Highlights from a past class

be in the body

Guiding children in mindfulness

This week in Mindful Minis we looked at the third colour of the rainbow, Blue. We spoke about how blue is considered to be a cool colour. How it is at the cooler end of the spectrum, where things slow down, allowing us to take time to be still.

Blue is the colour of the throat chakra which represents communication and self-expression. This week we spoke about how sometimes it can be hard for us to say how we feel. It is not always easy to find the right words to express ourselves. I suggested to the children, that if they can’t find the words to name how they are feeling, to rather focus on what they can feel happening in their bodies. To really get inside their bodies and notice. I asked them to connect with the sensations in their bodies such as a very fast heartbeat, quick breathing, a sore tummy or heavy muscles.

By connecting with the physical manifestation of an emotion in the body, the emotion becomes less overwhelming. It also helps a child to recognise that they are separate from the emotion. They feel the emotion but it does not define them.

Even as an adult, I sometimes find it hard to name the feeling. Sometimes it feels like a mix of a whole lot of emotions and it is hard to name them. Connecting with the physical manifestation such as “I can feel I am breathing very quickly now” or “I can feel my mouth is dry and I can’t really swallow right now”, helps to bring kindness and compassion to oneself and the experience. It also helps to slow things down and enables a more conscious response to the situation instead of an unconscious, more instinctive reaction.

For the first activity, in the centre of the circle, I placed a bowl of water with ice in it. I passed around a small sieve and asked each child to scoop out an ice block. I asked them to squeeze it in their hands and notice what it felt like. I asked them to see how long could they hold it for before the sensation became too intense. I asked them to rub it on their arms, their face, their lips and again to notice what it felt like. I asked them to describe, as best they could, what the cold felt like. One little girl said it almost felt like the stinging stuff that burns off warts (liquid nitrogen) but that it felt a bit softer than that. I thought that was a very good explanation! I asked them to notice whether they were enjoying holding the ice cube or whether they just wanted to put it down; whether they felt like they were having fun or whether they felt frustrated with the whole exercise.

For the mindful movement this week, we did some mindful walking. I placed my coloured wool in a circle around the room. I played some wonderful background sounds of a river flowing while we all did some heel-to-toe tightrope walking on the coloured wool. I asked the children to pay attention to their feet. To feel the movement in their feet and ankles as they took each step. I asked them to notice whether it felt difficult walking on the wool; whether they struggled to balance; whether it was easier with their arms out wide. It was a really nice movement exercise to slow things down and bring a feeling of focus into the room.

It was then time for the guided imagery and relaxation. This week I used a visualisation I have written titled “The Enchanted River”. It takes the children on a journey through a rain forest. They need to walk carefully, paying special attention to their feet, in order not to trip over the large tree roots. Since the children had finished the mindful walking exercise earlier, I felt they could relate well to this. The visualisation then takes them to a waterfall where I ask them to feel the spray of the cool water on their body. Again, the ice exercise earlier aided the experience of feeling the cool of the spray on their skin. The children seemed to enjoy the calm of this particular visualisation and connected with the soothing sounds of the river flowing in the background.

This week, in the classes that did artwork, there were many giggles and laughs as I painted all the children’s feet! The purpose of this was to draw attention to the feet again. I asked the children what it felt like when I painted their feet (mostly ticklish!) and whether it felt the same all over the sole of the foot or whether the heel felt different to the ball of the foot. The children did really well to notice the sensations in their feet (while trying not to laugh!). Each child then made a footprint on a piece of paper and transformed it into either a snowman or a penguin. It was a really great mindful art activity and lots of fun.

I leave you with this thought for the week ahead: “Just slow down. Slow down your speech. Slow down your breathing. Slow down your walking. Slow down your eating. And let this slower, steadier pace perfume your mind. Just slow down…” ~ Doko

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