Behind our thoughts, fears, frustrations, and rough places, there is a soft spot. Pema Chodron writes, “if you touch that soft spot, you find the vast blue sky. You find that which is ineffable, ungraspable, and unbiased, that which can support and awaken us at any time.”
How do we help kids touch the vast sky that is our inner-nature? One way is to get outside. By the sea, in a field, on a farm — in these open places we notice the openness inside us. Another way is by simply watching the clouds as they come and go.
We’ve all done this at some point in our lives. Laying on the grass, settling into our body, gazing at the sky — we watch cloud shapes emerge and dissolve above us. Kids are naturally drawn to this — so catching their interest shouldn’t be difficult. Adding an element of mindfulness to it, we can invite children to notice how thoughts and feelings are like this too — coming and going and always changing shape.
Children’s artist Betsy Rose writes, “I use this… as a way of teaching and discussing how to name emotions, and how feelings come and go like clouds; the clear blue sky of inner calm and quiet happiness is always available to us.” She even has a song to go with it. (If you don’t know her music or her work with children, be sure to investigate.)
Another way we can touch the clear, blue sky within us is with our breath. Just one breath is often a starting place for clearing our mind and increasing our calm. Encourage children to sit up tall and solid and let the sky fill them with their breath. Thich Nhat Hanh offers children this verse for practicing with the sky:
“Breathing in, I see myself as the big blue sky. Breathing out, I feel free and at ease.”