Today my Little Man summoned me to his office and asked me to sit down. He then told me he wanted to have a chat about “Life.” I sat down across the desk from him and asked what was bothering him.
Leaning back in his chair, palms coming together in resignation as if he was going to have to lay down the law, he sighed and shook his head. Then he gave me the kindest pity look and said, “Mama, it doesn’t matter how successful your life is or how successful you are. The only thing that matters is if you are happy. When you aren’t happy, nothing matters and if that happens, well then you aren’t happy and if you aren’t happy, you just simply aren’t being successful.”
I was taken aback, suddenly very aware that my rather rubbish day — where everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong — had obviously affected me more than I realized. Here I was thinking that I was doing a fine job with my “I got this” mask on, but it wasn’t fooling my son in the slightest.
He saw the look of defeat across my face, mixed with the amused and slightly nervous twitch of a mama deer caught in the headlights of shame and guilt. It was true, I wasn’t having a successful day and I had been darn close to tears a few times from the sheer frustration of trying to roll that damn boulder up the mountain that was covered with slippery ice.
Before I could say anything, he carried on with being Yoda incarnate. He told me we were going to do a simple exercise and he would show me how it had to be done. I was then instructed to close my eyes and he would talk me through it.
It went like this:
- You are going to take 5 deep and long breaths.
- On each inhale you are going to count to ten using your fingers not your mind.
- In your mind, you are going to call up a happy memory snapshot.
- Hold this happy memory until you have exhaled all of your breath until there is no more
- Repeat 4 more times with different happy memory snapshots.
“The goal of this exercise is to show you that you have so many wonderful things in your life that prove it’s a happy and successful life because you are happy. At the end of it, you will feel better,” he said.
And then he guided me through the exercise like a natural pro, modulating his voice to sound soothing, emphasizing his breath for me to follow and at the end simply said, “that’s better, you don’t feel so muddy anymore.”
Well, I never! Not even five minutes later he was bounding out the front door like a normal scallywag to go play like a hoodlum with the neighbours.
When he came home I asked him where he learned this and why he thought I needed it today.
His response was even more remarkable than what had happened.
He was inspired by Sherlock Holmes, the Benedict Cumberbatch version, to start observing life more closely, because the closer you looked, the more interesting it became. With his new found super power, he detected my energy levels, my voice wasn’t relaxed and the list went on.
If that wasn’t enough, he then told me that his favourite grounding and energy-lifting exercises wouldn’t work on me because I was a grown-up and my imagination wasn’t as good as his. He also accurately decided that even though he knew I would love one of them, I wouldn’t do it there and then because I was too stubborn about the un-important things I felt I should be doing. So he had no choice but to adapt and make up this exercise on the spot.
At this point, I could have cried with gratitude for a glass of wine and ten minutes to absorb what I was hearing.
I was rather horrified. My own mum was more than spot-on when she used to tell me that kids pick up vibes and feel everything, so you have to be diligent about how you manage your emotions, behaviour and actions, especially when you are finding things tough.
I was appalled at all the confusing feelings I must have caused him along the way with whatever was going on in my life. Not to mention utter surrender to the thought that maybe I should start saving for his therapy.
But then I burst out laughing at the absurdity of all the nonsense swirling in my head and guilt I did not need to own. Because out of being human comes immense opportunity for growth if we are open to going with the flow and realize that teachers come in all shapes and forms, even as 9-year-old mischief makers.
So to honor my little Padawan and with his permission, I’d like to share his top 3 “ninja energy saves,” as he calls them, with anyone who has a child in their life.
1. Cupcakes and Candles
For when your heart hurts and you are angry, crying or scared — especially good after having a nightmare.
For this, you need someone to walk you through this as you are probably too upset to do it yourself. Take your time and only stop when you see the energetic sigh relax the shoulders and soften the face of the upset kiddy-wink. (It works really well for grandmas and grandpas too).
Holding your palm out in front of you, imagine you are holding the most amazing looking cupcake in the world. Imagine the flavor, texture and what it feels like to take the first bite. Go wild with how it’s decorated, what color is it, what decorations does it have. When it has been fully manifested in the imagination, it’s time to place a “trickster” candle in the middle. What you have to do now is blow out the candle. But it’s not easy, it keeps relighting itself.
Just like in real life, you have to inhale and puff out very hard and fast to get that flame to go out. It usually takes between 5-7 really good elephant puffs to put it out for good and for a massive energy shift to happen.
