I was watching my son a couple of weeks ago, outside playing with his friend. They were detectives, hunting for a way into a house, then to get to the basement, where surely there would be a treasure chest. They had nothing but their imaginations, no costumes, no gadgets but they were in a world where they were Sherlock Holmes, or Pokemon hunters, ready to face the wild and the fun just radiated out of them.
As a child I can remember being outside for hours and hours, either on my own or with friends completely immersed in the world we had created. There might have been a few old pans if we had created a house, or a sheet to make a den but quite often it was us, in the present moment completed focussed on what we were doing. Hours and hours would pass without a care in the world.
And then we grew up. Work and responsibilities took hold and there was no time for mindful play.
As adults it is so easy to let our day responsibilities drive a wedge between us and fun. When was the last time you were so focused on a fun activity you completely lost all thought of what was going on around you. As a parent, sure you have fun but that fun comes with vigilance, and anxiety that even though you know your kid is strapped in safely as he climbs the wall what happens if something happens. Never do you think, what happens if nothing happens?
My mindfulness mission for this week is to have some mindful fun. Something that takes my focus to one thing, settled my scattered thoughts and calms my mind. I am not sure what that fun thing may be. It could be a mindful walk along the trail, taking in the noises of the birds and the smells of spring, or an hour with my colouring book or a trip to an art gallery.
What would you do ?
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I recently read an article on Mind, Body, Green written by the author of Good Night Yoga, Miriam Gates where she explained how useful yoga can be to help your child self soothe if they are heading towards a meltdown with their reaction moving from mental to physical upset. We have all seen this happen, and most of us stand by in wonder thinking “where the hell did that come from” but stopping it is often easier said than done. In fact, in the years that I have been a parent I have yet to find an wholly effective method to put the brakes on the meltdown train as it heads towards me at full speed. Some children can be coaxed our of a rage, but not my son. He loses all conscious thought when he is in full flow. His class teacher refers to it as red mist, and when the mist comes down it envelopes him and no sunshine can get through. We just ride the clouds until he is calm once more and the mist lifts. Its challenging to say the least but I am trying to create a calm home environment through learning and practicing mindful living, yoga and meditation (as well as taking some professional advice for a deeper understanding of why these behaviours occur).
In a bid to share my own passion for yoga with my son, give him to opportunity to unwind, reset and create some pre bedtime calm I recently purchased a copy of Good Night Yoga.
The first night I tried to engage him in the sequence I could see that he was skeptical. He was falling all over, and rolling around rather than embracing the poses for their relaxing qualities. The next night was similar. But the night after, as I read the book out loud he took himself off in to Bee Pose, buzzing all the way down, then steady as a rooted tree in Tree Pose. Pose by pose went by until finally he was on the floor in his favourite resting position, child’s pose. He was visibly calmer, and although bedtime happened with the usual delay tactics, looking under the bed for monsters, drinks of water and the desperate need to arrange his colouring pencils and books it was much less of a stressful situation than it may normally have been. Within a few moments of being tucked up he was peacefully sleeping, where as over the last few weeks we have been doing a merry dance of up and down the stairs, calling and shouting.
It may be a fluke but for tonight thank you yoga, and good night.
“As I breathe in, I bend my knees and scoop the clouds around me. As I breathe out I stand tall and release the clouds over my head.”
– Good Night Yoga, a pose-by-pose bedtime story by Miriam Gates with illustrations by Sarah Jane Hinder.