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Blowing Bubbles - 3 Phrases to Practice Mindfulness (Outdoors!)

Blowing bubbles is a kind of magic that all ages can enjoy. There's something about it that creates a delight and freedom. So next time you're looking for something outside to do with a child, choose bubbles and 'super-size' the experience with a dash of Mindfulness...

Here are 3 phrases to make it easy and fun:

(1) "Follow ONE bubble all the way on it's ride in the air until it's turn is finished"

So often, we tend to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of all the things going on at once. When it comes to playing with bubbles, it's often the zinggg of getting a lot to come out at once or a couple of big ones, then once satisfied, the child (and adults) are quickly off to the next thing - maybe popping the bubbles or plunging the wand back in the bottle for another satisfying attempt.

Mindfulness is a state of mind - and with practice - helps us recognize and seize more opportunities for self-fulfillment, moment-by-moment. Research has shown mindfulness to improve anxiety, depression, attention, life satisfaction and pain management.

One way to learn and practice mindfulness is committing to a 'focus object' and returning to that focus whenever the mind wanders around. So, here, in the case of blowing bubbles, gently instruct the child (and model) focusing on ONE bubble at a time, keeping attention with that bubble despite the distraction of the other bubbles or urges to move on.

(2) "Bubbles are like thoughts and feelings - they float around all over the place and eventually go away"

In the often exciting flurry of bubbles swirling everywhere, it can be an opportunity to highlight how out of control the bubbles are. They ride currents of the air, flit around freely and get popped by whatever they bump into, whether that's a tree, hand or the ground.

Thoughts and feelings fly all around inside of us like this too. Many of our thoughts and feelings just ride the currents of what's going on inside and outside of us. They pop and go away. Sometimes they pop and it gets our attention. But the idea is that like bubbles, we don't have to pay attention to every thought or feeling floating around. Maybe a few need attention, but the others just float off.

One way to learn and practice mindfulness has to do with 'separating' from the content or 'feeling' of thoughts and emotions... getting just enough distance from them so that they don't take over our attention. This mindfulness experience helps cultivate more 'choice' in HOW we pay attention, so we can then use other parts of our brains, like reason, decision-making and problem-solving, to help us use (or dismiss) the thoughts and feelings we're noticing.

(3) "Pretend you are teeny tiny and are riding inside one of the bubbles... what does it feel like, what do you see?"

Since blowing bubbles already somewhat induces a state of lightness and brightness, why not 'hop on board' and use it as an opportunity to experience a different perspective?

One way to learn and practice mindfulness is to purposefully shift perspective. This helps our brains have more ability to expand our way of looking at things, thereby giving us more options, whether for example, that's to cope or make a decision or heighten pleasure. Most kids, even some older ones, 'get it' and even if for a fleeting moment, are quick to use their imaginations to 'ride that bubble' and experience a shift in perspective. Adults can often visualize it too, especially if they are already experiencing some 'child-like' whimpsy in the bubble blowing experience.

So next time you're looking for an inexpensive, spontaneous and outdoor activity, like blowing bubbles, remember these phrases so you are poised to make it 'extra' meaningful as well.

Dr. Julie Hartman is a licensed clinical psychologist and Founder of the Mindful Resource Center (MRC): She is a professional writer and speaker as well as leading and supporting programs that enhance brains and communities on topics such as Parenting Today, Communicating with Peace and Presence, Quieting the Stressed-out Mind and Raising Digitally-wise Kids.

(c) March 2014 Julie Hartman, PhD. All rights reserved.

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