Sunday, March 16, 2014

Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children (recommended book)

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“We all have the seeds of happiness… A good teacher touches the seed, allowing it to wake up, to sprout, and to grow.”

In fact, one of the activities in Planting Seeds is to literally plant seeds as a way of tangibly showing the effects of nurturing the “happy seeds” and “unhappy seeds” in our hearts “to decide which seeds will grow and which will not grow inside us.”


Meena Srinivasan mentioned Planting Seeds as one of 
The Best Children’s Books About Mindfulness, and it's not hard to see why: 
there are instructions for dozens of mindfulness activities and noncompetitive games, which would be appropriate for classroom use or at home, summer camp, Sunday school, etc. (Some of the explanations are given in Buddhist terms, so adjustments in phrasing might be necessary.)

One of the key practices is Pebble Meditation, in which each child
www.parallax.org
selects four pebbles and uses them as a concrete way to represent positive feelings.  Pebble Meditation has also been made into a separate, child-sized illustrated book: A Handful of Quiet. (This is another recommendation on Ms. Srinivasan’s list of Best Children’s Books).


As Thich Nhat Hanh notes, 
“Children seem to have a natural love of ceremonies, rituals, songs, and games… and a great capacity for spiritual learning and growth. When spiritual practice is communicated simply and directly to them, the children experience it as fun and helpful.”

Not that the children's behavior is always fun or helpful for the teacher! Just as important as the instructions themselves are the examples of handling unforeseen problems: Despite our best intentions, we inevitably do have to deal with things like kids who disrupt activities, kids who refuse to participate in activities, or utter chaos when an insect flies into the room.  

But in all of these cases, we can choose to respond in a way that's calm and compassionate.  By nurturing the positive "seeds" in ourselves, we provide powerful role models for our students as they learn and grow.

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related posts:

Human Camera: A Mindfulness Activity to Engage the Senses 


Marble Roll: A Cooperative Game for Teaching Mindfulness


No Winners or Losers: Noncompetitive Games for Kids

Teach, Breathe, Learn: Mindfulness in and out of the Classroom (recommended book)



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