The other night I was e-mailing my friend. She was discussing an issue she was having with her daughter - stomachaches. They seemed to be school related, so she was worried they were stress, but also not wanting to miss something medical - she was researching reflux. I told her that my daughter was having some big time stomach issues around the time of my separation and divorce. While the pain was certainly real to her, I could see that it might be an outward manifestation of inward turmoil. My stress has always gone to my stomach, ever since I was a little girl.
I told my friend that I had taught Cecelia a relaxation technique that I picked up somewhere along the way, in high school I think. One night at bedtime, I told her to lay down and practice breathing in through her nose and out through her mouth, like a type of yoga breathing. As you breathe in through your nose, imagine a healing color filling your body, focusing in on the area of pain. I use bright white light. As you breathe out through your mouth, imagine you are expelling the pain as a color of your choosing - I use red. I think the slow breathing is the key, and giving a concrete aspect to it, the color, helps you feel that you are in control of your body and have the power to soothe yourself. I told Cecelia to take it with her and use it throughout the day if she needed it. It helped her. I still use it on occasion - my stress continues to go to my stomach. If my friend uses it, I hope it helps her eight year old daughter. If it doesn't, she can continue to problem solve medically.
There are many things I use these days as mental yoga - blogging right now, for instance - this is a busy, stressful week and writing is therapeutic for me. Yoga and exercise also help. Listening to music. Reading. A glass of red wine. I pass these onto my daughter and son (except the wine, ha ha), and hope that they can learn to relax and soothe their body and mind in a healthy way.
Last night I went to yoga for the first time to meet the new teacher. After a three mile run and watching a recent Colbert re-run, I had to fight my inner two year old who was throwing a tantrum telling me to stay home, Jeanie's leaving sucks, no one can replace her. I quieted the tantrum (Jeanie's voice in my head helping me), grabbed my yoga mat, and met Matt, the new guy. He is young and is very different, with his masculine energy. A clipped voice and a different style. I am going to be sore today in a whole new way, and was more tired than usual after yoga. I'm still sad that Jeanie is gone, but I'm also excited to explore new heights and stretch new limits on my body and mind with my new teacher. After all, yoga is a process, not perfection or competition. Who knows, this guy could teach me a thing or two.
As I am writing this, I am wondering what other techniques people use to calm their children and themselves, especially along the lines of relaxation. I would be curious to hear suggestions in the comments if anyone has any. While Cecelia's stomachaches around school abated a couple of years ago, every new age and stage of life brings frustration and anxiety; we problem solve pressures from school and society on a weekly basis. Jack is a more laid back fellow, but he has unfulfilled wishes and desires, as we all do, that weigh silently on his mind. We have lots of fun too - we are not all seriousness here, but we could all use more mental yoga.