Taming the Monkey Mind

crazy monkey

Ever feel like this? How do we calm our MONKEY MIND?

Back to school…my favorite time of year!  New Students and new lessons to explore together!

I wanted to begin the school year with a lesson about the many ways we can quiet our “monkey minds”.

After chanting OMs at the beginning of class,  I brought out one of my favorite stuffed animals CURIOUS GEORGE and explained to the children that our minds can be all over the place.  We call this a monkey mind because like monkeys are always playing and jumping and swinging around, sometimes we have so many busy, busy thoughts and ideas going around in our minds.

“Today, we are going to learn some ways to help us calm and quiet our busy minds…are you ready?”

As a warmup, I used Sara Marlowe’s wonderful mindfulness song called “Busy Minds”, which are available for download on her site.  The children did a “busy mind dance” when she was singing and when the music stopped, they had to freeze and listen, as they practiced some ways of keeping our busy minds still.   From all the laughter and smiling faces, it was easy to see that the children absolutely LOVED this activity and song!

After we discussed some of the ways (mentioned in the song) that we can calm our busy minds…breathing, listening, visualization…I told them that of course yoga is one of the best ways to do this too!

i-love-monkey-book

Next I read the book I LOVE MONKEY by Suzanne Kaufmann.  The book is about a monkey who wants to be special and tries to be all kinds of animals and objects, which were great prompts for yoga poses and movement: BUNNY (Rabbit Pose), ELEPHANT (Elephant BREATH) SQUIRREL, CHICKEN, ROBOT, BEE (Bumble Bee BREATH) and many other silly things, like Monster, Corn, Cucumber, Sushi, etc.!

While there are not many traditional yoga poses in the book, they children really enjoyed the book and making up movements for the animals, creatures and objects in the story.

Monkey Bumble Bee

At the end of the book, the monkey decides that there is ONE thing that he is really good at being and that is… HIMSELF!  The children had fun pretending to be a MONKEY, jumping and making monkey sounds!!

I really LOVE the message in this book, that everyone is special and you can just BE WHO YOU ARE because that is what makes YOU special! Then I passed Curious George around the room and asked them to share one thing that makes them special, something they like to do or are good at…they shared so many great responses, from baseball to swimming to playing the drums to gardening to yoga even!

 For RELAXATION, I told them “Now we are going to put our busy monkey minds to sleep and enjoy some quiet time.  

In a soothing voice, I read them the last few lyrics from a song called Playing Monkey’s Lullaby by Caroline Cotter

Monkeys playing have more fun

They’re fancy free and tra la la

but even playing monkeys see

the light that shines inside of me

so close your eyes and clear your mind

and find the peace you have inside

and let those monkeys go to sleep