Glitter jars are lots of fun to make and in my experience of teaching my own Zen Warrior – Mindfulness for Kids classes, a glitter jar is one of the most powerful visual analogies of the mind and how mindfulness can help us calm down and give the “thinking monkey mind” a rest.
At first, I used to do this practice only with young kids, but I’ve since found that adults and teens embrace it as well. These days I carry a huge glitter jar into my corporate presentations to explain the benefits of Mindfulness (learning to observe our thoughts and emotions) and it is very well received.
How to make a mindfulness glitter jar
I collect jars from all different places. I find that my little Zen Warriors (under 8 years old) are suited to very small jars so that they can carry them around. The trick is to use glitter that sinks rather than floats. I sometimes use glitter glue or food colouring to colour the water and add some glycerin to the water as it slows down the fall of the glitter.
Fill the jar to the top with water. Add all the ingredients and place the lid on top. Shake it like crazy and make sure that it is sealed well.
This is how I explain the glitter jar to my Zen Warriors:
The jar is like our mind, and the glitter represents something in our mind. It can be thoughts and feelings. If we get upset or just need to calm down, we can shake the jar and breathe and simply watch the glitter settle.
If we can be very still and just watch the glitter slowly settle and feel the breath coming in and out of our nostrils, we can eventually see through the jar. The same thing happens in our mind. Our thoughts and feelings can also settle. We can’t rush it. We can’t push all the glitter down to the bottom. We just need to watch and wait (be patient) and relax.
When things become clear, when we can see through the jar again, we can feel better. This is the best time to decide what we are going to do next. When we are calm, and our thoughts and feelings are settled.
At home I use the glitter jar as a “calm-down jar.” If there is some tension in my family, we say: “some of us are upset and our thoughts and feelings are swimming around in our minds. Let’s all take a break until the glitter in the calm-down jar has settled and then we can all start talking again”.