We have weeks at a time where the kids will go to sleep at bedtime, no problem at all.
Followed by weeks where they come out of their rooms at least five times each and just can't get to sleep.
We're in one of 'those' phases right now.
So last night when my 5 year old boy came out for the 6th time and said he really, really couldn't get to sleep, I took him back to his room, sat with him for a little while, and suddenly remembered something I used to do with my classes when I was teaching lower primary.
It was a form of guided meditation for relaxation where I would take them on a journey to their 'special place'. I did this to calm them down if they were hyped up, and to help them learn self control and inner awareness.
It went something like this...
I would get the class to lie on their backs on the floor with their eyes closed and listen as I said:
Imagine you are lying on a soft, fluffy cloud.
The cloud is all around you, it is comfy, cosy and warm.
As you breathe in, the cloud lifts a little off the floor.
Every time you breathe in it goes a little higher.
Breathe in...your cloud goes higher...breathe in....higher....until you're high above the Earth, safe and protected by your soft, fluffy cloud.
Your cloud is taking you on a journey.
It moves slowly at first, then gets a little faster, and a little faster, until it's zooming through space and time.
It has brought you to your special place.
A place just for you.
It has all the things you love.
The things you love to see.
The things you love to smell.
The things you love to hear.
The things you love to do.
The people you love.
The toys you love.
The games you love.
Your favourite colours are everywhere.
Without moving, just in your imagination, hop out of your cloud and have a look around your special place. See how many things you can find. This place makes you feel happy and safe and peaceful. Spend some time in your special place.
And I would wait a few minutes and let them imagine.
After we visited a few times, I suggested they give their special place a name if they wanted, or they could just call it their special place.
And later I introduced them to the worry tree that turned up in the middle of their special place.
The worry tree was a very big, beautiful old tree that had a hole in the trunk.
They could walk up to it and whisper to the tree anything they were worried about.
The tree would take their worries away and then give them a big cuddle with it's branches.
Later still (because I worked in Catholic schools) I would introduce God and Jesus into their special places.
I told them God or Jesus had something very special to tell them, they had to listen very carefully to see what they said.
When they came out of their special places they could write or tell someone what God or Jesus told them, if they wanted to.
Some of the things they said were the most beautiful experiences of my teaching days.
So, anyway, where was I?
Oh yes, my boy couldn't sleep last night and I suddenly remembered the special place.
So I explained it to him without the guided meditation (one day I'll do that bit, when I'm not so tired) and I was quite amazed with how his special place turned out. It was a very cool place! So completely different from mine.
Yes, I do have a special place, too!
As I guided the kids through it I couldn't help but imagine my own.
It's a very pretty, very girlie place. And surprisingly it's outdoors. I am such an indoor girl but my special place is an endless series of gardens, with soft light and dappled shade. There is water everywhere, waterfalls, glassy lakes, trickling streams, babbling brooks, sandy beaches, but I never swim. There are sweetly scented flowers everywhere, mostly in shades of pink, purple and blue. And there are swings, chair swings, tyre swings, swings from trees. There are cushions, picnics blankets and day beds so I can read or just lie there. And there are sparkly crystals everywhere, in the pebble paths, in the flowers, everything glistens and sparkles (told you it was girlie!) There's more...but you get the idea.
I didn't tell my boy anything about mine until after he'd imagined his special place because I didn't want my ideas restricting his.
At first he asked me what he would like to see because he couldn't think of something so I suggested cars or computer games and what he came up with was...
I'm going to tell you all about it in my next post!