Let's kick off Day twenty three of my family's Ramadan Kindness Calendar with a quote from Roald Dahl:
I came across it this morning whilst I had an admittedly unmindful breakfast and I was scrolling on evil Facebook (made somewhat less evil when I happened upon this little gem). It made me smile because it's absolutely perfect for this month of kindness myself and the Lads have embarked on. I love the idea of kindness covering all bases and that's the thought, the feeling, the sense that stayed with me as I went about my business.
And if that weren't a strong enough kindness groove for the day, today was the day that I held my mindfulness workshop for children on the course I run at Solstice Studio in Brixham. I love working with these brilliant kids and introducing them to ways of being that might be helpful in all sorts of ways in their rosy futures. And today was just perfect because the theme of the session was: 'Know Friendliness'.
Friendliness is one of the core 'Super Skills' that I teach during this six-week course. We explore ways of being friendly to ourselves, to others and to our experiences as they happen. It's all good stuff. And tonight's session was going to take it up a notch.
As I was gathering my mindfulness treasures for use in the workshop (sand-timer, singing bowl and pebbles all standard issue), I had a lovely thought. During the last workshop (Know Your Emotions), I'd guided the students through some collaborative, mindful art-making by shouting out emotions which they then had a go at depicting on huge sheets of paper with pens, crayons, pastels and pencils.
Because everybody had drawn on every bit of paper, nobody actually 'owned' any of the finished artworks and anyway, in this kind of thing it's the process that counts, right? So I came up with a crafty plan. I'd randomly select certain abstract sections of the artwork and then let Big Lad give them out as gifts at tonight's session. I'd tag each piece with a little reminder of why we'd done the artwork in the first place, so as to remind them they have these new awesome mindfulness skills, and then let Big Lad decide who got what.
Ok, so it's all a bit conceptual but I knew my little mindful masters would not only get it, but also appreciate it, so I figured it would go down well. As I was setting up all the bells and whistles at Solstice, I asked Big Lad to select different pieces for different people. He did this with relish, enjoying the order and logic of ticking people off on a list (what can I say? He's his mother's son), almost as much as he then enjoyed behaving like an old bloke and reading up on the World Cup.
He gave out the art-shards (as I have come to call them) as people arrived and began explaining in exhaustive detail what they were and why they were being given them. After the tenth person entered the door, however, that exhaustive detail had been whittled down to, "It's a bit of magic for you." This, I realised, would have been a perfect explanation from the start. Sometimes children know instinctively how to avoid the needless complexity of an adult's analysis of the world. Amen to that.
The rest of the session explored kindness and friendliness in my absolute favourite way: creatively. We made inspiration boards, we invented 'can-do comments' and we exchanged friendly wishes during a walking meditation. We also watched a lovely little film that showed kindness for the absolutely amazing, rewarding and uplifting thing that it is. The kids practically begged to watch this again, so in case any of their mums are reading this, here it is:
I'm hoping it's safe to say that some happy children went home tonight basking in the glow of kindness that they now know is open to them from all angles. From the outside, from all around them and - most importantly - as a precious inner resource. Because, to be fair, we all need reminding of that from time to time.
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