Blowing Bubbles

dandelion wishes home pageThis weekend my kids and I played with bubbles for the first time in months. We pulled out the really cool insect and flower shaped wands, poured out the soap mix and twirled around the yard, waving our wands until the air around us was a sea of floating, translucent spheres. It was so much fun. A perfect diversion for one of those slightly warm, mildly cool days that straddle the seasons.

And here’s the best part, it was an unexpected opportunity to play with our mindfulness practices as well.

As we laughed and played and watched our bubbles glisten in the sunlight, our attention was fully and completely locked into the moment. Nobody had anything on their mind other than the simple enjoyment of what was happening right then, right there. There were no stories, no worries, no regrets. We were, in a word, present.

And not only that, our bubble play offered a great way to practice object attention.

In one of the games we played we would choose just one bubble and see how long we could watch it before it drifted out of sight or popped. And you know what? That’s not such an easy thing to do. Bubbles can float pretty far, and they’re pretty hard to see when they’re floating toward the sun. Can you see it now? How about now? It takes a lot of focus to trace the path of just one bubble among many and notice the exact moment when it’s gone from view.

This “now you see it, now you don’t” quality is part of what makes bubbles so exciting. We know we can’t hold on to them, so we gather whatever enjoyment we can from our time with them, and then let them go. This is a great lesson in non-attachment. No matter how interesting or delightful a bubble may be, it won’t last forever. In the play of watching bubbles, then letting them go, we train in observing our minds the same way. Thoughts arise and they may captivate our full attention for a moment or two, but they’re not here to stay. There’s no weight to them.

Like bubbles floating through the sky, our thoughts come and then they go. How wonderful to learn that lesson with my kids on a beautiful spring day!

What are some of the ways you play at mindfulness with your kids?

Update July 2013: I just discovered these amazing giant bubbles which are wonderful for this kind of practice. The oversized bubbles make incredibly varied shapes and are large enough to actually reflect your surroundings in a prism of gentle colors so there’s a lot to hold your attention.Gazillion Incredibubble Wand

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