I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about the new augmented reality game, Pokemon Go. It’s a mobile game that you play as you walk around outside. Looking through your phone you can see these little virtual Pokemon perched in various places. If you remember the original game, pokemon are cartoon pocket monsters, little creatures that have special powers. The goal of Pokemon Go is to catch as many Pokemon as you can during your daily treks.
I thought of a way to co-opt Pokemon Go and use it to practice mindfulness. You can play with your children. How about Mindfulness Go? The goal of the game is that, while you walk, you try to find (become aware of) bodily sensation pokemon. Instead of scanning the environment with a mobile device, you scan your walking body with your awareness. How many do you come in contact with? Make up your own names for sensations and experiences that you notice. Or use some of these. There’s Gravity (feeling of your weight on the ground), Breezy (the wind or air on your skin), Chilly (cold), Scorcher (the felt sense of heat or sun), Sounder (sounds), Smelly or Fresher (unpleasant or pleasant smells), etc. If someone smiles at you on your walk, how does that feel in your heart. That is a rare pokemon called Friendly! How many more can you find?
Just have fun walking around noticing the sensations and experiences that arise. It could also be fun to draw a picture of ones you’ve noticed and named. Then you can begin to notice them in situations other than walking. Just as with mindfulness, remind your children that all sensations/experiences (pokemon) are welcome, pleasant, unpleasant and neutral ones.
And like the real pokemon, sensation/experience pokemon may have special powers. For instance, “Thirsty” tells us we need water, Sounder can alert us to an oncoming car. Noticing sensations and experiences give us the advantage of learning about ourselves. It also help us with the skill of responding rather than reacting to challenging situations. Those are the real super powers of mindfulness.
So play a little Pokemon Go, then play a little Mindfulness Go. See how many “pokemon” you can find.