At the Sydney Cognitive Development Centre we teach children to begin to pay attention to those things in the present moment that they never noticed before through a process called mindfulness. Our mindfulness training is used as part of one of our psychotherapies called ACT therapy. Mindfulness is one out of the six key components in ACT. However when we have children who struggle with their attention skills we may also use this in isolation to strengthen focus in the present.
Mindfulness is defined as “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experiences moment by moment” (Kabat-Zinn). Mindfulness is an active process; it involves active attention which leads to awareness. It is about remaining in the present, rather than the past or future. It teaches that attention is nonjudgmental and accepting, without thinking that the experience of the present moment is good or bad, right or wrong, important or unimportant. It involves attending to the external environment (sights, sounds, and smells), as well as to internal bodily sensations (thoughts, and feelings). In practicing mindfulness, one becomes aware of the current internal and external experiences, observes them carefully, accepts them, and allows the children to let them go in order to attend to another present moment experience.