We had some very special classes this week “celebrating life” and it was a wonderful way to end off another term of Mindful Minis.
We started the classes by talking about what celebrating life means to each of us. It was heart-warming to hear many of the children talk about cherishing the environment and celebrating nature. Spending time in nature is incredibly therapeutic and important for children (and adults!). But I was so inspired to hear the children knew all about the effects of littering, wasting water, damaging wild flowers and why we need to do everything we can to preserve Mother Earth. One little girl even mentioned how we should only eat locally grown fruit and vegetables so as to save our air from the added carbon monoxide generated by planes importing exotic fruit and vegetables.
I then asked the children how we celebrate our own lives. There were some frowns and a few confused looks. But when I said “birthdays!” there was a lot of “Ah, yes, yes, yes!”. We spoke about how birthdays are a way to give thanks for life.
So, in keeping with the birthday theme, we then moved into a candle meditation. I placed a large, lighted candle in the middle of the circle and asked the children to quietly focus on the flame. I asked them to notice any different colours – maybe a bit of dark orange or green or even blue. I asked them to notice how the flame was dancing. I asked them to watch and let go and to simply focus on the flame. Fire can be very mesmerising – it often seems to have a life of its own. I personally find it very calming and peaceful to watch a log fire burning so it was lovely to share a bit of this with the children.
During the candle meditation, I also asked the children to pay attention to the breath. I reminded them that wherever they are, their breath is always with them. I asked them if they had ever been somewhere and realised they had forgotten their breath at home or perhaps left it in mom’s car or at a friend’s house. Of course, there were many giggles about this, but I wanted to emphasize clearly that they always have their breath to turn to. Our breath gives us life but it can also give us calm and courage.
In our mindful movement this week, we baked a birthday cake with our bodies. I think many were disappointed there was no edible cake! But they all still had loads of fun playing around with the different poses. Just to name a few, we beat the eggs and sugar (scissors pose), we added vanilla essence and milk (triangle pose) and finally we baked it all in the oven (savasana).
Keeping the children in savasana, I moved straight into the guided visualisation. I was so pleased to have received the new weighted blankets from Weighted Blankets South Africa in time for the lessons this week. So, in each class, I was able to offer out 4 of these incredible blankets. They are a coveted item in many of the classes! I had also made some eye pillows over the long weekend. I felt they made a big difference in helping some of the children relax for longer.
In the guided visualisation this week, I encouraged the children to imagine themselves as tiny seeds growing in the ground. I asked them to imagine their legs to be the roots and to squeeze their legs tight to feel them growing. I then asked them to imagine that their arms were the leaves and to squeeze their arms tight to feel the leaves growing. I suggested that as growing trees, they had everything they needed to help them grow – enough water, plenty of nutrients in the soil, enough sunlight. I asked them to think about what they felt they needed in their own lives to carrying on growing as healthy and strong children. Perhaps healthy foods or perhaps fresh air and running around or perhaps love from their moms and dads or perhaps encouragement from their friends. I asked them to imagine that right then, in that moment, they had everything they needed to carry on growing as healthy and strong boys or girls. I asked them to drop into that feeling of being healthy and strong. I suggested that just like the tree, they too can stand tall and strong. I encouraged them that even when life throws them thunderstorms or possibly even tornadoes, that they can stand tall and strong. The wind can blow very hard but it will not blow them over. I reminded them how they can use their breath to help them stand tall and strong. For me, it was a very powerful visualisation and I got a sense that the children related well to the image of the strong, tall tree with its roots firmly planted in the ground.
After the meditation, we did a mindful taste exercise with…. jellybeans! Nothing like a jellybean to produce smiles all round. I felt that a raisin just wouldn’t have the same impact with the kids ? They did really well in delaying devouring the jellybean on the first bite. We spoke about colour, texture, shape, smell, taste. It was all about noticing. Did their mouths fill up with more saliva when they started chewing the jellybean? Did their mouths feel a bit tingly? What did it feel like when bits got stuck in their teeth? How did their mouths feel when they had finished the jellybeans? I find that a taste test is always a great way for children to draw their attention to the present moment.
We ended off our classes this week with some drawing. I suggested the children draw a picture of somewhere they would like to go on their birthday. It could be absolutely anywhere. There were some wonderfully imaginative drawings – from a professional ballet studio to a wormhole in space to Lollipop Land to prehistoric dinosaur age! So, it was a great lesson to end our term’s theme of “Adding handfuls of happiness to the world”.