I was cleaning out a book cabinet, (one of my FAVORITE activities because I usually get caught up more in reading than cleaning), and came across an old old copy of a Dr. Norman Vincent Peale book called Stay Alive All Your Life. In flipping through and skimming the pages, I came across a recommendation that really caught my eye. He said that he stays positive by “cleaning out his mind” before bed every night. According to Dr. Peale, he “cleans out his mind like he does his pockets” to ensure that he goes to bed able to relax and enjoy his sleep. I loved how he explained that throughout the day we tend to pick up a conglomerate of thoughts that aren’t very useful in supporting us in creating what we want to create or experience. How about we also teach our kids to empty out the pockets of their minds too? Teach them to let go of irritations, worries, thoughts about unwanted things, etc… can help them to learn the art of release, letting go and calming of the mind,a foundational skill in relaxation!
So, inspired by his words, I created this little one-minute relaxer. Add it to your bedtime routine and see how your child likes it. Practice with your child! Model letting go of unwanted thoughts by speaking them out loud as you are doing it. Like it or not, kids are ALWAYS watching our behaviors and picking up hints for how to live life. So…..next time someone cuts in front of you in the grocery line, or takes your parking space, try out this Empty theMind Bucket technique while tuning in to how you feel, if or when you experience a shift in feeling or not.
Regardless of the end result, (i.e. you feel like you have truly let go of the parking spot or not), you are still modeling what to do when things we don’t like happen.
Try out this one-minute relaxer, Empty The Mind Bucket, and let me know what you think!!
Empty The Mind Bucket
1. Pause. State out loud that you are going to take a moment to clean out all of the thoughts that you don’t want from the day.
2. Close your eyes and take few deep breaths in.
3. Busy your mind by thinking about how your clothes feel on your body, how they touch your skin. Perhaps consider if they feel soft, rough, scratchy, warm or cool?
4. How imagine in your mind that you see an infinite number of empty buckets. These buckets can look any way you want them to look. Perhaps they are a certain color that you like? Maybe they have the day’s date stamped upon them? I wonder what your buckets look like?
5. Now imagine that you can fill each bucket with a thought about something you no longer want to think about. Visualize dropping these unwanted thoughts, events, or memories into each bucket. Once you have filled each bucket, now begin to see the buckets empty. Maybe you carry them to the ocean and dump the contents into the big waves to wash away. Or maybe you take them to a car wash or a giant shower to wash them down the drain. Or maybe even you send them off on a space shuttle to outer space. Any way you would like, empty out your buckets.
6. Begin to feel calm and peaceful as your mind quiets, being rid of all of the unwanted thoughts about events of the day. Feel how calm your mind is. Beautiful!!!
7. Feeling that your mind is now clean, calm, and ready for sleep, you can begin to return your attention to the room around you and can open your eyes when you are ready.
Celebrate a calm, centered, peaceful mind that is ready for bed! Or ready to concentrate on homework…. or ready to take that test….. or ready to return to play in a more peaceful way…..