“Don’t let anyone burst your bubble.” Olivia Crego-Bustelo
With the summer holidays coming to an end for children and young people across the UK, many are excited to see what the new academic year will bring. On the other hand, understandably, many are feeling overwhelmed and uneasy to return to busy school routines after the holidays. This is where mindfulness can help!
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness has been described by Jon Kabat-Zinn as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” With mindfulness, children can learn how to be in the present moment, develop compassion, and recognise their own thoughts, feelings and physical sensations. Mindfulness can be used as a therapeutic tool to reduce stress and anxiety, increase cognitive flexibility, improve focus, boost working memory and enhance a better quality of life.
Mindfulness in Action
Breathing is the core of mindfulness. By connecting to the breath with practical activities, it can support kids to slow down and focus on the here and now. Simple activities include youngsters laying on their back and taking in full deep breaths with a soft toy on their stomach, mindfully observing the toy move up and down on their stomach in sync with their breathing, and then using their senses to observe what they notice. With consistent practice, children learn to calmly recognise and notice what feelings, thoughts and sensations come up from within, and develop the tools to gradually find a sense of peace.
“When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace.” Unknown
A great exercise many children enjoy is the act 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?
“The breath is the king of the mind.” Hatha Yoga Pradipika
3. Bubble Reading
Rainbow Bubble Breathing is a wonderful printed resource I found from the lovely people at 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.
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” Amit Ray
I hope this post inspires you to use mindfulness with the children in your life. For more tips and ideas on how to support the children and young people to mindfully connect to their breathing, take a look at my new book: ‘Mindful Little Yogis: Self-Regulation Tools to Empower Kids with Special Needs to Breathe and Relax’ which is available from Amazon and in all good bookstores now. With regular practice, these activities can develop vital life skills and help pave the way towards a more self-assured, meaningful and grounded way of living.
Miss H 🌟