The kids are bathed, pajama-ed and snuggled in their beds— and tonight in place of stories and singing we are going on an ‘Adventure’.
I suffered from severe asthma attacks as a child, and to slow down my heightened breathing— mentally, while the medicine was taking affect— my mom would talk in a low soothing voice, and describe the beautiful woods in Yosemite National Park. We always took family vacations there, and it is the home of my most precious spiritual experiences, in the woods connected to creation. Her intuition to that spiritual connection to Yosemite landscape– even at a young age, made it the perfect place to ‘visit’, even if only in the mind.
I’ve adapted her technique of guiding through place, and some meditation techniques I learned in High School to help my children relax and reconnect. We always pick a place together— usually they want to visit the beach and their grandparents. Last night, they wanted to have babysuits (bathing suits) on and jump in the waves. You can almost see this way of storytelling, playing out in their minds eye, they feel the cool water, the hot sand, they are there–jumping and splashing in the waves.
My first rule of meditation is easy in, easy out. And what I mean by this is to ease yourself into the process. We start by taking a deep breath all together. Sometimes I wait about 30 seconds for silence before we begin, we listen to our breathing, we settle our bodies and our minds. How often to we observe collective silence as a family?
Secondly, I always pick a place that they are fairly familiar with (and I am too!) you can’t guide someone to a place you don’t know. If I’m leading a meditation for adults, I lead them to the woods, the desert, a wide-open field or the beach. Every person has had some experience (even if just in movies or pictures) with these sorts of places.
But with children, they need a little more concrete in the beginning– the more detailed in your story telling, the more robust experience they will have. Repeat words or phrases in the going to the adventure and remember where you are on the way back. You’ll see in the script that I repeat words, “Up, Up, Up” or “Over, over, over” this has two functions. Showing the passage of time, the continuing from one place to the next and it adds a rhythm and meter to the story. You’ll feel yourself going where they go too.
Recreate an adventure from start to finish. Begin in their beds, fly out through the house as you would normally exit and pass landmarks they know well. We always have to go over Idaho. Not sure why, but we know that we get from our little house in Iowa to the beaches of California by way of Idaho. You too will have some quirky one-of-a-kind storytelling.
Involve the senses. At every point on your map, ask rhetorical questions: Do you feel? Do you see? What is that sound? Taste the…
And finally, they have to be comfortable and so do you. Pick a chair for yourself you can comfortably sit in for 20 minutes or so and have them be in their beds, on a couch or in your family bed. If they drift off into sleep, all the better. Repetition is good too, start the same way every time and end the same way— next time you enter your meditation, it will feel familiar and they will ease into the routine quickly. Meditation is a practice, and you’re teaching them relaxation techniques early!
A sample script::::::::
Here is a sample of our adventure. Like I said we usually visit the beach and our grandparents so that is where we’re heading today— this is our script, so you can change this as you need to fit your family and situation.
Read or speak in a low, soothing, comfortable voice.
Let’s lay still and quiet, every one take a deep breath. (15-30 seconds of silence— more if your kids are older).
We are floating up, up, up, off the bed feeling so light, we fly out of the room, down the hall, through the front room, through the door, out into the cool night air.
We fly higher and higher over the street lamps, over the courthouse, up above the trees and fly over John and Bonnie’s house (family friends who live close). Can you see the corn fields as we pass them, they are empty now and covered with snow for miles and miles.
We go up, up, up over Omaha. And through the flat lands of Nebraska.
We fly over, over, over to the Rocky Mountains, can you smell the pine in the trees feel the cold winds as they blow over the mountains. Taste the chilly air?
We soar over the mountains and down into the great desert, can you feel the coolness of the night. See the cactus, smell the dry dusty air?
We see more lights, here more sounds, feel the busy beating heart of he city ahead, we pass over the hustle and bustle to the back and forth of the waves.
Do you hear them crashing in and out? In and out, in and out?
We come down, down, down until our feet rest gently into the cool sand. We turn around, away from the waves and see the bonfire set before us, Grandmommy and Papa are there, so are Grandma and Grandpa. There are warm, plaid beach blankets and a roaring bonfire. And Nana is playing her guitar, she’s singing sweet songs.
We roast marshmallows, sing songs, snuggle with grandmas and grandpas. You pick a lap of someone soft and cuddly, we curl up in a ball, breathe in and out, in and out, in and out. And fall gently into sleep. In our dreams we float up, up, up.
Through the see air and down the coast, away from the crashing waves, over the bustling city, over the lights and sounds.
We soar over the great dark desert, and over the cool mountains.
Over, over, over the flat lands of Nebraska, the snowy fields.
Over Omaha, down by the prairie, the grass is still sticking up in the snow.
Back into town, and over John and Bonnie’s house, by the courthouse, down our street. We fly down, down, down.
Lucy is inside now, sleeping. So we fly through the front door, back into the living room all cozy and warm. Down the hallway and into our room. Where we settle into our beds and into our warm blankets and we breathe in and out, in and out. And now we are back home.
Though Mary works full time as an Art Director, she is also a full time Mom. She and her husband celebrate the complex simplicity of a one dog, two kid and five chicken household. Her family is always on some sort of adventure: baking bread, tending the garden, singing and enjoying being family. Follow her journey at The Yellow Door Paperie.