In collaboration with HERE for you for them
We all experience stress. And while some stress can actually be positive, too much stress can negatively impact both our mental and physical wellbeing. The good news is that mindful awareness practices, such as yoga and meditation, can help calm our body’s stress response.
Even very young children (from 0 to 5) can experience three different kinds of stress: positive stress, tolerable stress and toxic stress. Positive stress – such as meeting a new person – are challenges that will actually help development. Tolerable stress – such as a death in the family – are challenges that could affect development but that are buffered by supportive relationships. Toxic stress are ongoing, severe challenges – like extreme poverty and abuse – without the consistent support of positive relationships. In order to build a solid brain architecture, it is the role of parents, caregivers or any other responsible adults to help calm the child’s stress response and to model coping skills. Of course the only way we adults can actually do this, is when we ourselves have mastered the coping skills that are needed to calm our own stress response.
Stress is everywhere. As adults we may experience stress symptoms when our children don’t behave as we would like them to, when we have seemingly endless to-do lists, when trying to manage our money, or in challenging relationships. And although a little bit of stress every now and then won’t do us any harm, it’s the severe and ongoing ‘toxic’ stress that can have a negative impact on our health. Mindful awareness practices, such as yoga and meditation, can support us in clearing unwanted stress energies that we carry around with us.
With a regular meditation practice, we can build up a reserve of inner calm. The following body scan meditation will clear away stress that may reside in our body. Depending on your available time for this practice, you may choose to bring your focused attention to either fewer or more body parts while you scan your way up from toes to head. The choice is yours.
Lie on your back with your arms to your sides, palms up
Make sure the body feels fully supported and comfortable
Close your eyes
Inhale through the nostrils
Exhale through the mouth with an audible sigh
Repeat the same breath focus, relaxing your body when you exhale
Repeat the same breath focus again, giving in to the support of the floor when you exhale
Now breathe in through the nostrils and breathe out through the nostrils
The lips are softly sealed
Breathe into your toes and feet
Scoop up any unwelcome energy in the feet
Exhale and breathe it out
Breathe into the lower legs, calves and shins
Scoop up any unwanted energy in the lower legs
Exhale and let it go
Work your way up your body step by step, bringing your focused attention to the following body parts: knees, thighs, pelvis, abdomen, lower back, ribcage, heart centre, shoulders, upper arms, elbows, lower arms, wrists, hands, neck, face, brain centre
Each time you inhale, you look around for any unwanted energy
Each time you exhale, you breathe that energy out of the body part you are focusing on
Once you have scanned through the whole body, notice what it feels like to consciously relax your whole body from feet to head
Stay alert and present, smiling ever so slightly
When you feel ready to come out, slowly bring the your attention back to your breath
Introduce some movement into the body, perhaps beginning with fingers and toes
Draw up one knee at a time and roll to your right side
Stay there for a few breaths
Softly open the eyes
Push yourself up with head coming up last
Take a deep breath
Settle in and let the breath go
Drop your chin to your chest
Softly open your eyes and lift your head
Once you have expanded your awareness back into the space where you are sitting, notice the clarity in your body and the calm in your mind. Then remember that a mindful awareness practice, such as the body scan that you have just completed, can create a pool of calm for us to dip into as and when the need arises.
HERE for you for them bring yoga and mindfulness to families. We are currently working together with Family Support Hammersmith & Fulham to introduce London families to mindful awareness practices in a series of weekly workshops.
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