It’s good to be kind
The students seem happy and excited with the Monday sessions. They like Mindfulness and have all sort of new questions today … about Miss Frog, Jon Kabat-Zin, and Mindful-eating!
The welcome hug is now a habit. And so is sitting down and getting into the position to do Mindfulness. The bell rings and everybody sits still and just breathes.
The students are asked to please remain quiet and show respect for the rest of the group if they don’t really want to do the practice.
This time, we seemed to have stayed a little longer in silence as we were «building up the attention muscle». Eyes are wide open after the bell rings a second time (after the practice) and we all say hello with new eyes like we haven’t seen the person sitting in front of us before.
We get to this one single moment of «here and now» looking at each other’s eyes, like it actually is the first time we’ve seen each other. Amazing experience. Kids with big bright eyes and a smile on their faces.
Today’s topic is Kindness. We begin with a concentration exercise where the students are given this maze to get to the heart in the middle [from Yoga en el aula by Isabel Corrales]. «There is no need to run to the objective. Just follow the path slowly until you get to the end and see how you feel on the way».
I can see one student enjoys the experience by just using his finger, no pencils, focused on how to get to the heart only. One other student takes her time to colour the lines with beautiful patterns. Very artistic. Some start a competition to see who gets there first!
It is fantastic to notice how they are getting more and more confident and participative. One student asks if she can be in charge of the slides today, one other student wants to be responsible for getting things out of our Kindness tool box (with the bits and pieces we will be using), this other student asks if he can go get some of his biscuits so we can do «mindful eating» again at the end of the session, or this other one student who offers to play some of his music during the emotional intelligence dynamics.
Next I tell them we are going to listen to an interesting story about a snake that wished to be less isolated and feared by all [from Sitting still like a frog by Eline Snel]. They immediately offer themselves to do the reading so we decide to read one paragraph each instead of me reading it all to them.
Is it worth fighting back?
Once upon a time, somewhere on this earth, there was a snake who was fed up with people screaming and running away from him. He went into the forest and asked a wise old man who lived there what he could do to make people fear him less. The sage gave it some thought and said: “You could try not to hiss or show your venomous fangs and pretend to be completely harmless”.
The snake decided to give it a try, but the strategy backfired. As soon as the villagers realised that they were no longer in danger, they started pelting the poor creature with large rocks. The snake narrowly escaped with his wife and writhed back to the wise old man. Now what?
The man sent the snake back, telling him to show his mighty fangs and flex his muscles but not squirt venom and injure people. This time around, the villagers kept a respectful distance, sensing the snake’s might as it slowly slithered into the village. Nothing happened, but everybody knew it was a distinct possibility.
We then talk about people that are kind to us, and how it feels to be treated kindly. And about how we can show love to the ones we love or be kind to people in general. Being kind doesn’t mean letting yourself get “pelted with large rocks” like we heard from the snake. One can be kind to people and learn how to protect oneself and get respected.
Kindness is a skill
We then practice how to be kind to the group. They are invited to think of kind words to say to each other. Like “I love how you always smile when you enter the room” or “You did an amazing job as a volunteer Mindfulness facilitator”.
The girl in charge of the tool box brings out red cards that we cut out in the shape of hearts and write our names on it. As the music plays, the heart-shaped red cards go back in the box for each of us to pick up one and write a kind word under the kid’s name. We do this again. And then once more, so everyone gets three or more kind words and phrases from the group.
Sometimes we get a heart with our own name written on it and it seems hard to think of what kind words we can say to ourselves!
During the dynamics I hear comments like “I’m scared” and “I don’t like anything about myself”… I say the best friend we can all have is ourselves. If you are kind to yourself and love yourself and take care of yourself, you are more likely to open up to others, be kind, and show and receive love. Let’s give it a try this week!!
Then we all pick up our heart-shaped cards and read out kind things. The students feel embarrassed and excited.
Before we go we do The Secret of the Heart Chamber practice from Sitting still like a frog. Then give each other a hug goodbye: zen hug, sandwich hug, heart-to-heart hug, or mum-and-dad hug, or other that is different and original (from Yoga en el aula).
Yet another great session. I can’t wait for our next meeting.
La vida, sin prisa