In your life, plenty has happened so far
That’s part of what makes you who you are.
But don’t worry too much about yesterday.
What matters is what you do with today.
This week in Mindful Minis we discussed some of the things that the children worry about and what they can do to help themselves feel better when they are feeling anxious. Some children were happy to share what they worry about. It ranged from the dinosaurs that all died in the cold to monsters under the bed. Some expressed concern about their parents’ well-being and others said they are starting to worry about going to a new school next year. I treated all the fears as valid and real because for the children they are.
We spoke about what the children feel in their bodies when they are worried. I asked if anyone got a stomach ache or noticed an increased heartrate or found it difficult to breathe. The children were reserved with answers to this question but I believe that in time, with regular mindfulness practise, they will be able to identify more easily the physical manifestations of emotions in their bodies.
With the older children, I did a “My Worry” worksheet. I asked them to describe one thing that was a worry during their day. They then needed to identify the size of their worry from the set of small, medium and large stars. At the end of the worksheet was space for them to draw a picture of something that can help them when they are feeling worried.
In all the classes, I introduced the “worry rock” concept – something to help a child feel better when they are anxious. The idea is that the child can whisper his or her fears and concerns into the rock and it will turn them into goodness. I used a small pebble from the beach that a child can potentially take anywhere with them. One little boy mentioned that he will hide the rock in his pocket and take it everywhere with him so he can send it messages at any time.
I also showed the children how soothing and comforting it can be simply to hold the rock in the palm of your hand and notice its cold temperature. Another calming tool is to rub one’s index finger gently in a circle over the smooth surface of the rock. This can be very stabilising and grounding for a child in a state of anxiety. If they struggle to connect with their breath (which is always the number one go to in a stressful situation), this provides a more tactile option that helps a child to focus and connect within.
Because I had used pebbles from the beach as our worry rocks, I decided on a sea-theme song for our movement activity. We sang and danced to Living Under the Sea from the Little Mermaid. A beautiful version of this soundtrack can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4t1Q-Hjaqvs. But beware…. it has an incredibly catchy tune – I have been singing it over and over in my head the whole weekend!!
We preceded the guided visualisation with some simple relaxing yoga poses. The child had fun doing cat-cow (with sound effects!) and child’s pose. I encourage deep breaths during the mindful movement exercises since this helps prepare the children for the guided visualisation.
This week in the visualisation I asked the children to imagine their favourite place and see themselves on a journey to this place. On their journey, they bumped into someone who loves them very much. This person gave them a huge hug. I asked the children to notice how the hug felt – to notice the deep pressure on their bodies, to notice the warm, to notice the cosy and comfortable feelings inside. I then suggested that this person told them how much they loved them and encouraged them on their way. I asked them to imagine themselves walking further along their journey. I asked them to notice the ground under the feet. Was it hard or soft? I asked them to notice how safe and secure they felt with the ground supporting them. Often when we are feeling off balance or slightly ungrounded, it can help to stand in tree pose with bare feet and simply connect to the earth.
I then suggested that the children see their favourite animal. I asked them to notice the colour of their animal, its size and its distinctive features. I then suggested that the animal had a special message just for them. Something that was right for them to hear in their lives right now. I asked them to be very, very still to listen to the message from their animal. After they had heard the message, I suggested they carry on their journey.
Once they reached their favourite place, I asked them to take a moment to stop and notice what it looked like and how it felt to finally be there. I asked them to imagine a huge basket in the middle of their favourite place. I suggested that this basket is a special worry basket. I encourage them to put all of their worries into the basket – one by one to let go of their worries and put them in the basket. I then asked them to notice how much lighter they felt after letting go of all the worries and concerns. And then I asked them to imagine turning around and walking back to their starting point when they felt ready.
After the visualisation, we all sat in a circle holding hands and saying the Mindful Minis Mantra. It is a wonderful way to grow a child’s self-esteem and confidence. And it can be done anywhere!
Unfortunately, we didn’t have time in all the classes to do artwork this week. But in these classes I promised the kids double artwork time nest week!! The classes that did do artwork produced some wonderful pictures of their special place and special animal. Some drew pictures of the worry baskets filled with all their worries. A wonderful, real way for a child to let go of his / her anxiety.
So, for the week ahead, I encourage each of you to focus on breathing through your anxiety and practise letting it go by placing it in the worry basket. And remind your children to do the same when you notice they are anxious or concerned about something, no matter how small.
“Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles. It takes away today’s peace.” ~ Randy Armstrong