Mindfulness at Work For Dummies
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Children love games. Games can help teach mindfulness by focusing your child’s mind and, at the same time, having an element of fun. Then, in this more focused state of mind, you can do a short, guided imagery for a minute or so, and with young children, that’s enough. Children will enjoy both the fun and the release of any anxieties and stresses in their systems.

Use your intuition to decide which games to use, but be brave too, and try some that you initially doubt. You never know what will happen until you try! Some can be adapted for older children – just use more appropriate props, more adult language and extend the length of the meditations slightly.

You can do these games with one child or more.

Memory game

This game helps to train attention and memory and focuses the mind before a meditation.
  1. Put about 20 random items such as pens, scissors, socks and toys onto a tray.

  2. Tell the child he has one minute to try to remember as many items as he can.

    He gets one point for each item he remembers.

  3. Cover up the tray with a towel and ask your child to recall the items.

  4. Praise your child for however many he gets correct, and challenge him to see if he can remember one more next time you play.

Teddy bear

This exercise helps to encourage belly breathing, and also to focus the attention on the breathing.
  1. Ask your child to lie down on the floor, mat or bed.

  2. Place a teddy bear on your child’s belly and ask him to become aware of the teddy bear as it rises and falls.

  3. Encourage your child to be curious about how often the teddy bear goes up and down.

    Can he make it go up and down a little more slowly? How does that make him feel inside?

Paper windmill spinning

This game is a way of focusing your child’s attention on his breathing. The visual cue of a colorful paper windmill is far more interesting than just feeling his breath alone.
  1. Give your child a colorful paper windmill (pinwheel).

    Let him play with it for a while, and then tell him you’re going to practice being curious together.

  2. Ask him to blow as softly as he can, and to observe what happens.

    Ask him to see how slowly he can make the paper windmill turn. How does this make him feel?

  3. Ask him to blow as hard as possible, and see how fast the paper windmill turns.

    What happens to all the colors? How does this make him feel?

  4. Ask him to experiment with a long or short breath, and notice how long the paper windmill turns for.

  5. Ask him to breathe normally, and to watch what happens to the paper windmill.

    Again, ask him how he feels.

  6. Finally, ask him to put the paper windmill down and feel his breath without it.

    Ask him if he can feel calm and relaxed even without the paper windmill, just by feeling his own breath.

Curious mind

This works if you have several children sitting in a circle. The game feels a bit like playing ‘pass the parcel’, a popular party game. Although children are naturally curious, this exercise helps them to become aware of the sense of curiosity itself.
  1. Find a beautiful, shiny object, wrap it up in layers of newspaper and place it in a box.

  2. Now ask the children to try to guess what may be inside.

    They can shake the box, but nothing else. Let everyone have a guess.

  3. Now ask them what it feels like to ‘not know’ or to be curious.

    Ask them to look at the faces of the other children – their eyes may be wide open, and there may be smiles around. Encourage curiosity about curiosity!

  4. Begin to slowly unwrap the object.

    Explain how mindfulness is about being curious about everyday experience and in this way reveals the unknown. Tell them that eventually they’ll discover a jewel or other beautiful object inside themselves, and they’ll enjoy looking inside every day.

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