“Autumn, the years last, loveliest smile!” William Cullen Byrant
I love Autumn, it is such a fantastic time to connect with your senses and enjoy nature. I can just feel change in the air as it gets cooler and the trees share with us a myriad of beautiful colours. How can you not love the earthy smell of leaf piles in the woods? Wonder as the leaves gracefully cascade down and the satisfying crunch as you stomp along in welly- clad feet! Yes! I LOVE Autumn. I love even more sharing its joys with children. Here are five simple ways to connect with your children or your inner child at this time of year.
Get your wellies on and go on a mindful walk.
A very simple way of connecting with the present moment is through use of the senses and this is wonderful to do outside. As well as being fun, this is fantastically grounding for anyone with anxiety, notice:
5 things that you can see (even better if it is something unusual.)
4 things that you can feel, can you feel different textures for example; a smooth pebble, a bumpy log, a waxy leaf. (Ensuring that it is safe to!)
3 things you can hear. Perhaps something close, something far away, something unfamiliar.
2 things you can smell pleasant or even unpleasant.
1 thing to taste; a sip of water, a piece of fruit or even the taste in your mouth.
Really take notice!
When you are on your walk, perhaps gather some items to bring home, really take notice of what you find. Maybe you find an acorn, be inquisitive, what does it feel like? Does it feel that way all over? What colours can you see? How heavy is it? If there are more than one, how are they different? What patterns do you see on it? Tuning in and focusing on just one thing is a form of active meditation. You could even spend some time drawing the item that you have found, you don’t need to be an artist to experience the benefits of being creative.
Create a mandala
Mandala comes from the Sanskrit word meaning circle and has been used in many religions to symbolise the universe. Creating a mandala can be used as a way of focusing attention and clearing the mind and is an active form of meditation. Nature mandalas can be made really simply by using sticks, pebbles, leaves, shells, pine cones, conkers and petals. An easy way to make one is to start with a central point (such as a stone) and build out from it. Another way is to have a circle to work from, perhaps a circle drawn on the ground with a stick, and then fill the circle with leaves of different shapes, conkers, sycamore seeds, acorns, pebbles etc. You can create a pattern on your own or make a big one with a group of people. As you create your pattern try to bring your attention to the texture of what you are holding, the colours, smells even the sounds. Try to be totally focused on what you are creating.
Another way to be in the moment and creative in Autumn, is to do some leaf rubbing. This is really easy and lots of fun. You just need to place a leaf under a piece of paper and rub over it with a wax crayon (best if the crayon is without paper and is turned on its side). Another way of doing it is to rub using a candle, then paint over the top. It is like magic to see the shape and patterns of the leaf appearing in front of you. While you are doing it, take notice of the patterns on the leaf and all of the little veins, they really are beautiful!
Watch the sunset
One of the benefits of the longer nights is that sunsets happen so much earlier. When was the last time you watched a sunset? Really watched it? Just sitting; observing the shifting patterns in the clouds, the change in light and mood and the beautiful spectrum of colours that fill the sky is a wonderful, calming, peaceful thing to do. I love watching the sunset with my children, they always notice something that I hadn’t. It feels so special to share that moment with someone else, or even just enjoy it by yourself!
I hope that you enjoy ‘the year’s last, loveliest smile’.
Julia’s next Mini Me Yoga Foundation Workshops that are open to the public will be held in Coventry on November 14th and December 3rd. Bookings can be made here: https://bookwhen.com/familyclasses
About Julia Hankins
Julia is a children and families’ yoga teacher living in Coventry with her husband, two children and cat. She runs weekly after school yoga classes and adult Mini Me Yoga workshops. As an experienced primary school teacher, Julia knows that pupil wellbeing is vital. She enjoys bringing yoga and mindfulness to schools by training staff or delivering well- being days in her role as Mini Me Yoga Ambassador.
You can contact Julia here: http://www.facebook.com/minimeyogacoventryandwarwickshire