Highlights from a past class

we are filled with love

Loving-Kindness meditation for children

With talk of love all around this Valentines week, I decided it was fitting for the Mindful Minis to look at how to fill ourselves with love. Often we are encouraged to love other people, show kindness to others, care for others but sometimes in doing so, we forget to love ourselves. It can sometimes be far easier to show love outwards than to show love to ourselves.

So this week in the classes, we discussed what self-love is, whether it is important or not and how to show it to ourselves. The children came up with some lovely, insightful ways in which to show love to ourselves – healthy eating, listening to our feelings and expressing them, getting enough sleep, using kind and encouraging words to speak to ourselves and giving ourselves a hug from time to time! Beautiful.

With the younger children we played a self-love game using a super-sized dice. The children each had a turn to roll the dice and answer the questions on the dice. I also snuck in a little bit of number recognition and asked them to identify the number that it rolled on if they could. Some examples of the questions were:
• “I am great at ….”
• “I am special because …”
• “Three words to describe me are …”

It was lovely to see the children thinking about what they love about themselves and connecting with feelings of self-love.

With the older children, I passed a bag of stones around. Each stone had an empowering word written on it. The children got to choose a stone and then think of an image relating to that word. We then went around the circle and for each child we used their empowering word and image in a mantra that we said together as a group. So, for example, one child got the word “free”. Her image was a kite flying high in the sky. So together as a group we said: “Breathing in, I see myself as a kite flying high in the sky. Breathing out, I feel free”. It was a powerful exercise using connection to the breath to boost self-esteem and self-worth. A way to show ourselves love.

We then moved into a mindful movement sequence focused on building confidence and self-esteem but also offering grounding. As we moved through the poses, we said the following words:

Today I am a mountain, standing strong and tall. (mountain pose)
A fiery volcano erupting into the sky. (volcano pose)
A lightning bolt shooting across the sky. (lightning bolt / chair pose)

Today I am a mountain, standing strong and tall. (mountain pose)
A gentle stream flowing downhill. (forward bend)

Today I am a butterfly, flying freely through the sky. (butterfly pose)
Today I am a flower, beautiful and fresh. (flower pose)
Today I am an autumn leaf floating gently in the breeze. (sitting forward bend)
Today I am a seed, getting ready to grow tall and strong. (hug knees to chest)

Today I am a lion, courageous and brave. (lion breath)
Today I open up my heart to share all the love I have inside. (Sitting on heels with hands in warrior 1)

Today I am me – kind, calm, healthy, strong, important and filled with love. (Kneeling with hands in prayer position)

We ran through the sequence twice, saying the words and then once more in silence – with purpose and focus. The children connected so beautifully with their bodies and I felt they drew strength from the poses.

We then moved onto some artwork. With the 5 to 8-year-olds, I did a loving-kindness meditation using art. Each child got one paint colour and an outline of a heart on a piece of paper. They then had to pass their picture to the person next to them. I then asked the children to think about the person whose picture they had in front on them and send that person love by putting fingerprints in the heart on the paper. Once they were done, they passed the picture onto the next person. This continued until the pictures had done a full circle. The exercise ended with the children putting fingerprints in their own heart picture – a way to send love to themselves. It worked really well. The children had fun and I would encourage other mindfulness teachers to try it as a creative way to do a loving-kindness mediation with children of this age group.

With the older children, I asked them to outline their feet on a piece of paper, keeping their heels touching. We then turned the inner portion of the outline into the letter “v” as in “LOVE”. I then asked the children to fill their feet with all the things they love about themselves. I also encouraged them to add qualities they would like to have more of as well as any of the empowering words that spoke to them in the stone meditation we had done earlier. It was not an easy exercise since it is hard to verbalise the things we love about ourselves and even harder to write them down! A very personal exercise but the results were wonderful and hopefully the children were able to connect with the beauty inside themselves.

It was then time to end the class. With the younger children, I read them the story “I am Peace” by Susan Verde. A lovely book of mindfulness aimed at young children – to help them find peace and grounding in a world that can sometimes feel chaotic and overwhelming.

With the older children, we did a loving-kindness meditation to end of the class, using the words:
May I be kind.
May I be loved.
May I be happy.

I would like to leave you this week with a quote from a man filled with much wisdom, Thich Nhat Hahn: “When we are mindful, deeply touch in the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.

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