Our minds are like a 6 lane highway. We have thoughts constantly moving along throughout our day. Some of these thoughts move along at a crawl, some speed along the shoulder almost unnoticed, others pileup with thoughts they should never even come in contact with. But this is the human brain, the constant chitter chatter that accompanies us. There is nothing right or wrong about it. These thoughts are not to be avoided or dismissed. Rather they are to be noted. Being able to understand a thought’s purpose, accept them for what they are and decide if they serve us well is a fantastic tool of mindfulness. It’s okay to ask an adult to take a moment to collect their thoughts and give them a moment to sort them, but asking this of a child will often be met with confusion.
In actuality, as adults we too struggle with the constant chatter.
In yoga, we call this stream of chatter, these thoughts that bounce against each other, “vrittis” as the word can translate into ripple or wave. One thought in the pool of consciousness sends out a series of thoughts. If we’ve taught our yoga students about karma and the ripple effect of actions and vibrations, then introducing thoughts in this manner may allow them to grasp this idea.
Adults and children alike find themselves almost immune to their inner chatter. The voice becomes so familiar, the thoughts so repetitive at times, that we tend to only stop and highlight those that are the forerunners or most exciting or most relevant. All the others fall by the wayside and maybe they were superfluous, perhaps they would not serve us at the present time, but what if we are dismissing something important? In order to fully understand our thoughts and to further learn from them, we must give them the opportunity to exist. Adults use mindfulness for this. We take a moment to be still, breathe, listen and notice all the thoughts that arise. We neither reject them or hold on to them, we simple allow them to be. This isn’t as easy for young children, but it presents a wonderful opportunity for a craft that can help them “see” their thoughts.
I call this craft “What is in my Head?” It is so much fun to talk about, to create, and to share. What you’ll need are scissors, glue, old magazines or pictures, a marker and crayons. The idea is to have your child create a little self portrait that showcases all the things they think about. Draw up a simple face and attach pictures along the top of the head. The pictures will frame the head like hair. I used flat canvas panels, but regular stretched canvas, poster board, and even construction paper could work.
Like all the crafts I bring into my yoga teachings, we start with a lesson. Teaching the word vrittis is fun. It’s fun to say and what kid doesn’t love a fun new word to say? Allow a moment to explain the idea of the constant movement of thought, things they like, things they don’t like, anything that pops up in their minds throughout their day.
After the explanation of vrittis, we were ready to start crafting! Luckily, we were able to reach out to our community to request old magazines that would’ve otherwise ended up in the trash ahead of time. Once we collected enough magazines, we spread them out on the table. We again took a moment of mindfulness here to make sure we grabbed only one magazine at a time and took the time to look through it before moving on to the next. Once one of the children found an image of something that spoke to them, either they would cut it out or I would assist (not all kiddos have the same scissor skills so I did most of it to save time and to prevent chopping up parts of the picture).
Each child could pick as many as they liked, but I cautioned against any that would be too big. Depending on the size of your canvas, picking the right size pictures to cut out will allow for the best results.
What we ended up with was tons of pictures of cupcakes, ballet, robots, cameras, drones, animals, warriors, holidays, expressions and everything in between. There wasn’t a single magazine that didn’t have at least one image that spoke to the kids. They got to arrange everything how they wanted and I truly feel they put things together that often go hand in hand in their trains or thought.
Once we were done there was that classic sense of accomplishment that the children felt. They could take their canvas and put them in their rooms, but they also began to understand that having lots of thoughts is completely natural. This project put the mystery of inner-thoughts right in front of us and the kids now carry a sense of security recognizing their thoughts and understanding their thoughts belong there.
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