In the yoga tradition, there is a beautiful grounding and focusing chant (Sa Ta Na Ma–kirtan kriya), that is coupled with finger movements. Whenever I practice this chant, my mind calms down and I often feel like I am floating in a peaceful cloud. I also feel as if my “sea of thoughts” part to give me clarity and pin-pointed concentration.
The following relaxation activity has been modified from the yogic chant to be fun and simple for you and your child. I call it the “I Feel Calm Now” chant, but please feel free to find a title or words that work for you.
I like this chant because it engages the hands and fingers to build fine motor skills and eye/hand coordination at the same time while you are breathing and focusing.
First, sit in a comfortable position where your body can be completely relaxed and free, (either in a chair or criss cross on the floor). Hold both of your hands gently in front of you at chest height.
The chant is : I Feel Calm Now. As you say each word you are going to touch your thumb to a finger, beginning with the thumb to the pointer finger, then the middle, the ring and the pinkie finger. That is one round. Then you will begin to work your way back to the beginning, first touching the pinkie finger and thumb, then the ring, the middle and ending with the pointer finger.
You can sing, whisper or say it silently in your mind.
Begin by taking a couple slow, deep breaths. Then begin to sing the words and touch your fingers together as follows:
Say ‘I” touch the thumb and pointer finger together (both hands working at the same time).
Say “Feel” touch the thumb and the middle finger together
Say “Calm” touch the thumb and the ring finger together
Say “Now” touch the thumb and pinkie finger together
Return to the beginning and start again.
The idea is to be able to have both hands working simultaneously while you are singing the words, but if that is too difficult at first, start with one hand. You may need to model it and to provide “hand over hand” support to help your child understand, depending upon their ability and/or developmental level.
First sing it through for a minute, then whisper it for a minute, and finally complete it within your own mind (inside voice) for a minute.
End by holding your hands high up in the air above your head and then sweeping them down in an arc, ( like a rainbow), to the floor beside you.
Check in with your child–as them to notice their body and mind afterwards–notice the differences and if anything changed from before they started– share with each other!
It’s also fun to try different words or sounds. Try it singing notes “Do, Re, Mi, Fa” or with other calm phrases that you come up with–it’s important to use one-syllable words, though, for the maximum effect.
Pretty soon your mind and emotions will feel like the picture of the lake in the moonlight below: still, tranquil and completely at ease.