Relaxing With Otters
As I was walking down the hallway in my school today, I encountered the MOST precious sight. The kindergarten class had just finished art and was parading their otter artwork back to class. Apparently they had watched the YouTube video on the book Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller ( https://youtu.be/AKzM3CZoWqY ).
I stopped short. It was so very endearing to see all of the unique expressions of otters. Each little heart had created their own idea of an otter and was sharing it so enthusiastically with the world! I was awash in appreciation and gratitude for the varied and beautiful individual creative expression of each little soul, each one of us. They displayed their creations with such confidence, such excitement!
And… in that moment, a new relaxation group idea was born… Relaxing With Otters. Why not bring the otter creation to our relaxation groups? To mindfully connect with otters, to relax with otters, and to honor each otter with heart, presence and gratitude. This is the focus of each of our relaxation groups at school. And.. huge bonus…otters are SO VERY ADORABLE!!!
Mindfully Connecting With Otters
- Begin your relaxation group by tuning in and becoming mindful of your thinking. Use a snowglobe to discuss how when our thoughts and feelings get stirred up, we lose focus and it is difficult to think, to solve our problems, and to connect with others.
- Take a deep breath to pause, reflect, and bring your attention back to center so that you can connect in the group. I like Heart Breath as a way to get present with your heart to be present with others.
Relaxing with Otters
Next, begin an adventure in your imagination to relax. Try this Otter Relaxation Script:
Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in through your nose and let it out slowly through your mouth. Take another deep breath in and imagine that you are floating just like an otter calmly in the river. You are just floating on your back without a care in the world, allowing the gentle current of the river to take you downstream. Place your hands gently crossed over your heart and pretend that you are lying back to simply float along. This is a peaceful river. There are no rocks or any other obstacles in your way. Breathe and relax.
Gently let go of any thoughts or emotions that happen to show up in your mind, allowing them to float on by or through your mind like the clouds in the sky above you. Breathe in peace. Breathe out love. Floating along with the current of life. Letting go of any tension in your body. Imagine any tension just melting into the river water. Breathe in peace. Breathe out love. Know that you can return to float like an otter in the river within your imagination any time you want.
Gratitude With Otters
This is the time in group that you get to share something you are grateful about the group or someone in it. Explain how gratitude practice relaxes the body, heart and mind and calms down our entire nervous system. Feeling grateful is like relaxation practice in that it unleashes good feeling that flow through our bodies like a river. The more relaxed we are, the easier good feelings can flow.
I also invite the students to write about their gratitude for either the group or someone in it or something they are grateful about themselves and draw a symbol that stands for this gratitude that will help them remember when they visit their journals sometime later.
Finally, invite them to draw their otter in the river or anything else that arrived for them during the guided imagery activity.
End on a peaceful note, mindful of how you are feeling inside and within the group as a whole. Tune in and share.