Mindful Brain Breaks - Building resilience through mindful(ness) and expressive-arts activities.
Each Mindful Brain Break activity combines relaxing expressive arts projects with mindfulness insights and exercises in three parts.
The Setting: Set up your space, gather supplies from around the house, and use mindfulness tools to build an inner space of quiet, contented focus.
The Doing: The creative project.
The Shining: We share what we've created. We shine on by weaving mindfulness through our daily lives. We celebrate and support other courageous creators.
The Meanings of Color – Making Bracelets with Meaning
The gist: Your role in this Side By Side Mindfulness Brain Break is Support Team. You'll be guiding your young partner through the activity while he or she makes the creative choices. Explain to them the gist of what you’re about to do together.
Together, you will first prepare your space and do some simple mindfulness activities to ease into a positive mind-frame.
In this activity, you’ll think about the meanings and the feelings of colors and decide what YOUR colors mean to YOU. Then you will make simple knotted bracelets to wear and even give as gifts.
After setting the stage with the simple mindfulness activities, talk together about the colors that mean something to the two of you individually. Are there any colors that when you see them you feel a certain way? Does green make you feel curious? Maybe a certain shade of blue brings a sense of calm? Does orange make you feel energized? Red – bold?
PART ONE. THE SETTING. Supplies, Physical Space & Mindspace
Yarn or embroidery thread
tape or safety pin for securing the bracelet while you work
SETTING UP YOUR PHYSICAL SPACE
Explain that your child gets to choose and create an intentionally positive physical space. Give them their choice of spot for the two of you to sit, anywhere around the house or even outside. Next, together remove scattered items in view to keep the mind’s eye fresh for creativity. Last, let your young creator pick one pleasing object (ex. toy, picture, blanket) to add to your nook that sparks joy with a look.
Tidy spaces help our brains be at ease.
CREATING YOUR MINDSPACE
Explain to your kiddo the point of doing mindfulness activities. Through several minutes of focus on the present moment you and your young Co-Captain can begin to purposefully build a bridge to quiet and calm spaces within. The peace you’ll notice is called an inner refuge – it’s a place you can reach more easily the more you practice, just like tying your shoes, spelling big words, or even shooting hoops. Eventually you can tie your shoes with your eyes shut – eventually you can reach this inner refuge no matter what! Mindfulness skills help us to be healthy on the inside.
MINDFULNESS EXERCISE: The Breathing Hand
Guide yourself and your young cohort through the following steps.
Find a comfortable position sitting or standing. Stretch your spine tall, giving your lungs plenty of room to breathe.
Look at the palm of one hand. Notice the details: take a good look. Just see it.
With the pointer finger of your other hand, trace up and down the sides of your fingers while breathing. Notice the sensations on your skin.
Start at the outside base of your thumb and breathing in, trace up 1 – 2 – 3. Exhale and trace down your thumb 1 – 2 – 3. Do the same for each of your fingers. Be kind to your body; count slowly, but not so slowly it becomes difficult. You can count for your Co-Captain and they can count for you, or just count in your heads.
Mastery Practice: Go back the way you came. (Repeat in reverse.) Or switch hands! However you like, do it at least twice.
In a moment, you’ll start the video. Encourage your fellow mind-space creator to sit comfortably while the two of you talk for a moment about mindfulness. Ask yourselves, did the Breathing Hand exercise feel calming, focusing, or joy-inducing? Remind your young partner, mindfulness skills help us be healthy on the inside, and meditation is a wonderful skill to explore. No worries if this is your first time meditating - it comes with all the instructions included! The big idea for this next step is to expand the feeling of a quietly calm heart. Don’t worry if the two of you can’t sit still for the whole ten minutes (kids gotta wiggle and maybe even giggle when they meet the crab on their nose - you’ll see!). The simple act of focusing on your breathing for even just a few minutes is a proven technique for increasing a sense of overall wellbeing.
PART TWO. THE DOING - Making Bracelets with Meaning
To explore your opinions about colors and your natural reactions to them, have a look at the color wheels and talk about whether the two of you agree or disagree with the connected feelings. Then watch the short video about Color Symbolism.
Watch this video. Do you agree? Do you disagree? What are you opinions and feelings about colors?
STEP TWO – Choose your colors and learn the knots
This bracelet is known as the diagonal stripe or the candy stripe. It can be made with 3 or more strands, depending on how wide you want it to be. The more strands, the wider the bracelet. We'll start with 4 strands.
CHOOSE YOUR COLORS
Do you want warm, vibrant, energizing colors? or calming, peaceful, centering colors? or a combination of both?
Based on your opinions about what colors do for you and mean to you, choose your colors for your bracelet. You could even use 4 strands of just one color if you want. It's your bracelet, you can design it exactly as you like.
LEARN THE BRACELET'S KNOTS
Watch the short video to give you a clear idea on the process and flow of the project.
Suggestion: Start with 4 strands, approximately 36 inches long each.
The video example uses 6 strands and will be wider but will take longer to make than a bracelet with less strands. Once you get the hang of it, the repetition of the knotting process might even become a moment of extended calm and focus. Some might even call it "meditative".
Knot the strands together using a basic through-the-loop knot about 2 or 3 inches from the end. (The video demonstrates all of this.)
Secure the strands so you can work by either:
Taping the knot down to a hard surface OR
Safety pin the knot to your jeans in your comfortable sitting position
Watch this video to get the gist on how to start and make a diagonal striped bracelet. You can use anywhere between 3 and 8 strands, but it might be simplest to make your first one with 4 strands.
STEP THREE - Mastery Practice
Remember the phrase practice makes perfect?
You can expect that your first attempts might be a little fumbly and come out with some unique and interesting "imperfections". Don't be disheartened! The more you do this, the more sleek and purposeful your work will be.
As you make this bracelet, try to keep your focus on what you're doing. Be in the moment of every knot. It is easy to get side-tracked and forget where you were in the process. Don't sweat it! It's all part of the process. Just direct your thoughts and your focus back to the moment at hand.
As you progress, think about the ways you would like to make your next one. As you work, you'll come to understand the knots better and you might even get ideas for ways to enhance your next one.
When you finish your bracelet, take a moment to admire what you've made. Let it mean something nice for you, no matter how it looks. You can wear it with the simple pleasure of wearing something you've made.
Remember, the process is way more important than any level of perfection!
PART THREE. THE SHINING. Share and Shine
SHARE – Show someone your creation. Make one for someone you care about.
Point out the bits you especially like. Tell them about your experience making it and about your thoughts and feelings about colors. Help them to start thinking about their own opinions about colors. What is their favorite color? What is it about that color they like?
Your experience is the special thing of this activity. The finished product is secondary to your quiet moment creating it, and what it means to you. The finished result can be a reminder of that first on-purpose moment you spent making something meaningful to you.
SHINE – As you do things that help connect you and your senses to the moment, you are building mindfulness muscles.
These can serve you throughout your day, particularly in moments when you start feeling overwhelmed by everything, or worried about what may or may not happen tomorrow. Even in moments in which you’re feeling relaxed and calm, try doing the Breathing Hand exercise towards that beautiful place you can hold inside you just to see what you notice, and whether you feel any difference from when you started.
Want to continue exploring your thoughts and opinions about the meanings of color? Or maybe you'd like to take your bracelet making to the next level?