In the classes this week, we followed a slightly African theme and discussed the ways in which a lion can teach us about mindfulness.
The children were spot on when they said stalking! To apprehend her prey, a lioness first relies on a stealthy stalk before bringing her victim down. When a lioness is stalking her prey, she is completely in-tune with her surroundings. She is fully aware of any faint smells in the air. Her hearing is attuned to the slightest noise and she knows exactly which way the wind is blowing. Each movement she makes is precise and with purpose. She needs to be completely focused and aware in that moment if she hopes to make a kill.
Before I encouraged the children to have some fun practising their stalking, we did our introductions. This week I passed around an African rattle drum. Each child got a chance to introduce themselves, offer how they were feeling if they wanted to and then rub the drum between their hands while the rest of us did some Lion Breath. They all really loved the novelty of the rattle drum and it was a good exercise in focus and co-ordination for some of them.
We then did a short mindfulness sensory exercise. I passed around a soft piece of animal-print fabric as well as some synthetic grass. A few of the younger ones were a bit concerned that the animal-print material was real animal skin! But after I assured them I had bought it at a material shop, they seemed slightly less nervous to touch it. Each child got a chance to touch both pieces and then describe what they could feel. Some even added in what they could smell as well!
It was then time for us to practise our stalking. I asked them to slow down all their movements – for each movement to have purpose and meaning. I asked them to tune into their bodies and be aware of each muscle that was contracting or stretching as they moved around the room. I felt that they responded well to this exercise. I think that imagining themselves as lions and lionesses, really helped them to drop into their bodies.
We then played an African yoga freeze game. I first reminded them of the following poses: sleeping crocodile, cobra, eagle and tree. When I played the music – African Savannah – they needed to get into one of the 4 poses or do their stalking lion. But when the music stopped, they needed to move into mountain pose. They really seemed to enjoy this game and their enthusiasm to give all the poses a go was lovely.
It was then time for a meditation and I guided them through a visualisation that I had written about a lion. The setting was a rain shower on the African plains, that had just ended. As the lion took a deep breath, he could still smell that wonderful smell of rain in the air. He could still hear the faint rumble of thunder in the distance. The children seemed to connect deeply with this visualisation. Most of them were able to fully let go and relax into the moment.
After the guided visualisation, we said our Mindful Minis Mantra and then it was time for artwork. The children got to paint with forks! It was a fun activity using fork painting to create a mane for the King of the Jungle. The results were some very cute and cuddly looking lions!
The African bush is one of my happy places. The sounds, smells and sights. It is a place where drawing awareness to the present moment seems to happen naturally for me. So, teaching the children about lions and mindfulness this week was very special for me.