I was very lucky to spend few weeks in an alternative education school in Thailand, where children were taught mindfulness. Their teacher was eager to encourage 5-12 year olds to focus on their bodies and thoughts, friends and family.
Remember when you were at school and you had a group activity? Depending on how popular you were, the crowd would applaud or boo your name called out. Mindfulness programme would not allow you that. Everyone is asked to think of their emotions instead of expressing it.
A group of Thai children would sit in a circle and think about the food they eat, the way their bodies move, how they interact with their friends and family. Every time someone starts making noise, decides to jump or run around, teacher would ask them if they are aware what is happening with their bodies and if swinging on the chair or punching a friend is the act they are doing intentionally.
When I was teaching in Cambodia one of the classes involved bean counting. Children would sit for an hour counting beans. They would be interrupted by a teacher, who would add or take some beans from the bowl. If you get distracted and do not remember what the count is, you need to start over.
I used to keep a gratitude diary. A good practice if all you see around is grey and black. It made me more aware of what was around me and it made me look for magic in little things. Birds and strangers, smiles and sunshine had to be registered in my mind to make sure I could make a list of three blessings at the end of the day.
When 5-12 year olds were asked to write down what they are thankful for they included their family and friends, pets, teachers, school’s cook. One boy was thankful for YouTube and video games, PS4 and guns. The same 10 year old that taught me golf basics and portrayed himself as ‘filthy rich’, as expressed by the author himself, when asked to draw his biggest dream.
How mindful are you?