Peace and concentration go hand in hand. To be able to concentrate we need to have a sense of peace in our bodies and mind. Children seem to be less and less able to concentrate. They are easily distracted, and there is a lot of restlessness visible in their bodies. As a result, children are less able to learn and their well-being is at stake.
This is what happens when we overwhelm children with external stimuli and demands. There is so much sensory input for children to process on a daily basis and so much demand that children are in a state of overwhelm. We expect that what we ask of children, and the attention we pay to their mental capabilities is normal because the world functions like this. In my opinion, we can’t ask this from children (and also adults). We are pushing them beyond their boundaries and away from their natural state of being, their true nature.
If we want to create peace in children and enhance their concentration (which are essential conditions to be able to learn) we need to create peace in their bodies and mind. Peace exists in the present, peace exists in the essence of things beyond all the noise, peace exists in BE-ing, and peace exists in being in alignment with who you are. How we are naturally and innately designed (to process life.) Peace exists in relaxation. Peace resides in stillness.
Our body is our truest friend in the process of finding peace. It guides us lovingly(if we are willing to listen) and unconditionally towards well-being. The body knows (often beyond our comprehension) what is good for us and what is not. What is in alignment with our true nature and what isn’t. What nurtures us and what doesn’t.
If we want to create healthy and happy children that live, learn and thrive from a nurtured place we need them to listen to their inner guidance system. Their immensely intelligent body. They need to know how the body communicates, understand its language, and what to do with these sacred messages. Messages that the body share with us for our highest good, to let us thrive and reach our full potential.
In this way, children are being empowered to find the guidance and wisdom within, to self-guide, self-regulate and take good care of themselves. Essential life-skills! And of course, we as teachers, parents, and guides on their journey through life, need to be peaceful and relaxed as well. We are the example!
If I Could Shake The Crushing Weight Of Expectations Would That Free Some Room Up For Joy Or Relaxation, Or Simple Pleasure?
Luisa from the movie Encanto
Here are 3 body-centered exercises to playfully create peace and promote concentration in children.
1. Jump Jump!
When you notice children are restless and can’t concentrate well, let them stand up on their feet and jump up and down. Make sure they land with both knees (soft landing). Invite them to exhale deeply. They can close their eyes to connect better to their own bodies, and this exercise can also be done with their eyes open. I would encourage some sounding as well. So the release of tension and unrest can be supported by the breath. Invite them to imagine the unrest leaving their body, moving through their legs into the earth (1-2 minutes). After jumping let them sit down, and enjoy the sensations in their bodies. And the “dust” settles down like a snow globe of their choice:).
2. Sensing Peacefulness
Ask the children to close their eyes while sitting or standing and find a place in their body where they sense calm and peacefulness. Give them a few seconds to find a place in their body. Then let them imagine this sense of peacefulness getting bigger and bigger with every inhale. Invite them to spread it through their whole body and their mind as well. Every part of their body is becoming peaceful, calm, and relaxed.
3. Belly & Heart
Let the children place one hand on their belly and let them sense their belly move with every breath. After a few breaths let them place their other hand on their heart and sense their heartbeat. Invite them to imagine that with every breath unrest and tension leaves their body, without them having to do anything, without any effort it is dropping away. The whole body, including the mind, becomes a still, quiet, and peaceful lake.
4. Walking your Feet
Have the children take off their shoes and socks and walk barefoot around the (class)room. As they walk their feet around the room they explore what they can observe in their feet as they walk. Think of bones, muscles, parts of the foot, toes that move, space between the toes, etc.)
Then they explore what they can perceive outside their feet. Think of the temperature of the floor, sand, structure, etc. Because the attention is consciously brought to the feet, peace and relaxation is created in their minds and bodies, which improves concentration.
PS: you can also do this exercise in socks and shoes, only then they will feel less.
Let the children imagine that there is a super mega large magnet in the room that pulls all unrest from the head and body to itself. Then say: “I am now going to count to 10 and during that time the restlessness (tension, pressure, emotion), without you having to do any effort, leaves your body. And so there is more and more peace and relaxation in your body with every count. At 10, your whole body, including your head, is calm. 1…..2…..10.”