“Mom I can’t sleep. Will you take me on a journey?” he says to me. I can see he is wired tonight. He fidgets and doesn’t even want the dog to lay next to him. “Sure. We haven’t needed to do one in a while. Is there something bothering you?” I ask not able to recall anything happening that might have caused his anxiousness today. “I just can’t quiet my head mom. I have all these thoughts and chatter going on. I can’t explain. Can we just go to the beach.” I can see talking about it is making him even more upset so I stop and sit down and start to take my boy on his journey, a guided imagery exercise we used to do all the time to calm his spirit, relax his body and quiet his mind.
I tell him to lean back on his pillows and to shut his eyes. “Take a deep breath, good, now let it out. And another. Good.” I slowly start to stroke his legs as if I was ringing out a wet towel. With every movement I can feel my boy relax a little bit more. In a calm soft voice that is almost a whisper I start.
“Image you are walking down a long narrow wooden stairway which leads towards an inviting quiet beach. You have no shoes on so you can feel the rough surface of the steps. You don’t mind because you know at the end of the stairs a white sandy beach awaits you. You can see the ocean in the distance. It is a deep shade of blue with white crests of the waves that crash gently onto the shore. It is a beautiful day. The warmth of the bright sun beating down on your shoulders and back feels good. You can smell the salt of the ocean in the air.”
Take a deep breath in. Can you smell the air? Let it out and along with the the breath feel your stress and tension leaving your body too.
“There is a crisp soft breeze that gently pushes you along, closer to the shore. You are finally at the end of the stairs. You step down and allow the soft sand to squish between your toes. The sand feels scratchy but it tickles too. You keep walking until you reach the water’s edge. You watch the waves gliding towards you and eventually encircle your feet. The water is cool and refreshing. Again and again gentle waves approach you and drench your feet and ankles, then slowly float back into the ocean. With each wave you relax more and more.”
Take a deep breath and let it out.
“After a few minutes you start walking on the shore, your feet still in the water. As you walk down the beach you take in every sight, sound and sensation. You hear the cooing of the seagulls overhead who are searching for their next snack. You see the white fluffy clouds in the picture perfect blue sky. You feel the warmth of the sun above and the softness of the sand below. You feel relaxed, calm.”
Breath in, and let it out.
“As you continue your walk you notice a bright green beach chair resting quietly underneath a palm tree. You approach the chair and sit down, then lie back and settle in. You take a deep breath in and slowly let it out. You are calm, relaxed at ease. You stay there in your quiet calm chair and allow yourself to rest for awhile. Always remembering to breath and let it out. Feeling the warm sun shinning down on your face, the gentle breeze and the sound of the waves in the background.”
I sit there quiet for a few minutes on the edge of his bed. Then slowly I rise to go. As I reach the door, he stops me.
“Thank you mom. You truly are the best mom in the world.” Then he rolls over and drifts off to sleep.
And as I leave his room I catch myself smiling. I realize that I too am now relaxed and peaceful. I also now have a very strong urge for a Pina Colada and to listen to Jimmy Buffet!
This post was originally submitted for S.O.S Best of the Best, Edition 10: Calming Techniques for Stress and the Special Needs Child.