Mindfulness

  • Mindfulness: Beanie baby body scan

    Beanie Baby Body Scan
    Guest Post By Jennifer Barrett
    Mother~Yoga Teacher~Mindful Awareness Educator

    One of my favorite mindful awareness practices to facilitate with grown ups is a body scan meditation. The practice invites us to purposefully bring attention to various parts of our body, and to simply notice any sensations or lack of sensations in that moment. This present moment awareness is not only calming for the nervous system, but it offers excellent practice in focusing the mind.

    This practice is invaluable for children, but in its bare form, can be too abstract.

    I had an aha moment last weekend when my nine year old found me on the couch and began to pile his beanie baby stuffed animal all over me. What a perfect way to bring this practice to little ones!

    I asked him to lie down on his back and invited him to simply notice the feeling in his body wherever I placed one of his beanie babies. I put one of his shoulder, then the other shoulder, his thigh, the other thigh, his belly, and so on. I made sure to ask if it was okay for me to continue.

    Once the beanie babies were all in place he remained still, balancing them there and just noticing the rise and fall of the beanie baby on his belly as he breathed in and out.

    To remove them I reversed the process. I asked him to notice what it felt like each time I took one off. He loved the practice so much he asked to repeat it. I shared it later that week with one of my classes of young children and one little girl became so calm she almost fell asleep right then and there!

    So have fun, play with this practice and let us know how it goes. We are always here to answer any questions. You can check us out at wegrowyoga.com

    Until next week…

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  • Mindful Awareness

    Dragon in the Sky

    Guest Post By Jennifer Barrett

    Mother, Yoga Teacher, Mindful Awareness Educator

    When my oldest son was a toddler we loved to find pictures in the clouds.  Sometimes he would get frustrated that I was unable to see his dragon, and I would try to show him my duck. Then of course the clouds would move and change and become something new. That was a long time ago. My boy is almost 18 and I have spent hundreds of hours training, researching, and teaching people yoga, breath work, and other mindful awareness practices. What I knew as a young mom was how right it felt to spend time with my son watching the clouds go by. But why? It is because that simple act of bringing our attention to the clouds as they moved and changed before our eyes was a perfect practice of mindful awareness.

    Mindful awareness asks us to bring our attention to the present moment with curiosity. We can choose to play with different anchors for our attention; our breath, our body, or anything we perceive with our senses. So in that moment my son and I were purposefully directing our attention to the clouds. We looked up, our eyes perceived them, and we got to notice them move and change. We couldn’t hold them or keep them any more than I can keep my son a toddler. By the way life happens just like that. It goes by in tiny little moments whether we are paying attention or not.

    In the coming weeks I look forward to bringing you simple mindful awareness practices you can do with your children. I want to remind you that this first one didn’t come from a book or a training. My boy and I were just playing. So make up your own games that ask you to pay attention to your breath, your body, or what you perceive through your senses. These are your tools, you already have them. Pause, look up from your phone, your computer, in fact stop reading this and look out the window. There may just be a dragon in the sky!

    Here are a few more games you probably already know that help to direct attention to the present moment. You may notice that they ask us to use one of our senses. You see our minds travel to the future or rehash the past, but our senses are perceiving in the present moment. So when we bring attention on purpose to the perception of one of our senses, especially with a sense of play, we are practicing mindful awareness!

    I spy with my little eye- Yes the old fashioned game… just look around you. Notice something with your eyes. And your playmate looks around too, trying to guess what you are looking at.

    How many sounds can your hear? Set a timer for one minute and see how many sounds you can hear all around you. This game is especially rich when done outside. And make sure you are playing right along with your child. You may be surprised at how many sounds are happening around you and even inside you!

    What’s that sound? Yup it’s just like it sounds. Have your child close their eyes if they are comfortable doing so. Make a sound. It can be anything; a zipper, a door closing, a paper bag crumpling, a guitar being plucked… Ask your child to guess what the sound was.

    What’s that smell? Just like What’s that sound only using your sense of smell to figure out what something is. Oranges work well as their scent is pretty distinctive but get creative.

    Mystery object- Give your child a small object and ask them to explore it only using their hands. You can ask questions like is it rough or smooth, cold or warm, heavy or light. They try to figure out what the object is without using their eyes. I have used acorns, toy cars, leaves; really you can use any familiar object. I always start by assuring them that the object is completely safe to touch and has nothing sharp on it.

    Jennifer Barrett has been working with children for over two decades. She is the founder of We Grow Yoga and provides yoga and mindful awareness training to children of all ages as well as to the teachers and parents who guide them. She has designed curriculum for schools such as The Chestnut Hill School in Massachusetts and The Brooklyn Heights Montessori School. Jennifer holds degrees in elementary and special needs education from Boston College. She has a 20 year dedicated yoga practice, and is an active and registered member of Yoga Alliance. She is certified both through ChildLight Yoga and holds a 200 hour teacher certification through Breathe For Change with the lens of bringing yoga and mindful awareness practices to school communities. She especially loves her work as a mother of 3 amazing sons and as a meditation facilitator for The Community Mindfulness Project.

    For more information about We Grow Yoga offerings go to wegrowyoga.com

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