“In the Buddhist tradition, mindfulness, compassion and understanding are embedded into their practices. These elements assist and remind us of the importance of taking a moment to be present – and to be aware if the here and now” Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village Community
In a world where we are constantly on the go (moving, working, playing, learning, growing and developing), it is important for each one of us as adults to embrace the realization of how we are feeling, this too is important for our children. The practice of mindfulness can be practiced in many forms, including simple breathing techniques, creating a calming space, playing soft background music, and for older children taking the time to reflect on “imagine” statement’s. For example: “imagine walking through a beautiful place, feeling relaxed and happy – what feelings do you feel?” These simple, yet effective techniques allow children an opportunity to self-regulate, and bring themselves into a place of being mindful and present in the moment.
Practicing at Home
Another of these techniques which can easily be practiced at home with family is the following poem:
Breathing in: “I am here, with my mind and body”
Breathing out: “I want to help myself (and others) feel calm and happy”
Within Bambini, it is important that we are promoting mindfulness with the children throughout the day. Our philosophy instils inclusiveness, where all children are embraced for their individuality, and feel safe, secure and supported in all they do throughout their day. Our language is also used in ways which guide, support and are kind, encouraging and engage all children in their interactions throughout the day.
Mindfulness and Expression
Children have a wonderful sense of awe and wonder, and through mindfulness practices, children’s ability to express themselves shines a new light into who they are. Through all areas of growth and development, and the plethora of experiences the children are involved in, educators are mindful in their set ups, environments, relationships and precious moments – which creates the sense of belonging, being and becoming in an environment which is engaging and receptive to learning. Meal times are a wonderful way for the children to also practice their mindfulness, through what we call “mindful eating” – being aware of the foods we are eating, having discussions about the food (where they come from), and savouring every bite.
It’s amazing when sitting with the children, in those moments of quiet, just how attentive they are to their surroundings. The sounds of the birds singing, the soft breeze blowing the leaves in the tree’s, the rain against the windows, the subtle sound of their peers falling asleep, the rubbish truck collecting the bins – Their alertness and dedication to each moment are all a part of being mindful.
“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers” Thich Nhat Hanh
By MJ Donnellan, Bambini Early Learning Centre Educational Leader