One warm Bay Area afternoon I wandered into a neighborhood bookstore near my sister’s home. Visiting for the weekend, I found myself without children, alone in fact, with a few hours to kill.
Had I won the lottery? You know the feeling.
My tired legs took me up and down the quaint aisles. I became lost in skimming books I suddenly remembered was on on my Goodreads “To Read” List.
One book popped out at me: Growing Up Mindful – Essential Practices to Help Children, Teens, and Families Find Balance, Calm, and Resilience.
By the way, I have written about mindfulness in the past >> Read More Here
I quickly turned to the back cover. Yes. I know that guy. The author’s name is Christopher Willard, and we had been college classmates. The universe works in circles. Suddenly after nearly 20 years I found myself exactly where I needed to be. Why had we not discovered this overlapping interest back in 1996? I realized that I had yet to discover mindfulness as a practice. I did a bit of yoga, but living mindfully was still foreign to me.
Plus, how could I not fall rapidly in love with a book that begins with a quote from Ferris Bueller's Day Off?
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”
I devoured the book. With ample juicy tidbits, I decided I have to share these golden nuggets with you. Here are my ten favorite ideas presented in Chris Willard’s book. Please check out his book for more details and a myriad of additional mindfulness practices you can integrate into your family’s daily life.
3 Effortless Mindfulness Meditation Exercises to Lower Stress
Have a child envision himself being carried gently down a stream on leaves, floating in the clouds, the petal of a flower dropping to the ground, a feather in the wind, and so on.
Tip from the author: Encourage a child who might be anxious about this exercise to begin by drawing the image. Letting children choose their metaphor in their own time is also helpful. Remind children that a wandering mind is normal, that they can make their way back to the image and revisit later.
Melting Ice Cube
This exercise allows the child to explore and practice the “impermanence of mental and physical discomfort and our emotional response to it.” You’ll need a cup, ice cubes, and a napkin.
As you hand a cup with ice in it, ask him to wait and to notice the emotions that come along with having to hold on, especially when he is curious. Next, direct the child to hold the piece of ice in his hand for one minute. During and after the melting ask the child what emotions (particularly the discomfort) he felt and how he handled the emotions.
My boys enjoy this activity. They need to move their bodies and adding these approaches to an otherwise typical activity intrigues them.
First, try walking with words. Quite literally verbalize, “I am leaving the house. I am getting in the car. I am going to the park. I arrived at the park.”
Another walking exercise is walking with emotions. Ask kids to walk as though they are balancing a bucket of water of ice water on their head, in extreme gravity, are an animal of any kind, and so on.
Walking characters is great fun for kids, too. Ask them to walk like they’re angry, sad, shy; they just won a grand Lego prize, just arrived at their grandparent's house, feeling super silly, doing something new for the first time, just failed at something, an elderly person, a confident person, and so on.
Penny walking is an excellent extension to Montessori’s walk the line activity. Have the child walk while balancing a coin on his foot.
I have much more to share with you on this topic. I figure these practices are enough to get you started in your daily practice at home or in the classroom.
Interested in Learning More about Intentional & Positive Parenting? Check out Amanda Morgan's Parenting Course.
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