Tell a 4 and 5 year old to stay still and be quiet, and let me know how that goes. Ask them to be mindful - to listen, to look, to feel - and you may be surprised. I introduced mindfulness to the Alluem Little Kids this weekend. I didn't have to define mindfulness to them, we just kind of dove in. We were finally able to go outside on the patio to enjoy the beautiful weather...a perfect place to take in our surroundings, to take in all of nature has to offer. Labeling the thoughts and feelings with simple words can be a starting point for younger children in the practice of mindfulness. When I brought the kids outside, we took in all of nature. Being outside in nature almost forces us to be mindful...is it hot/cold? Where are we stepping/sitting? What did we see? Blue sky, green grass, flower buds, the river flowing. Then we closed our eyes to block out the visual. What did we hear? Water rushing, birds chirping, cars going by. What did we feel? Wind blowing, sun shining...and then one child said, "My heart." and the other one put his hand on his chest. Beautiful. You can't get more of a mind body connection then that.
A perfect picture book to go with this lesson on mindfulness is Alki's Quiet in the Garden. A young boy ventures into the garden to sit quietly. He knows if he is very still he'll hear and see things that others may have missed. He is filled with wonder as he listens to the animals and the bugs having conversations. The rabbit, the mouse, the snail, and the frog. The fish, the spider, the turtle, and the lizard. All of which make great yoga poses!