This week we centered our gratitude around nature. Living in Cape Town, we are privileged to live at the foot of a breath-taking mountain. Table Mountain is a part of our every day. We see it on the way to school. We see it on the way to work. We may drive around it daily to get to the other side of the mountain. We can’t miss it! But this week, I encouraged the children to think about what it really means to live so close to a significant natural wonder.
We spoke about some of the other special places in nature that the children like to explore – Kirstenbosch, Keurboom Park, Zeekoevlei, Muizenberg, Newlands Forest to name a few. Again, it struck me how lucky we are to have so many pockets of nature close to us that we can enjoy. Research has been done to show the many health benefits from spending time in nature. Not only is there a direct physical benefit from breathing clean, fresh air and getting exercise, but there is also a positive impact on emotional wellbeing. In my experience, some mindful time in nature can go a long, long way.
So, this week, in the classes, we spent some time in the garden listening and exploring. A combination of a sound awareness mediation with a tactile slant. The children had a lot of fun listening for different garden sounds. We tried listening with our eyes open and then our eyes closed to notice if there is a difference. Often, when one sense is blocked out (e.g. eyes closed), the other senses are heightened. I then gave the children a variety of items from nature to explore – pine cones, shells, porcupine quill, interesting stones, etc. Each child had a turn to use as many words as possible to describe how their object felt. A great exercise for children to practise focused awareness.
In one of the classes we did a special nature-focused yoga sequence. Lots of fun poses to explore – Mountain, Crescent Moon, Tree, Flower, even Lizard on a Rock pose! In the other classes, we listened to a guided visualisation about an Enchanted River. This is a track from the CD Mindful Moments for Minis which takes the children on a journey through a rain forest.
And finally, we had time to colour our gratefulness rocks. This week the children all choose one item from nature that they wanted to acknowledge gratitude for. There were some lovely choices e.g. auntie’s farm in Paarl, Franskraal, a forest in Zimbabwe where one little girl grew up, granny’s garden – special places in the nature that the children have enjoyed spending time.
So, this week ahead, while we are still enjoying the last bit of summer, I encourage you to take some time to reconnect with nature