“Concentration is a cornerstone of mindfulness practice. Your mindfulness will only be as robust as the capacity of your mind to be calm and stable. Without calmness, the mirror of mindfulness will have an agitated and choppy surface and will not be able to reflect things with any accuracy.” ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn
Newsflash: boys have a lot of energy.
I don’t mean to be stereotypical with that statement because I am sure there are many girls out there who also have loads of energy, but up to this point boys are the only first hand parenting experience I’ve had (though as Baby Girl grows up, I will be able to figure out how things go with girls…). I have been looking for ways to help slow that energy down when needed. Lately my go-to solution for stopping the ramped up energy is storytime. Sometimes listening to audiobooks on the iPad or sitting down with a book in my lap can be just the thing to press the reset button. Granted it’s a temporary solution, but I’ll take it.
One of the best ways I’ve found to really shift gears is to tie in yoga and meditation with our reading. Meditation with busy boys may sound laughable, but it is possible. We start off with a yoga book that despite its title, works any time of the day. Good Night Yoga and Good Morning Yoga by Miriam Gates are both great any time of the day. The illustrations are lovely and each page is engaging. One of my boys’ favorite stories come from my library of books from my days of teaching children’s yoga. It’s called Moody Cow Meditates by Kerry Lee MacLean. In this story, the young cow named Peter is struggling with events throughout his day that have left him feeling frustrated and angry. His wise, zen grandfather encourages Peter to sit with him to make a mind jar in order to help soothe and quiet his mind and release his anger and frustration. As he watched the glitter and sparkles slowly settle on the bottom of the jar, so too did his mind settle. Big Brother has been asking if we could make a mind jar and this week we finally got around to putting it together.
A quick search on Pinterest will give you an overwhelming response of ways to make mind jars for kids. Some can get quite fancy, but we decided to keep it simple for our first attempt. The general consensus from the Pinterest world is that the Voss Still Water Bottles are the most successful to use. They’re tall, a nice shape for sparkle viewing and not breakable (read:plastic). I also discovered while removing the labels that if the label is removed just right the word still can be left on the cap, which I found charming because the purpose of these bottles is to encourage stillness. In addition to a bottle, we used glitter glue, glitter, food coloring, and hot water. We also added a handful of seed beads because they add a little more color and sound when shaking things up.
To start, we put a small tube’s worth of glitter glue in the bottom of the bottle, added a handful of seed beads and then our glitter. Next we added HOT water to the bottle nearly to the top. Hot water is very important because it melts and breaks up the glue. Then the boys added a few drops of food coloring and we were ready to seal it all up. Once we were sure we had added everything we wanted in our bottles, I glued the tops onto their bottles to prevent an accidental spillage.
In my opinion, the bottles don’t really have good glitter flow until after the water has cooled down. Things inside can move and settle rather quickly right after we made the bottles but several hours later I thought their glitter swirl-age was more impressive. The boys were mesmerized. We even tried a few experiments with our bottles like timing them to see how long it takes for the glitter to settle (about 2 minutes) and what happens when we shine light through the bottles with the lights out (just more cool looking glitter bottles). Because of our color choices we did discover that when the light shone through the blue bottle and we viewed it through the yellow bottle…we saw green! Color mixing science at its finest!
I had hopes that in addition to calming energy that these could also serve to calm angry feelings as it did in the Moody Cow Meditates. This morning, I had the opportunity to try it out with Little One, but it just resulted in him throwing the bottle (again, thankful its plastic and sealed). I still have hope for Big Brother and we’ll try again with Little One, because it’s hard being three.