Attention to the Present for children

In every person there is a desire to be happy. However, few can say that they are. Many times we feel satisfied because we lead a more or less comfortable life. We have enough to eat, to have a house where we feel safe, a family that protects us, and maybe a job that we like. Even with all that, when some unforeseen or hard situation shakes us we lose our feet and the anxiety invades us and this makes us feel helpless or unhappy.

Presentation of the Exercises

Sometimes we don’t need any calamitous events in our lives, sometimes we just need to feel angry about little things, or jealousy, envy or insecurity. Sometimes we don’t really know what’s happening to us but we feel a malaise that colors our days and we don’t know what we could do to make that change. Most of the time we try to improve our situation and our sensation through a change of activity. In this way, we believe that when we are on vacation everything will change, or when we find a better job or salary, or if our partner was different, or our siblings or parents more understanding. We believe that this new situation, always future and uncertain, will make us happy.
 

We hold or blame others for our dissatisfaction. In this way we make our life dependent on other things, circumstances or people. But what about ourselves? At school we are taught to add, subtract, read, history, geography and so much more. However, no one teaches us to know ourselves well, to pay attention to what happens inside of us, to observe ourselves and know what moves us to behave as we do, to discover the origin of the conflicts we live.

Since we were children we have become accustomed to taking on tasks, responsibilities and obligations. That’s not bad in itself. But nobody has accustomed us or given us the tools to learn to know ourselves better, to live in peace, to be coherent. This lack of tools and knowledge about ourselves is especially noticeable when we are older and feel that the life we lead weighs heavily on us. Many of us develop physical and psychological illnesses and we have to seek help from doctors and psychologists because we do not know what is happening to us. When we are older we sometimes feel that it is too late to make changes. And we are right. It is better to start from childhood to develop our capacity for observation, to take care of ourselves in order to understand what is happening to us at each moment. When we do not understand what is happening to us or what is happening around us, we cannot feel peace within ourselves and we feel fragile and threatened.

This lack of peace, of internal coherence, makes us suffer and we make our environment suffer. Living in this way prevents us from developing properly. Developing attention to the present and acting coherently gives us back strength and joy, as well as respect and compassion for others. If we are able to help children develop these skills, we will be laying the foundation stone for them to feel confident and at peace.

How we will do it: Through this program that we present to you, we intend to help children to develop their capacity of observation and attention to the present. We will do it in a succession of meetings of about 45-90 minutes (depending on the ages). The group should not have more than 10 children and the ages should be homogeneous. The habitual material that the children will contribute will be: – Something to lie on (large towel, mat, etc.) – Handkerchief to cover your eyes with. – A notebook and a pencil.

This program only makes sense if it is developed in its entirety, with a regularity appropriate to the age of the children. Without this regularity it will not be possible to develop the ability to observe and live in the present and make it gradually become a habit. In the same way, it is important that parents and teachers understand or join this project, since their understanding will facilitate the assimilation of the objective by the children.

PROGRAM OF ACTIVITIES The central objective of any activity is the development of observation about themselves and what surrounds them. That is to say, to attend to what happens in the present. The activities will always be aimed at OBSERVING WHAT THEY FEEL. In order to do this, we start working from the simplest and most tangible to the most complex and intangible. We develop recreational activities based on: Breathing The senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, interception) Movement / balance Emotions Learning to think Each encounter will begin with a breathing exercise (to choose) and close it with another (always the same) which may be what we call “The cloud”. The exercises and games of each encounter will be chosen depending on the age of the children.

In general we suggest that you go from the simplest: breathing, then the senses and the body and finally the emotions and learn to think. The exercises must be adapted to the ages of the participants. Remember that the objective of each meeting is for participants to LEARN TO ATTEND their feelings, emotions, ideas, assumptions, etc.. The monitors or teachers must learn that it is not the same to think and reflect on what we feel than to simply feel it without judging it. The important thing is to bring attention to what we feel.

At the end of each activity and before doing the exercise of THE CLOUD, it is convenient to review with them what we have done, saying what they liked the most and also what they understood. Use your notebook every night to write down what you observed that day. Some smell that especially impacted them, some food they liked or disliked, something they felt (joy, anger, sadness, fear, etc.). Encourage them to add a representative drawing of what most caught their attention during the day.

ACTIVITIES Here we show a series of exercises that will serve as a base for those who want to put them into practice and we encourage them to propose their own exercises following the objectives that have been set here.

