10 Ways to Launch Great Days? Tap Morning Mindfulness! Your kiddos’ perspective on each new day can greatly benefit from your modeling and/or facilitating the practice of purposefully paying attention to the present, internally and externally, otherwise known as mindfulness. Check out these 10 exercises and review them together, knowing each morning presents a special opportunity to dive into this toolbox, and start a great day!
10 Ways to Launch Great Days? Tap Morning Mindfulness! :
- ALERTNESS through Mindful Breathing / “WAKE UP your Mind and Body”: With mindfully straight posture, and relaxed body, take 3 mindful breaths that are felt in the expansion of the nose, lungs, and tummy. Repeat 3x. For each round, focus on the sensation of one of those body areas.
- Mindful MOOD Management (1/2) – General / “NOTICE How You FEEL each Morning”: Sit mindfully; Take 3 mindful breaths; and then, place a hand where the mood is felt. Draw a face of that mood, labeled “Before”; draw a second face, this time of the desired mood, labeled “After”. Keep both handy; discard the old mood paper when ready to embrace/notice the new mood. *(Morning awareness helps manage mood throughout the day.)
- Getting GROUNDED – Rooted Tree Exercise / “FIND Your Ground”: Stand mindfully; IMAGINE growing roots from the feet into the ground. If possible, put the bottom of one foot against the ankle of the other foot. Clasp the hands together, with only the index fingers pointed upward; raise the clasped hands above the head. Repeat for the other foot. *(In life, we may sway, but having roots steadies us for balance.)
- Feeling Sustained STABILITY – Rising Mountain Exercise / “Grow STRONG and STEADY”: Stand (or sit) mindfully; Eyes open; Become a mountain rising above the ocean; Fingers apart, raising the arms, lift the mountain higher; Hold; Notice – thoughts? Worries?; Envision them as little, splashing waves; Deep breath in, then release breath to push those “waves” far away, out to sea; Notice the water becoming still – calm; Lower the arms; Breathe mindfully. *(Relax…in the knowing that this mountain-sized strength sustains throughout the day.)
- Cultivating CALM – Reflection Pond Exercise / “BE STILL like a pool of Water”: Bring your IMAGINATION; Sit mindfully; Breathe mindfully (3x); IMAGINE first, being in a forest of tall trees, chirping birds, running squirrels, and falling leaves; IMAGINE second, encountering a pond of still water; IMAGINE the details of the forest scene being reflected in the clear water; IMAGINE then, Who do you see?…What else do you see?; IMAGINE now, dropping a pebble into the smooth, clear pond; IMAGINE that the water starts rippling; IMAGINE then, feeling increasingly calm, while watching the water gradually become still, once again; Open the eyes, and exhale.
- Feeling CONNECTION Exercise – “Inhaling the Universe / CONNECT to the World around You”: Stand (or Sit) mindfully, raising and lowering the toes; Feel the feet touching the floor; Raise the arms as high as possible, fingers spread wide; Deep breath in, and Hold; Bending forward, Breathe out, vocalizing relief (‘AHHH’); Swing the arms; while bent forward, IMAGINE Scooping up the sun, moon, stars, and planets; while standing up, Release the arms over the head, showering one’s self with the beauties and wonders of the Universe!; *(optional: 2x more); Conclude with mindful breathing, slow and gentle. *(Remember: We are also an important part of the Universe.)
- Positive SELF-TALK Exercise – “Boost Your SELF-CONFIDENCE”: Sit mindfully; IMAGINE/Recall the feeling of nervousness about trying something new; IMAGINE now, being encouraged by a loved one; Embody that feeling, and give yourself that encouragement; Replace that old worried feeling with a newly encouraged feeling; Use positive self-talk, such as “It’s okay to try as many times as it takes, when doing something new.”; Replace any unkind self-talk with kind words instead; Open the eyes and SMILE. *(We are capable of giving ourselves a boost!)
- Emotional SAFETY Exercise – “Rings of Light / Carry COURAGE with You”: Sit mindfully; Breathe mindfully; IMAGINE that wisdom is a white light, originating between the eyebrows; Breathe out, propelling that light to draw a ring of protection around the body; IMAGINE now, Breathing out a red light of courage, from the throat, to encircle the body; IMAGINE finally, Breathing out a blue light of calm from inside the heart, to also encircle the body, in a third ring of protection; Notice how safe it feels inside of those rings of protection. *(We can carry that safe feeling throughout the day.)
- Mindful MOVEMENT Exercise – “Pay Attention to the way you MOVE”: Stand mindfully; Breathe mindfully; Keep eyes open; in the toes, ankles, and legs, Use Clench-and-Release for each set of muscles; now, Lift one foot at a time, feeling the muscles working; Step softly – Kiddos can IMAGINE walking quietly through a jungle, trying not to make a sound; Feel the toes helping with balance; Feel weight in the heels; Sway the arms, slowly; if the mind wanders, Switch attention back to the feet; while Crossing the room slowly, Notice how the hips swivel, and weight shifts, when the body turns.
- Mindful MOOD Melt (2/2) – “Cloud Burst / Melt Away a Grumpy MOOD”: Sit mindfully; Breathe mindfully; IMAGINE a grumpy/negative mood as a dark cloud above the head; IMAGINE now, instead, something that usually brings a happy feeling; IMAGINE that happy feeling morphing into a Rainbow that powerfully streams, piercing through that dark cloud – outshining it; IMAGINE feeling the Rainbow melting inside. Finally, let the heart continue to fill with light!
10 ways to launch great days? Tap morning mindfulness! Model whichever practice(s) feel right, on any particular day. Most anyone can learn; techniques are easily modifiable regarding ability and comfort; and, some only require imagination. Just try it and see!
*MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: “Mindfulness practice is a resource, not a substitute for medical treatment. If you have concerns, please consult your healthcare provider.”
RESOURCE: Stewart, Whitney. (2017). Mindful Kids: 50 Mindfulness Activities for Kindness, Focus, and Calm. Illustrated by Mina Braun. Cambridge, MA; Barefoot Books. www.barefootbooks.com . www.whitneystewart.com . www.minabraun.com . www.inclusiveminds.com . www.stefwieder.com .