For the Kids

To bring mindfulness to life in practical terms for children and teens, Inner Light of Mine will be publishing lessons regularly.  Concepts are more likely to be remembered if approached in several ways, using a variety of senses.  Here you will find stories and activities aimed to compliment each of the blog posts for parents and educators.

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January 8th, 2014  
Overlooking the Edge

Children are natural risk takers. They see an opportunity and they go for it – rarely do they plan it through or think of the outcome or consequence.  A young skier equal in my ability probably wouldn’t have hesitated on the top of that cliff.  But this does mean children our without fear.   Children live with fear just as adults do. Their fears may be different, more fantasy based, but still real, terrifying fear.  Some kids struggle with anxiety and fear more than others – just as adults.  Giving children tools on how to navigate their fears, early on, will set the foundation for the rest of their lives. 

Mindfulness practices allow children to be aware of the fearful thoughts as mental events - The first step to understanding the distinction between thoughts and reality (and how we can create our own reality). They then notice the body sensations that accompany their thoughts, recognizing the power of the mind.

A few simple mindfulness techniques to ground children in the reality that they are safe are:
Guided visualizations – eyes closed, help them feel relaxed and guide them through an event that maybe scary for them initially but turns out successful.  Things are always scarier in our minds.

Body awareness – have them notice body sensations when relaxed and stressed and then compare the two.

Progressive relaxation – tightening and releasing all major muscle groups to feel the contrast between tense and relaxed. 

For more details in these techniques please contact Valerie Vendrame.

November 15th, 2013  
Are you a bucket filler or dipper?
There are numerous activities and books highlighting the bucket filler/dipper point. Countless art projects, books, activities that hone in on the concept of how words deeply impact others and how choosing our words is very important. In my research, I saw few that demonstrated the importance of our inner voice and the damage we can do internally.  We can  alter some of the activities and change it by emphasizing what we say to ourselves - as I did with the apple activity (see below).  Remember: Ideas are welcomed and appreciated so please share!

Apple activity:
Talk to your child(ren) about being a bucket dipper/filler and then explain how we can be dippers to ourselves.  Give examples of how we dip our bucket and each time drop an apple on the floor or a table.  The more examples you give the more bruised the apple will become.  The apple looks perfectly fine on the outside, but on the inside it's suffering.  Feel the apple and notice.  Cut the apple and see.

October 30th, 2013
Afraid of the Dark?
How often do we discuss how feelings feel?  We term certain feelings ‘bad’ because they feel bad but in this misnaming, we’re creating a false perception.  The belief that certain feelings shouldn’t be felt and avoided dishonors our emotional intelligence and creates a host of problems.  Mainly a disconnect between our physical and mental bodies, cultivating a system of distrust between ourselves. By embracing all of us – the darkness and the light – we live fully.  Let’s start encouraging our children to feel, and give them an opportunity to live fully.

The activity below gives children an opportunity to deeply notice their feelings.  By naming the actual physical experience they look at feeling as something more than merely a mental encounter.  Bringing to light the intelligence within, and cultivating a sense of appreciation for ALL of our emotions.

What’s inside the box?
Take an empty box and put something fun inside. Place it in the middle of the circle of children, or on a table with your own children, and ask them to guess what could possibly be inside the box.  After everyone has had a turn guessing, ask the kids questions about what it feels like not to know what’s in the box.  Do they want to know? Have there been times in their lives when something was going on and they didn’t know what it was?  What was that like? How does it feel to be really curious and eager to discover? Sit with the kids and pay attention to what it feels like not to know something. Ask them if it feels like they have butterflies in their tummies.  See if you and the kids can feel energy and thrill of not knowing fill the room.  If you can, just sit there and breathe, taking it all in.  Now they can look inside the box!

After having this experience the children can better understand what it means to name sensations within the body.  Next time your child feels a certain way, ask him/her to name the physical sensations of the feeling. Then ask why that feeling showed up.  Explain the importance of emotions and how smart the body is to have them. 

October 3rd 2013
Mindful Thinking
Peaceful Piggy Meditation by Kerry Lee Maclean is a wonderful children’s story about a family of pigs who live the average hurried life.  Kerry does a marvelous job explaining meditation in simple, easy to understand terms and highlights all the benefits of sitting still and being quiet. I recommend this book for children of ALL ages – even adults would benefit J

One of the activities highlighted in the back of the book is something I demonstrate in all my kids yoga classes.  This easy, hands-on activity offers a concrete way of visually understanding the concept of meditation and mindfulness.

Mind-in-a-Jar experiment:
Fill a glass jar with water.  Look at it and think of how it’s like your mind during a quiet moment – clean and clear, like the sky.

Now take a little bit of sand or soil and dump it in the jar.  Each tiny little grain is one of your thoughts.  Some are happy thoughts, some are sad, some are exciting wishes, some are dark and angry feelings.

Put a lid on the jar and shake it up, so that everything swirls around, faster and faster.  This is your mind in a hurry - all your thoughts are jumbled together creating a cloudy mess. 

Now, let everything calm down by letting the jar sit still on a table.  This is your mind during meditation.

Watch the thoughts settle down to the bottom, leaving the water (your mind) clear and light instead of dark and muddy.  Now you can act peacefully because you can think clearly! 

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