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.
Today at Om School, children will practice mindfulness of thoughts. We’ve had this lesson before and noticed how our thoughts are like butterflies — constantly fluttering about in the garden. The kids were quite surprised to discover the constant flow of images in their own minds.
This is as far as we got with this lesson last time — just noticing the parade of pictures streaming through our minds. Then children made these very sweet wool-roving butterflies to represent their thoughts.
Today we will venture a step further into this practice. I’ve asked all of the kids to bring a puppy photo, picture from a book, or even a stuffed animal puppy. We’ll explore the nature of puppies and discover that, as delightful as puppies are, without a little training and encouragement, they tend to run about and get themselves into trouble.
Thoughts have a similar nature.
To begin training our Puppy-Minds, we’ll put on our Mountain Bodies, open our Fox Ears, bring our attention to our Ocean Breathing — and notice how our minds are like puppies… quickly running off! We’ll try using a verse like, “Come home, puppy!” to bring our attention back to our breath. Then we’ll illustrate this exercise in our Mindful Schools workbooks.
For parents wondering about the relevance of this exercise, Shambala Sun has a great article here. When we pay attention to our thoughts with a gentle curiosity, we can move away from allowing thoughts to unconsciously direct our lives.
For more about Puppy-Mind practice, check out this article at Mindfulness for Students UK.