Thanksgiving is here, and one of our goals as parents is to teach our little ones about gratitude. This year, I'm adapting a hand meditation I learned at a recent Unitarian Universalist conference from Laila Ibrahim. Her concept was simple--why introduce complex, external tools when our goal is actually to help our kids internalize these skills. In short, most of us always have our hands with us, so why not use them?
My idea was based on the ubiquitous Thanksgiving turkey most of our kids draw in school, based on the shape of their hand. So this morning I traced each child's hand and had them label their thumb and fingers subsequently from 1-5. Then I asked them to tell me their top five thankfuls, and wrote each one under a number. (Roxie and Otter are our dogs, for those who are curious.)
Here is the meditation:
With your index finger, trace from the bottom of your other hand, under your thumb, up to the top of your thumb, breathing in through your nose.
When you get to the top of your thumb, say, "I'm thankful for _(whatever is written down)_," and breathe out through your mouth as you trace back down your thumb.
Continue tracing up your index finger, again breathing in through your nose.
When you get to the top of your index finger, say, "I'm thankful for ____," and breathe out through your mouth as you trace back down your index finger.
Repeat this process for each finger, until you have traced all the way to the bottom of your hand under your pinky.
Place both hands together in prayer position, holding them to your chest.
Breathe in through your nose, say, "I am thankful," and then breathe out through your mouth.
I plan on having the kids color in their turkeys, and putting them on the Thanksgiving table as a tool when it's time to give thanks. Ideally, the colorful turkeys will serve as a reminder to be thankful for as long as it's on the refrigerator...and by then maybe we'll have a new habit of gratitude!
Telling Your Brain the Truth (or, I Guess They DO Listen!)