Teaching Self Control

Well, it’s Tuesday again, the kids are back at school and we’re on the homestretch to the end of the year.  If you have an anxious or stressed VCE student at home please, please, please bring them in for a session with one of our Practitioners.  Whether it’s for a Kinesiology session to clear their anxiety, a Hypnosis session to enhance their memory and concentration or a massage to relax them, reducing stress at this time of the year can make a big difference.

I remember when I did Year 12, many years ago, I attended a weekly Yoga Class. It seriously got me through the year.  It was fabulous.  Yoga was the first time in my life that I’d ever been taught how to relax.  I just loved that 10 minutes at the end of the class when we were guided into a deeply relaxed state.  It was bliss. I guess that was the start of my interest in a natural approach to health and well-being. A few years later I learned to meditate and I was hooked.

Since then I’ve taught thousands of people how to relax and time and time again I’ve been amazed by the way it changes lives.  With stress as the leading cause of up to 80% of all disease it seems like teaching relaxation techniques should begin in Primary School.  Don’t you think it would be a good idea to redirect some of the millions of dollars spent on health care and medical research to teaching children some simple strategies to stay calm and centred?

I was intrigued to read an article recently about schools in the US where disruptive students who would normally be given detention are sent to a Mindful Moment Room to meditate instead of the usual punishment.

“The room looks nothing like your standard windowless detention room. Instead, it’s filled with lamps, decorations, and plush purple pillows. Misbehaving kids are encouraged to sit in the room and go through practices like breathing or meditation, helping them calm down and re-centre. They are also asked to talk through what happened.”

The results were really positive with the schools reporting fewer suspensions, better attendance and happier kids. When they’re taught how, even very young children can learn to sit still, be quiet, pay attention to their breathing and relax their body. You can teach a 3 year old to say goodnight to each part of their body and turn it to jelly.

I remember speaking to a Grade 3 teacher a while ago and she was using meditation in her classroom. She said that at the beginning of the year the children could barely sit quietly for 30 seconds. By the end of the year they could all sit in stillness and silence for a good 20 minutes and they all loved it.

Learning this skill actually gives children the ability to control themselves. They develop the art of turning their attention within and taking responsibility for their own emotional state.  David Schnarch, the author of Passionate Marriage calls it “holding onto your sense of self.”  I read his book many years ago and one of the things that stood out for me was this concept of sense of self.

David described watching his young daughter standing at the end of a diving board. He watched as she struggled with her fear of taking the dive.  He had a disturbing sense that she was on her own and there wasn’t a thing he could do in that moment to help her. He could only watch while she battled with her own inner conflict, thoughts and emotions.  He observed as she composed herself, found her “sense of self” and took the dive.

I thought it was a beautiful illustration of the art of self-mastery.  You might even call it emotional intelligence.  And what a wonderful skill to have and to teach our children? Have you ever seen the Marshmallow Experiment? Its a study that’s been repeated many times offering children a Marshmallow, telling them if they don’t eat it they can have another one in 15 minutes. Its priceless to watch these kids. The long term results showed that the children with self control were more successful in life.

With anxiety reaching epidemic proportions among teenagers I wonder how many lives could be transformed if we just taught our children how to hold onto their sense of self. How to settle themselves and choose calmness when they are under stress or when the world seems chaotic.

To teach children how to settle themselves, however, we need to have mastered the art ourselves which reminds me of a story Wayne Dyer told of driving his children to school. Despite having a self-help guru as a dad his kids would yell and fight in the back seat.  He decided that instead of yelling back he could “choose peace in any moment.”  He kept an audio cassette of Amazing Grace in his car and when the kids were on the verge of driving him crazy he chose peace. He turned the music on and turned up the volume.  He transformed his internal state and held onto his sense of self.

Of course once you’re aware of this you can’t blame others when you lose your temper. You can never again say, “He/she made me do it”, or “I couldn’t help it, I just saw red”.   You can’t say “You kids drive me crazy that’s why I yell.” When you take responsibility for your internal state you also take responsibility for your actions and your words. You’re then in a position to teach your children to do the same.

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Have a great week,

Warm Regards,
Alison Burton
Health and Happiness Guru

Simply Natural Therapies
41 Tunstall Square
East Doncaster
VIC 3109