the attention muscle
The actual Mindfulness practices begin with the students. We get settled in a beautiful classroom where as soon as we start they ask to sit on the floor. So we sit in a circle and begin with the first two Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence practices:
- building up our attention muscle, and
- my emotional diary
Sometimes children get from parents and/or teachers commands like «Concentrate!» , «Finish your homework!», or «You are not focusing!». The question is: are we teaching them how to do that? Have we ever wondered if they know how to actually concentrate in Maths, for instance?
These students are now learning Skills for Life. Here is a simple one: build up your attention muscle (from Sitting Still like a Frog by Eline Snel). If we can manage to have the students just breathe-in and breathe-out for one or two minutes at this stage we can be more than happy!
After the first practice, «back to the room» , we discuss Emotional diaries. They are invited to start up an emotional diary. Some will use spare paper, others might prefer to get a nice notebook for next day or maybe create their own. Let them choose freely. Let them explore their own creativity. Thinking is welcome!
Using emojis they get inspired to express how they are feeling here and now. And they start their creations… Music is played in the background while they draw and write about their feelings and emotions.
When everyone is ready, they are given one symbolic frog sticker each which everyone is happy to add to their diary. Then invited to share with the rest of the group if desired. Interesting comments arise as it happens with children. I just love these brilliant minds that they have coming up with the most unexpected answers. My whole intention is to create a safe environment where they can feel their ideas are welcome and appreciated.
Gratitude is introduced at this point. To raise awareness of things we take for granted – not always appreciating what people do for us sometimes, or the marvels of the world. They are asked to close their eyes for a few seconds and try to visualise a moment when they felt grateful to somebody or for something. Then they are invited to add to their Emotional diary a line this like: Today I am grateful for…
Sometimes when we feel down it is good to look at those things we are grateful for
As we are sharing and giving examples one student gazes at the bell on the floor. «So beautiful!» she says, then begins to play with it so I ask her if she would like to conduct a Mindfulness practice. Fascinated by the idea she accepts and all the other students join in so the times and turns for the new Mindfulness facilitators gets distributed!
We close up our first session with a final Mindfulness practice lying on the floor. Before we go I am most grateful for this girl coming up to me to share deep feelings. I show my deep gratitude for her wanting to share.
Looking forward to our next meeting!
La vida, sin prisa