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Exercise: Catching the thoughts

Objective: Watch the next thought to come. This exercise proposes the experience of being attentive, without simply doing nothing, waiting for the thought that will emerge. The goal is to pay attention intentionally, observe what the thought is about and let it pass, like a cloud dragged by the wind.

How to do it:  After a brief relaxation exercise, the children pay attention and catch the thought that will appear, watch it and let it pass. After having done it, they continue paying attention till the next one emerges.

10 minutes can be enough, but it will depend on the age. We leave it to your discretion, but time must be sufficient for the experience to occur.

Dialogue: Ask children the following

Did you catch any thought?

How many?

What were they about?

When you were firmly paying attention ¿did any thought appear?

When you got distracted by anything ¿did thoughts appear more easily?

Notice that some children may have no thought at all by being very attentive. Take advantage of the situation to make them see that when they are attentive thoughts take time to appear, but when we get tired of attending, then thoughts appear even though we haven’t wanted to think about them. Ask them if they realized it.

EXERCISE: Pass the screen

Objective: To realize that we don’t think only when we want to, but many thoughts appear alone, without us wanting to think about them. That they often cause us discomfort, disgust, or distract us from something important that we want to do, but that we can learn a trick to make them go away.

How to do it: First of all, we will explain what is contained in the Goal point. Next we’ll use the simile of mobile phones or tablets: What do we do when we’re bored of a game we play on the tablet, cell phone or computer? Well, we’re moving on to another screen with something we like better. We explain that our brain is like a screen that shows us images and thoughts. When these thoughts or images cause us displeasure, we can realize that it does us wrong and WE PASS THE SCREEN, WE PASS THE SCREEN THAT SHOWS THAT THOUGHT. Here’s the trick: watch it and pass the screen. We’ll do better the more we practice it.

We invite children to sit with your back straight or lying down. With eyes closed, breathe quietly and wait for some thought or image to appear on our screen inside the head. We’re going to let some thought come up that makes us feel bad, something that scares us, sadness, shame, anger or other things. When it appears they observe it, see what it is, what this thought tells us and then we PASS THE SCREEN. Afterwards we remain calm by listening to our breathing.

Dialogue: Depending on the age of the children, we can discuss and ask them about their experience. Did any thought come up that upset us?  Could anybody realize what that thought was telling us and what it made us feel? Did you pass the screen?

Explain that they can repeat the trick at other times, because practice is what will lead them to have the ability to not get “hooked” on negative thoughts. Explain that when something worries us and we think about it, it’s better to do something like ask and talk about it with someone you trust to help us understand what worries us.

Make them also notice that thoughts come and go unwillingly most of the time. Give them the task of observing the thoughts in their daily life for, then, talking about it in class. E.g. when going to school and going back home, when they are studying or in class, etc.