“Hello friends! Now let’s all sing and wave hello.”
I have been telling stories in the nursery school classrooms for four years now. We often get to celebrate Shabbat together on my visits. This year, preschool director Nili Shriber and I wanted to ring in Shabbat a little differently, with mindfulness skills. For little ones, this means the recognition that there is a mind, that it has a habit of wandering off, and that we can always bring ourselves back with kindness.
“I see that your elbows, ankles and tongues are here. Our bodies are here, but what about our minds? Are we eating breakfast at home right now? Are we on the playground after school? Maybe our minds are thinking about those things. That’s okay! Let’s spread our hands apart. Now let’s bring our hands and our bodies and our minds toooooooo-gether!”
Practicing mindfulness can seem intimidating, but it’s child’s play! Being mindful means bringing our focus to what is actually happening in the moment. Often the mind is occupied thinking about the past or looking towards the future in fantasy or fear. When the mind wanders off, we can miss our lives as they are happening. It’s like going out for a gourmet lunch and spending the whole time talking about dinner. Stop and taste the heirloom tomatoes!
Practicing mindfulness is like training a puppy to stay – it takes practice. The puppy, like our minds, does not want to stay. She wants to run and jump and nibble on your shoes. We can’t be mad at the puppy. Nibbling is her nature. And she’s so dang cute! Instead we are patient and kind. “Ohh, you’ve wandered off. That’s okay! But now, let’s come and stay here.”
It’s the same kind of patience we exhibit with our own children, and that we hope others show them. It’s the kind of kindness we want to be shown. It starts with practicing kindness to ourselves, and it radiates out into the world.
“Let’s bring our bodies and minds toooooo-gether! Catch the silence and hold it to your heart. Can you feel your heart beating? Let’s sit and listen for ten seconds. If you get distracted, that’s okay! You can always start again.”
Again and again and again. May we make a kinder world with every attempt.
Learn more about our early childhood programs including prelude to preschool and preschool: 14StreetY.org/EarlyChildhood
The 14th Street Y would like to extend a sincere thank you to Shawn for the work he is doing with our Early Childhood programs to bring mindfulness to children every day.
We invite people to be kind and thoughtful today in honor of World Kindness Day!