A few years ago, I heard a speaker introduce me to the concept of trim tabbing. As he was speaking, he stated that I could easily reach my goals if I made small, incremental changes each day in the direction of my dreams. I have applied this concept many times since hearing that speech. Any time I am faced with making a new change, I remember that it is the small steps that slowly change my course direction and get me moving towards the realization of something new. Relaxation practice has been the same. I started by making small changes. At first I decided to just practice taking deep breaths on my way to work in the morning. When I got in the car, it was my signal to be mindful and breathe deep. Then, I decided that I would add some deep breaths before I got out of bed to get ready for work. Pretty soon I was ready to set aside a five minute sit down practice period in the morning which has grown to 30 minutes over time. The rewards in my life as a parent, educator and person have been amazing. I noticed that it was easier to complete tasks, to focus and that my attention span grew ten-fold. Also, I saw that I had more patience with my girls and partner and that I wasn’t as quick to “be right” in conversation. People at work seemed to show up more often in my office to “talk” and I felt myself slowing down to appreciate and get a greater sense of fulfillment from life! The rewards just keep on coming. What I noticed most of all was that consistent small change over time made a big life change possible.
The same is true for family relaxation practice. I often hear parents complain that there isn’t time for a relaxation practice, that their days are already too filled up. I invite them to try the same system that worked for me and to trim tab in the direction of a more relaxing life with their kiddos. Here are three simple steps to get you started on creating a more consistent relaxation practice:
1. Before you get out of bed in the morning, take three deep breaths, focusing on the positive things you want to experience in your day. When you to to wake up your child, breathe together before she gets out of bed and ask her about one thing she wants to experience in her day.
2. As you are in the car during the day, make it a point to pause for a moment (could be at a stoplight or in the parking lot before you get out of the car), and take three balloon breaths. Breath is the foundation of relaxation skills! Start with the breath and build upon the deep breathing skills.
3. Start with a 5 minute practice and make it fun. Before bed is an excellent time to practice quiet time for 5 minutes to start. If five minutes is too long, make it one or three. Find what works for you and your child. If your child isn’t ready to practice formal relaxation activities, then just simply hold her, look into her eyes and connect for a moment. Try a back rub or hum a sweet song, but make a point to slow down and just feel for a few moments each day.
Sail into relaxing moments with your child! Start small and your consistent practice will be on course!