Highlights from a past class

adding handfuls of happiness to the world – listening to others

Guiding children in mindfulness

The theme this week was about listening to others. We had a brief discussion in each lesson around why it is important to listen to others. There were some interesting comments. One little boy mentioned that if you don’t listen to others, you might fall into a hole! I suspect this might have happened when mom or dad’s warning was not heeded.

We did some fun listening exercises that the kids loved. I started off by clapping a short rhythm for them. The kids listened and tried to copy the rhythm. They did very well with the easy patterns but had to listen quite carefully to the more complex ones. Some of the children then clapped out their own rhythm that the rest of us had to mimic. This is a great mindfulness exercise that most kids love. It helps them to focus their awareness in a fun and engaging manner.

We then moved onto the classic listening game of “broken telephone”. This is where someone whispers a message to the person next to them, and that person in turn whispers it to the next person, and so on until it gets back to the first person. The results are always hilarious! In one of the classes, the message started as “the funny bunny ate a bun” and ended as “the silly bunny won the race”. It emphasized, in a very real way, to the children that listening to others is not easy. It requires one to pay focused attention.

This week was the first time that I introduced the sun salutations into my classes. I used the well-known version for young children – Dance for the Sun by the beautifully talented Kira Willey. The kids loved it! I suspect this could become a regular must-have in the classes.

For our mindful movement this week, we played a yoga version of the traditional “Simon Says”. If I said “Yoga Teacher Says”, the kids needed to move into the required pose. If I simply said “Teacher Says”, they need to remain in the previous pose. It took a few turns for them to get the hang of it, but then we had great fun. We did a lovely sequence with an emphasis on balance poses. I placed my Hoberman Sphere in the centre of the mats for them to use as a focus point. It was wonderful to see the concentration and enthusiasm. But even more lovely to see the laughter and joy when they fell over and then stood straight back up to try again.

For the guided visualisation, I led them on a walk up a mountain to view the sunset on the horizon. As we walked up the mountain, I encouraged them to squeeze the muscles in their calves and then later their arms. I asked them to notice how it feels to squeeze hard and then relax. I used the imagery of climbing over rocks and pulling themselves up ledges so they had something to connect to when squeezing and relaxing the muscles. When they reached the top, I suggested they simply take a moment to be calm, still and quiet to watch the beautiful colours of the sky. Yellow, orange, red, possibly even pink and purple. I encouraged them to let go of the feelings of the day with the setting sun. To allow themselves to feel free and light. In some of the classes, I then played the soulful and peaceful song “Long Time Sun” by Snatam Kaur.

In the classes that do artwork, the children drew pictures of the mountain and sunset that they saw during the visualisation. Such beautiful interpretations. One little boy’s mountain was so steep that he introduced some steps on it to help him get to the top. Wonderful symbolism of having the courage to find different ways of overcoming the steep mountains that life sometimes puts in our path.

This week I would like to leave you with some wise words from the Dalai Lama “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”

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