“In today’s rush, we forget about the joy of just being.” Eckhart Tolle
With the new school year in full swing many of the children have come back from the summer holidays raring to go and excited to see what this academic year will bring. On the other hand, understandably, quite a few of the kids are overwhelmed and feel uneasy coming back into busy school routines after the holidays. This is where mindfulness can help!
What is Mindfulness?
Described by Jon Kabat-Zinn as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally” mindfulness can reduce stress and anxiety, increase cognitive flexibility, improve focus, boost working memory and enhance a better quality of life. With mindfulness, children can learn how to manage stress, be in the present moment, develop compassion, and recognise their own thoughts, feelings and physical sensations.
Mindfulness in Action
After doing some simple deep breathing, we used the Mindfulness Challenge Cards from Twinkl. This is a set of practical and fun activities to help kids use their senses to slow down and focus on the here and now. Some of Twinkl’s challenges included belly breathing with a soft toy on the stomach; mindfully listening to the surroundings; and focusing on a feather falling to the ground. It was great to see how the Mindfulness Challenge Cards motivated and encouraged the children to calmly recognise and notice what feelings, thoughts and sensations came up from within.
“Don’t let anyone burst your bubble.” Olivia Crego-Bustelo
To wrap up any mindfulness session, I tend to end with a simple game of blowing bubbles. By taking deep breaths in and long breaths out to make the bubbles, it can calm children’s bodies and refocuses their mind into the present moment, whilst having fun! On top of that, the benefits of kids blowing bubbles are endless, including the development of hand/eye coordination, social communication skills, language & cognitive skills, fine/gross motor skills, imaginative play skills and much more! Here are 4 simple ways to use bubbles and mindfulness:
1. Mind Bubbles
Imagine that each bubble a child blows represents an unwanted thought from their mind or a feeling in the body. Reassuringly get them to notice that by blowing mind bubbles, any busy thoughts or low feelings are no longer in their mind or body, because they are out in the open floating as bubbles in the air. These bubbles can also represent positive emotions that a child may want to feel grateful for. Once any bubble pops it symbolises the child’s release and detachment from that thought or feeling so it can be gently replaced with self-compassion and kindness from within.
2. Notice the Bubbles
Encourage the children to relax, take deep breaths and simply watch the bubbles. Then ask them to pause, breathe normally and observe the bubbles before they try to pop any of them. Get them to notice the different sizes of the bubbles, any colours they can see through them and how the bubbles may be floating or falling. Once they start popping the bubbles, ask them what it feels like on their skin. Can they notice any smells, sounds or other sensations in their body?
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” Amit Ray
3. Bubble Reading
Rainbow Bubble Breathing is a wonderful printed resource I found from Branch Habitat. Children use their pointy fingers to track and read the colourful bubbles from left to right like its a story. Breathe in and out deeply when they see a big bubble and breathe gently when they see a small bubble.
With practice, you’ll see how peaceful children gradually become though conscious Rainbow Bubble Breathing.
4. Bubble Meditation
After a bubble blowing session, get the children to lay down on their backs in a comfy position where they will not be disturbed. Next, they close their eyes and focus on their breathing as their entire bodies begin to feel relaxed. After a few moments, get each child to imagine their own personal bubble above their body. They then see the bubble floating down gently beside them. This is their special bubble of peaceful energy. It can be any colour, size and shape of their choosing. They are safe and happy when they’re inside their own bubble. Everyone has their own bubble and can use it when they like. Ask the children to visualise climbing into their bubble and feel it floating up and away to a special calming place of their choice. They can rest quietly and feel peaceful in their bubble.
“In the end, just three things matter: How well we have lived. How well we have loved. How well we have learned to let go.” Jack Kornfield
I hope this post inspires you to use mindfulness with the children in your life. With regular practice, mindfulness can develop vital skills and help pave the way towards a more self-assured, meaningful and grounded way of living.
Miss H 🌟