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Parents & Families
There are a number of simple body-mind-spirit exercises from different cultures that Capacitar trainers have found to be effective for use in the family. Parents can use these exercises at home with their children to encourage communication and mutual caring. Energy exercises, such as acupressure or deep breathing, promote balance and harmony in the body and the mind so that children are better able to focus and learn. These exercises promote balance between left and right sides-creative and rational capacities-of the brain. Some stretches or body movements also help children and parents to release pent up emotions, frustration, stress or pain, and open up the healing flow of energy in their bodies.
Capacitar Energy Exercises
There are many books now available on body-mind-spirit modalities that can serve as resources. The following are several simple and basic exercises that can be used individually or together as a family.
Deep Abdominal Breathing to Balance and Renew the Body
Place your hands gently on your abdomen to direct your attention and focus. Exhale fully, releasing all of the air from the lungs, imagining that with the exhalation you are able to release all of the tension, pain, frustration and negativity stored in the body.
Slowly breathe in deeply, as if to fill your entire abdomen with air. Hold the breath for several moments and imagine the air filling all the cells of your body with light cleansing, nourishing and renewing your body.
Then breathe out slowly and completely, hold the exhalation for several moments before taking the next deep inhalation.
Continue this deep abdominal breathing for several minutes. If your mind starts to chatter, gently bring your attention back to focus on your breathing, following the air in and out of your body. With your healing breath stay peacefully present in the moment, appreciating the partnership you have with your body.
Acupressure to Balance Left and Right Sides of the Brain
Breathe deeply for several moments. Then place the fingers of both hands on points at the base of the skull on either side of your head. These points are located behind and below the ears in the grooves where the skull connects to the neck. Hold these points for several minutes while breathing deeply. You can imagine energy flowing fully and freely through these points bringing peace and relaxation to your mind. Press into the points with your fingers and then lighten the touch until the level of pressure feels comfortable. These points are usually very sensitive. Often you will feel a pulsing sensation as the flow of energy becomes strong and balanced. Usually a minute of contact is enough time for children, while adults will need two or three minutes. When your body feels ready, breathe out and release the points feeling the balance and well-being of your body-mind-spirit.
These are powerful acupressure points which balance left and right sides, the creative and the rational capacities of the brain. They also help you to focus . These are excellent points to teach children to be used before starting to study or before taking an examination. These points can also be used to alleviate headaches or neck tension, since pain often is the result of blocked energy. These points can be held on another person to help heal headaches, nervousness, worry or anxiety.
Visualization - To Develop Awareness and Partnership with the Body
In the hectic pace of our lives we often feel disconnected and unrelated to our bodies. We are not even aware of the pain and tension that we carry, when we live only in our heads cut off from feelings and intuition. This visualization and body scan is a good way to check in regularly on what is happening in the body-mind-spirit, and to develop an intuitive awareness and partnership with the body. This exercise can be done while lying in bed before starting the day, or before going to sleep at night. It can also be done in a few moments during the day to get in touch with what is happening and with what you are feeling in your body.
Start breathing abdominally for a few moments, letting go and bringing your attention to the present moment. Now imagine that you are able to go on a journey visiting all parts of your body, checking in on what is happening in each part and on how you feel.
Bring your attention first to your toes, move them a bit, and just get acquainted with them, appreciating what they do for you. Without judgment, observe any feelings, pain, discomfort you may have with your toes or feet and then let that go. Move your awareness up your ankles and legs, checking in on feelings, pain, pleasure, discomfort, observing without judgment.
Continue the same process with the rest of your body, moving into your pelvis, through your abdomen and chest, checking in on your heart and emotions, then down your shoulders and arms and out your fingers, up your neck, into your face, head and brain, and finally to the top of your head, and out and above your head.
You can also continue your journey through the energy field around you, noting your energy level and how you feel in your environment. As you continue this body scan, images or feelings may come to you. Observe these images and feelings without judgment.
The purpose of this exercise is for increasing awareness and for developing your capacity for intuiting what is happening within you and around you. Continue breathing deeply for a few minutes, fully aware and present in the moment.
