It’s never too early to teach children about the phrase “to take care of”.
Children are naturally curious. Their development relies on that way of being. Consequently, painful or scary experiences are components of this process. However, as the adults responsible for their well-being and upbringing, the most important thing to consider is, within all the developmental strife, nurturing a sense of “care” is an essential thing. Why? Because it teaches them how to care.
After considering the deep nature of these definitions, nurturing traits required to enable relative action is indisputable. Furthermore, that awareness encourages deeper focus on their choices and the consequences. This sort of trickling effect cultivates stronger and more reliable relationships with others and on a larger scale, a stronger sense of compassion.
So you see, with all this valuable impact, doing all you can to instill those values is one step towards enlightenment.
I’ve always embraced being mindful of the things I do that align with showing care for oneself, others or my surroundings. Some of my daily regimens show this in subtle and obvious ways. For instance, waking up early enough to feed my pets, giving them water when they need more of it and physical companionship as often as possible. Other things like taking a bath or ensuring my body is well rested each night are obvious ways of caring for oneself. While things like being conscious of and exercising choices that aid with water conservation or placing my disposable waste in the rubbish, are ways of caring for the environment. Each has a purpose that requires amalgamating concrete actions to create the desired consequences.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how can I include more of these powerful life lessons in my yoga classes. Ones that students can understand on their own, well at least without much explanation, as the idea is to provoke their own sense of thought. From experience, I’ve found their inclusion isn’t as challenging as it seems, nor requires some sort of intricate activity. Instead, associative activities that encourage assessment of their choices, drawing their own conclusions, and understanding the personal and collective consequences.
So after some thought, I was inspired by the parent incubation process of an egg in a nest, protected and cared for by a dedicated parent bird.
Within this real sliver of animal life, associative lessons for children are found. Simple and relatable things that are easily understood, but also touch on larger life lessons.
The activity begins and ends in easy pose. Students place and hold an egg (shaker) in their palms then close their eyes. Guided by vocal instructions, the focus of this activity is exploring mindfulness through meditation. Similar to the bird when incubating their eggs, they must exercise a certain amount of awareness when holding the egg shaker in their palms. How they hold it, how much pressure is applied and in its placement. They must also be aware of their posture and general disposition. Along with the guided reminders, this activity is one that instigates a reliance on their mind and body.
HOW DID IT GO?
Even better than planned.
The caliber of care demonstrated by my students propelled a desire to create more activities like this one. They assumed their role as parent birds with significant pride and exercised a sublime level of commitment to perform their very best. There were also so many pivotal moments during the activity which directly related to the driving force behind it. One exact moment is when a few students made remarks about how important it is for them to be careful not to break the eggs as the goal is to protect them not destroy them. That rationalization was a humble step towards a fundamental understanding of the activities’ main focus - teaching children how to take care of something - as well as the choices required for such an action.
The best way to ensure absolute success with this type of activity is demonstrating it beforehand, but bear in mind, it may also be interesting to try it once without showing them what to do. See what choices they make on their own, then redo it and encourage adjustment of those choices that hampered the desired outcome. Also, using a really calm tone of voice, speaking intently but gently is a significant part of influencing their individual success and yours as well.
Take a look!
This will only take a few minutes of your time and will provide, not only a new activity, but a renewed sense of purpose as a yoga teacher.