4 Mindful Alternatives to Meditation for the Whole Family
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You stand over a sink full of dirty dishes, feeling a familiar ache of self-pity settling heavily on your shoulders, triggered by the unceasing monotony of chores.
Or your son puts his head down on the kitchen table, groaning with frustration at repeated failed attempts to put his math homework answers into the right little boxes in a Google Classroom document.
You take a few deep breaths to calm and center yourself, but feel no change in your body or emotions. You feel the internal discomfort build up even more.
I feel your pain and have been there myself so many times. Sometimes, especially these days, breathing is not enough.
Fortunately, there are other ways to come home to your peaceful center that work when taking deep breaths and meditation fails. The following four exercises will move you out of discomfort; back to calm, joy and ease.
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Purposeful Tantrums are a surefire way to move anger, frustration, fear and "life is so unfair!" feelings out of the body. Babies and children do this naturally until blocked by adults. Animals do this as well, shaking their entire body after a stressful, frightening experience.
The basic idea is simple: you allow yourself to yell and scream, kick the floor, pound pillows, or shake your head and body in a safe way. Check out this short video for a demonstration and fuller explanation.
Furious Dancing is another technique that works particularly well for feelings of frustration, worry, overwhelmed, lack of motivation and "the blahs." Pick out a few songs in preparation. I recommend one or two songs that fired you up as a teenager -- perhaps your favorite head-bangers.
After the head-banger, try a song that makes you feel expansive and empowered. (A few faves of mine are Brave, by Sarah Bareilles; Live Like a Warrior, by Matisyahu; and A Sky Full of Stars, by Coldplay.)
Turn them up loud, close your eyes and let the emotions move your body in whatever fierce, ferocious ways feel good.
This is a great practice to collaborate with your kids on, with each member of your family picking one song for your frustration-releasing dance party. Plus, dance parties are a great way to keep the kids active during social distancing.
Nature Grounding is a beautiful way to support yourself when feeling overwhelmed, sad, lonely, and exhausted. The method is quite simple - just find a bit of nature and plop yourself down in it. Work this out however you can - if you are able to go outside and sit on the earth, do that. If you are near trees, go lean against them.
If neither of these are possible, consider using water. Get in a bath or sit in the shower. Once there, close your eyes and visualize a connection between you and Mother Earth. Consciously release feelings and sensations that you do not want to hold in your body. You can visualize this energy being transformed into beautiful flowers; little seeds growing in the dirt; or strong old-growth trees.
(Remember, energy cannot be created or destroyed, and Mother Earth is a master energy transformer.)
Once you feel complete with releasing, begin to call in the energy you want to fill yourself up with and visualize receiving it from Mother Earth. Really focus on this; you can feel it coming in through your feet if you are standing, coming up through your legs and spreading all the way through your body and head. If you are sitting, imagine it coming up through your spine and circulating through all your nerves. Picking a color for the energy can help if it feels challenging to visualize it.
Snuggling is the best practice when fear and anxiety threaten to overwhelm your nervous system. Imagine how you would comfort a young frightened child whom you love very much.
You can comfort the young, frightened child inside of you the same way.
Get into bed, pull the covers over your head and softly and gently touch yourself -- you can stroke your hair, your arms, your face and hug yourself. You can also speak out loud soothing words that feel calming such as "You are safe. Everything is okay. You are loved."
Of course you can make this a family snuggle with your children too!
Adding these four practices to your self-care tool box will support you enormously, allowing you to more easily surf the ups and down waves of emotions and life.
For more wisdom and practical self-care tools, pick up Margot Schulman's powerful book Choose Love: A Simple Path to Healthy, Joyful Relationships. To commit yourself more fully to moving from Fear to Fierce Love in all your important relationships, take advantage of a special discounted coaching package Margot is offering readers of FamilyEducation at From Fear to Fierce Love.