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Highlights from a past class

Highlights from a past class

the unexpected visitor

The theme for this term is Growing our EQ. This week I based the classes on this beautiful poem by Rumi.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Rumi (translation by Coleman Barks)

Rumi suggests that we treat our emotions like visitors arriving at a guest house. I changed the concept slightly to make it more familiar for the children. So, instead of a guest house, I asked the children to think of their emotions as visitors stopping by for tea.

This concept of thinking about our emotions as visitors, helps children to acknowledge, welcome and embrace how they feel (just as we would welcome a visitor for tea), instead of trying to ignore or supress their emotions. It also highlights the transitory nature of our emotions. I asked the children whether guests who come for tea end up staying permanently and moving in. Of course, the answer was no! By the same token, our emotions come and go. Some feelings may stay with us for longer (like some guests!) but eventually over time, the feelings go and we cycle again through a range of emotions.

In the younger class, I read the book “The Tiger Who Came To Tea” by Judith Kerr. It is a beautiful story and I found there to be many parallels between the tiger and our emotions. A lovely, concrete way for the children to understand how emotions can arrive, overwhelm us by taking over and then disappear.

With the older children, I read a wonderful poem to them by Jack Prelutsky called “The Visitor”. Again, the parallel between “the visitor” in the poem and our emotions is clear. This poem is a fun way for children to explore the concept of emotions as visitors.

The Visitor


it came today to visit
and moved into the house
it was smaller than an elephant
but larger than a mouse
 
first it slapped my sister
then it kicked my dad
then it pushed my mother
oh! that really made me mad
 
it went and tickled rover
and terrified the cat
it sliced apart my necktie
and rudely crushed my hat
 
it smeared my head with honey
and filled the tub with rocks
and when i yelled in anger
it stole my shoes and socks
 
that’s just the way it happened
it happened all today
before it bowed politely
and softly went away

Jack Prelutsky

In the classes, we then sat down and enjoyed a cup of tea together. Real tea! Rooibos with milk, honey and a biscuit. But it was no ordinary tea party. On each tea bag label, I had written a feeling e.g. anger, sadness, jealousy, etc.

I asked the children to think of a time when they last felt that emotion. I asked them to try to connect with the feeling again and the preceding situation that evoked the feeling. The children then spent some time drawing the situation and how they felt. I find that it can be very helpful for children to processing their emotions through art.

Afterwards each child had an opportunity to discuss their emotion with the group if they wanted to. I asked each child to try to remember if they felt the same emotion 24 hours after the incident. Most said no. A few said that they still felt it but diluted. I then asked if they had felt the same emotion at the same time a week later. Everyone said no! You can go on to ask the children if they think they might feel the same in a month’s time or a year’s time. Just a lovely way to help children understand that feelings are temporary.

So, this week, it felt like the children’s EQ seedlings germinated and sprouted some roots, with a few even showing the start of a stem and leaves – just like the real seedlings that the children are growing this term.

Highlights from a past class

Mindful Artwork

Today in class the children used a variety of dried beans to “draw” what they saw or felt during the guided visualisation.

This type of artwork, where there is no paper or coloured pens or scissors or glue, helps children to focus on the process of creating, instead of the end result. It helps them to be present in the moment, enjoying the experience of creating, and takes away any anxiety around producing a perfect final picture.

And of course, a lesson in non-attachment as there is no permanence to the creations. All the beans are packed away at the end of the lesson.

Highlights from a past class

GROWING EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

This is the focus of the Mindful Minis classes this term. As such, today we prepared some seeds for germination so that we can watch them sprout and grow over the next 8 weeks. Just as we will check in with ourselves each week to see how much our understanding of our feelings and emotions is growing over the course of the term.

We started off this week by discussing what the word “growing” means (in a general sense) .