Exercises

01

Attention to Thoughts

Exercise: My favorite place Objective:

Internally verbalize thoughts and judgments that a child may have heard or created in his or her life. Recognize them and lead him to feel that he can understand them and stop feeling bad, because they are the product of what they themselves think or imagine and that they are the owners of being able to see them and stop feeling suggested by them just by using the trick described at the end of the story. Invite them to practice the trick. How to do: Sit or lie down, eyes closed. The educator guides the next experience in which the student is the protagonist.

Text to be read by the educator: I’m in a place I don’t know. I look around and see a wall and walk towards it. When I get there, I see a small door. I push it and enter slowly. I’m surprised to see such a beautiful place, and although I don’t see other people, there is everything I like: A car with ice cream and sweets; I take what I like. There are also many happy trees, flowers and animals. Further away there is a swimming pool with a slide. I run over and jump into the water. When I get out of the water I see a very pretty young woman sitting on the edge, with flowers in her hair and a white dress, smiling at me. I walk up to her and she says, “I see you like this place. “Yes, I like it a lot. Here is everything I like. But where I come from there are some things I don’t like. She asks me what those things are and I say to her: “Sometimes they are things that I think, like my parents get angry with me. Thinking that scares me, makes me sad.” “Yes, sometimes we even get scared of what we think. Do you realize that you only produce fear or sadness with those things you imagine?

What you think is not always true, so just as you have thought you can stop thinking, because you must know that it is only in your imagination. Like when you’re watching a movie that you’re bored with or you don’t like and you turn off the TV. Your thoughts are like a movie you make up and if you don’t like them you can stop watching them. When you go home and have thoughts that make you feel bad, turn off the thought film and breathe, breathe, breathe, feeling your chest go up and down and the air pass through your nose. Do it now to learn this trick. Feel your breath, feel your belly rise and fall and notice that you feel calmer. Do this whenever you have thoughts you invent that you don’t like.” Now you can go home, but you can see me again whenever you want.

Note: We can ask children what thoughts bother them and use them. E.g.: “when my parents get angry with me and I think they don’t want me”, “when the teacher calls my attention and I think that my classmates laugh at me and I feel shame (or anger)”, “I think my parents can separate”, “I think they love my brother more”? These we introduce them in the place of the story that has the letters in bold.

Dialogue: Did you like it? What did it feel like? Make them see that their own thoughts can make them feel bad and that they just need to realize that. Another important point is that they understand that what is being thought is not necessarily the truth. To give you an idea of this, the teacher may ask you to think of a green dog. Then we ask them: do green dogs exist in reality, was it just a thought?  Explain that in the same way we think things that are not true and we worry unnecessarily. In successive days we will ask the children if they have had thoughts that have made them feel and if they have noticed if they were just a thought or if they were a reality.

Acting out the situation by applying IDEA MAGICA should give them the skills to know how they feel and to find real solutions to a conflict. They may also come to understand that they can respect their tastes or ideas without offending or disturbing others.
 
Example: 2 children are the actors. You play only because you want to play alone. The other child wants to play with him and the first child says no. Develop the situation. Everyone should say what they feel at that moment as if it were real. Now the roles are changed and it is staged again. Then, in the light of the magic idea, we thought together how it could develop so that everyone would feel good. When the new magic idea is developed, the children stage it with the changes brought about by everyone.
 
Example: 2 children. One plays with some toys and the other with a ball, unintentionally, hits his toys and the first gets angry.
 
Example: 2 children. One child lent the other a game to take home for a day. He hasn’t given it back and thinks that the partner doesn’t want to give it back and asks for it in anger.
 
Example: 4 children play a game. Another child wants to play too, but the other four won’t let him.
 
Exercise: Floating with the light (Relaxation – peace – love) In this meeting we are going to spend energy first. The children must run from one side of the room to the other. Then make a mill with the arms down. Lying on their backs with their eyes closed. We do the ELASTIC exercise in a few minutes. Then everyone sits comfortably. Here we begin with this guided relaxation: (We remind you that if any thought comes up let it pass as if it were carried away by the wind and follow the game.) Now you are calm and you breathe softly.

You see a bright, warm, orange light approaching your head. The light rests on your head that feels its warmth. The light can enter my head and I feel as my forehead loosens and my eyes float softly. The light keeps coming down inside my head to my mouth, my tongue and down my neck to my chest, here the light shines brighter and I feel joy in my chest as when I am very happy and content.

I feel in my chest a great joy as when I love someone very much. Feel it as strong as you can and give that joy to the people you love. Think of your mother or your father or your siblings or your friend or maybe a puppy or kitten you have and give them what you feel. You feel that your joy reaches them and makes them happy. Feel it as long as you want and then slowly feel your body, your arms, your head, you move your toes, you feel your eyes and you open them little by little.

