Shining our light... Together.

Today was my last day reading for my daughter's 2nd grade class and the last ABC book for the year was "The Recess Queen" (You can read it here. Scroll down to pg 31) . My take on the story was that the protagonist of the story didn't do anything necessarily extraordinary to "beat" the playground bully- her superpower was just being herself and treating even the meanest bully as she would've liked to be treated herself. And it's kind of cool because the activity I came up with integrated so many aspects of connecting with one's self and letting our light shine in full expression. And I'm so excited because the kids got it. They totally got it. ❤️ And I wanted to share it because there were so many lessons that came through while we were doing the activity that I didn't even plan.

The "project" for the day was to draw a mandala on a plexiglass circle, but with a few twists. First, we started with some deep breathing. I had the kids pick out two colored Sharpies from a jar- with their eyes closed. This was a mini-exercise in connecting to intuition and trusting "feeling" when making choices. 

Some were surprised when they pulled out exactly the colors they wanted. There were a couple of groans when kids didn't get the colors they wanted. I explained to them that this was also an exercise in understanding control- that we might not always have complete control over certain situations in life and we don't always get exactly what we "want" or like. What we do have control of, however, is how we react and what we do with what comes our way. 

The kids then used the two colors to make their first two inner layers and at first they weren't sure what to draw or color. So I helped them along by asking them to close their eyes again, take deep breaths and to just draw the first shape that pops in their head, regardless of how silly they think it might look. One of the kids quipped that whenever she's at home, all she does is make inventions in her room. She said, "You won't know what works until you try it. I like being creative." 💗

After they did their two layers, I had the kids pick a new color from their neighbor on their left. They didn't have a say over what color their neighbor could take from them- a lesson in letting go. Again, a few kids complained that they didn't end up with colors that they liked, but other kids shared their discovery that they could mix colors- even color over the colors they previously used to make new ones that they might like better. I saw this as an example of healing past hurts with new experiences or making new and novel ideas by combining present and past experiences (even if both of them were perceived as shitty or mistakes).

When the kids were all done drawing and coloring, the kids ooh'd and aahhh'd when they took off the paper underneath and they could see their colors and patterns shine through without anything obscuring it. The ooh's and aah's got louder and more enthusiastic when I held their mandalas up against the projector and they saw the colors and patterns shine bright up on the screen. I explained to the kids that the mandala represents them. And I showed them that their true colors and brilliance can only be seen when they "shine their light" by being themselves. And when they act in fear, they cover up their brilliance and light. The kids were excitedly raising their hands at the chance to "shine their light" to see what their mandalas looked like on the screen.

I emphasized to the kids how beautiful, colorful and unique each of their mandalas were. But I also showed them what it looked like when they interact with others who are also in full expression of their true colors. I put the kids' mandalas on top of each other and held it up to the projector. Again, they ooh'd and aaah'd at the new colors and patterns that showed up on the screen as they saw the colors and patterns of their mandalas combine with someone else's. 

As the kids raised their hands to be picked to "shine" and combine with a classmate of their choice, I called on a quiet boy. When I asked him who he wanted to combine with, he looked around. The boy sitting behind him said with a face, "Don't pick me!" And when the quiet boy looked at the girl next to him, the rude boy said, "Eww, don't pick her either!" I told the quiet boy to just pick who he wanted and he pointed to the rude boy.  So, I took both their mandalas to hold up to the light. When I saw the quiet boy's mandala it was so beautiful! He drew arrows similar to a compass and the middle was colored a bright yellow. I held it up to the light and all the kids were amazed and asked whose it was. I told them it was the quiet boy's mandala and they were so surprised. I could feel him beaming. When I held up the rude boy's mandala he had a similar sun looking design in the middle and I pointed out how the two were similar. When I combined the two in the light and slowly spun their circles in opposite directions the design that came through looked so awesome! It was like the boys had just re-enacted the scenario from the book! Perfect!

I took that opportunity to explain to them that any time we interact with others, our mandalas or our energies combine. We are beautiful and whole as individuals, but when we connect and combine with others, we add to each other's beauty and complexity.  Some people, however, think that if they block another's light by being mean or putting somebody down, their own light will shine brighter. But I showed them how this doesn't work. With their mandalas combined through interaction, when you block another's light, you inadvertently block your own too. I hope that lesson sunk in.

It was so awesome to watch and hear the kids form connections, problem solve, make discoveries and share with each other. This was a perfect example that only by going through and solving a problem yourself first are you able to share your story/discovery/ and light with others. You can't do it for them because they'll miss out on the opportunities and the process of discovery for themselves. 

Reading for the kids has been such a huge learning, healing and rewarding experience for me (and hopefully for the kids too!). I've learned so much from the whole process of reading the books, interpreting them from my point of view and coming up with an activity to help the kids further visualize and reinforce the lessons covered in the books. Although I come in to their class trying to share my point of view with the kids, it's always an exchange and I learn so much about myself as well when interacting with them. I feel like I'm truly able to use my humor, insight and creativity to help others in a meaningful way and with an audience I would've never chosen for myself (I was never particularly fond of kids). Even if all I ended up doing was just to make one of them laugh while reading in a funny voice to remind them that it's okay to be silly or lend them an ear (and open heart) as they shared a time when somebody was mean to them, it was such an honor to be able to share and connect through vulnerability (on both my part and theirs) with these kids. 

I might not have been able to visually see the kaleidoscope of the combination of our multi-dimensional mandalas today, but I could totally feel that it was a sight to behold. I can't wait to see how their colors and patterns evolve as they grow up.