So, from the mouths of babes, growing means…
🌱 getting taller (one little girl told me she grows 1cm every night!😉)
🌱 getting bigger
🌱 getting smarter
🌱 eating and sleeping enough
🌱 it means changing
🌱 is something that happens slowly and you can’t always see it

We can actually think of the growth our EQ in a similar way…
❤️ As our understanding of how we feel grows, so we feel “bigger and smarter” (more confident and able).
❤️ Just as our bodies need help to grow (in the form of food and sleep), so too does the process of growing our EQ need assistance. E.g. Mindfulness practice
❤️ And growing our understanding of our feelings is something that takes time. In fact, it is a life long process.

So, watch this space to see how our seeds grow and learn more about how to help children grow their EQ.

Highlights from a past class

A taste test… with a twist!

mindfulness taste test for children

This week was the last lesson of the term. I always try to make the last lesson slightly unique and different. So, this week, we did a taste test… with a twist!

Have you ever tried to draw a taste? Not draw the item that you are tasting, but rather the actual taste itself. So, for example, if you tasted some chilli flakes, you might draw a volcano or if you taste a peppermint, you might draw a snowflake. This is what we tried out in the classes this week.

We chatted about the 5 main tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami (savoury). Each child received a sheet with 8 blocks to draw and rate each taste. They could choose the order in which they decided to taste the items on offer. We turned it into a bit of a mindful eating meditation in that there was quiet and simply rang the tingsha bells when they needed to choose a new flavour. Wow – what a fun experience!

And the comments afterwards were great. One little girl expressed: “I didn’t know tomatoes tasted like this” and her drawing was of a rainbow. Hopefully she will eat more tomatoes! It was also interesting how varied everyone’s tastes are. So, some children loved the kiwifruit and rated it as their favourite flavour while others had some very strong views of disgust around the taste of a kiwifruit.

Trying new flavours is not always easy for children, especially those with a limited range of “liked” tastes or children with sensory challenges. But a mindfulness taste test is a fun and safe way to encourage children to try new flavours. If a child feels very weary, I often suggest that they simply smell the food. Some then go on to lick it, while others will be brave enough to taste it. And then the fun part begins – they get to draw the taste! With much enthusiasm they will show you through their drawing how much they liked (or disliked!) the flavour. There is no pressure on the child to enjoy the flavour but often they are pleasantly surprised that they actually do enjoy it.

So, a lovely, fun class to end off another great term of mindfulness.

Highlights from a past class

be where your feet are

Legs Up The Wall Pose

This quote was recently introduced to me by one of the Mindful Minis Advanced Training graduates – thanks Nini! It is a wonderful way of explaining to children the concept of being in the present moment. Simply just be where your feet are – in body and mind! A great mantra to repeat to oneself during the day.

In exploring this mantra, we focused on our feet in this week’s lessons. We had lots of fun playing Mexican toes. Essentially it is a Mexican wave around a circle, but with toes. There is no doubt in my mind that none of the children were thinking about anything else other than moving their toes! Great practise for focusing one’s attention in the present moment.

We also spent some time in “Legs Up The Wall” pose. This is a wonderfully restorative pose for children and adults. It helps to slow down the body and settle the mind. And of course, great for swollen or tired feet.

The 7 – 8 year olds convinced me to include a quick game of Sleeping Dragon in their lesson. They love this spin on a mindful walking exercise. So much fun! And it was also interesting for them to notice what feelings came up during the game. Anger at the dragon for waking up? Frustration at yourself for not reaching the key? Irritation that your turn finished too quickly? Pride that you almost reached the key? Excitement that you are playing the game? It was a great opportunity to assure the children that all feelings are welcome – comfortable and uncomfortable. It is what makes us human. We welcome them, sit with them and sooner or later they leave.

The 9 – 11 year olds enjoyed a game of pom pom toes. The children had to pick up pom poms with their toes and then return to mountain pose when the music stopped. Lots of focus and concentration was needed in this exercise but so much fun!

The younger and middle groups listened to the beautiful guided visualisation from Relax Kids called “The Fairy Garden”. Some of the children asked me please to tell their moms which visualisation it was – so moms, this is the memo! 😊

And then a lesson would not be complete without some mindful artwork. The younger and middle group worked with the boards and arts and crafts materials from last week. Totally amazing how different the creations were to last week. The older children worked on the backgrounds of their beautiful mosaic pictures – nearly done!