02

Attention to Emotions

Exercise: Attend to Objective Emotions:

Observe emotion, recognize the emotion it is and let it go. Learn to let go of disturbing emotions. Explain that emotions are neither bad nor good, although some of us like them more than others; that, like pains, emotions come and go. Just as if we hit each other, it hurts, we also feel emotions when we don’t like something: someone gets angry with us, our pet gets lost, a good friend goes to live somewhere else, you feel fear, etc.

How to do: Sitting comfortably straight or lying down. Eyes closed. The teacher will guide the exercise. Begin with a few minutes of attention to breathing. Then we are asked to remember and relive some situation in which we feel an emotion with which they feel bad (such as those mentioned above or others). To feel how we felt at that moment. Place your hand on your chest and observe what you feel, what name you have what I feel: sadness, loneliness, focus, grief, shame, fear? There is nothing wrong with what I feel.

I watch carefully what I feel and breathe again and again until the emotion gets smaller and smaller until it is almost gone. Then, little by little, the eyes open. At the end, invite them to comment on what they felt, their difficulties and guide them to do it one more time. Explain that when it is done many times, unpleasant emotions will pass more quickly. They can do that whenever they feel bad, or before an exam.

Exercise: My body speaks to me! (emotions only) First we do a short breathing exercise. Sitting in a circle. The monitor asks: “How does my body tell me that (I) feel …. – Cheerful – Scared – Angry – Fear – Only – that they want me – lost – that I did something wrong. – very happy – bored – I do not understand something. We ask you to comment on what you feel in your body in each case. We will have to help them to concretize according to the possibilities of each age.

Exercise: Magic Theatre. This is about staging situations of habitual relationship between children. We make the children understand that in this magic theatre everything we do will feel as if it were real. But in this MAGIC THEATRE, everything can be solved with the MAGIC IDEA: “Treat others as you want them to treat you”. The objective of this activity is to revive habitual situations where emotions and conflicts appear proper to their age. It is necessary to relive what each participant feels as if it were a real situation. When changing roles, the objective is to develop empathy by taking the place of the other.

03

Attention to body sensation

Exercise: Rain of sensations

Material: a comb, a hair brush, a massage trolley, a massage spider, pellets, long tree leaf, sheet of paper, etc. Brief breathing exercise is done beforehand. Half of the children lie on their stomachs. The others take each of the materials and rub gently on the back of the person lying down. Children who rub each other’s backs swap objects every 2-3 minutes or so. After rubbing with several objects the couple of boys change the roles. They are asked to observe and feel the various sensations. Then they have to explain what each sensation is like.

Exercise: The body speaks to me. Previously we do a short breathing exercise. Sitting in a circle. The monitor explains that the body sends us signals so that we know what it needs. So we remind them and ask, for example: How does my body tell me that – I am hungry – I am thirsty – I am tired – I have burnt myself – I feel bogged down – I have a cold – I am struggling with germs – I am hot – I am cold – I need to pee. Before each one of these sensations the children have to say how and where they feel it.

Exercise: Walk through my body. After a breathing exercise, the monitor guides you through the sensations of your body. Lying on your back in a circle. Eyes closed. The walk can be guided in this way: With our hands we touch and feel our head. We touch it from all sides. Then the face, surrounding the eyes, nose, cheeks, lips, loosening the tongue, neck, shoulders. We touch each other’s arms and we also go down by the chest up to the waist, and behind the waist, we go down to the thighs. Now we leave the arms relaxed on both sides of the body. We feel, moving our thighs, knees, legs and feet a little. We move our toes and feel them. Then we do the same walk but without touching the parts of the body. Ask the children if there are parts of the body they cannot feel. In that case they are invited to touch or squeeze them gently the same or with the help of a partner.

Exercise: The elastic Material: an elastic, to show and exemplify. The following is explained: Our muscles are like an elastic, they tighten and loosen like this elastic that we are seeing. We are going to learn to tighten and loosen our muscles like the elastic. When we squeeze we take in air and when we loosen the muscles we release the air. Children can be lying down. The monitor guides the exercise like this and repeating each part if necessary: “We feel: -The face: we make strong grimaces and then we loosen them, we wrinkle and let go, we stick out our tongue a lot, we wrinkle our forehead and let go, we pretend to laugh and let go, etc. – The shoulders and the neck: We push our head against the ground gently and then we loosen. Place your hands together facing each other, at chest level and squeeze them as much as possible and then let them go. – The belly: We squeeze it and loosen it. – The back: We arch the back and then lower it. – Legs: Stretch and bend them. Then we stretch them as if we were pushing something heavy that is at our feet and then we loosen quickly. “

