Highlights from a past class

the kind heart

Guiding children in mindfulness in Cape Town

This afternoon Mindful Minis held a workshop with the Grade 1 and 2 girls from the Hearts Club at Springfield Convent. Today’s theme was the Kind Heart, the second workshop from the Loving Heart Series by Mindful Minis.

We started with our 3 deep breaths and listening to the chimes. We reminded ourselves what mindfulness is by watching the glitter jar. When the jar is shaken up, the glitter moves around chaotically, representing how we sometimes feel when our thoughts and feelings are all over the place. When we practise mindfulness, it helps our minds and hearts to become clearer and calmer, just like the glitter settles in the jar when we stop shaking it. I reminded the girls how a clearer and calmer head and heart can help them to think better, to make better decisions, to concentrate better and simply to feel better.

I then selected a student to come up and I asked her to squeeze all the toothpaste out of a tube that I had. What?! Big eyes all around. It was a herbal scented toothpaste so the minty smell filled the air making it a sensory experience as well. Once all the toothpaste was well and truly out, I asked another student if she would put all the toothpaste back into the tube for me. Again, I heard a What?! I must take my hat off to the second student since she did give it a try to put the toothpaste back into the tube but as you can imagine, it can’t be done. One little girl was ahead of the game and with much enthusiasm shouted out, “I know what you are trying to teach us!”. Interested, I asked her to continue. Well, she was spot on! In her own words, “When you are nasty to your friend and you say horrible words, you can’t take them back.”

I then introduced the girls to my friend, Sarah. Sarah is a paper cut out doll. She starts off as a blank sheet of paper and then we give her detail – green eyes, brown hair, pigtails, one plaited, red dress, blue and green gloves, pink and black shoes. I invited each girl to come up to Sarah and say something nasty to her. I asked them also to tear off a piece of her when they did it. Incredulous looks all around! Some of the girls said they didn’t know any nasty things to say so I asked them to think about something unkind that might have been said to them at some stage that left them feeling hurt. It was interesting to note that many of the nasty comments were aimed at Sarah’s physical appearance and only one comment was personality based.

Once everyone had had a turn, Sarah was completely ripped up. I asked the girls how we could put her back together. Everyone had a turn to put their piece of Sarah back and at the same time apologising to her and saying something nice to her. The girls did so well. Some of them even gave Sarah a hug!

Once Sarah was back together, I covered some of the paper rips with plasters. I asked the girls whether they thought Sarah looked the same as before now that she was pieced back together. I explained how the things we say, as well as our actions, can have a lasting wound on someone, even if we apologise to them afterwards and are kind to them. One little girl asked me why Sarah was still smiling (Sarah’s facial expression was obviously the same as before we ripped her up). I explained that even when we hurt someone and the wound is deep, they might still smile and push the hurt way down so that no-one can see it. It doesn’t mean that it is not there. The girls really seemed to take the message on board. This exercise using the paper doll Sarah is a great one and is a very visual reminder for the children what nasty words and actions can do.

We then moved into a time of relaxation. I led the girls through one of my guided visualisations involving a still lake with beautiful colours. I asked the girls to connect with all the goodness they have inside of them. I asked them to focus on letting that goodness out and sharing it with others.
It was then almost time to say goodbye. I handed each girl a little envelope for them to take home. Inside was a piece of sandpaper and a ball of cotton wool. Something to remind them how certain words and actions can hurt like sandpaper, while other words and actions are soft and gentle like cotton wool. I asked them to think about which their words are.

So, thank you Hearts Club for having Mindful Minis join you again today. You are a delightful bunch of girls who I loved working with and who I look forward to seeing again next term.