This month, I’d like to share two simple practices that can help us feel more at peace and connected with ourselves and the world around us. These exercises incorporate all four of Mindful & Well Education’s guiding principles: mindfulness, heartfulness, connection with nature, and embodied movement.
You can try these practices with your children or students, or on your own. The exercises offer a nice break in between school work, or work work. Each practice is extra juicy, as it incorporates two of Mindful & Well Education’s tenets in one 5-minute exercise.
Snail Walk: a practice in embodied movement & mindfulness
Mindfulness is noticing what’s happening in the here and now. Mindful movement helps us to connect with our bodies and notice sensations we often overlook.
Start by standing tall, like a mountain.
Take three deep breaths. Notice how your body expands and contracts with each breath.
Lift your right foot off the ground verrryy slooowwly, so that it is in rhythm with your inhale as you lift your foot up and your exhale as you lower your foot down in place. Lift the other foot with your next breath, staying in place. Do this for a minute or two, paying attention to how you feel in your body.
What muscles do you feel most as you lift your feet? Do you feel muscles all the way in the upper half of your body, or just in your feet and legs? Is it difficult or easy to move so slowly?
The next time you lift your foot, place it down in front of you and take a step forward. Again, try to sync your steps with the rhythm of your breath. Continue this verrryyy sloooww walking for a couple minutes. Notice how this pace of walking feels.
If you wish, you can alternate between walking at your regular pace and a slow pace, taking notice of how they feel different--can you notice a difference not just in how you feel in your body, but also in your mind?
Making Friends with Nature: a practice in heartfulness & connecting with nature
Heartfulness is the intentional cultivation of positive qualities of the heart, such as compassion or gratitude. This practice combines heartfulness with an opportunity to connect with nature. Choose one natural item to hold in your hands: a flower, leaf, pretty rock or crystal-- even a friendly bug. (Kids really embrace the latter!)
Look closely at the item. Examine all the little details that you might normally miss, noticing smaller and smaller details the more you look.
How many different colors are there on this item’s surface? What textures do you see or feel? What different shapes do you notice? If you’re holding a bug, what do you think this bug is thinking right now? If you’re holding a leaf, a flower, or a rock, if it could talk, what would it say? Spend at least two minutes examining this item.
Take a moment to be grateful for this item. Think of what this item does for the world! How do you interact with this item? How often do you think you pass by this item in your day or week? Does this item help you or benefit you at all? Does it help other living things? Spend at least two minutes connecting with this item.
Say thank you to the item before returning it to its place on the Earth.
Take a deep breath, look around you, and notice if you see other items like this. Say thank you to all those items as well.
After each of these exercises, take a moment for you and/or your kids to notice how you feel. Do you feel different than you did before the exercise? If you’ve ever been to a yoga class, this is sort of like savasana at the end of class--we give ourselves time to soak up the good feelings and relaxation, and also fine tune our awareness of ourselves.
If you or your kids/students try these exercises, please comment and let me know how they go. I also love to hear about additions or tweaks you make to the practice!
If you’d like personalized resources or coaching in mindfulness and wellness practices, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also subscribe to the monthly Mindful & Well newsletter below. I’m always available to answer any questions you have, by email or in the comments below. Thanks for stopping by!