This week we focused on the breath – following that rhythmic rise and fall of the belly as we inhale and exhale. An animal that can help us connect with this motion is the jellyfish.
I started each class by passing around my own pet jellyfish. What?! No, it was not a real one. But despite me telling the children it was not real, I still got asked many, many times during the classes whether it was real. It was just too life-like!
Each child got a chance to hold the bottle that the jellyfish was in. I asked them to take in a deep breath, then turn the bottle over and slowly exhale while watching the jellyfish float back to the top of the bottle. It was amazing to see how this helped the children to really slow down the breath and to extend the exhale. The kids were extremely interested in how I made it and many of them insisted that I tell their parents so that they can make one at home. So, if making a pet jellyfish is on the to-do list for the weekend, I can highly recommend the tutorial from Bhoomplay.
I then showed the children a short video clip of mesmerising glowing jellyfish swimming gracefully and peacefully through the ocean. I asked the children to notice how a jellyfish expands its dome-shaped top allowing the top to completely fill with water. When the dome top is full, the jellyfish squeezes all the water out which then propels it forwards. I felt that this smooth, flowing motion of the jellyfish expanding and contracting its dome-shaped top was a lovely visual for the children. I think it helped them to connect with the breath and slow it down.
I then showed the children some pictures of unusual jellyfish. Not all jellyfish are transparent. Some are in fact quite spectacular. The children absolutely loved the fried egg jellyfish!
We then did a bit of jellyfish mindful movement. I started the children in mountain pose. I asked them to stretch out their arms to the side and slowly lift them up. I asked them to imagine themselves under water and to notice the resistance of the water on their arms. Then I asked them to move their arms slowly back down to their sides. But again, very slowly. I suggested the water felt “thick” and that it was hard for them to move their arms down. After we had done this a few times, I asked them to stop and notice what they could feel in their arms and hands. Some of the response were: “there is water inside my hands!”, “fat”, “my arms are sore”, “tingling”, “swollen”. There were some interesting observations but so wonderful to see them all connect with their bodies and listen to what was happening inside.
We then shook things up a bit and I asked them to jiggle their pelvis but with their feet firmly planted on the ground. To jiggle their hips, bums, arms and eventually their whole body but still with feet firmly planted on the ground. When the jiggles were at a high, I asked them to freeze and notice what was happening inside: “pins and needles”, “buzzing”, “tingling”, “my blood is moving very fast”. Again, lovely to see the connection to the body.
These were both true moments of mindfulness. Each a moment to explore sensations in the body with curiosity and kindness – no judgement.
It was then time for the guided visualisation. The children love using the beautiful weighted blankets. With the quiet in the room and the lights dimmed, it is a wonderful extra to have the body feeling grounded by the weighted blankets. I think this part of the lesson is a precious time for many of the children. I asked each child to imagine themselves watching a jellyfish swimming in the ocean. I re-introduced the idea of connecting the breath with the motion of the jellyfish.
After the meditation, it was time for the kids to get messy and tactile with some finger painting. Most of the kids absolutely loved painting the bubble wrap. I have to admit I enjoyed it a lot too and was very happy to assist if needed ? It was strangely calming and comforting. The results of the artwork were some wonderfully brightly coloured jellyfish.
A great week of fun classes and hopefully a valuable take-away image to help the children connect with their breath at any time.