Yesterday, I covered for our kindergarten teacher so that she could attend a meeting in the middle of the day. After the children eat their lunch, they put their heads on their tables and close their eyes. The teacher turns off the lights, closes the blinds, and plays soft classical music. Not surprisingly, a few of the children fall asleep, some for an hour or more.
As I sat at the teacher’s desk with my eyes closed, peeking every few minutes to make sure that everyone was still where they were supposed to be, I found myself relaxing. At one point, I decided that I would put my head down on the desk, as I started to get very drowsy. I found myself semi-meditating, as I needed to remain aware of my surroundings and continue to check on the children every few minutes.
Once nap time was over, and the children came to the carpet for story, I noticed how much calmer both the children and I were. I was reminded of the work of Andrew Newberg and Mark Waldman and the evidence that they write about in their book “How God Changes Your Brain”, that daily meditation not only increases students’ ability to concentrate and achieve better in school as well as decreasing anxiety, but actually changes the structures of the brain.
Dan Siegel, the author of the books “Mindsight” and “Parenting From the Inside Out” (http://drdansiegel.com/), recommends quiet time or meditation as an important process to help children gain some control over their emotions. Dr. Siegel is coming to Vancouver, B.C. on November 16 and 17 (http://dalailamacenter.org/media-release/daniel-siegel-nurturing-childrens-developing-minds) This is a great opportunity to learn more about how we can nurture growth in our children. Check him out on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gr4Od7kqDT8 and:
Dr. Gordon Neufeld, the author of “Hold Onto Your Kids” talks about the importance of rest, which he describes as a state in which children are able to relax in relationship to the adults who are responsible for them. Dr. Neufeld speaks about this at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUHnMfa_aKE
While naptime alone is not on its own going to address the points made by Dr. Neufeld, slowing ourselves down so that we are able to be present with our children does allow us to reflect on their needs and how we can best respond to them. Many of the people that I see in my counseling practice struggle with a state of constant busy-ness which distracts them from paying attention to those they most care about. As I have discussed in previous posts, this is one of the dangers of technology and the constant distraction that it provides from being in tune with ourselves and others. Dr. Neufeld will be doing an online presentation on Nov. 10 about this topic. In order to register, go to: http://neufeldinstitute.com/events/gordon/2800311#anchor2800311
An argument can be made for slowing ourselves and our children down in order to enable us to reflect on and address our mutual needs for connection. Start small; take 5 minutes a day and, after a week, if you find the results positive, slowly increase the time until you are taking at least 30 minutes a day in quiet time or meditation. Let me know if you find yourself more relaxed and able to face the stress of your day in a better frame of mind.