point of focus — for example, their breathing, their body or sounds in the room. They will learn how to notice distractions and how to gently let them go and return to their point of focus.
Serious side effects from the practice of mindfulness are rare. Children with psychotic disorder should not participate. The mindfulness sessions at CHOP are closely managed to ensure your child’s safety and sense of accomplishment.
Please talk to your child’s healthcare provider if you are interested in mindfulness training sessions for your child.
Where can I find mindfulness resources?
There are many books, apps and classes available. Some suggestions include:
Apps (all have free versions):
- Inner Strength Vibe - App Store | Google Play
- Headspace - App Store | Google Play
- Calm - App Store | Google Play
- Insight Timer - App Store | Google Play
- Breathing Space by John Kabat Zinn
- Five Finger Breathing by Nashoba Learning Group
- Deep breathing guide video by CHOP
- Everyday Blessings, about mindfulness parenting by Jon Kabat Zinn
- Stress Reduction Workbook for Teens by Gina M. Biegle