This week we focused on finding the quiet place within.
We started off by speaking about different places where we can go to find some quiet when life feels a bit too loud. Some of the suggestions that came up were: “under my bed”, “under the duvet on my bed”, “in my lego corner in my bedroom”, “in my drawing area in the lounge”, “my ouma’s house”. One little boy mentioned a tree-house in his garden where he goes for some quiet.
Every child needs a place where they feel safe and secure. A place where they can “hide” when life starts feeling overwhelming or too noisy. Even setting up a small tent in a child’s bedroom and filling it with soft cushions, can be a wonderful hide-away place for a child to spend some quiet time with themselves.
We then spoke about how we can also find a quiet space within our hearts that we can go to when we feel overwhelmed. By closing our eyes and taking some deep breaths in and out, we can allow our minds and bodies to relax which helps us to find the quiet space within. We spoke about how sometimes we need to go on a journey before we find that quiet place within. We might find some bumpy roads along the journey and sometimes we might get lost, but if we keep on with the journey, we will find the quiet.
With the older children (6 – 7 year old group), I used a labyrinth as a metaphor for this journey. I showed the children pictures of spirals and labyrinths all around us in nature – from chameleon’s tails to the milky way. A labyrinth is a wonderful walking tool for slowing down to check in and connect to what is important. A mindful experience to bring awareness into the present moment and connect with one’s body. The act of following the labyrinth into the centre mirrored the journey taken within to find the quiet in one’s own centre. Connecting with each step during a walking meditation is the building block to teach children how to first check in and notice what is alive inside before acting out randomly.
I set up a labyrinth for each child to walk, but put some interesting and “bumpy” bits along the way. So, there were some pine needles that they had to walk over, some chunky mosaics, a soft piece of felt and finally they ended up in the centre standing on bubble wrap. I had been a bit hesitant about introducing a walking meditation at this age and I wondered if they would be able to slow their walking down enough to fully appreciate the noticing of each step. I was pleasantly surprised! They did fantastically!! Each child slowed right down, took each step very slowly, noticing how they put their heel down first, feeling into the pressure. Then noticing as they put each toe down. Then noticing how the back foot slowly lifted and how light the back foot felt as it floated off the ground. It was wonderful to watch these little Mindful Minis doing their thing! I did have a proud moment ?
In all the classes this week I lead the children in a guided visualisation filled with long, white beaches and salty smelling sea air. I asked the children to stop and notice the sound of the roll of each wave. The way it sounds like the Earth breathing. O…cean. O…cean. Over and over again with each wave. I asked them to feel the power of the ocean and the Earth.
In the guided visualisation I described a beautiful white house on the beach that was calling to them. As they stepped inside, they saw an amazing, rainbow-coloured staircase. I asked them to notice how they wanted to climb the staircase but that they felt weighed down. I explained that they were carrying a very heavy backpack full of all their worries, concerns, disappointments and angry feelings. I suggested they take off the backpack and leave it at the bottom of the stairs. I asked them to notice how they felt leaving all the negative feelings behind. Did they feel lighter, calmer, happier?
As they walked up the stairs, I guided them over each step. There were some white steps made of soft marshmallow. Some kids shared afterwards that they imagined themselves stopping on this stair and taking a bite! There were red stairs that smelt like roses, yellow stairs that made one feel warm like the sun, sparkling silver stairs and more. Eventually at the top of the staircase I suggested that there was a big, white, comfortable chair that they could relax in and watch the ocean below through a big window. This was their quiet place where they could just be quiet and still. I encourage the children to climb the staircase and sit in the white chair at any time during the upcoming week if they feel anxiety or overwhelmed in any way.
We ended off the lessons with our Mindful Minis Mantra and artwork time. The children loved drawing pictures of the rainbow-coloured staircase as well as pictures of their own special quiet places.
It was a rewarding week for me and I felt inspired by how well the children connected with the importance of having an external and internal quiet place.