Jon Kabat-Zinn, professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts says that “mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way — on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” Simply put, mindfulness creates the space we need to breathe, to be, to live.
Using mindfulness at home and in the classroom, can be such a powerful tool for kids and adults alike. It is a great way to encourage calm, focus, alertness, awareness, and creativity in children — which, as a result, decreases stress and increases self-esteem. Mind jars are a simple, yet effective technique that you can immediately start using with the children in your life.
MAKING MIND JARS A mind jar is a great visual tool to help children and adults understand mindfulness. It represents our minds and illustrates how busy our minds and bodies can be with our day to day thoughts and emotions, much of which goes unnoticed.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED To make a mind jar you’ll need a mason jar or plastic water bottle, glitter and water.
HOW IT WORKS When I make mind jars with a class or with clients, I invite kids to share emotions or sensations that they often feel in their bodies and minds; responses range through excited, nervous, angry or frustrated.
As they share their emotions, I add glitter into our jar for each answer they offer. Soon the regular jar of water is full of ‘emotions’ and glitter. I explain that our minds can be very busy sometimes (as I shake up the jar). Then I share that if we can become still in our bodies, than we can become still and clear in our minds. Taking five deep breaths can calm our mind and settle our glitter.
THE PRACTICE When you notice you’re getting frustrated or angry, take a moment with your mind jar. Shake the jar and pause, take five deep breaths. As the glitter starts to settle, your mind will start to settle.
What happens if the glitter is settled, but your mind is still upset? Take five more mindful breaths, or as many as you need.
The key to mindfulness is simplicity. Offer children simple explanations and give them space to explore. I often tell parents and teachers that children, by nature, are actually very mindful.
Insert busy lives, and hectic schedules, and next thing you know, children are inflicted with the same chaos as the adults in their lives. Lead by example, even if that means making your own mind jar first. Mindfulness creates ease, and ease creates happy families and happy kids.