Exercise: Floating with the light (Relaxation – peace) In this meeting we will first of all loosen tensions. The children should run from one side of the room to the other. Then, with their arms drooping to the sides of the body, they rotate the torso so that the arms also rotate like windlasses. Lying on their backs with their eyes closed. We do the ELASTIC exercise in a few minutes. Then we sit properly. At this point we begin with this guided relaxation: Now you are calm and breathe softly. You see an orange, bright and warm light approaching your head. The light rests on your head that feels its heat. The light can enter my head and I feel as my forehead loosens and my eyes float softly. The light keeps coming down inside my head to my mouth, my tongue and down my neck to my chest, here the light shines brighter and I feel joy in my chest as when I am very happy and content. Now the light keeps coming down the belly, soft and warm. It continues through the legs and leaves them very relaxed and heavy. The light makes you feel your body floating quietly. We like to feel that we float like a leaf over the water or a bubble of soap in the air and it makes us feel very good. We stay this way enjoying this peace and tranquility that we feel.

If the age of the children permits, objects can be placed on the floor with the aim of bending down and catching them without dropping the book on their heads.

Exercise: The Stork Standing. Barefoot. In a circle. We do previously the exercise of breathing of The Cloud to calm the children. They should feel their feet as if they were sinking into the ground as if they were the roots of a tree. In the same position we bend one leg by the knee and slowly raise it placing the foot at the height of the opposite groin. We help each other with our hands holding the foot. They are invited to breathe slowly, with their shoulders relaxed and feeling their body, below the navel.

04

Attention to Balance

Exercise: The spoon

Material: Soup spoons. Ping-pong balls. Handkerchiefs to cover the eyes. The children are placed at one end of the classroom with the spoon in their hand and the ball on the spoon. At the monitor’s command, they all walk until they reach the other end of the classroom, trying to prevent the ball from falling to the ground. If the ball falls, the child starts again. The goal is to get to the other end without the ball falling. While doing the exercise, the monitor should repeatedly remind them to feel their body, feel their feet firmly on the ground, and breathe slowly while walking quietly and with a straight, relaxed back. Then the same thing is done but with the eyes covered with a handkerchief.

Exercise: We are models Material: Books. The children are placed at one end of the classroom with a book on their head. The goal is to walk slowly to the other end without the book falling. The monitor will remind them to feel their body relaxed and breathe calmly. The game is repeated until your balance improves but what matters is that you feel your body in space and feel strong and firm in what you are doing. The important thing is to practice paying attention to the present, that is, that you are in what you are in.

05

Attention to the moving body

Exercise: Simple attention 

Changing Objects Objective: To maintain the observation. Detect changes in the number or position of objects. Material: Any number of objects and a cloth to cover them completely. How to do it: 5 or 6 objects are placed on a table or tray and we present them to the children covered with the cloth. We give them a few seconds to observe them. We cover them and without them seeing it, we remove, add or change any of the objects. The students must say what the change has been.

Exercise: Simple Attention: Water Glass Objective: To realize that paying attention is very important. Explain that many times we do things without paying much attention, such as with the autopilot, or we do several things at the same time. The exercise will show us that when we don’t take care of something, it fails. Material: plastic cups and water.

How to do: Sitting in circles of about 5 people. We fill the glasses almost to the brim, just enough to spill the water if they are distracted. Each group is given a full glass that should be passed from one to the other without spilling. This is what they should do until they get it. Fill the glasses when water is spilled. After finishing asking questions about what has happened: Did the water fall at first? Why did it happen? So we have been distracted? When they didn’t pay attention, did the water fall more often? How did we prevent it from falling? When we are attentive to what we do, do we feel calmer and can we pass the glass without spilling water? Conclusions: What have we learned? Not paying attention to what we do has consequences and things go wrong.

Exercise: Attention to the Moving Body: Walking in Slow Motion

Objective: To observe movement in slow motion and exercise attention to the body. Material: None. How to do: Walk very slowly, as in slow motion, without dramatization. It’s about walking very slowly maintaining balance, putting one foot right in front of the other, almost without each other. Notice the footstep of the foot from the heel (when supporting) until they touch the toes with the floor. In that moment in which the weight of the body already passes to the foot that we have advanced is when the other foot already begins to lift off from the heel to the toes with great care. If something distracts us, we realize it and pay attention to the sensation of the feet again. Ask: Have we been distracted? If we don’t pay attention in a relaxed way, is the balance lost? If we hurry, do we almost stop attending to the feet? Have we felt calmer when walking observing the sensation of the feet? We are like magnets Participants are asked to choose a partner, to look at each other face to face, and to consider the palms of their hands as magnets that cannot be separated, then orders are given for one of them to move their hands and the other to follow without moving away from them. After a while he gives the inverse order and the one he used to lead now follows the other. Suggest slow movements. You can play a music that invites slowness and softness. Indicate that the one who follows the movements of the companion attends to the movement and the tact of the companion without thinking about anything. Let him be carried away by the one who leads enjoying the movement.

