“Be still – the quieter you become, the more you can hear.” ~unknown
The Winter weather this week warmed up at midday and into the afternoons which allowed us to enjoy our classes outdoors. As much as we are praying in earnest for more rain, it was a special treat to enjoy outdoor classes in the warm winter sun.
In the lessons this week we spoke about listening. We discussed how there are many forms of listening e.g. we can listen to our parents and friends; we can listen to nature sounds such as the wind blowing in the trees or a bird singing to us; we can listen to our bodies – possible aches and pains; we can listen to our feelings. We discussed how each of these is different and why they are all important.
The children suggested that listening to their parents, teachers and other adults keeps them safe. (Yay!) They also mentioned that they can learn about new things and new ideas from parents, teachers and other adults.
They felt that listening to their friends was a form of respect and that hopefully it meant they would be heard by their peers at some point. I explained that listening is part of communication. A very important part. Communication cannot happen between two people if they both simply speak and no-one listens.
We then discussed whether it makes sense to listen to our bodies. Do our bodies actually talk to us?! The children said that they do! We discussed how it is important to listen to our bodies to keep them safe and take care of them. This ties in with listening to “the little voice” inside and following our internal compass.
The children had some great ideas on why it is important to listen to one’s feelings and how we can do this. We discussed how feelings that get all squashed down inside us can make us even more upset and that they can grow and grow until they explode out of us when we are least expecting it! We discussed how it is better to listen to our feelings and express them in healthy ways instead of ignoring them or squashing them down inside. We discussed some of the ways in which we can let go of anger in a healthy way such as running, jumping on a trampoline, using a punch bag. One little girl suggested that you can wash your face when you feel angry to help you feel better – i loved that! There was much sharing of some wonderfully creative ways to let go of anger in particular.
We then had some fun by playing some listening games. Firstly, I clapped out a short rhythm which the children had to copy. They loved it! We did a number of these and the children did so well. Very attentive listeners. They then each had a turn to clap out a rhythm and the rest of the group had to copy. There were some really complicated beats put forward but on the whole we did well as a group to mimic the claps.
The next game was the much loved “Broken Telephone”. For those of you who have not heard of this game, the children all sit in a circle and one person whispers a sentence to the person on their left. That person whispers it to the next person and so on around the circle until it gets back to the person on the right of the original person. They then tell the group the message they received which is often a far cry from the original message. This game is always full of great laughs but it is an important learning tool. It shows how it is not always easy to listen to others and that it requires effort, attention and focus to truly listen to someone.
We had some very funny messages. One started as “The brown bear bit into a bacon sandwich” and ended as “The brown bee ate a sausage”. I find it interesting how the word “bit” changed into “ate” somewhere along the circle. Similar concept of eating but different words. When listening to someone, we might think that we have heard them and know exactly what they are saying but be careful that it is not your interpretation of what they have said.
It was then time for some mindful movement. This involved a “Simon Says” game but instead it was “Bianca Says” with yoga poses! Again, lots of fun and laughs but I think it clearly showed the children how it takes effort and focus to listen properly.
After the games it was time for a guided visualisation. The story was one about climbing a mountain. During the meditation I asked the children to squeeze and tighten various parts of their body and then relax. For example, their hands or calf muscles. This is an effective way to help children settle and let go. On reaching the top of the mountain, I suggested the children could see the most beautiful sunset. Beautiful golden colours of orange, red and possibly even some pink. Sometimes in life, in order to enjoy the beauty, we have to put in effort like climbing the mountain to see the sunset.
After the meditation it was time for some artwork. The children drew their mountains and sunsets. It was so wonderful to see some Table Mountain silhouettes including Lions Head and all!
It was a special week of classes enjoyed outdoors in the Winter sunshine. I leave you this week with some words from Snatam Kaur – “May the long time sun shine upon you always and guide your way home”.