When my son was little, he occasionally had trouble falling asleep - he had night terrors that caused him to be fearful. Often to calm him, I nestled beside him in his bed and rubbed his back until he dosed off. I began to talk him through a guided meditation that I used on myself, and which in time he came to call "The Relax." He enjoyed this so much that even after he grew out of his terrors he continued to ask for it.
I'm offering this shortened version of The Relax to mothers everywhere - and even if you don't have the private time it takes to enjoy this on your own, you'll find that it relaxes you even when you share it with someone else. Enjoy.
Find a comfortable position - laying down, or if you prefer, sitting in a comfortable chair, with both fee on the floor, hands resting on your legs, or at your side.
Close your eyes. Breathe in and out, in a rhythmic fashion and after a few breaths, focus your attention to the top of your head. As you continue to take deep breaths in and out, raise your eyebrows, and relax them. Then squeeze your eyes tightly, and relax them. Open your mouth as wide as you can, then relax it. Exert all the muscles in your face, then relax, and then move down to your neck and shoulders. Breathe in - contract the muscles in these areas and then as you breathe out, relax them. Tense your right arm and right hand, then relax it - tense your left arm and hand, then relax it. Breathing slowly and deeply, in and out, work your way down your body, tensing and relaxing your large muscle groups all the way down to your toes. Your body feels calm, and content.
Now, as you breathe in and out, imagine you are standing in a large, luscious meadow - one that is blooming with green grasses and wild flowers. Birds are chirping, and the sun is shining. It's a warm, pleasant day. On the periphery of the meadow, you can see tall pine trees, and the aroma of the pine fills you with a sense of joy, and contentment. As you inhale, you can imagine the smell of pine in the air. You delight in the sights and sounds of nature. As you gaze around, relishing the scenery, you look to your right, and see a set of stone steps leading down a trail. You begin to descend. With every step, you inhale deeply, and as you exhale, you find you are becoming more relaxed.
At the bottom of the stone stairway, you cross through a rock portal and suddenly find yourself on a beautiful, tropical beach. You can smell the salty air - feel the sun on your face, and hear the soft rush of water as the gentle waves lap the shore. You smile, and breathe deeply, enjoying the sounds and smells of the ocean. You take in your surroundings, observing the seagulls flying high overhead on a breeze that feels warm and soft on your face. You turn left and walk casually along the water's edge - the refreshing, cool water touches your skin, and the white, soft sand feels cool and fine beneath your feet.
In the distance, between two large coconut palms, you see a woven hammock swaying gently in the tropical breeze. You make your way to the hammock, taking pleasure in the beautiful, deserted beach scene as you go. You settle in the hammock, lying down on your back so you can face the sea, and allow the gentle rocking movement to calm you even more. You feel happy and serene, as the hammock sways, and your mind and body are content, and rested. You are in harmony with your world - at ease and restored. Breathing deeply, you decide to come back to this place often.
I hope you do. Happy Mother's Day.
Follow Cheryl Saban Ph.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/csaban