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Medication or Meditation

SHELBURNE – Children will tell you that school release is forever ago after recess or lunch. Many are itching to move. The kids arrived at Wonder & Wisdom after school with a lot of pent-up energy. We started with vigorous exercise or an energetic game before beginning the planned program. Then we found a way to settle in to relative stillness to bring everyone’s attention to the day’s project.

The kids were familiar with raising their hands at school to terminate talk. When everyone was quiet, it worked wonderfully to strike a meditation bowl and to listen together to the tone. The children took turns sounding the chime. Everyone listened until they no longer heard the sound. Then they raised their hands again. When all hands were in the air, we were ready to focus on the playful work at hand.

Creative Kids Yoga was one of the children’s favorite activities. Rosemary Todd Clough, Founder of Moving Spirit, LLC., introduced us to this fun practice. The children learned to sit cross legged with their palms resting upward and open on their knees to listen to music between yoga poses and creative dance. We invited them to close their eyes if it felt comfortable. They liked “time ins” better than “time outs.” It is a non-treacherous transition. We explained that some people use this posture to meditate. The teachers at school occasionally adopted the practice. Some of the kids learned to do it on their own to self-regulate their attention.

One child was doing just that at school when a substitute teacher entered the room. She asked him with concern, “What are you DOING?” The child calmly replied, “I’m medicating.” Meditation is indeed good medicine—with no negative side-effects. Practice prepares us for mindful moments on the fly.

Living independently in a Continuing Life Care Community of four hundred residents and over one hundred employees, I have many moments on the fly. With a deep breath, I find myself quickly and quietly remembering my young friend at Wonder & Wisdom as I navigate elderhood in community. As Judy Sorum Brown so beautifully says in her poem, “Fire,”

“What makes a fire burn

is space between the logs,

a breathing space.”

Extensive research in neuroscience demonstrates that when we pause ever-so-briefly before responding to a stimulus, we give ourselves a chance to move a thought from the fight-or-flight, rudimentary, reptilian brain to the prefrontal cortex where we have far more alternatives for loving responses. This allows us to listen from our hearts for Grace. It’s a meditation—good medication.

Trish Passmore Alley holds an MBA in Organizational Development and Behavior. A published author and poet, her career has included teaching at the collegiate level, owning several small businesses in manufacturing, engineering, and retail, and founding and operating three social profits in Greensboro, A published author and poet, she posts brief, monthly blogs at gracefulmischief.com/. She now lives in Shelburne.

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