Can you spare a minute? Just one minute is all it takes to check out of the chaotic, busy real world, and check into your own body and mind. Mindful Minute practices are simple and effective ways to settle into an aware state, rather than just moving robotically through your day. And the best part is you can use these with kids! Parents can help their children relieve stress, even in the car or before bed. Teachers can utilize Mindful Minute tools to get their students focused on their learning tasks or to relieve test anxiety. Practicing quick mindfulness techniques can help a coach get players’ heads back in the game (just read Phil Jackson’s book, Eleven Rings). And we grown-ups can always use more ways to stop the to-do lists that constantly run through our brains.
Here are three quick and easy Mindful Minute practices to try the next time you or your favorite little one needs a brief vacation from the outside world:
Name 3: This is a quick practice in escaping the “monkey mind” that runs around and chatters all the time. Using your senses to refocus on the present gets your brain back to the task at hand.
Either sitting or standing, name 3 things:
- You hear
- You see
- You smell
- You feel
Now breathe in and out three times.
Sit and Cycle: This is an active tool to help your children release energy and re-focus in the moment. It is fun, engaging and gets that excess energy out while activating the imagination at the same time.
Either on the floor or in their seat, have students lean back to lift their legs and begin pedaling an imaginary bicycle. You are going to guide them on a trip that fits the energy level and amount of time you have to “ride”. Kids begin pedaling as you begin to narrate a story of a journey. Pedal super slowly up hills, coast down narrow mountain trails, swerve around trees and pedal quickly to avoid the dog chasing you. Enter a dense rainforest, listen for the toucan’s call, and screech to a sudden stop on the beach to listen to the waves hit the shore. The more abstract and imaginary your journey, the better. Always finish by getting off the bike and resting (heads on desks or reclined on the floor?) in the soft green grass or a warm sandy beach to relax for a moment. Breathe deep, let go of your wild ride and say to yourself, repeating three times, “I am re-focused and calm.”
Silence Blanket: Set up a metronome , ticking clock, static on the radio, wind chimes or other similar simple sound-maker. Explain that everyone is going to listen closely to the sound and even more closely to the space between the sounds. Invite silence to fill the empty space. You are just going to let silence sneak in while we listen to the sound. (Wait for a moment to really let the energy settle). Now, let the silence cover you like a warm, soft blanket. Let the silent blanket cover your feet. Feel silence warm your legs. Invite the silence blanket to cover your belly and chest. Can you feel it there? Just like you pull a blanket all the way over you in the winter, pull the silence up over your head. Let your mouth feel silent, and your eyes. Your whole body is wrapped up and cozy, deep in your silence blanket. Breathe in and fill with silence. Breathe out and rest in your blanket. (Let the children rest for a moment, depending on their age, your time constraints, etc). Now begin to wiggle your fingers and toes. Yawn and stretch like you are waking up from hibernation. Can you still hear the silence? It is always there, even when it is noisy, because the silence is inside you. You make it silent on your inside so you can rest in your blanket whenever you need to.