By WHW Children’s Counselling and Group Facilitation Team
This post uses text from an article written by Aoibheann for whw news
‘Mindfulness’ is a term popping up in fields like education, medicine, business and mental health. Professor of Medicine Jon Kabat-Zinn, often credited as one of the contemporary champions of mindfulness, has defined it as ‘paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally’.
This can mean paying attention to a thought, emotion, bodily sensation or whatever you are noticing in the present moment. Non-judgementally refers to noticing what is happening and then choosing how to respond to it.
Research shows that practicing mindfulness can reduce stress and depression, help manage chronic pain, and support relief from trauma. Anecdotally there is also mounting evidence that practicing being mindful can bring relief to busy minds, help with focus and attention, increase immunity, lead to a greater sense of relaxation and increase our overall wellbeing.
A sparkle jar is a great tool to practice feeling calm and being mindful. A bit like snowglobes, sparkle jars are full of glittery, colourful water which you shake up and then watch as the glitter slows and settles.
It’s a metaphor for all the emotions, thoughts, and sensations swirling around when we feel upset, angry, scared or overexcited. If we pay attention, we can see the swirling glitter start to slow down and settle – just like our minds and bodies can learn to settle down.
Recently Stephanie from the children’s counselling team at Women’s Health West ran a self care workshop where she invited other staff to make a sparkle jar. If you come and visit the office you might notice them sitting on people’s desks as you walk around.
We’ve been getting a lot of feedback from our staff saying how much they love using their sparkle jars. If you’d like some help practicing mindfulness and managing stress at work, it’s really easy to make your own.
How to make your own sparkle jar
- Take a clean jar with a tight lid
- Add some glitter glue and loose glitter. Only a small amount – less than a centimetre!
- Add warm water until jar is two-thirds full and stir to melt the glitter glue
- Adjust glitter and glitter glue amounts until you’re happy with the colour and how quickly or slowly the glitter settles
- Top up the water so jar is full and place the lid on the jar tightly. You can use a hot glue gun to secure the lid in place.
Your sparkle jar is ready to use – shake it up and watch what happens! Regular practice will give you the most benefit.
For more information
The WHW Children’s Counselling team use mindfulness tools like sparkle jars with children who may be learning to deal with difficult emotions. All of the children we work with have been affected by family violence so there are big emotions involved. There is an excellent short film from the USA called ‘Just Breathe‘, which includes children speaking about their thoughts on mindfulness and their sparkle jars.
If this topic interests you, we suggest these links for further reading:
- smilingmind.com.au (a not-for-profit initiative that teaches meditation to children)
- childhoodtrauma.org.au (Prosidy, blog by the Australian Childhood Foundation)
- trauma-informedpractice.com (Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute)
- traumacenter.org (information on mindfulness and body based interventions of Dr Bessel van der Kolk)
- Thich Nhat Hanh (2011) Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children (Book, film and CD)