Exercise: We are a snake The monitor instructs participants to form in a row from least to most, placing their hands on the shoulders of the person in front. The first one bends down and rises again, the second one will go down when the first one goes up and so on, in such a way that a continuous wave is observed. Two teams can be made so that they can see each other working.

Exercise: Relaxation The practice of relaxation is very useful in many situations of daily life. There are times when we get nervous. For example: – When our parents scold us. – When we have to ask for a favor. – When teachers ask us for a lesson. – When a child messes with us. Some children notice that their hands sweat. Others notice that their legs tremble, or that their heart beats fast. What do you notice? What usually happens when we are nervous is that we tighten some muscles in our body. What are muscles? Muscles are organs of tissue that are used to produce movement in people. Every time you play, walk, run or do your homework at school you are using muscles. Do you know what it means to tighten? Tensioning means that we do a lot of strength with one or more muscles in our body. Imagine that we take a rubber band and stretch it, then it is tense, if we let it go it will stay loose, “relaxed”. Relaxing is the opposite of tensing. Relaxing means that we don’t do any kind of force with the muscles, that we let them loose and we are calm. First we will learn to distinguish between TENSION and RELAXATION.

EXERCISE DEMONSTRATION PRACTICES: ARM Extending the right arm with the fist closed, and clenching the fist (about 10 seconds) and observe what I feel (that’s tension). Then I suddenly loosen my fist and arm to return to the resting position. I observe what I feel (that’s relaxation). A similar situation that we all know is for example when I feel like peeing and I’m holding on, I’m contracting (tension) the bladder and after a while we pee and I’m very comfortable (relaxed).

EXERCISES FOR THE RELAXATION OF THE FRONT FACE: wrinkle the forehead lifting the eyebrows …….. let the eyebrows fall. EYES: close your eyes tightly. Notice where they feel tense. After about 10 seconds, relax your eyes by suddenly letting go. Notice the difference between tension and relaxation. Smile: make the mouth and face adopt a forced smile. Feel the tense parts (upper and lower lip and both cheeks). Then relax. Enjoy this feeling. LIPS: Squeeze your lips and pull them out. See where you feel the tension. Relax your lips.

NECK RELAXATION EXERCISES: Tilt the head to the right, bringing the ear closer to the shoulder… return the head to the resting position. Tilt the head to the left, bringing the ear closer to the shoulder… return the head to the resting position. Tilt the head back making the nape of the neck approach the back… return the head to the resting position. Tilt the head forward, making the chin rest on the chest… return the head to the resting position.

EXERCISES FOR RELAXATION OF THE TRONCO: Lift both shoulders trying to bring them closer to the ears, (as when one “shrugs” shoulders… (after about 10 seconds) let the shoulders fall down.
Put your shoulders back as if they were going to meet behind your back……. let the shoulders return to the resting position. Pull the chest forward…….…return to the resting position.
Curve the upper back trying to join the elbows from behind….. return to the resting position.
Tighten the front part of the trunk and diaphragm pulling the stomach out as much as possible……… return to the resting situation.
Tighten the anterior part of the trunk and diaphragm by pushing the stomach as far in as possible…. return to the resting situation.

Tighten the lower part of the trunk making the belly come out and down as much as possible….return to the resting position.

EXERCISE FOR RELAXATION OF THE LEGS: I press the right foot against the ground, making force, I observe the tension in all the leg and after a few seconds (approximately ten) I suddenly loose, observing the sensation of relaxation. I tighten my left foot…….

Exercise: External physical relaxation Consideration: Once we have learned to tighten and relax, the monitor or teacher can guide the next relaxation exercise. Sit comfortably, back straight, eyes closed. Suggestion to guide the relaxation: First it is necessary to know the points of greater tension of the body. What points do you have now in tension? Observe the body and discover the points of tension. Maybe the neck. Maybe the shoulders. Some chest or stomach muscles. And wherever you find muscle tension, increase the tension points and after a few seconds, suddenly loosen the tension. Tighten the tension points and after a short time, suddenly loosen. Then imagine an elevator that goes down from your head to your feet and stops where you have tension, then squeeze, tighten and after a few seconds relax. Then continue with the elevator until you reach your feet. Begin to feel the head. The scalp. The muscles of the face. Both eyes. The lips. The two cheeks. And to go down, by the elevator, by both sides of the neck. The two shoulders, chest, stomach, belly, there leave everything well relaxed. Make a second pass from the head to the lower belly. NOW RETROCEDER again. But this time start to go down the neck, neck, back, reaching the last parts of the body. It continues through the legs, reaching to the tip of the feet. At the end of the exercise, feel the external muscle relaxation.

