The game that I’m going to describe can be a complete game-changer if you play it often enough – both for you and for any child you play it with. It’s really the game of life as it is supposed to be played, and it really harnesses the power of a child’s mind (and yours too). It’s not a traditional kind of a game where there’s a winner, but if the idea of a game where there’s no winner leaves you cold, then perhaps you can make the winner the person who’s judged to have best found the extraordinary amidst the seemingly ‘ordinary’.
So here goes. The rules. Because you probably want rules, right? Well there’s really only one in this game, and it’s that we’re just describing what we notice rather than making things up.
Before you begin. Assemble whoever is playing – it may be just you and a child or you and a whole classroom of children. Drop anchor. By this I mean invite everyone present to move their attention down into their body, perhaps noticing the contact between any parts of the body and the floor. Spend a few moments noticing the movement of the breath in and out of the body. You’ve now moved into a more experiential mode of being, and so you’re ready to begin.
Take turns describing. Each person takes a turn to describe why this moment is a special moment. Each person starts by saying, “This is no ordinary moment because I’m noticing…” and then proceeds to describe in glorious detail whatever they’re noticing. An example may be helpful here, and is part of my experience right now:
This is no ordinary moment because I’m noticing the branches of a tree moving out of the corner of my eye. As I turn my head towards it, I’m noticing how the light is reflecting off the shiny surface of the leaves and some raindrops falling between the leaves each time a breeze moves the branches. I notice a moment of feeling thankful for this tree outside of my window because it’s so beautiful, and this thankful feeling right now feels like a lightness in my chest and I notice that I’m smiling a little.
You may be thinking, “Ah, but I have no tree handy”. Fear not, you’re having an experience, right? Here is another example, so you get the picture and see (hopefully) that there really aren’t any ordinary moments. The extraordinary is to be found everywhere!
This is no ordinary moment because I’m noticing the sensations in my back right now as my body moves a little to keep me balanced. I’m noticing how my chest moves outwards as I breathe in, and how I can feel the soft fabric of my top moves slightly against my shoulders as I breathe. I’m noticing some strands of hair touching my face very lightly, and it tickles slightly.
Keep taking turns, getting more and more detailed in your quality of noticing, until the child cues that they’ve had enough – trying to continue past that point will most likely result in not wanting to play the game again. You might want to start the game by noticing the big things, i.e. a really broad awareness of the whole environment, and then start to home in more and more on the little things. This is so helpful in teaching children focusing skills, and the ability to move between broad awareness and narrow focus.
The idea for this game was inspired by this YouTube video clip of part of the wonderful Peaceful Warrior movie by Dan Millman. The idea that, “There’s never nothing going on” is incredibly powerful, and what this game aims to teach. I’d love to hear how you get on with it!
Wishing you so much joy and happiness on your journey.