An Oldie But Goodie: One Child’s Pose. Two Minutes. Seven Days of Benefits.

Dorothy JaneThis is a photo of my grandmother, Dorothy Jane, who passed over to the other side last night. She was 93-11/12 (her birthday is tomorrow). I loved her very much even though she often drove me nuts. =) In the end, she went quickly, in her sleep, with her family all around her. It’s a blessing, and quite an emotional roller coaster!

I’ve taken a lot of comfort from this post by someone I respect quite a lot, Danielle Laporte, Remember, you said Yes to this. My Mom and I said yes when we opted to move my grandmother out of Florida (which she loved, but where we couldn’t reach her without a day’s travel and where she was requiring more and more care by people who weren’t family) and up to Rhode Island, so that we could love her up before she moved on. We said yes to having regular lunches with her and taking her to doctor’s appointments. We said yes to creating the opportunity for her to spend regular time with her great grandchildren. And we said yes to being with her as she took her last breaths.

And now, I’m saying yes to sending out a post from the archives this week so I can go have lunch with my mom and uncle and do some laughing through tears as we make arrangements for the next steps.

This oldie-but-goodie is one of my faves. It’s about how two minutes can reap benefits that last for days, months, even an eternity. The one child’s pose I discussed here still helps me relate to my daughter when she doesn’t want to go to sleep, and it still helps me spread the word that tiny efforts matter. A lot. May it inspire you to take a few minutes to yourself during these busy holiday days!

One Child’s Pose. Two Minutes. Seven Days (and Counting) of Benefits.

December 14, 2011

child's poseOne comment I hear a lot is, I don’t have time to do any sort of mind-body practice.

I get that, I really do. Most yoga classes are 90 minutes long. Your standard meditation guidelines say to aim for 30 minutes of meditation. These are longer chunks of time than most people have just lying around. Multiply those chunks by 2 or 3 or 4 (the number of times per week you’d ideally go to yoga class or pull out your meditation cushion), the numbers get even more daunting.

And yet, my response to this comment is, Oh yes you do.

It is my repeated experience that you can reap major benefits – less muscular tension, more mental clarity, bursts of compassion, flashes of insight – in only a couple of minutes of simple, focused practice. (By practice I mean any exercise that bridges the gap between mind and body.)

I know this is true because, as a working mom, two minutes is often all I truly have at my disposal. And let me tell you, I get a massive boost from those two minutes every time. Here’s a recent example:

One night last week my three-almost-four-year-old, Lil, was extra tired. Lil is the perfect example of the adage that says the more tired kids are, the less they want to sleep. It was bedtime, and even though the circles under her eyes were just south of beet red, she was stalling. Asking for snack after snack. Putting her jammies on backwards. Saying she needed to pee-pee 10 minutes after going to the bathroom.

I was kneeling on the floor of her room – so that I could be at her eye-level – attempting to micro-manage her every move so she would be dressed and in bed as soon as possible. Except, of course, my efforts were backfiring. I was just feeding her desire for something – anything – to do or talk about or cry over in order to make bedtime last a little longer.

When she went back in to her closet (yet again) to select the perfect jammie outfit, I flopped forward over my knees and brought my forehead to the floor. I wasn’t even thinking, “I’ll do a yoga pose and cool out for a minute.” I was thinking, “I am so frustrated I want to bang my head on the floor,” a la Don Music, that Muppet who bangs his head on the keyboard.

That’s when the magic happened. Once I got in to that position, I realized I was in a modified child’s pose. I could immediately feel my back muscles release. I widened my knees and nestled my torso down in to between my thighs, and extended my arms out alongside my ears. Suddenly, instead of thinking “UGH,” I was feeling “Ahhhhh.” I stayed there for probably two minutes—breathing so I could feel my back inflate with each inhale, and gradually walking my fingertips further away from my head so my spine got longer and longer. When I sat back up, Lil was dressed and I was in a completely different space.

I looked at her and realized her ultimate goal wasn’t to drive me nuts and keep me from enjoying some Kate time. She merely wanted attention and was going to use any means necessary to get it. I shifted out of my head and in to my heart, and our entire dynamic changed. I gave her a hug and offered to give her a boost in to bed by cupping my fingers and telling her to use my hands as a step. She was thrilled to try something new and happily scampered in to bed. We read our books and she turned off the light without me having to ask her multiple times. Then she fell asleep in minutes and stayed asleep for 11 hours—the first time that had happened in weeks.

The pixie dust that one child’s pose created has now lasted a full week. Every bedtime since has been easy, even fun. And all it took was two minutes. Two minutes and a decision to do nothing but experience what was happening in my body.

Never underestimate the power of your intention and your attention to completely shift your thinking, physical wellbeing, mood, and even your relationships.

Do you have a story of how something you did for a tiny amount of time had major benefits? Please leave a comment!

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4 thoughts on “An Oldie But Goodie: One Child’s Pose. Two Minutes. Seven Days of Benefits.

  1. Thank you, thank you for this reminder. I forget the power of 2 minutes or 10 breaths so easily. I’m going to do a child’s pose right now! It’s been a tough morning with the toddler.

    Another practice I like is to put my hand over my heart and extend kindness toward myself for a few breaths. It can turn me around so fast, and I can do it in the car too. My meditation teacher reminded me of it last week, and it’s come to my rescue (quickly) several times since. I was thinking that I needed to just stop judging and be more open to the suffering in my life, but it turns out that focusing on opening myself first to kindness has been more helpful, compassionate, and active, while achieving the same end goal of nonjudgment and acceptance.

    I’m sorry to hear of your grandmother’s dying but glad that you can be present with your family during this time. Blessings to you all.

    1. Hi Allison. Thank you so much for your well wishes and apologies for my late response. I LOVE the tip to place a hand on your heart and send kindness to yourself!!! Yes yes yes. Brilliant. xoxo

  2. Great post! This really resonated with me. I am a first time mum to our 8 week old baby boy, and it has been so tough over the past weeks to remember how important just a minute or two of quiet downtime is to your mental, and physical, health. When I am shattered in the early morning after a tough night of baby soothing and nursing, I always reap the benefits if I force myself to take a quick, warm shower, even if bubba is grizzling. Just a few minutes of concentrated breathing and relaxing under the flow of warm water is enough to reset my mood and energy levels….and even better, I am rewarded by a beaming baby smile when I get out and return to mummy duties, which in turn kicks the whole day off in the best way! Child’s pose is a great idea and one I will try next time I need some time out! Thanks again for a great blog.

  3. Congratulations Angela! Both on your baby and your transition to motherhood, as well as your grasp of the importance of taking care of you. 🙂 Happy to have to written something that speaks to you! xoxo

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