I really enjoy sharing this practice with kids and they really enjoy doing it. I’ve shared it with children in Deer Park Monastery, Plum Village and in retreats in different countries. You can read the text to the children, or once they have learned to do Deep Relaxation themselves and feel comfortable with it, you can invite several children to take turns reading it for the other children. The older children often enjoy this and can do it very well. Remind them to read slowly and to pause after each sentence. They may even enjoy singing lullabies to the group!
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Text for guiding Deep Relaxation
Deep Relaxation is a wonderful chance to allow our bodies to rest. When our body is at ease and relaxed, our mind will also be calm and at peace. The practice of Deep Relaxation is very important for our body and mind to heal. Please take the time to practice it often. You can practice deep relaxation any time of the day– for five or ten minutes when you wake up in the morning, or before going to bed in the evening, or during a short break in the middle of a busy day. The most important thing is to enjoy it.
- We begin by breathing in and breathing out. When we breathe in, we feel our tummy rise up. When we breathe out, we feel our tummy go down again. Our breathing comes in and out like waves on the ocean, very relaxed, very peaceful. For several breaths, just notice the rise and fall of your belly.
- As you breathe in and out, become aware of your whole body lying down. Feel all the areas of your body that are touching the floor; your heels, the backs of your legs, your bottom, your back, the back of your hands and arms, the back of your head. With each out-breath, feel yourself relax deeper and deeper into the floor, letting go of everything, letting go of worries, or fear, or thoughts and planning about the future.
- Breathing in, I feel my two hands. Breathing out, I completely relax all the muscles in my two hands. Breathing in, I feel lucky to have two good hands, breathing out, I smile to my two hands. My two hands are so precious! Because of my hands I can play in the sand, and build a sand castle. With my two hands, I can paint. I can draw. I can write. I can build and fix things, or pet an animal. I can ride a bicycle. I can climb a tree and throw a snowball. I can hold hands with my friend, tie my shoelaces. I can help make cookies, brush my hair, and much, much more.
Breathing in, I stretch my hands wide. Breathing out, I relax them. My hands are two very good friends, always ready to help me.
- Breathing in, I feel my two arms. Breathing out, allow my arms to completely relax. Breathing in, I feel happy to have two strong arms. Breathing out, I let go of any tight muscles and I feel joy and ease in all the cells of my arms. With my arms I can hug Mom, Dad, Grandma or Grandpa. I can hold them real tight! My arms let me play on a swing, go swimming, or throw a football. They help me do a cartwheel, take out the trash and carry a kitten. Now I have the chance to tell my arms ‘thank you!’ They do so much for me.
Breathing in, I stretch out my arms. Breathing out, I let my arms rest, completely relaxed. I smile to my two good friends.
- Breathing in, I feel my shoulders. Breathing out, I let my shoulders rest and give all their weight to the floor. Breathing in, I send my love to my shoulders and breathing out, I smile to my shoulders. I am thankful for their strength. Every time I breathe out, I feel them relax more and more deeply.
- Breathing in, I feel my two feet. Breathing out, I smile to my feet. I wriggle my toes, all five of them. How nice to have two feet! With my two feet, I can walk and run, play sports, dance, and ride a bike. My feet love to feel the warm sand when I walk on the beach. When it rains, my feet love to go splash! in a rain puddle. In the park or playground, my feet love to run and jump and skip. And when I am tired, my two feet love to rest. Thank you, feet!
Breathing in, I stretch my feet and toes. Breathing out, I relax my feet. I feel lucky to have my two feet.
- Breathing in, I feel my right and left legs. Breathing out, I enjoy my two legs. My two legs have been growing every day, since I was a tiny, little baby. They are still growing and changing right now. My growing legs help me stand up straight, each day a little taller. With my two legs, I can sit cross-legged, or do the splits. I can play soccer and walk on stilts. Climbing up and down the stairs, walking back and forth to school, I have already walked miles and miles just in my two legs! It feels so good to have my legs.
Breathing in, I stretch out my legs. Breathing out, I let my legs relax. My legs are a miracle and they are always there for me.
- Breathing in, I feel my two eyes. Breathing out, I smile to my eyes. Breathing in I let all the many muscles around my eyes relax. Breathing out I send my two eyes my love and care. My two eyes are a gift! With my eyes, I can see, I can see, I can see! I can see you and I can see me. I can see birds flying in the bright blue sky. I can see the yellow moon up above, so high. I can read, write and watch television. I can watch ants build and do long division. When I’m sad, I can cry and let the tears flow. My eyes let everything inside of me show.
Breathing in, I squeeze my eyes tight. Breathing out, I release them and let them relax. Thank you, eyes for letting me see, there is so much beauty to see around me.
- Breathing in, I feel my lungs grow bigger. When I breathe out, I feel them shrink. Breathing in, I feel so happy to have two good lungs. Breathing out, I smile to them with kindness. My lungs are so incredible. They help me breathe in and out, all day and night, even when I sleep. They bring oxygen into my body and give me the power to speak, to sing, to shout, to whisper, to giggle and grumble. When I was just born, the first thing I did was take a deep in breath. And ever since then, my lungs have been there for me, every minute of every day.
I breathe in the fresh air into my lungs and breathing out, let them rest and relax. Thank you lungs for helping me breathe!
- Breathing in, I know my heart is beating on the left side of my chest. Breathing out, I enjoy my heart and let it rest. With my in breath, I send my love to my heart. With my out breath, I smile to my heart. My heart keeps me alive and it is always there for me, every minute, every day. It never takes a break. My heart has been beating since I was just a four-week-old fetus in my mother’s womb. It is a marvelous organ that allows me to do everything I do throughout the day. Breathing in, I know that my heart also loves me. Breathing out, I promise to live in a way that will help my heart to be healthy and strong.
With each exhalation, I feel my heart relaxing more and more, and I feel each cell in my heart smiling with ease and joy.
- Breathing in, I feel my stomach. Breathing out, I let my stomach relax. As I breathe in, I enjoy my stomach, and as I breathe out, I smile to my stomach. I know my stomach works so hard for me. Each day it digests the food I eat and gives me energy and strength. Now I let it rest totally.
As I breathe in, I feel my stomach feeling happy and light. As I breathe out, I feel so thankful for my stomach, that is always there for me.
- Now, I bring my attention to a place in my body that may be sick or in pain. I take this time to become aware of it and send it my love. Breathing in, I allow this area to rest, and breathing out, I smile to it with kindness. I know that there are other parts of my body that are still strong and healthy. I let these strong parts of my body send their strength and energy to the weak or sick area. I feel the support, energy, and love of the healthy parts of my body penetrating the weak area, soothing and healing it.
As I breathe in, I know my body is a miracle because it can heal when it gets sick. As I breathe out, I let go of any worry or fear I might hold in my body. Breathing in and out, I smile with love and confidence to the area of my body that is not well.
- Breathing in, I feel my whole body lying down. Breathing out, I enjoy the feeling of my whole body lying down, very relaxed and calm. I smile to my whole body as I breathe in, and send my love and compassion to my whole body as I breathe out. I feel all the cells in my whole body smiling joyfully with me. I feel gratitude for all the cells in my whole body. I feel the gentle rising and falling of my belly.
If you like, you can now sing a few relaxing songs or lullabies, or play soft music for a few minutes.
Now the practice of Deep Relaxation is over. You can wriggle your hands and feet and slowly stretch. Then roll onto one side. When you are ready, you can open your eyes. Take your time to get up, calmly and lightly. Enjoy carrying the calm and mindful energy you have generated into the rest of the day.
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