Exercise: Body expression. Barefoot. Imitating an angry gorilla.

Exercise: Body expression. Barefoot. Imitate two gorilla friends delousing.

Exercise: Body expression. Barefoot. We are trees Standing, barefoot, feet a little open. We place ourselves on the ground in a fetal position and we indicate to them: we are seedlings of trees that we are inside the earth. We are moving and rising gently under the ground and we are putting small roots (feet). We feel our feet, which are our roots, sink into the earth, we squeeze the earth with our toes, as if they were the roots of the tree. We feel our feet. We cling tightly to the ground. We bend our knees slightly. We feel the outside of our legs. Slowly we grow twigs (arms), and then leaves that move when they grow (fingers). A group of children should feel that they are tall, thin trees moved by the soft wind. Branches and leaves move. Some leaves fall off. Another group feels that they are large trees with a round, wide crown moved by a gentle wind. Then the wind gets stronger and the trees move more and now a storm approaches and moves us much more. Then the storm passes and the sun rises and we feel strong and beautiful trees full of energy.

Exercise: Doing Barefoot Theater. Explain that the important thing is to feel, NOT to quickly ADIVINE what it is about. A child imitates and mimics a situation and the rest observes it calmly and tries to feel with his body what it is about. Examples of situations to be staged: – A teacher giving classes – A dog taking a walk and doing his needs. – A cook preparing an omelette. – A cat stalking to hunt a mouse. – etc.

Exercise: Basketing Material: Ping-pong balls to which we make a mark of colors to differentiate them. Handkerchiefs to cover the eyes. The children are placed in a circle. In the centre of the circle we place a wastepaper basket. The children are first placed one metre away from the wastebasket and each one has a ball. They gently throw the ball into the bucket. Several times. Then they place the handkerchiefs over their eyes and they should try to basket with their eyes closed. Several times. Repeat, increasing the distance between the cube and the children.

Exercise: We are like magnets Participants are asked to choose a pair, to look at each other from the front and to consider the palms of their hands as magnets that cannot be separated, then the order is given for one of them to move their hands and the other to follow without moving away from them. After a while he gives the inverse order and the one he used to lead now follows the other. Suggest slow movements. You can play a music that invites slowness and softness. Indicate that the one who follows the movements of the companion attends to the movement and the tact of the companion without thinking about anything. Let him be carried away by the one who leads enjoying the movement.

Exercise: My piece of bread. Material: a crispy loaf of bread.

Objective: To develop observation and perception, without thinking about the object. Each child receives a piece of bread. As if we had never seen a piece of bread, we observe its shape and color. Without thinking about the bread, we look at it from all sides slowly. We close our eyes and touch it to feel its rough parts and the smoothest and softest parts. We touch the outside and also the soft crumb. Then we smell it deeply on the outside and also the crumb. Then we bring it close to the ear and squeeze it gently. We observe how it sounds. Then we bite and chew slowly. We savor the bread all over our mouths. We concentrate on feeling the taste of bread.

06

Attention to Taste

Exercise: How do you know?

Material: Several bowls with food of different flavors. In pairs. A child’s eyes are covered and another child chooses a food and gives it to try. The child with the eyes covered should say what it tastes like: Sweet, sour, salty. He must also say how it is: soft, hard, creamy, oily, rough, round, soft, etc. Then it is repeated changing the roles.

Exercise: Flavor Detectives I Material: Different foods. The monitor gives a child a taste of a food, without others seeing what it is. The child must explain, without words, through gestures, what the food tastes like. He must explain if it is something sweet, bitter, salty, soft, soft, hard, creamy, liquid…

Exercise: Flavor Detective II Place several glasses on a table. Fill them with different liquids (orange juice, strawberry milkshake, milk, chocolate, water, lemon soda…) and add a few drops of different food colouring to each, so that the liquid has a different colour from the original. The child will have to try each drink, describe how it knows and finally find out what liquid it is. This will prove that the eyesight can deceive him and therefore to rely more on his smell and taste. It will also help him to develop his vocabulary and learn to define sensations.

