adding handfuls of happiness to the world – patience

Posted on 9 Jun 2017

adding handfuls of happiness to the world – patience

“Patience is a form of wisdom. It demonstrates that we understand and accept the fact that sometimes things must unfold in their own time.” ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

There was a wonderful energy in the classes this week. The children were enthusiastic and full of life. There was much discussion about the dramatic storm that we had in Cape Town this week. I had a moment of doubt at the beginning of the first class that a lesson about patience would be lost on the overly exuberant children but as it turns out, it was exactly what they needed – a sort of grounding after all the excitement and possibly anxiety about the storm. We discussed what patience is, why it is important, in which circumstances it might be necessary, how it can add handfuls of happiness to the world and we practised it!

I drew inspiration from the wonderful book “Sitting still like a frog” by Eline Snel. Although frogs are often very busy hopping about or swimming around, they also have the ability to sit incredibly still. If you have ever had the opportunity of seeing a frog catching a fly or a mosquito, you will know how still the frog needs to sit in order not to alert the fly or mosquito to its presence. And it takes a huge amount of patience! But I am sure the frog who catches the fly will tell you that it was worth the wait. I have found in my own life though, that it is not about the end result. It is not about the fly or mosquito that we enjoy at the end of waiting. Instead, the reward is patience itself. The whole experience of waiting is made so much sweeter and easier with patience.

So, in the lessons this week, we practised sitting still like a frog. I used the CD by Eline Snel to guide us in a lovely 5-minute sitting meditation. She asks the children to notice how their bodies want to move or fidget as they try to sit still. She asks them to pay attention to whether it is a finger or leg that wants to move. She assures them that it is absolutely okay to move, but simply to notice it. She then asks the children to pay attention to the breath. She asks them to put a hand on their bellies and notice the rise and fall. It was wonderful to see that some of the children, who had been moving a lot up to this point, managed to find a space of stillness when asked to focus on their breathing. Our breath can truly be a wonderful anchor to calm and stillness.

After the sitting meditation, we discussed what other sorts of animals can sit very still for a long time. Snakes, lizards, sleeping crocodiles, eagles eyeing out their prey and more! We then moved into a game of Yoga Freeze where I asked the children to move as a certain animal while I played music and then when the music stopped, they needed to freeze in the yoga pose for that animal. The kids had a great time. Many enjoyed adding sound effects to their animal movements!

After the mindful movement, I led the children in a guided visualisation where I asked them to imagine themselves as a little frog in a lake. I took them through the experience of swimming around in the lake, noticing the warm water as they pushed with their webbed feet. I then asked them to imagine hopping onto a lily pad and waiting for a fly. I asked them to focus on the sounds around them. To listen very carefully for a buzzing noise. To keep very, very still and to notice how this felt in their bodies. And then eventually, I asked them to imagine hearing the fly buzz right in front of them and to use their super sticky tongues to catch the fly and enjoy a tasty snack. The kids really seemed to enjoy this meditation.

We then ended off the lessons with making our own paper plate frogs. Much fun was had colouring all sorts of different types of frogs – from friendly green frogs to poisonous orange-and-black dart frogs, with the highlight being the frogs’ tongues that could stick out and catch flies!

So, I was pleased that this valuable lesson was so well-received by the children this week despite all the energy and excitement. 😊