When my son was in the second grade I used to visit his classroom weekly and share mindfulness lessons. This quickly became my favorite weekly activity and eventually turned into the creation of Wise Owl Yoga & Mindfulness in Education Program. Back then, and still today, the Mindful Eating lesson plan is always a classroom favorite! Involving all of our senses, we step out of “auto-pilot” by slowing down to focus on the smell, look, sound, feel and taste of food.

This approach can completely change a routine activity, bringing us to the present moment, experiencing it as if for the very first time. Performed slowly and with conscious attention to the experience, students identify discrete taste sensations, build descriptive skills and approach food with curiosity versus reacting with judgment (I like it or I don’t like it). Following this favorite activity I always challenge the class to try new foods at home – with a mindful approach. I invite them to share the experience (mindful eating) with a parent or favorite grownup, maybe even trying a food they had eaten before but hadn’t really liked.

I’ll always remember one of the second graders in my son’s class approaching me a week after practicing mindful eating. “Mrs. Rapanos” he said, “last week I tried something new. My Dad had an avocado on the table and I decided I would try it. At first I really didn’t want to. I thought it would be gross because I had tried one before, but I told my Dad about mindful eating and decided I’d like to try it again!” “And?” I asked with enthusiasm “what did you think?”  “I really liked it!” he replied.

I gave him a high-five and we chatted a little more about the experience. I walked out of the classroom that day beaming. His story made my day! A 20-minute lesson had sparked curiosity in this child. He became aware that his first reaction to the thought of an avocado was dislike.  He then mindfully decided to approach it a different way, with curiosity. Even if he found he didn’t really care for avocados, learning to notice his reaction and then approaching the experience in a new and more mindful way was the lesson learned!

Author: Jen Rapanos is a licensed clinical social worker, registered children’s yoga teacher, and founder of Well-Bean. Drawing from almost two decades of experience working in schools and as a clinician, Jen blends her comprehensive background in mental health with training in mindfulness and yoga to offer an integrated and holistic approach to treatment.

Used with permission.
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