07

Attention to Touch

Exercise: Brushing Your Teeth

Material: Each child brings their own toothbrush. The monitor brings a toothpaste. Each child brushes their teeth slowly as in slow motion. The monitor guides the activity by saying things like: We clean each tooth from the gum to the end of the tooth until the whole tooth and the grooves between the teeth are well filled with toothpaste. We feel each tooth and feel the brush move smoothly. The monitor leaves a few moments of silence while the children brush and every few seconds invites them to attend to what they are doing, without thinking or doing anything else. At the end we ask: How have you felt doing this? Do you always do it this way at home? Is there a difference? Explain that it’s different to do things by running than it is to do them by attending only to what we do. We encourage them to keep doing it every day. The same can be done with other daily activities: combing your hair, bathing, eating, drinking, etc.

Exercise: Tell me how it is! Start with a short breathing exercise. Material: pieces or objects of different textures and non-transparent plastic bag. Put several objects in a non-transparent plastic bag (for example: piece of sponge, a cup, a die, a bottle, a cork, a ball of wool, etc.). A child carefully touches an object without seeing what it is. He must tell his classmates the tactile characteristics of the object. We invite him to touch it without thinking about what it is. You should only pay attention to the sensation of touch. Other children may also ask: is it smooth? is it thin? is it rounded? is it soft? is it hard? is it hairy? is it rough? Repeat each child with different objects. The objective is to attend to the stimuli coming from touch and to enjoy with touch. Discriminate textures and describe them.

Ejercicio: Pintores de pies Material: plástico grande 5 x 5 m y arcilla. Los niños deben traer ropa vieja. Los niños extienden la arcilla previamente sobre el plástico. Se les da una pieza pequeña de arcilla a cada uno. Se colocan sobre el plástico en un extremo del mismo y se ponen de rodillas. Con las manos van extendiendo la arcilla mientras se desplazan hacia atrás hasta el otro extremo del plástico. Luego se ponen de pie y caminan lentamente sobre la arcilla con el objetivo de pintar completamente las plantas de los pies. Se les invita a que sientan el tacto de la arcilla. Recordarles que deben caminar lentamente y conservar el equilibrio.

Ejercicio: Descubre a tu compañero Por parejas. De pie. Se tapa los ojos a la mitad de los niños. El resto se coloca aleatoriamente delante de cualquiera de ellos. Los niños con los ojos tapados deben tocar lentamente al que tienen delante empezando por la cabeza, su pelo, sus ojos, la frente, las orejas, la boca, la forma de la cara, etc. Después de unos minutos cambian los niños de compañero y siguen tocando su cabeza. Luego se cambian los papeles y se tapan los ojos del otro grupo y se repite. Se invita finalmente a los niños a hablar de lo que han tocado, como eran los compañeros que tocaron : como era su pelo, su cara, las orejas, etc.

Objetivo: observar mediante el tacto las diferencias entre compañeros.

Exercise: Search, search where the smell is! Material: containers and odorous materials (herbs, fruits, perfume, etc.). Inside each container we put a quantity of the odorous material and we cover it with a lid to which we make a hole. In other places in the classroom we place the materials that are also inside the containers (some sprigs of aromatic herbs, an orange, a bottle of cologne, etc.) The children must catch the smell that comes out of the containers and then look in the classroom for objects that have that smell. We can also place other similar objects in the classroom to stimulate attention to what they smell.

Example: if we have placed an orange peel in a container, we will place an orange and a lemon in different places in the classroom.

08

Attention to Smell

Exercise: “Everything I smell.”

Materials: orange or lemon peel, perfume, flowers, cut grass, aromatic herbs, olive oil, etc. The monitor has previously prepared cottons soaked in different liquids or smelly things that the children know and that are contained in non-transparent plastic bags (so that they cannot be identified by sight). Sitting in a circle we do a short breathing exercise. Cover their eyes with a handkerchief. The bags are handed to them one after the other. The sachets circulate through all the children who smell them slowly for a few seconds. Finally they must say how the smells were NOT THE OBJECTS THAT HAVE THAT SMELL. It is a sweet, greasy, pungent smell….

09

Attention to vision

Exercise: We are Martians! Objective: to observe what we see as if it were the first time. After doing a breathing exercise. The monitor tells the children that they are Martians who have just landed on land for the first time. They don’t know anything about what’s on earth. Children should feel their bodies as they observe an object that the monitor gives to each of them. They look at it, touch it, smell it as if they saw it for the first time. After a while. Each child must tell the Martians who are on the ship how it is what they see.

Exercise: We paint what we see. Each child is approached by any object. This one looks at it in full attention trying to capture every detail. On a sheet of paper each child draws the object he has observed. Each time he thinks he has finished it, he is invited to look at it again and see if there are more details that he had not observed before.

