About this time last year I made a commitment to deepen my study of the practice of yoga, first completing my yin yoga teacher training and currently working on my 200-hour teaching certification. It’s been quite an undertaking, requiring daily practice and study over a year long period. The benefits that I am experiencing, body, mind and soul, make the hours of effort absolutely worth it. I am beyond excited to begin sharing what I am learning with others who may be able to benefit.
Last month I decided to facilitate a mindfulness in the woods activity with a group of children at camp. I was fascinated to see if you could really expect a group of children to sit still for any length of time. The plan was simple, have the group sit still in the woods for about 10 minutes. But having worked with enough children, I thought it best to give them job of some kind to keep their minds focused long enough for their bodies to come to stillness. So on the way into the woods I had the children stop by the rock pile, next to the compost. Children selected a rock that was special to them. We walked into the woods and I gave the children their jobs. “Look at your rock, feel it and turn it all over to learn all the tiny details about your rock” I said.
I told the children they were to go and find their own special place to sit and that we would stay in that place for 10 minutes. Then I set them free. The first time I mentioned a 10-minute sit in the woods, there were some audible groans from the group. So when we first sat down, I was nervous that this activity would flop. Actually, what happened was pretty cool. Each child spent their time a little bit differently. Some would would wiggle and turn around on the spot, some spent a great while examining their rocks, and others watched the birds and squirrels. Eventually though they all just settled in. It was quiet, peaceful and still.
We ended up sitting for 14 minutes. Honestly we could have stayed so much longer but there was bread rising in the oven to be attended to. 😉 When I brought the group back together to talk about their experiences, everyone had something really wonderful to share. My favourite highlight shared by the group was from one little boy, who had prior to this activity, been having difficulty relating with another child. Basically he was struggling with strong emotions. He shared with us, that what he loved best about his time in the woods, was that it made him feel happy and calm.
I wasn’t surprised to hear him say this. I know yoga works. I know the power of nature. I have experienced so many wonderful benefits from my own mindfulness in nature practice. Seeing these children experiencing their own benefits, well that felt pretty awesome.