This week the theme was leopards. There was great excitement amongst the children when I mentioned this. It is lovely to see how much our African wildlife means to our children. The kids were wonderfully knowledgeable about these beautiful creatures, knowing that they are one of the big five, that they are covered with spots called rosettes, that they are nocturnal and that they can climb trees.
When I asked the children what they thought leopards can teach us about mindfulness, a few of the older children mentioned that leopards walk very slowly and quietly when stalking their prey. Perfect – the stealth of a leopard can teach us about mindful walking!
We have not done a mindful walking class in Mindful Minis before but the children seemed to have an idea of what it could possibly entail. They were brilliant! As part of the yoga safari routine that we did, I included some mindful walking between the poses. I encouraged the children to really slow each step down and to pay attention to how their weight shifted in their feet as they walked. Some of them found it hard to balance when walking so slowly but I asked them to notice this with curiosity. The kids had lots of fun exploring the savannah during the yoga safari seeing eagles, tortoises, cobras, monkeys and leopards!
I would like to encourage each of you to do some mindful walking with your children this week. This involves letting go of all your ideas about what walking means. Exercise, outside time, getting somewhere. The purpose of mindful walking is not any of these. Forget about those. The purpose is to feel and experience the motion of walking. Slow your steps down so much that you can feel your weight shift slowly with each step. Notice your foot as it lifts off the ground to take the next step. Don’t over think or over analyse it. Simply feel it. Close your eyes if you are brave enough!
Another characteristic of leopards, that teaches us something about mindfulness, is that they are solitary animals. We chatted about how it is important to have some alone time each day. That this time alone can help us to centre and ground ourselves. It can help us to find the quiet within.
For the creative time this week we made leopard rocks. For each child, I had pre-painted a river stone a yellow colour. If you are running a workshop over a few hours, you can get the children to paint their own stones, but I had time constraints. So, I armed each child with a yellow stone and a black permanent marker. The results were amazing! Beautiful leopard spotted rocks to remind them to practise their mindful walking. Some children wanted to add googly eyes to their stones which made them very cute indeed. 😊
And finally, we ended off the classes with a guided visualisation about a lion. Not quite in keeping with the theme but hopefully close enough. The visualisation I used is from the Mindful Moments for Minis CD and it is one which encourages perseverance in children. This is something that I have found some children can struggle with so it was nice to be able to include this in the lessons this week.
So, all in all, a great introduction for the children to mindful walking, using the stealthful stalking of a leopard.