Here’s a mindfulness/meditation activity from Nitya Ferrari, who taught last spring at the Living Wisdom School in Assisi, Italy. Originally, this activity was done with beans at the LWS in Nevada City, CA, but Nitya gave it a distinctly Italian flavor.
At LWS in Nevada City, Narani did a “quiet time” activity that worked very well. The children wore blindfolds while sitting on the floor. They were given each a handful of beans. The beans were of 4 distinct shapes (garbanzo, large white beans, small black beans and pinto beans). The task was to sit quietly with eyes closed behind the blindfolds and separate the beans into 4 piles in front of them according to the different shapes. There was meditative music playing in the background and the activity required concentration but also provided relaxation. They enjoyed it.
When I got to Italy I tried the “bean meditation” but the children thought it was too difficult. The beans were too small for the tactile experience and they could not differentiate the different shapes. In addition, they did not like beans. So I thought of pasta! Of course they loved it! I found 5 different shapes of pasta in the Center’s kitchen (fusili, penne rigate (with stripes), conchiglie (small shells), smaller penne without stripes, small pasta used for soup).
I had bought these cheap blindfolds in fun colors (pink and blue were the preferred colors, no surprise). I showed them the task of separating the types of pasta in different piles. They were excited about putting the blindfolds on and starting the work of sorting the pasta. I think the first time we did this activity I used Swami Kriyananda’s Yoga CD, Surrender. At other times I used “Joy is God,” classical music with nature sounds, and music with water and dolphin sounds they love.
Before we did the meditation, we lit candles on our altar and prayed for their pets, grandparents and even Santa Claus! So, we set up the ambiance with lights off, candles, prayers and music in the background. We did this meditation many times (one 6-year old, three 7-year olds and one 8-year old). Each time they asked for more pasta when they were done. This is a very relaxing activity and great for concentration without being a formal meditation.
We once did the pasta meditation with preschoolers and they were happy to do it without the blindfolds. We also did it with 4th and 5th graders and they also liked it. Pasta is the key to education in Italy, I have found!!!