A Mantra Practice for Fall

A Mantra Practice for Fall

If you are anything like me my whole mood changes with change of season. I love my summers, the freedom, the sunshine and even though I work all year long there is something liberating about the summer months. My kids feel it too. As the days get shorter and the routine is more structured and often filled with deadlines and tests and homework and there is less time to move their bodies and less time for relaxation and lazy days.

My kids and I can often feel down and anxiety takes up more space. Even if you live in an area without extreme seasonal changes the back-to-school back-to-work grind blues can creep in. One way to cope with these feelings of sadness or stress is the use of mantras.

A mantra is really a sound vibration that helps to transcend the chatter of the mind. In meditation mantras are often sounds or sanskrit words that help reach a deeper level of “dropping in.” However mantras in everyday life can be an affirmation or intention we can repeat to ourselves whenever we need it to get unstuck in the negative stories our mind can tell us. When kids get caught up in a big emotion a mantra can bring them back to the present moment and help disconnect from overwhelming feelings. A mantra is a form of  positive self-talk and a reminder of of our truth that separates us from the often confusing stories our mind can tell us.

I use mantras with kids (and myself) to get them through those tough moments and also help them remember that they are amazing.  When using mantras with kids it is a fun idea and more meaningful to let them come up with their own although we can guide and suggest and certainly use ones we already know will be helpful.

How to Get Started:

Unfortunately we all have a tendency not to speak kindly to ourselves. I hear kids calling themselves bad names when they make a mistake or are struggling with something. We as adults do it too. And you can be sure if you ask a kid  if they would tell their friend the same unkind thing they would say “NO.” So why can’t we speak to ourselves with the same compassion as we would others? THAT is the conversation to have. Finding a moment, maybe at the dinner table or in the car to talk about self-talk and situations in which we might speak unkindly to ourselves and how to turn that around. Talk about specific scenarios and ask what your child would like to hear in those situations. This can give you good information not only about what worries or struggles your kids might be facing but also direction for creating mantras together and guiding some of their choices. Meeting your kids where they are will help to come up with mantras that have meaning. Communication is key.

Post It, Craft It, Practice It

Once you have an idea of what your kids want and need to hear turn it into a mantra project. Even for the teen who might feel “too cool for crafting” (although who is?) there are creative ways to manifest your mantra. I LOVE post-it notes for this kind of activity. Writing a phrase or word on a post-it and sticking it on a mirror, notebook, sandwich wrapper in a lunch box can be a great way for kids to see and practice saying and ultimately embodying their mantra. For a crafter, creating a mantra rock is lovely too. Using permanent marker and a rock write the mantra to carry in a pocket, backpack or place on a desk or alter. Rocks feel good in the hand and can be very grounding. Having a mantra on a rock can make it feel special and nicer to carry around. Initially, it can be helpful to take a minute or 2 with your child and practice repeating the mantra. They can say it outloud or in their heads in combination with a few deep belly breaths in and out through the nose. Combining positive self-talk and breath is calming to the nervous system and supportive of the psyche. It won’t take long until they do it all on their own.

What to Say

I do have a few favorite mantras that can come in handy and that kids can connect to. “I am grateful” is a beautiful one as it can be a reminder that there are many things to be thankful for even in a moment of stress. You can practice saying this phrase and then thinking of just one thing you are grateful for. Just one thing can remind a child that whatever they are experiencing is okay and hasn’t negated what is good in their lives. The mantra “I am calm” is lovely too. For tweens and teens (and adults)  “I am enough” is a great mantra for telling yourself that all that is you is good enough, smart enough, creative enough and that can be “enough” to get through moments of stress and self-doubt. It is helpful when practicing these mantras to talk about how they are helpful and what they mean. You can even combine them with a few yoga poses. In warrior pose saying “ I am brave” is a beautiful combination and helps kids feel strong in body and mind to face whatever is in their path.

Learning how to speak kindly to oneself is a tool that will help kids navigate big emotions and the stresses and sadness that often come with the loss of summer and onset of Fall and winter. Teaching your kids to use mantras helps them learn they can look within and rely on themselves for support. Creating and modeling the same practice for yourself as a parent will not only make your kids feel as though you “get it” but is also is part of your own self-care. So cover that mirror, wall, refrigerator, alter with mantras and repeat repeat repeat.

 

Susan Verde

Susan Verde is currently living in East Hampton, New York with her twin boys Joshua and Gabriel and her daughter Sophia where she writes children’s books and teaches kid’s yoga and mindfulness. Her children, her practice and the ocean at her doorstep keep her constantly connected and inspired. She is the award winning author of multiple picture books include The Water Princess and the best-selling I Am Yoga and its sequel I Am Peace, a book of mindfulness.