Here in the northern hemisphere, we are stepping deeper into the autumn season. The temperature changes, the colors change and the daylight changes all affect our children in obvious and subtle ways. Let’s help them embrace the inevitability of change and the beauty of non-attachment through mindful activities you can do at home, in a classroom or in a yoga class.
Start with an exploration of uniquely autumnal objects like tiny gourds or brightly colored leaves. Each child needs an object to study and a magnifying glass (if possible). Sitting quietly, direct each child to carefully observe their gourd or leaf using (almost) all five senses – unless you are studying an apple or something edible, we won’t be tasting our object.
- Start with sight. What colors do you see? Is there a pattern? Can you see a texture? Is it the same color/texture all over? Use a magnifying glass to observe even more closely.
- Then move onto hearing. Does your object make a sound by itself? If you tap it, how does it sound? Just holding it, is there a sound?
- Now observe the object using your sense of smell. Do all parts smell the same? Does the smell remind you of anything? Do you recognize the smell?
- Finally, how does your object feel? Temperature? Texture? Does it feel the same if you touch it with your fingers or your elbows? What if you put it next to your cheek? Is it hard or soft? Is it brittle or flexible?
Children can share their observations with a partner or you can make a list of observations with the whole group.
Next, practice breathing with your object. Children lie down on their backs and place the gourd or leaf on their bellies. They should watch for the gourd to move up and down as they breathe. Inhale and see how high you can make your gourd rise up. How slowly can you let our gourd come back down? Spend a couple of minutes like this, simply breathing and watching the belly rise and fall.
It’s time to move! Have children spread throughout the room and imagine they are a leaf on a tree. They could stand in any posture (Star or Warrior are good options), strong and stable. Then describe the weather changing, becoming cooler and they begin to change color. Then the wind blows and their leaf is blown off of the tree. Invite children to move around the room, swirling and twirling like leaves in the wind. Playing music that encourages movement is a nice addition here. When the wind dies down, the leaves gently land on the floor (still in their leaf shape). They stay there, still and quiet for a bit. Then the wind starts up again, gently at first and it just flutters their edges but then it can pick up and the children roll along the ground as the wind blows them. Eventually, the wind ceases altogether and the leaves all come to rest.
After tapping into their “inner-leaf”, guide them in a meditation. Have them imagine that they are still the leaf blowing gently in the wind. Where does the wind take them? It can be anywhere in the world (or even someplace completely imaginary). What else is there with you? Are there other leaves? What’s the temperature like? Are there sounds? Smells? Let them rest quietly for a while, mentally exploring their leaf’s journey.
When the guided meditation is complete, children sit up tall and try to balance their object on their heads as they inhale and exhale a few times. Then have them bring the object to their heart and smile as they invite the beauty of fall into their hearts.
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