As school starts, so does stress. Not only for kids, but for the parents that watch over them. It's easy to let our worry turn into irritation and nagging and yelling... Yet there is also an antidote - coming from an open heart. Cheesy but true. As homework piles up and friends present problems, this is a wonderful opportunity to open our hearts as we guide them in their growth, and let our children know how much we love and appreciate them. It's so easy to take each other for granted or get upset over little things.
Parents play a crucial role in creating positive interactions. Cooperation, empathy, kindness, fair play, and self-control don't always come naturally to kids, but you can teach these skills by modeling. If you want to encourage kindness and generosity, let them see yours. To foster self-control, watch how you respond to frustration and anger. And to help kids develop empathy - the ability to imagine what others are feeling - share your feelings, let your kids express theirs, and encourage them to consider others.
What if we start this school year by focusing on the simple and basic, yet life-affirming and self-caring. Imagine how opening your heart can change... well just about everything.
Think about how you'd approach your family, your partner, even yourself if you took a little time to nurture YOU and allow your heart to open. How would your life be different? Better? More satisfying? Imagine where an open-heart could lead you. Where would you want it to?
I'd like to share this short heart-centered and heart-opening meditation - good for the whole family. You can read the script to yourself, create your own recording, or have a friend or partner read it to you. Remember to read slowly with pauses between phrases and sentences. Please let me know your experiences working with it.
"Allow your eyes to gently close. Find a comfortable position. Be aware of your breathing and of the air going into your nose, down into your belly, and then out again through your nose. Let yourself find a peaceful rhythm breathing in and out slowly. One... two... three... With each breath allow your body to become more and more relaxed.
"Let's breathe in even slower - to the count of one... two... three... four. Breathe out just as slowly. One... two... three... four. Take some time to practice sending your breath two to three inches below your navel.
"Now be aware of your chest and your heart. Bring your attention to your Heart Center in the middle of your chest. Imagine it softly beating, and filling with love and wisdom.
"Continue to breath slowly, focusing on your Heart Center. You may place your hand over your Heart Center, allowing yourself to be comforted. As you breathe, put your awareness there. You can keep your hand over your Heart for as long as you want.... as long as you need some extra comfort and self-love.
"When you're ready, notice if any thoughts... pictures... music... or messages come from your Heart - from your Heart's wisdom... Ask your Heart what message it has for you today. Listen. Trust them. Trust yourself. You can even have a conversation with your Heart and ask anything you want to know. Take your time.
"When you're ready, be aware of your breathing, your body, your heart remaining open, and, remembering everything, slowly return."**
Now, you're in a perfect position to let your children know how much you appreciate them. Tell them at least one thing you appreciate or are grateful for each day. Perhaps it's your four-year-old's smile as she proudly dresses herself, or that your son still lets you hug him at age 12... anything that touches your heart. And by your example, they will learn to share what they appreciate as well. Some families like to keep a running list to look upon when tough times come.
Take a few moments today... and every day. It will surely help build a deeper loving connection that will serve you, not only as the school year unfolds, but for all years.
**This guided meditation is very similar to one that was especially created for The Cave of Great Wisdom (Parent Support) CD. You can find it on Track 2. You might also enjoy Track 3, which continues to connect you with your heart's wisdom and receive the appreciation you deserve. For more info, go to http://www.imageryforkids.com/shop-caveofwisdom.html .
Charlotte Reznick, Ph.D. is a child educational psychologist, an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology at UCLA and author of the Los Angeles Times bestselling book, "The Power of Your Child's Imagination: How to Transform Stress and Anxiety into Joy and Success" (Perigee/Penguin). In addition to her private practice, she creates therapeutic relaxation CDs for children, teens and parents, and teaches workshops internationally on the healing power of children's imagination. You can find out more about her at www.ImageryForKids.com.