Highlights from a past class

adding handfuls of happiness to the world – respect

Mindful Minis had a wonderful week this week starting Term 2 of 2017. It was great to re-connect with the children after the holidays. There was a buzz of excitement in most of the classes with an enthusiastic curiosity about what’s in store for the term. It was also lovely to have some new children join us for the first time, exploring the journey of mindfulness with us.

The theme for this term is “Adding Handfuls of Happiness to the World”. Each week we will look at a different value that can help each of us to contribute positively to society. This week we focused on Respect.

The children seemed to have a good idea about what respect means. I got a lot of comments around “being kind to others” and “listening to others”. I explained to the children that respect is how you feel about someone or yourself, and how you treat that person. It is thinking and acting in a positive way about yourself or others. Showing respect to someone means you act in a way that shows you care about their feelings and well-being.

It was great to hear the children mention how we can respect the environment as well. The concept of saving water came through clearly which was wonderful to hear, considering the drought we are having in the Cape at the moment. We spoke about littering and the effects of littering on the environment.

I did the well-known toothpaste-in-the-tube exercise with the children. Each child had a turn to squeeze as much toothpaste out of tube as possible. I then very matter-of-factly asked one of them to please put all the toothpaste back in the tube. The responses were priceless! With an incredulous and horrified look, they meekly explained that they didn’t think it was possible. I then explained that the reason I had asked them to squeeze all the toothpaste out, was to show them that when you say horrible things to others or call them names, you cannot take it back. You can say sorry but that still cannot undo what you have said. Just like the toothpaste cannot be put back into the tube, so too one cannot take back the nasty words. I think the use of the toothpaste is a very concrete explanation and hopefully one that the children will remember.

For our mindful movement this week, I took the children on a safari adventure. We packed a picnic with all sorts of delicious goodies including some weird and wonderful combinations like sandwiches with honey and tomatoes! We then did some bum shuffling to “drive” our 4×4’s into the game reserve. On spotting a lion, we mimicked it by doing Lion Breath. The children also managed to spot a buck (Deer Pose). We did Elephant Pose and in most classes successfully managed to make an elephant train where each child held into the tail of the elephant in front of them with their trunk. The baby elephants had a lot of fun spraying water on their backs and each other! I then hinted that we saw a crocodile at the watering hole which allowed us to move into Snapping Crocodile Pose. This allowed for a good transition into savasana where we were rewarded with some relaxing time to star gaze and look for a shooting star in the African night sky.

I then moved straight into the guided visualisation keeping the children lying on their mats in savasana. This week I turned an old Aesop’s Fable into a guided visualisation. I used the story of the Lion and the Mouse. In the story, the mouse ends up freeing the lion from a hunter’s trap and the lion realises that even though he is King of the Jungle, he realises how much respect he has for the tiny mouse. No matter how big or small someone might be, no matter how powerful or weak they might seem, everyone deserves our respect, because sometimes the smallest of those among us, are more powerful than the mighty and the strong.

During the visualisation I gave the children time to absorb the sounds and smells of the savannah. I really enjoyed the experience myself, having recently been to Addo Nature Reserve so it was great to relive my time in the bush!

For the classes that do mindful art, the children drew something from the story that stood out for them. In celebrating the start of Autumn, I provided each child with an Autumn leaf to use as a mane for their lion. Many different scenes from the story were depicted – some of the lion were sleeping under trees avoiding the hot African sun; others were trying to escape from the hunter’s trap; and others were talking to the mouse and showing their respect.

So, a lovely start to Term 2 this week covering what I feel is a very valuable subject – learning to have respect for yourself, respect for others and respect for our environment and all the creatures that share it with us.