Mindful movements are a core component of Pause Breathe Smile. Practising mindful movements simply means bringing our full, whole-hearted attention to the body as we move. The practice of “being where our feet are” creates an anchor for the wandering mind, providing the opportunity to rein in scattered attention and settle more easefully into the present, where the body is always located. In other words, mindful movements help us to get out of our heads and literally moving into a fuller appreciation of embodied living.
Any movement can be a mindful movement—yoga, walking, or stretching before a game. The main thing is noticing the constantly shifting, changing nature of sensations as you move your body. As children practice mindful movements, they learn to tune into the sensations in the body and develop interoceptive awareness, which means knowing what’s going on in the body, while it’s going on.
This is beneficial in at least two ways. First, higher levels of interoceptive awareness are linked to higher levels of wellbeing,1 meaning it has the potential to help shape the degree to which we feel good and function well in life. Second, cultivating interoceptive awareness can assist with emotion regulation: as we develop interoceptive awareness through practices like mindful movements, we get better at noticing the sensations of emotions in the body and thus have a better shot at calming the nervous system and regulating the emotion.2
Practising mindful movements can be helpful for children who struggle to practice mindfulness sitting still. Indeed, there is good evidence to suggest that mindful movement practice can lead to improvements in attentional skills and has potential benefit for individuals with particular difficulties regulating attention.3 There are also indications that interoceptive awareness is associated with prosocial behaviour,4 and anecdotally, one of our PBS classes reported that they scored their best test result after practising mindful movements before a test!
- Hanley, A. W., Mehling, W. E., & Garland, E. L. (2017). Holding the body in mind: Interoceptive awareness, dispositional mindfulness and psychological well-being. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 99, 13-20.
- Price, C. J., & Hooven, C. (2018). Interoceptive awareness skills for emotion regulation: Theory and approach of mindful awareness in body-oriented therapy (MABT). Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 798.
- Clark, D., Schumann, F., & Mostofsky, S. H. (2015). Mindful movement and skilled attention. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 9, 297.
- Goodall, E. (2020). Interoception as a proactive tool to decrease challenging behaviour. The Journal for Educators, 39(1), 20-24.