Highlights from a past class

noticing nature

Guiding children in mindfulness

This week in Mindful Minis we looked at the colour Green. When I asked the children what immediately comes to mind when they think of the colour green, the initial answers were things like “grass”, “leaves”, “flower stems” – all items from nature! Heart-warming moment for me.

I asked what feeling comes to mind when they think of the colour green and I received some lovely and honest answers. Calm. Quiet. Peacefulness. Joy. Sickness. On inquiring further about the feeling of “sickness”, I was told that vomit is green so green reminded that little person of feeling sick. Only from the mouth of babes!

We spoke about how, in yoga, green represents the heart chakra and we all gave ourselves a big bear hug as an expression of our self-love.

We did a great “green” mindfulness exercise this week. I chose a variety of green leaves from my garden. One for each child. I asked the children to study their leaves closely. To notice the shape; the size; the patterns; the smell; whether the leaf had a rough or smooth edge; the texture; whether it was one or many parts; whether it was completely green or perhaps there were traces of other colours. I really wanted the children to focus and pay attention to the minute details of their leaf. Then, I asked them to pass the leaf to their neighbour when they heard the sound of the chime. The whole exercise was done in silence. We passed on each leaf – studying it, observing it, noticing it. We then discussed all the leaves afterwards and special things we had noticed about them. It was truly a wonderful exercise.

In the mindful movement, I continued with the theme of nature. We did a beautiful sequence representing the life cycle of a tree. We started in child’s pose as tiny seeds. Slowly our leaves started to sprout from the seed. We stretched out our “leaves” with a modified version of Parighasana on each side. Our seedling started to grow into trees as we rolled up slowly from a forward bend. And finally, we were beautiful, strong trees standing tall in tree pose. I asked each child what tree they would like to be. There were some oak trees, redwoods, a variety of fruit trees, a hibiscus tree, a sparkling crystal tree and a heart tree! Then the wind started blowing and we swayed our bodies gently from side-to-side in bamboo pose. The wind managed to blow all the leaves off our trees. So, with our fingers “raining down” leaves, we moved into a forward bend and back into child’s pose. A gentle sequence that the children had fun with while exercising focus and concentration.

In the guided visualisation this week, I played some soothing sounds of a summer garden. This set the tone for the meditation “In the Garden”. In this meditation I take the children on a journey through a beautiful garden exploring the flowers and bugs, listening to the birds and crickets, squishing their toes in the mud next to the stream and catching squishy, slimy tadpoles! It is a great sensory meditation. Then I ask the children to imagine a big tree. I use part of the well-known meditation where one side of the tree is happy but the other side is sad. I ask the children to notice what each side looks like and what looks different about each side. I ask the children to think about what is making the sad side of the tree feel so sad and what it needs to make it happy again. Then I ask the children to imagine the rain coming to wash away all the sadness from the sad side of tree so that it can grow to be healthy and strong like its happy side.

For the artwork this week, I asked the children to draw the tree that they imagined during the meditation. To draw the happy and sad parts of the tree as they saw it when they were listening to the guided visualisation. The results were some lovely works of self-expression.

I leave you with this thought for your week ahead: “Every one of us already has the seed of mindfulness. The practice is to cultivate it.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

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