Last week, the kids at Om School learned about mindfulness of thoughts. Our elementary age kids enjoyed a visit from Mindful Schools graduate, Emily Weiner. Emily shared some great games illustrating how thoughts run from past, to present, to future, and pop up like popcorn.
Our little ones, ages 3-7, discovered the thundering quality of silence through play-based learning, enacting the noisiness of our busy lives, then dropping into silence and noting the difference. Both classes had fun making Mind Jars.
If you haven’t seen these before, they’re a great teaching tool. The sparkles represent our thoughts. As thoughts are a little abstract for children under four, with our littlest ones, we let the sparkles represent the busy feeling we get inside when rushing through our day. Our mindful breathing helps the swirling, whirling, tornado of busyness settle down.
Two excellent short films illustrate this practice. Both films were created by participants in the Mindful Schools year-long certification training I’m now working to complete. I hope you’ll enjoy watching and feel inspired to share. With stress impacting children as young as six years old, perhaps it is time we all discovered the thundering quality of silence.
“Breathing in, I see myself as a flower.
Breathing out, I feel fresh.”
Then we’ll enjoy a felt-flower sewing project using this tutorial. We’ll try to connect our breath with each stitch. Breathing in: the needle goes down. Breathing out: the needle comes back up. Each flower petal receives two stitches.
These “anchor words” come to us from the Discourse on the Full Awareness of Breathing – or Anapanasati Sutra — an ancient text that can be read here.
I’ll post photos of the children’s work here and on our Facebook page. Be sure to stop back by!
Last week at Om School, the children practiced mindful breathing and enjoyed drawing what they discovered in their Mindful Schools workbooks.
First we put on our Mountain Bodies. Then we opened our Fox Ears. Next we just breathed normally… in and out… calm and at ease. We call this our Ocean Breathing.
After a moment of breathing like this together, kids put one hand in the air — then placed it on their belly. We continued to breathe like this for a few moments. Some children noticed that their hand was moving up and down, in and out, with their belly.
Next, we placed one hand on our chest. Breathing normally, some children noticed that their chest expands and contracts with each inhale and exhale. Some children did not feel any movement here… so we tried something else.
I asked children to place a hand under their nose and see if they felt anything. This one worked for everyone. We breathed together like this for three breaths. Then I asked the kids to draw what they experienced.
Why mindful breathing? As Deborah Schoeberlein, author of, “Mindful Teaching and Teaching Mindfulness,” writes in this article:
“Practicing mindfulness enhances cognitive functioning (including memory, concentration and performance), improves emotion regulation and resilience, increases self-awareness (including of one’s own stress level) and promotes relaxation for the body as well as rest for the mind (including sleep).”
To my Om School kids and families — don’t forget that, in honor of President’s Week, we don’t have class this Wednesday, February 19th. Until then, I hope you’re enjoying your practice!
Today the Om School kids practiced mindfulness of breathing. We began by sitting upright and tall like a mountain. Then we placed one hand on our belly. We noticed that our belly moves while we breathe — in and out… out and in. Next, something amazing happened! We began to feel calm and peaceful inside.
Look what happens to Elmo when he remembers his belly breathing…
The Om School kids have been working with moon phases this semester. We’re keeping journals with observations and verses for practice. This is a fun way to keep our mindfulness practice consistent and to become more aware of our interrelatedness with nature.
Because tonight is the new or dark moon, I shared this guided meditation yesterday in class. I hope you’ll enjoy it too!
“Sit comfortably with your back supported. You can sit in a chair or on the floor. You can even try this exercise lying down; however, this might make you sleepy! It’s best if we stay awake during this exercise!
Breathe normally. Notice where you can feel your breath. Can you feel your breath under your nose? In your chest? In your belly? Place a hand on your belly and see what happens. Do you notice your belly rising and falling? See how your belly gets bigger with your in-breath and smaller with your out-breath. Stay with your breathing like this for a moment. Notice the rising and falling of breath – in and out… deep and slow… like waves on the sea. Don’t try to control your breath. Just notice how it feels. It may slow down on its own. We can call this our Ocean Breathing.
With your hands by your sides, continue Ocean Breathing for a minute or maybe even two.
Now, let’s focus our attention on our in-breath. As we breathe in, we can say quietly to ourselves:
“Breathing in: I am aware of my in-breath.”
And as we breathe out, we say:
“Breathing out: I am aware of my out-breath.”
Simple enough, right? We can even shorten the phrases to:
Let’s try this a few times.
Now let’s try something new. What happens in between breathing in and breathing out? Can you keep your attention there? Notice that point where the in-breath transforms into the out-breath. Notice what is there — or what is not there. It’s sort of a gap.
Continue breathing normally and notice the gap between the in-breath and the out-breath. It’s like a tiny break – a beautiful rest as one thing continues into another. It’s like the dark moon pausing in stillness before beginning anew.”