The Daily hug - Appreciating and being grateful for your body-mind-spirit
We all hunger for love and appreciation and look for affirmation from parents, friends or those around us. Often children have negative self-images because they are frequently told what is wrong with them in school or at home, and are rarely affirmed or supported. We literally embody the images and messages that we get consciously or unconsciously from significant people or authority figures in our lives. Part of the process of individuation and growth involves coming into partnership with ourselves by developing a healthy sense of self love and self acceptance. We also must learn how to realistically recognize and work with the projections of others, listening to what is helpful and fits, and letting go of what does not ring true with our deepest nature.
The daily hug is a good way to develop a healthy sense of our own being recognizing the gift of our life, our history, our potential and forgiving our shortcomings. It is a wonderful way just to give thanks for being who we are!
At first there may be some discomfort in doing this exercise, because we rarely think about loving and giving affection to ourselves. Often we have been raised with a strong message that we are being selfish if we take care of ourselves or admire ourselves. So if negative messages arise, just recognize them, let them go and enjoy the exercise.
Cross your arms and place your hands on your shoulders or upper arms. Give yourself a big loving squeeze, as if you were holding a child with great love and joyful appreciation. If tears or deep emotion come up for you, let the tears flow, just observing any images and letting them go. Continue hugging yourself, thanking yourself for all you do and for all you are. Do this for several moments and when you feel ready breathe deeply and let go.
You can do this as often as you want during the day. This exercise can also be done standing in front of a mirror, looking into your eyes, seeing deeply into your heart and spirit.
Releasing Emotions through Your Fingers
One of the favorite practices I have taught parents is how to work with emotions by holding the fingers. Often problems develop at home or in school when children or family members are unable to handle or release emotions in a healthy way. Tantrums, blow ups and even domestic violence result when emotions are discharged without respect for those around us. Emotions are like waves of energy moving through the body. If the energy builds up without a gradual release, like a volcano there can be a great explosion. Or if the emotion is denied or the person is cut off from their feelings, the emotions are stored in the body. Over times this can lead to pain, ulcers, and other chronic disorders, as our body absorbs and holds the negativity, frustration and memories of strong emotions which have never been addressed. It is important to recognize emotions when they arise, and then to choose the appropriate way to work with and release the wave of energy, rather than storing it in the body.
This exercise is based on modalities related to Polarity Therapy. Finger exercises are also found in the Indonesian culture. The theory is that through each finger flows a meridian or channel of energy which is connected with different organs and also associated with a corresponding emotion.
Gently wrap your fingers around the finger related to the emotion you wish to release. Often after several moments you can feel the energy moving through the finger, like a pulse balancing itself. Hold the finger until you feel relaxed and peaceful. You can hold the fingers of either hand, or hold several fingers at one time.
- The Thumb - to release grief and tears.
- Index Finger - to release fear.
- Middle Finger - to release anger.
- Ring Finger - to release worry, nervousness and anxiety.
- Small Finger - to release low self-esteem and feelings of victimhood.
Children love to hold their fingers and find the practice very effective for managing their emotions. One inner-city mom commented at a workshop that her angry kids were always giving everyone the finger. Now she had something to help them. She was going to teach them how to hold their middle finger, instead of giving it!
Work with Small Children
Many practices can be easily adapted for use with small children. Tai Chi can be taught with playful animal names such as flying like a bird or swimming like a fish. Children love Pal Dan Gum and this can help them release feelings of anger and frustration. Instead of punishing a child with a tantrum, teach them how to hold their middle finger. With creativity and imagination children can be included in the choice and planning of the workshop. A child's attention span is short so respect for their needs is important.
Work with Adolescents
Young people really enjoy the more active exercises and practices like Pal Dan Gum. Be sensitive to the issue of their developing sexuality. The bodywork can be a great way to educate youth to healthy non-sexual touch. Drum massage is a fun way to work with touch using humor and energizing moves. Foot massage and some of the Polarity foot moves are also good ones to use with adolescents. One group of teens really got into the visualization. Knowing how to claim a safe space in their center can be a very helpful tool.