During one week this summer, I ran a Kids Yoga Camp for two hours at a studio, with kids between the ages of 4 and 12. As challenge as it is to keep everything interesting to everyone with this big age range, almost all the projects I had planned got finalized, and the yoga classes were super fun each day! Usually, when the kids come consistently like that, they just soar with their imagination and new acquainted body awareness.
I would say the culmination of my efforts to present them with ways to calm down and raise awareness in them happened on the fourth day out of the five we met for camp. We had done yoga for one hour and worked on projects related to the class theme for about forty minutes. We were not done with the projects, but I sensed the energy was getting low in the room. So, I invited the kids to come back to their mats so we could work on mindfulness while our bodies got some rest. I asked them to sit for one minute, just sixty seconds, and be still. I suggested they would be attentive to sounds around them; and mentioned that the quieter we were, the more sounds we would be able to identify. I wondered how that would go, and told them to start in 3, 2, 1… I also closed my eyes, and after forty-five seconds, I peeked at my watch and the kids. Most of them had their eyes closed; other few were peeking, but with bodies remaining still. At the fifty-seven second mark, I announced gently, ”Coming back in 3,2,1…” I opened my eyes and all of them remained still. I told them to wiggle their fingers and toes, they did, but did not move any other part of their bodies.
Then, one of them, said, “Can we stay here?” Other one said, “Can we lie down?” Sensing the calmness in the air and their need for more stillness, I replied with a delighted yes. I love it when kids ask to stay in savasana (final relaxation lying on the mat), that’s what my body also craves after a good yoga class! What happened next left me mesmerized. I remained sitting down, watching them lying down in stillness. I said a few words, such as “Can you feel the air around your skin?”, just to encourage more mindfulness in them. And then there was silence. One coughed for a couple of seconds, but that was it. I remembered the task I had given them about listening to different sounds and thought I should do it, too. I did, with eyes half-open, in case any of them tried to reach out for me without making a sound. And so we stayed like this for another ten minutes!! I then realized it was time for parents to come pick them up, so I restarted to talk to get them up and ready to go home, yet in a gentle way, since slowly coming out of a meditative state is the best way to keep in touch with the recently rediscovered inner peace. Coming out of it abruptly is like falling out of bed to wake up in the morning…
As the kids finally sat on their mats for our final talk and acknowledgment of each other for being there, I decided to test them to see if they were just taking a nap this whole time. To my surprise, each one of them gave me a different answer when I asked about which sound they had heard while in silence. One answered, “I heard the cars driving on the wet roads” (it was raining that day). Another one said, “I heard a clock ticking, and I never knew there was a clock in this room”, to which the others nodded in agreement. How wonderful that they were able to remain quiet yet present enough to be aware of all those different sounds they mentioned and even identify them. We bowed to each other, and left class in such a calm environment that it was hard for me to let go. I think I would have stayed in that delicious stillness for the rest of the day, if I could. May you find at least one minute of peace in your day, and maybe it will turn into ten minutes, during which you can replenish yourself for the remaining hours of your day.