From Mayhem to Mindfulness.
At 8 o’clock in the evening, I can be heard herding our children up the stairs to their bedroom with an enthusiasm to match a team of bouncy cheerleaders on the sidelines of a premiership game – “C’mon girls! Let’s GO! GO! GO!”
We race up the stairs together – “Last one to the room has to turn off the lights!” Squealing and screaming as we sprint, I rush them through our bedtime routine. They have hardly climbed into bed when I hurriedly peck their cheeks, fluff their pillows and pull blankets over their wriggling bodies. I rudely interrupt them midsentence, as they begin to share a story with me about an incident earlier in the day, assuring them that I will definitely make time to hear their exciting recollection tomorrow. I close the door a little too loudly, as I holler through it “No more talking. Lights are out. See you tomorrow. SWEET DREAMS! Oh…. and say your prayers!”
Once in the safety of my own bedroom, breathless from the bedtime-routine-triathlon of “run, tuck-in and kiss”, I may grab my phone and send a message, “OK. Kids are in bed. I’m on my way!” or I may collapse in a heap, exhausted from the day’s activities. In the meantime, right upstairs, I am sure, there are three little hearts still pounding from being scurried into bed and voices being deliberately stifled afraid to be heard. While they eventually fall asleep, it really isn’t the most ideal preface to a peaceful night’s rest.
Inspired to create better pre-bedtime habits at the start of this year, I initiated guided meditation-mindfulness-relaxation classes for three young pajama-clad participants. I have been impressed with their attentive enthusiasm. Armed with a variety of simple visualisation, breathing and meditation techniques, each evening I quickly reflect on the day’s activities, events or behaviour and make a decision if we will just do a few minutes of conscious breathing or embark on a “magical journey” with a longer scripted visualisation exercise.
There are many styles of meditation and a plethora of literature expounding its virtues. For me, meditation is the calming of the mind, body and spirit, so as to encourage self-awareness and connections with our inner being. I find guided meditation or visualisation journeys to be the most effective for our young beginners. It allows them to be freely and individually creative while holding their own quiet mind, focusing attention within themselves, while their thoughts are encouraged with some imagery and storyline. I often choose to add one affirmation or a positive statement to develop their sense of self or emphasize positive ideas or feelings such as: I am special. I am brave. I am real. I sleep in peace.
We now end our days hearing a calmer version of ourselves, with voices that are deliberately paced and positive. It feels right. It feels effortless. It feels more like unconditional love.