I get asked all the time for mindfulness practices to use with kids, in families and tools for therapists to bring into the therapy room so I thought I’d start a blog – A place where parents, teachers and therapist can come to get simple tools.
For our first Mindful Tool, I’d like to introduce the “Mind Jar” or “Calm Down Jar.”
The jar represents the mind; the glitter represents thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. When we shake it up this represents when we are overwhelmed, stressed, upset, and/or overly excited to the point that we cannot see clearly. Our perception becomes cloudy. We can be more "reactive" to life from this place, as opposed to "responsive". It can feel like there is a storm inside which makes us feel unsteady. To help balance and steady ourselves we can practice coming to our senses...literally...by focusing on one of our senses.
You can make this a fun and interactive learning activity by having the kid(s) or patient put their own emotions in the jar. This way they get to see that their own emotions can get mixed up and that by using their senses (their sense of sight specifically in this practice) they can come back into balance and feel calm again.
The picture above shows an example of how I lay this out for a child in my practice.
Laying it out like this initially allows them to change the colors of the emotions to ones that resonate more with them. I simply move the glitter around and re-label it with whatever emotion they choose. Additionally, this will give you a bird’s eye view into the emotions and thoughts that most often cause them suffering.
For an indepth feelings wheel: https://www.simplemost.com/feeling-wheel-will-help-better-describe-emotions/
Here’s my recipe and directions for making the jar:
Jar with a good lid
Hot and cold water
Glitter of different sizes (larger & fine)
Put a generous amount of glitter glue in the jar
Add just enough hot water to cover the glue and shake up to break up the glitter glue
Add cold water almost about ¾ of the way to the top
Fill with cold water to the top
Shake and time it to see how slowly or fast it settles and adjust accordingly. Use a timer to time how long it takes to settle. It should take 1 minute to settle and become clear again. If it’s too fast add glitter glue + hot water. If it’s too slow, pour out some of the water and add fresh cold water.
Shake again to see if it settles at about 1 minute.
I do not use red glitter as it stains the water
The jar should be used on a daily basis as a meditation practice and it can be used in moments of activation to help calm the storm inside. I suggest finding a time of day to do it with your child/children and to do it with consistency. It can also be put on the dinner table and your child can shake it and you all can watch it settle before you eat . Viola! You’ve practiced mindfulness as a family. It’s important to note that the jar should never be used as punishment or suggested with an angry tone.
I was recently interviewed by Sofie & Adi Jaffe for their IGNTD podcast talking about mindfulness tools for families and kids. It was great fun and includes lots of tools: http://www.igntd.com/podcast/
Enjoy and reach out if you have questions or comments.
If you would like me to help your child or family or come to your school or business, please contact me. I can also teach these practices remotely if you are not local to Los Angeles.