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Charlotte Reznick, Ph.D. Headshot

Families: The Possibility of Grace This Holiday Season

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A mom and her 17-year-old son hugged and couldn't let go. Tears were streaming down both their faces. They had been estranged from each other the past two years and came to see me because they wanted to reconnect. They terribly missed their past loving relationship, but so much had transpired they didn't know how to repair their rift.

We talked about what the concept of Grace meant to them. Ideas of letting go of hurt, resentments, and anger without effort -- and starting afresh came out. Although they didn't want to minimize what needed to be said, the possibility of such a miracle during this holiday season touched their hearts and helped them openly communicate. The years of deep love took priority and reconnected them once again. Both realized that whatever had happened between them, they loved each other and that was most important. Everything else could be worked out.

Whatever is going on in your homes during this holiday season, here's a guided journey you can take together or on your own to deepen your family connection and allow Grace into your lives. It's adapted from Chapter 12, "Can't We All Just Get Along" in The Power of Your Child's Imagination* - and is my Gift to you today.

Connecting From the Heart... For Friends and Family

This guided journey can create a heart-centered, loving family atmosphere that meets everyone's needs. Adapt the language for your needs. If the entire family is participating, you might record the script so you can all share the experience at once and then gather everyone into a circle, facing each other.*

"We're going to take a vacation from everyday life. Sit in a comfortable position. As you focus on your slow deep breathing into your belly, imagine a favorite place or time when you were happy and peaceful. Get a clear picture of yourself there. What does it look like? Sound like? Smell and feel like? If nothing comes, it's okay to make up something as long as it's soothing.

"In this special place, picture a protection circle around you. Make it as large as you like. You are safe inside.

"Imagine inviting your family to sit inside your protection circle... in a circle. Trust that anyone who enters loves and accepts you just the way you are. If they didn't before, once they step into your circle they do. First, consider the people you live with entering your circle - Mom or Dad, your brothers or sisters (or husband or wife). Perhaps you'll include your Grandparents, or Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins. As each respectfully enters the circle, they take a seat facing you and each other. You may want to ask friends to join you too. Picture them, one by one. They come, delighted to be part of your extended family.

"As you breathe, slowly and deeply, the feelings of love inside you grow stronger. Let go of any squabbles. This is a place to remember you are connected to each other by the love in your Hearts.

"Once everyone is settled, imagine the good feelings you have for each person. One by one, focus on your Love for them. If you were to send Love from your heart to the person in front of you, on a beam of light or sound, what would it look or feel like? Do you get an image? A color? Maybe you hear music. Whatever you choose is fine. Now send them this love. Imagine receiving their Love in return... times ten! What is that like? How do you feel? Allow their love to completely fill your Heart. It can grow so big that it sends and receives love from everyone. There is always enough to share, and always room for more.

"Visualize sending love in any form you wish to another person. Then picture it traveling around your circle and being graciously received. Give yourself permission to absorb their returning love. Take your time. Do this for whoever is with you -- your family, your friends, anyone that shows up.

"You have created something magical and unique. What does the center of your circle look like now? Take a few moments to enjoy sharing all this love among you. Imagine each person saying something wonderful to you... something you've always wanted to hear. Notice what warm wishes you want to return to them.

"You can remember and spread these good feelings as you go about your everyday life. And you can come back to this special circle any time you like. Listen as each person says a kind goodbye and quietly leaves the circle. When you are ready, slowly return, bringing all you have learned, all you have felt into your Heart.

"Keep your deep Heart connection with your family and friends. You might like to share, draw, or write some of the images you experienced as a way to remember them."

* The Power of Your Child's Imagination: How to Transform Stress and Anxiety into Joy and Success (Perigee/Penguin).

**A recorded version is available in the double CD The Power of Your Child's Imagination (Companion CD to the book) at http://www.imageryforkids.com/shop-powerimaginationCD.html

For more information, visit www.ImageryForKids.com, or email creznick@ucla.edu.