Today’s mindfulness activity is called thought clouds. Has anyone ever spent time watching the clouds go by? If you haven’t, watching clouds pass by is usually a relaxing thing to do. Often people sit down or lie on the grass and look up at the sky as the clouds slowly drift by. A lot of times clouds have shapes that look like animals or things we know, and it can be fun to play games naming the clouds. You might want to try it out!
This activity is very similar to that, except we are watching our thoughts go by instead of clouds. This activity is meant to give us a different perspective on our thoughts. It allows us to see our thoughts as something that we have the choice to keep and name, or the choice to let them keep drifting by.
We will start by finding a comfortable seat, just as we do with every mindfulness activity. If your teacher says it is okay, you can lie down on the ground so you can be completely relaxed while watching thought clouds go by in your mind. If you are seated, make your spine tall, reaching the top of your head up to the sky. If you are lying down, roll your shoulders onto your back a little more, let your feel fall open to the sides, and turn your hands up to face the sky. Close your eyes if it is comfortable, and begin to notice what is going on inside of your body.
We will gently inhale to fill up the belly, and exhale to pull the belly back in. Repeat this breath on your own, letting your body become relaxed and full of breath. After ten long breaths in and out, slowly begin to move your attention out of your belly and up into your head. We just spend a few moments noticing the breath, now we are going to spend some time noticing our thoughts. Noticing means you see that something is there, but you don’t have to do anything at all with it. You have the choice of what you do after you notice something, but noticing it is the first step before choosing.
Take some time here to let thoughts come into your mind. Is there anything that you’re excited about? Worried about? Happy about? Unsure about? Let a thought float around in your head like a cloud, just letting it be there. Now you can decide what to do with that thought. Is it something that is important to you, or do you want to let it go?
Now try this with another thought. Let it float into your head, and decide what you would like to do with it. You have the power to choose what happens to your thoughts. They are just like clouds that you can let float by or you can give a name to. Sometimes a thought might come up that we don’t like, and we can also choose to change that while it is floating in our mind. For example, you might have a thought that makes you worried. You can change the way you see this thought so that you can feel good about it, or you can also just let it go.
A cloud might look like a scary animal to us at first, but if we tilt our head a little it can easily turn into something harmless like a bunny! Even if we can’t see the bunny, the cloud will pass eventually.
How did that feel?
Teacher’s Note: You might want to spend some time allowing students to reflect after this activity. Thought clouds are a great way to re-evaluate bothersome thought patterns. If a student is really fixated on a negative thought, it could be a good practice to help that student let that thought go, or change his or her perspective on it.
Student’s Note: This activity can be helpful when you are feeling angry, worried or sad. Anytime you have a thought that isn’t making you feel good, you can practice the thought cloud activity to decide what to do with it. You might be able to see the thought from a different perspective, or you might decide to just let the thought float away.