In the classes this week, we followed on from our discussion about how to love ourselves. We reminded ourselves that healthy eating, drinking lots of water, getting enough sleep, doing exercise and breathing lots of outdoor, fresh air are some of the ways in which we can show love to ourselves and taking care of ourselves.
So we started off the classes by taking some deep breaths and practising some new breath awareness exercises. The first exercise was blowing bubbles. Great fun! We passed around some bubble liquid and each child had a few chances to blow bubbles. Although the children got very involved in the fun element of this exercise, they were still very much paying attention to their breath. I asked them questions about whether they needed to blow hard or soft. Whether they could notice changes in the bubbles if they changed their blowing. I asked them to play around a bit with their breath and see what happened to the bubbles. I then suggested that the bubbles were now filled with their breath. That their breath was in fact floating around the room in the bubbles. This caused some eyes to widen but it was a lovely, concrete way to grasp an understanding of the breath.
We then moved on to our playdough and pom-pom breathing exercise. Each child got a blob of playdough that they needed to roll into a long sausage. They then placed it in the shape of a spiral on the floor. Each child received a small pom-pom that they needed to blow around the spiral into the centre and then back out again. The trick here is to temper the breath – so not to blow too hard that the pom-pom overshoots the playdough but also not to blow too soft that the pom-pom doesn’t go anywhere. Once the children mastered blowing their pom-pom in and out of the spiral, I suggested they put some obstacles in the way to make it more difficult. So, using a little bit more playdough, they placed small blobs in the path of the spiral that they then had to blow the pom-pom around. It was so lovely to see how proud they felt when they got the pom-pom to the centre. The younger class really connected with this activity so we spent a bit more time enjoying this fun connection with the breath.
We then spoke a bit about how another way to care for ourselves is to express our feelings. We spoke about how there are many ways that we can do this – through talking, journaling (for the older children), through artwork, even through exercise like yoga. With the older class, we did a yoga sequence of expressing different feelings. It went like this:
• When I feel angry, I can imagine that I am an erupting volcano releasing my anger. (volcano pose)
• When I feel tired, I can fill myself with energy from the sun. (reach for the sun pose)
• When I feel happy, I can pop like popcorn. (crouch down and “pop” up)
• When I need to calm down and focus, I can be still like a tree. (tree pose)
• When I feel sad, I will remember that I am strong (warrior I pose), I am bold (warrior II), I am important (warrior III).
• And when I need to rest, I will rest. (child’s pose)
We ran through the sequence a few times and it was beautiful when the children started joining in with the words.
With the younger classes, I read them the book “The Color Monster” by Anna Llenas. An incredible pop-up book full of amazing illustrations that pop out. The story is about a monster whose feelings are all mixed up. He looks and feels like a mess. His colours are all muddled up. The little person in the story helps him to work out his different feelings and separate them into different colours. Yellow for happiness, Blue for sadness, Red for anger, Black for fear, Green for calm and Pink for love.
After reading the story, I gave each child a “Feelings Pie” template. I explained that they were going to draw slices of the pie representing their own feelings. So a big pie slice meant they felt a lot of that particular and a small pie slice meant not so much. I also left one square on the key blank so they could choose a feeling that had not been mentioned and represent that. Some interesting new feelings came up – frustrated, joy, fun, hatred, rainbow feeling. One little boy mentioned that he was going to call his picture a “Feelings Pizza” since he much preferred pizza to pie! Too sweet.
Another important discussion we had was around personal space. To the children I explained this as having an imaginary bubble around them. Some of the children were familiar with the concept and there were some other names like the space bubble. I explained that they can invite people into their bubble or choose to keep them out. We spoke about how we can sometimes get a heavy or uncomfortable feeling when someone comes too close. But at another time or with a different person we might have a light, happy feeling and we want that person to be close. That by listening to what our body is telling us, we are taking care of ourselves and showing ourselves love. I encouraged the children that they always have the right to say no to someone coming into their bubble. That they don’t need to be rude, but can explain to the person politely that they need space. It is vital for children to feel empowered to tell others when their bubble feels invaded. It may be an innocent situation with another child sitting too close to them at snack time but a child should always feel that it is okay to say they need some space.
With the older children, we then moved into a guided visualisation. I played them “The Invisible Bubble” track from my CD “Mindful Moments for Minis”. Most of them used the eye pillows and it was lovely to see them fully letting go.
There was a lovely receptiveness to the classes this week. I felt blessed to be a part of the different groups.
So this week I leave you with our Mindful Minis Mantra that we use in the two older classes:
• I will listen to others with respect….and breathe
• I will listen to my body with kindness….and breathe
• I will listen to my feelings with compassion…and breathe
• I will listen to my soul…and breathe