Exercise: Inspection. The children, facing each other and in two rows, are observed attentively (dress, hairstyle, shoes, etc.) in silence. At a sign they turn their backs and change two or three details of their attire (undoing the tie to a shoe, etc.). Then they all look at each other again and the driver asks each player about the changes in the outfit of his partner in front of him.

Exercise: “Let’s Look for the Couple” Previously Non-transparent containers are prepared with sounding things (lentils, rice, stones, sand, etc.). Prepare two equal of each thing. Place a label on the bottom with the name of the contents. Mix the containers. The children must make them sound and observe them well to find those that sound the same. They should pay attention to the differences between the sounds they make.

Exercise: “MARCO – POLO” A child’s eyes are covered with a handkerchief. The rest of the group shake hands, do not let go and move away from the partner. The child with the eyes covered says “MARCO” and the rest of the group answers “POLO”. The child should be guided by the sound and try to touch them. The child who is touched will become the one looking for the group.

Exercise: “MY BODY IS A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT” Objective: to feel the effect of sounds inside the body. Objects: High-pitched bell, low drum, a whistle, etc. Sitting on the floor. Eyes closed. We ring the bells. Children should feel the sound in their body, notice where their body vibrates with each type of sound. Then the monitor should emit sounds with the lips slightly closed from the low to high frequencies maintaining the duration of each sound for about 5 seconds. The air should be released slowly. Children should imitate each sound and observe and pay attention to their body’s vibration with each sound and find where each one vibrates within their body. This can be done by emitting the sound of the vowels: A E I O U.

10

Attention the Ear

Exercise: “WHAT I HEAR”

We lay down with our eyes closed. We listen to everything we hear. We listen to all the sounds that reach our ears. The monitor must guide the activity reminding them every few seconds “we listen quietly to everything that sounds around us”, “I attend well to discover more and more sounds”. Indicate them that if they get distracted with some thought, see what it is about and let it pass as the clouds pass by and pay attention to the sounds again. At the end you are invited to comment if you have heard sounds that before had gone unnoticed.

Exercise: “Type of sounds” We choose elements with different sounds: For example: cellophane paper, lentils in a tin, water in a bottle, a teaspoon in a glass, pods of sounding seeds, etc. Objective: Attend to sounds. We do not want them to recognize sounds, but to observe the sound itself. Lying down with your eyes closed and after a breathing exercise to quiet them. We make sound different objects that we have prepared previously. The activity is guided by the monitor saying something like “we listen and attend to how everything sounds”.

Exercise: “Listen to the silence” It is advisable to do this activity outdoors, in a place where there really is a quiet environment. In a park or similar. Lying down with your eyes closed. We do a breathing exercise and then we invite you to feel your body (we stop here guiding you to feel the parts of your body), to feel the breath (we stop a little and guide your attention to observe how the air enters and exits through your nose), and finally to listen to the silence.

Exercise: “The orchestra” Objective: To listen attentively and repeat musical tones. After a brief breathing exercise the monitor sings or plays 3 musical tones (e.g. DO, RE, MI) and they attend to the sounds. The monitor repeats it and then the children repeat it. We are making the sequence of tones longer and longer. If someone does not get it right, they are invited to pay attention and repeat them correctly.

Attention to the Present is the coma… 

that can change the direction of our lives. A comma has the virtue of changing the entire meaning of a sentence. Attention to the present has that same virtue, but what changes is not the meaning of a phrase but that of our life. It is no small thing. In spite of being something so valuable it is rare that we are taught to live with the eyes of attention to the present. As we are born and grow this ability is assumed to be, so is the soldier’s courage.

However, we are not born with it and, moreover, all the agents who influence our lives seem to conspire to move further and further away from it.

The present moment is the only thing that exists, it is where we can only act, feel, think, and so on. However, everything leads us to use the present to remember the past, to complain about the past, to long for the past as well as to prepare for the future, to fear the future, to dream of a better future, to imagine ourselves differently in the future, to have things or status in the future, and so on. Thus our present, in short, our life disappears under layers and layers of memories and wandering thoughts that take us out of the present: the only time we have to live.

We treat our past and our future as if they really had an entity independent of ourselves. The past is nothing but memories, bits of information from other moments that no longer exist, and what we call the future are just imaginative hypotheses that the thought elaborates trying to anticipate and save us from what we fear. But we only exist here and now. We have a life and it exists only in this moment.

To attend to the present is, therefore, to attend to our life as one who listens to beautiful music with all the pores of his body. This apparent small ability will save our lives. It will allow us to learn to observe and self-observe and to discern with clarity, responsibility and freedom what we need to do at each moment.

The Attention can develop much more easily when we are children. For this reason we emphasize the importance of its teaching from infancy until it becomes a healthy way of living.

Important Information

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Present Attention Team