Make sure to do this slowly, getting dizzy isn’t the goal here… it’s balancing breath work to calm the strong overwhelming emotions that you are calming down.
I have used this with more than 30 kids, ages ranging from 3 to 10 and it has worked EVERY single time.
2. Rain Zen
For when you are a whirligig and need to release pent up energy or over-tiredness — perfect for grounding and cleansing.
If you are lucky enough, it will be raining when you need it the most. There is something exhilarating and soul-connecting about playing in the rain.
You can re-create this in the shower.
Gather a whole bunch of toys that don’t mind getting wet — don’t forget to ask them first! Take them all into the bathroom and plonk them on the floor, get your water temperature a little hotter than normal, you’ll need this as you are going to sit on the shower floor further away from the jet, and you are going to play.
Lego, super-heroes, my little ponies and dinosaurs are just a few who absolutely love Rain-Zen time.
You need to be having fun in the lovely warm shower for at least ten minutes before you start feeling GREAT!
Sometimes on really bad days you might need 20 minutes and you may worry about wasting water, but if you are eco-friendly in other ways, it’s okay once in a while. 😉
I have an old wide washtub that my grandma used for washing clothes which I sometimes put under the shower for a mini bath, which also feels fantastic — like sitting in a slowly rising pond, under the rain. This is for the days when you need a little salt water therapy to help soothe. Just chuck a cup of good natural salt in the tub and dissolve with a bit of hot water first. A drop or two of essential oils is also fab. We love a mixture called ‘Thieves’ because of the tale behind the concoction but also the most wonderful smell and release it brings.
3. Mojo Mania – Getting your A-game on
For when you need help getting our A-game on, because — let’s face it — school can be pretty intense!
There is nothing like music to get you to “move-it-move-it” — energy wise.
Anytime, anywhere, get your happiest and best songs on and crack out the moves, work out a sweat and get that jelly moving. Likewise, you may need the more “lulling” kind when your energy is out of kilter. For example, car jams — when you need to amp it up — and car escapes — when you need to blow off the cobwebs of stress, — are the best kind of energy filters.
There is no start to the day that doesn’t have a special curated song-list. “Never ever used the radio,” says the Little Man. You need to cherish your vibe space, so you need to choose your songs.
And if you are feeling nervous or stressed, he recommends singing out loud to loosen up that stuck chakra in the throat that gets really hurty, scratchy or overtight.
If you are worried or stressed about something in particular — unfriendly people, exams, a presentation — a bit of super cool guided visualization mediation helps too. Burt Goldman has some super cool ones for kids and he has a lovely grandpa voice that makes you feel warm and safe.
The Little man also loves Vishen’s 6-Phase Meditation for after school hours to help de-stress, as well as playing whale or ocean sounds.
Music of any sort can be the antidote to what you are feeling, be it spoken word from an audiobook that takes you out of your mind, meditation or just plain old regular big boogy tracks. The most fun is creating your own playlists for different needs so that you can get what you need quick.
The Little Man likes to use Spotify because its a great way to discover new and fabulous tunes.
I think what surprised me most about today was understanding how much kids want to help themselves…
How they aren’t programmed or cluttered with self sabotaging ways that delay action or real gratification. They trust what they feel and if something makes them feel better, they keep doing that. It’s really that simple for them.
It is innate in them to want to feel good and happy because that state of being is the most natural state to them. And they have no guilt about that —they know being happy is vital to sanity. When they are pulled out of that place, they will be open to anything that makes them feel better. They know better than us, that sometimes you have to create your own joy-trip to get you feeling more like yourself again.
What I learned today from my son will forever change me.
We have to look for fun at every given moment of our lives, we have to find fun and if we cannot, we must create it. We must break the rules and bend the paradigms or cultural norms to formulate it any which way.
In his wise words:
“Laughing and giggling make you feel good. Anger and frustration just make you feel so bad. If you feel bad, then you need to try harder to laugh so it equals out.”
Out of the mouth of babes. The point where good and decent parenting meets the kind of wisdom that changes your world as an adult and sets up a child for coping with what comes his way.
Asha Gill is an international television presenter and the host of Soulvana. Having worked in the industry for 20 years, Asha has interviewed the likes of The Rolling Stones, Lenny Kravitz and Beyonce. Now she is bringing her personal wisdom to her tribe in Soulvana Circle, and her bi-weekly column on the MVA Blog. Discover more about Soulvana here