Daily Family Rituals
Mindfulness is something that has taken on many forms throughout my life thus far. Putting it into action with my students before I became a mother opened up a whole world for me. And then, since becoming a mother, I have been able to explore it further and through a different lens. I first introduced my son Will to mindfulness exercise when he was 2 ½ and emotions were bigger than the both of us. And as he grows older (he is now 5 ½), I still bring us back to what we’ve done all along because these acts are sacred to us. They are grounding and special and help us shift to the present, even when the present is hard.
I remember a day this past March, soon after I gave birth to my second son and just as COVID was becoming the reality of everything. I brought my family together just before bedtime and said, “I’d like to start having family meditation.” And so, we sat together on the floor in Will’s bedroom. Just as I led daily mindfulness rituals with my young students, I led my family every night. And, every night since March, we have done this together. Some nights, my husband helps lead, and on many occasions Will wants to facilitate. He has become so inventive by creating breathing exercises like “transformer breath” and reflections like, “What’s your favorite piece of this artwork?” Our nightly family rituals give us a few minutes to breathe, move, sit, and reflect. Here’s a snapshot of what our mindfulness practice might look like one evening:
BREATHE: Pinwheel breath
Hold a pinwheel in your hand. As you breathe in, imagine you are taking in all of the colors at once. As you breathe out, watch the colors spin. Notice which color appears on the top once the pinwheel stops spinning. Think of something that color and share with your family, if you’d like. For instance, “Yellow makes me think of lemons!”
MOVE: Reach for the sky / Touch the ground
Stand up tall, with your feet apart. Hold your arms by your side with your palms facing up (Mountain Pose). Lift your arms up, stretching your fingers as high as they will go. Pause. Slowly bring your arms down towards your feet, spreading your fingers to your toes. Pause. Repeat two more times.
SIT: Colors All Around, from the Rose & Rex Calm Mind Kit
Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight and your body relaxed. Rest your hands gently on your knees and close your eyes.
Imagine your favorite color filling the air all around you. Is it blue like the ocean, yellow like the sun, or any other color?
Breath in slowly. Imagine your favorite color flowing into your body through your nose and mouth. Imagine the color as it fills your chest, where your heart is. Now imagine the color filing your tummy.
You might even imagine the color filling your arms and legs. It can fill each of your toes and fingers, too! Breath out fully and let your color go back into the world.
How does it feel to be filled with and surrounded by your favorite color?
REFLECT: What is something that brought you joy today?
Find your peaceful pose, sitting with your legs tucked, your body upright, and your hands placed gently in your lap. Close or cover your eyes or do whatever makes you feel the most comfortable. Take a deep breath in. Take a big breath out. Think about something that made you feel happy today. Was it a person who did an act of kindness? Was it something you had for lunch? Was it a place that you visited? It can be anything! When you're ready, place your hands on your heart which will signal you are ready to share. Take turns sharing and listening to one another.
Breathe. Move. Sit. Reflect. I strive to incorporate these four elements of mindfulness throughout the day, whether we’re gathering for a meal (gratitude practice) or on the go (observing with our senses). Depending on the time of day and what is happening around us, we might modify our plan. Every family has different needs, preferences, dynamics, comfort levels, work schedules etc. It’s important to create the family ritual blueprint that works best for your family.
This work is ever-evolving and will grow and change over time. My family’s evening ritual is intentional time for us to be together, no matter what is going on. It makes me feel proud to hear Will announce that it's time for us to join together, share his ideas for which breathing exercises we should practice, or suggest a daily reflection. I can see him consciously tapping into this database of tools and when he’s out of the house, he can utilize and share these tools with others. Personally, I feel committed to sharing my passion for family rituals with others because I know the kind of impact they can hold. This time can create calm individually while strengthening love and connection amongst family.
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