I taught a mindfulness adult class to a group of primary school teachers last week. The class was for adults so it included three different types of meditation, some basic ‘you could try to use this in the moment’ tips and some chat. One of the questions I got afterwards surprised me but I realise now that it probably shouldn’t have.
How do you teach this to children?
By doing completely different things than what we have just done was my answer.
Each Relax Kids class follows a seven step format; we start with movement and games which helps to release energy held in the body and the games ensure the children have fun and enjoy themselves. My favourite games to play are imagination games; imagine that you are an elephant, pretend that you are a really angry crab. Sometimes I wonder if I play the games for me or for the children. After those two steps we start to slow the class down with some yoga stretches where we use the breath to move our bodies in and out of certain poses. Then we move onto feel which is a gentle massage on ourselves so we learn different techniques to self sooth and on each other (with permission). This is a really beautiful part of the class to watch families engage in and I’ve gotten lots of reports of children offering massages to parents and visa versa after the classes have finished. We then move onto the believe section of the class where we talk about good things that have happened to us during the day. We spend most of our time as humans focused on the negative things that are happening to us so I want to get people thinking about and focusing on the positive things. Throughout the classes we focus on the breath, the same way I do in an adult class where we
sit in meditation focusing on the breath, but I find with children it needs to be shorter bursts of focusing on the breath. There is also a whole section of the class about breathing and that again needs to be made fun! So we do things like snake breathing, bunny breathing and rollercoaster breathing. My main aim of the classes is for children to associate relaxation as something that is fun to do.
So when I answered the question last week with doing very different things to what we do in an adult class I was mostly telling the truth but the seventh and final step in a Relax Kids class is relax and that is where the children experience a meditation. The length of time spent in relaxation can vary from 5 minutes to 15 minutes to even 20 minutes sometimes and I love to watch parents and children get more comfortable with the lying down and being still as the weeks go on.
And now onto our mindfulness in action of the week.
Mindfulness in Action
This time I am encouraging you to bring your mindfulness practice off the meditation cushion and out into the real world. I want you to add to the journal you have already started using to document your meditation process and I want you to write down any moments of mindfulness or awareness you notice during
the day. Times that you are aware of what you are doing when you are doing it as you are going about your day. If you don’t notice anything if you are not aware of being aware then that is ok, I just want you to write down when you are aware, when you do notice that you are aware.