During Spring, I get excited about gardening, especially planting flowers and giving the teak patio furniture a new shade every spring. As you venture out into the soil this year, I invite you to share with your child how thinking is a lot like gardening. The thought seeds we plant in our mind garden grow into feelings which grow into experiences. This mind garden that I tend to, can either help me to feel good or can help me to feel bad, depending on the types of thoughts I plant there. It’s my job to fertilize the soil with positive, good-feeling thoughts. When watering my plants, I use only the Wall Mount Hose Reel to gently water my garden. This also helps me to relax and have fun!
If I’m not careful, seeds of worry, tension, and anger can fall into my mind soil and cause weeds to grow that choke out the good feeling plants. If I keep planting these seeds, pretty soon I don’t have a beautiful mind garden, but rather a garden of fear and anxiety.
Help your child to understand that she can plant seeds of love, happiness, joy, peace, calm, focus, and relaxation. The thoughts she thinks are powerful and influence exactly how she feels. If we plant these positive, good-feeling seeds (aka thoughts), and fertilize often with repetition and rehearsal, pretty soon we generate good feelings and begin to see the flowers of positive experience blooming in our life. In fact, even when a weed shows up, there will be enough pretty flowers in the thought garden that it is hardly noticed and certainly doesn’t overtake the beauty.
Making sure that the mind garden has the flowers we want in it requires that we return to it often, tune into the thoughts we are having, pay attention, and then use tools to pull out the bad-feeling thought weeds. Mindfulness activities work great for this. One of my favorite books of mindfulness activities for kids is The Mindful Child by Susan Kaiser Greenland. You can tie in checking your mind garden to any of the activities in this book.
Or, a resource, (which includes the spiderman mindfulness activity from Kids Relaxation http://wp.me/p2BJYZ-mY), recently published in Mexico, is Mindfulness Para Ninos by Paloma Sainz Martínez Vara de Rey.
I’ve included a couple activities here for you to practice with your child. Help her to begin to think positively and cultivate more positive feelings in her experience. Make it fun! Be creative!
Plant a Positive Thought Garden
Recently my kids and I planted some of those tiny grass gardens. As we were putting the seeds into the soil, I asked them to think about what sorts of feelings they like to feel. What sort of feelings help you to relax more and have fun? They began identifying certain thoughts and feelings with the seeds they were planting. And we talked about what to do if you feel that your mind garden has become overrun with weeds, begin to think one positive thought at a time. Start out with a relaxing thought, such as “I let go of stress and tension in my body” or “I let myself melt into the floor, feeling my muscles turn to jelly.” I told them that sometimes it just takes one little positive thought to sprout in the middle of the weeds and begin to turn the garden around.
They painted a flower pot and we pushed colored umbrellas into the soil to represent positive thought flowers. Notice how some of the umbrellas have yet to “bloom.” We talked about the concept of fertilizing the mind soil with repetition of positive thoughts how the actual blooming of feeling good can come later when the thought finally takes hold and becomes more “automatic” or “usual.” This could be done as you are actually planting your garden as well. Make up a song of positive thoughts and sing them into the soil as you are planting. Or repeat a positive thought as you are placing the seeds in the soil. Talk about how you are planting your mind garden while you are planting your actual garden.
1. Hang like a rag doll over your toes, allowing your finger tips to just brush the tops of your feet. Feel like you are a tiny seed in the ground.
2. Take a deep breath in and slowly, very slowly, begin to stand, move like you are a tiny plant shoot, pushing it’s way out of the soil. Growing slowly until you reach and unfold your leaves and blossom towards the sky.
3. Release your breath completely as your arms finally come up, spread your arms and hands wide open outward to make a V-shape. Move like you are blooming. Bloom outward, tall and wide.