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(and i need time and help to develop this)

Continued from Empathy with Animals : Contact is welcome with anyone, but particularly parents with young children who could help develop a natural and practical way of questioning children.

I would love parents to start by asking their two to ten-year-olds: "when you breathe, where does the breath go in your body?" They need to be asked lying down, standing, maybe sitting and after running. Where does your breath go to?

From body and breathing: I thought that i breathed into and out of my belly, i never questioned this. I was maybe lucky to have had no biology lessons, and to have only practised awareness of my breathing when i was lying down and relaxed. By contrast, when sitting the feeling of expansion in the legs is minimal, because the buttocks are constricted; and when i try to quickly pack as much air into my lungs as possible, it can feel as though i'm pulling the air out of my arms.

And then : Where do smells go in your body? – When you smell this food cooking, where do you sense it? "can you feel it in the back of your head, your neck, the top of your head or anywhere in your body?". And "is it a taste or a smell? or both?"

Then (before a child learns anything about 'my beating heart') – where is the beating coming from? where is it strongest?

We need a series of games.
What do you see with your eyes closed? draw it.

Blindfold tasting and smelling games. (These senses are usually only trained for specialist jobs like wine connoisseur, perfumer, aroma therapist or master chef. Their training methods could be adapted.) Read Smelling and Tasting Games.

Games could be developed to stimulate the vision, maybe even a machine which projects random laser colours at points on the peripheries, first slowly, then just a split second, the game is to recognise the colour.

Distances, wavelengths and directions of sound (and smell) could be encouraged with just listening out for surprises, imagining we're all early man sitting on a hill top, listening out for wild boar, mammoths and snakes. Can you hear any? (maybe motorbikes are modern wild boar).

Instead of asking a group of children to be silent, ask them : who can hear the first dog bark or pigeon cooing?

Empathy With Animals
How does it feel to be a hedgehog? – a hare? – a horse? – explore imagination and empathy. Yes also research the science – (children's science books are wonderful) – but do it in balance with empathy for how it feels to be that animal.

Inner Body Sense
Maybe ask a child to draw how their body looks from the inside.

Can you listen inside your own body, is it very quiet there or are there any noises, for example after eating? And can you taste inside your own body, how does it taste on your lips or under your tongue, or the roof of your mouth, and can you taste down in your belly, and how does it feel? sweet, dry, salty, like walnuts, or like rhubarb? And on 'this picture of the mouth', draw in which colours it tastes like. And can you see inside your body, how do the bones look, how does your stomach look, how does your skin look from the inside?

The Little People
I believe when we were very young, many people had the fantasy of lots of little people living in our bodies, running around passing messages to each other, and generally organising everything. I can't clearly remember anything except that they had hands, and they could see!

No one ever talked about it, or encouraged it. As a child, i realised it was purely fantasy. I occasionally used it to heal pains as i grew older, but gradually grew out of it. Since then, i've watched films about it, heard jokes about it, and i believe it's a common childhood experience – even if not, it could be easily taught. This abstract fantasy (which seems to be a naturally occurring one), is a very effective abstract way of making a connection with our bodies, of being in touch with ourselves.

So i'd like to ask children about their little people, and what they are all doing inside their bodies. And i'd like to ask things like, can these little people see, hear, smell and taste.

Please read the Introduction to Chapter Two

Back to Chapter Two : Cultural Effects