Mindfulness: Deep Relaxation
Take calming breaths and relax in the lesson plan Mindfulness: Deep Relaxation. In this extended activity, students will practice social emotional skills that help relax their entire body mindfully. Specifically, they will learn how to pay attention to what is happening “right now” and use their imagination to bring up calming visualizations. This lesson’s mindfulness technique can be a great resource for kids of all ages, whether they are in preschool, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, or fifth grade.
Students will be able to practice relaxing their body to notice how it feels. Students will be able to make connections between relaxation and mindfulness.
- Ask the students what it means to feel relaxed. When do they feel relaxed? What helps them feel relaxed?
- Have students share what relaxation means to them, and examples of when they feel relaxed.
- Explain that today you will practice an exercise for deep relaxation, and make connections to mindfulness.
- Review the term mindfulness as necessary: "Paying attention to what is happening right now."
Explicit Instruction/Teacher modeling(10 minutes)
- Explain that you will first practice relaxing different parts of your body before a deep, full relaxation.
- Ask the students if they have ways to relax their body. If helpful, you can ask, "What is the opposite of relaxation?" (Tension.) "What does it feel like to be tense?"
- Explain that you will practice feeling both tension and relaxation. As a class, you will explore the difference between the two by focusing on different body parts to tense and then release.
- Ask students to stand up, with enough space around their body to move freely.
- Explain that together you will tense different parts of your body (make them tight), then shake them out and let them hang/release.
- Demonstrate with your hands. Make your hands into tight fists and squeeze. Have students join you in making fists and squeezing. Then release, shake them out, and let them hang relaxed.
- Next, hug your arms tightly into your body. Then release, shake them out, and let them hang relaxed.
- Next, try tensing your facial muscles, scrunching them in tightly to make a funny face. Then release and relax your face.
- Squeeze your shoulders up toward your ears; try to touch them to your ears. Then release them down, shake them out, and let them hang relaxed.
- Curl your toes up inside your shoes. Then release and wiggle them out.
- Take several student suggestions of other body parts to tense and release.
Guided Practice(15 minutes)
- While students remain standing, describe what visualization is: Words that help you go into your imagination with your eyes closed. Give a short preview of what is to come. For example, "I will ask you to lie down and close your eyes. I will read some words, and your job is to listen closely to what I say. You only need to relax your body and listen."
- Ask the students to spread out in the room and lie down.
- Remind students that for right now, all they need to do is close their eyes, relax their body, and listen to your words. If desired, ask students to tense/tighten their whole body and then let go before you begin.
- Guide students through the following visualization script:
- Imagine you have a seed at your belly button. You are going to plant that seed. Put both of your hands on your belly, just below your belly button, and press in a little bit. Make sure your seed feels nice and safe. You can leave your hands where they are, protecting your seed.
- Now the rain comes and begins to water your seed. Imagine you can feel some light sprinkles on your body. Slowly, slowly your seed starts to grow roots. Imagine your legs are turning into roots growing down. They are growing down, down, deep down in the earth. The roots go down your legs, past your knees, all the way down into your feet and toes. As the roots grow down to your toes, wiggle your toes. Relax your legs, relax your knees, relax your feet, relax your toes. Now return to where you planted your seed, feel your hands on your belly. Imagine that the stem is starting to grow up from your belly, up both sides of your body — up your back and up toward your chest. The stem grows up and out onto your shoulders. Now imagine that your arms are turning into leaves, leaves that are growing and growing all the way to your fingertips. Wiggle your finger tips. Now completely relax your arms, your elbows, your hands, your fingers. Now your stem keeps growing up, up, up through your shoulders, your neck, and your head. Relax your shoulders, your neck, and your head.
- You are completely relaxed while you feel your body getting longer, reaching in both directions. You are growing down through the roots, your feet and toes, and up through your leaves, your hands and fingers, and growing even more still through your head. Relax your toes, your feet, your knees. Relax your belly, your chest, your shoulders, your back. Relax your arms, your elbows, your hands. Relax your neck and head.<
- Use the chime to mark a period of silence for students to just feel their body in full relaxation.
- After several minutes (use the timer, making sure it is silent), explain that you will sound the chime again. When they don’t hear the chime anymore, they can slowly wake their body and sit up where they are.
- Ask students to share how they feel.
Independent working time(10 minutes)
- Preview the Deep Relaxation worksheet together as a class.
- Hand out the worksheets and have students complete them independently. Walk around the room and support students with their work.
- Allow students to just draw responses on the worksheet if they are having difficulty
- Encourage students to write in complete sentences on their worksheet.
- Have students write their own visualization for relaxation on the back of their worksheet. Encouage them to think of creative ideas to help relax the body.
- Ask students to discuss in pairs how deep relexation made them feel.
- As a follow-up, ask students to think about mindfulness: paying attention to what is happening in the moment. "What are the connections between mindfulness and relaxation?"
- Rotate around the room and listen to the conversations.
Review and closing(5 minutes)
- Students share their thoughts on the connections between mindfulness and relaxation.