While I love the stillness that sitting in silence brings, mindfulness does not have to be a motionless practice. If we are bringing mindfulness to our students, some may find their way in through movement. In fact, it took me years of yoga practice before it ever occurred to me that I might like to try a still practice.
After three years of teaching separate mindfulness and yoga electives at a local high school, this year I decided to combine the two into one class. There is a synergy between the movement and stillness. The students are much more able to settle after the mindful movement helps them get into their bodies.
In the professional group I met with this afternoon, we used Susan Kaiser Greenland’s mindful game activity cards to explore ways we could bring movement into our mindfulness practice with students. Here were a few faves:
Pass the cup: fill a small cup full of water and see if students can get it around the circle without spilling. (Bonus: do it with your eyes closed…then add no talking.)
Mind, Body Go!: roll a ball back and forth. each time you receive the ball, notice a feeling in the mind and body (ex- my mind is foggy and my hands are cold).
Kindness with Every Step: Have students walk in a a circle or straight line, repeating kind thoughts for themselves (I want to be happy. I want to be safe.) Ring the bell and have them stop. Give them the direction to repeat kind thoughts for someone they love easily during the next round. (I hope you are happy. I hope you are safe.) Ring a bell and give them the final direction to have kind thoughts for everyone in the last round (I hope everyone is happy. I hope everyone is safe.)
Here, we have a focusing exercise, a self-observation exercise, and a kindness exercise, all mindfulness in motion. If you, or your students, are struggling with adapting to stillness, try movement first. It may be the way in.