Have you felt the exhaustion and busyness of the holiday season yet? Feeling stretched and worn out? For today’s Poetry Teatime, try out the practice of mindfulness. Take a deep breath. Slow down. Focus on the moment. Relax your mind and pay attention to the small things for a restful teatime.
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What is mindfulness? Mindfulness means paying attention to yourself and your surroundings right now. Slow down and look around at the world. Pay attention to how you’re feeling. If you are having a tense day or are feeling stressed, practicing mindfulness can help to reduce anxiety and produce calm.
Some beautiful examples of poems that encourage mindfulness are those that take a close look at nature. Let’s start with a poem by Robert Frost. Notice how the poem looks at both the outside world of nature and the inside world of the speaker’s emotions.
Dust of Snow
By Robert Frost
The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
Try reading Frost’s poem out loud a couple of lines, paying attention to the way the poem sounds. Think about the connections between the outside and the inside world. Slow down and focus on details. Now let’s take a look at some ideas for practicing mindfulness during today’s teatime!
Practices of Mindfulness
“Calm down cocoa”: Learn good breathing techniques with this fun art project. The basic idea is simple--breathe in the smell of the drink through your nose, and breathe out through your mouth to cool the drink off. Kristina Marcelli in this blog post suggests different ways to draw a “feel-good” cup of cocoa using multiple senses in order to relax and concentrate on the present.
Color of my day: Sometimes it can be hard to describe how we’re feeling, but using colors to represent emotions can help. Take a box of colored pencils or crayons and have everyone pick out one or more pencils that represents their feelings right now. Then think back to what color you felt all day today, then yesterday, then this week.
Blindfold taste test: Try boiling different kinds of tea and then having each family member guess each flavor of tea based on smell and taste alone. Mindfulness is about being observant to the things you take for granted, including the wide world of tea textures, flavors, and smells.
Sensory freewrite: Here at Brave Writer, we love freewriting. Part of mindfulness is letting your mind relax and focus on what’s right in front of you. Get out your notebooks and set a timer for a minute or so, then write down everything around you using all five senses. For ideas on writing poetry using your senses, check out this post from the Poetry Foundation.
Body scan: One aspect of mindfulness is paying attention to how your whole body feels physically. With a body scan, everyone lies down. One person directs everyone’s focus across individual areas of the body, usually starting with the top of the head and working down to the toes. As you move through each part, pay attention to how it feels. Is your right shoulder tense? Do you feel a tingle in your left knee? You can combine the body scan with small stretches to relax your body from head to toes. Follow these steps from Blissful Kids to try it yourself.
Funky utensil teatime: Collect all your weird and wacky kitchen utensils (a whisk, garlic press, spatula, ladle, and more). Each person draws one utensil out of the bag and must eat their teatime snacks with that utensil! This activity is messy, but great for slowing down and focusing on the small details of each bite of food.
Books that Encourage Mindfulness
Take the Time: Mindfulness for Kids, by Maud Roegiers
Breathe and Be: A Book of Mindfulness Poems, by Kate Coombs
I am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness, by Susan Verde