There are many ways to invite your child to begin a relaxation practice. You could simply start chanting OM in the car on the way to school, (I’ve done that). Or, your kids could stumble across you sitting in half lotus one morning on the front porch. I believe modeling is the key to initiating any new practice in your parenting life. Making relaxation practice an integral part of your own life is the first step before introducing the practice to your child or inviting her to join you. Another fun way to get the ball rolling is to use literature. What better way than to read about your favorite characters, who you care about and have bonded with, relaxing and becoming mindful? Allow them to model it for you too.
A favorite of mine is the book, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. It has been a highlight of my week to facilitate 5th grade Stargirl groups during lunch. I love diving into relevant topics such as peer pressure, fitting in, popularity, positive self talk, self-identify, integrity, and the ability to stand by your beliefs no matter the circumstance. The excerpt in which Stargirl talks about “erasing herself” and demonstrates a meditation practice on pages 90-94 is an excellent scene to begin a family relaxation practice discussion. On these pages Stargirl invites Leo to sit with her in the dessert so she can show him what it is like to “do nothing.” Then Leo describes his experience as he sits in silence for the first time and attempts to “erase himself.”
Stargirl shares: The earth is speaking to us, but we can’t hear because of all of the racket that our senses are making. Sometimes we need to erase them, erase our senses. Then –maybe–the earth will touch us. The universe will speak. The stars will whisper.
There is a lovely guided imagery exercise that follows the above quote, beginning on page 91. Stargirl explains how she experiences “nothing” by imagining a big, soft pink eraser in her mind as she beings to “erase” her body parts, one part at a time. It reminds me of a progressive relaxation, minus the tensing of the body part first. Try it out with your tween or teen, it is fabulous fun and is an excellent short guided imagery activity.
Not only does Stargirl provide a beautiful glimpse into the experience of the meditation experience, it is a lovely tale of a girl who will do whatever it takes to hold onto her sense of enchantment with the world around her. A real heart opening story.
For additional Jerry Spinelli books, visit his website at www.jerryspinelli.com. He also has information about starting a Stargirl Society and includes discussion questions for a book study.
The thing is, there’s no difference anymore between me and the universe.
The boundary is gone.
I am it and it is me.
I am a stone, a cactus thorn. I am rain.
She smiled dreamily, “I like that most of all, being rain.”