This exercise is similar to something I’ve always done, but its specific tweak is courtesy of the amazing book ‘Yoga for Children: 200+ Yoga Poses, Breathing Exercises, and Meditations for Healthier, Happier, More Resilient Children’ by Lisa Flynn. I always use one of my texts for inspiration in my seasonal classes, on rotation based on what I gravitate towards and speaks to what other activities I’m working on. This summer, this book is it.
Both my kids occasionally will complain that they cannot fall asleep because they can’t stop thinking. Boy, I’ve been there! When I read this exercise a few weeks ago it’s specific language seemed to call out to use on my kids. My eight year old and I did this today and she gravitated right toward it: “Keep trying until you can see the light easily, slow down.” “I got it, it’s really clear,” she says. Yes!
Here’s my spin on the exercise, for all ages:
Imagine your head is a light bulb (compact flourescent? oil lamp?). When you are excited, trying to solve a problem, anxious, or any time you are thinking and using your brain more, our brain lights up really bright. When we are sleepy, calm, quietly centered, or relaxed, there is less light in our head. Look at how bright your light bulb is right now, without changing anything – and on a scale of 0 to 10 (0 being pitch-dark asleep and 10 being a national spelling bee) decide how bright your light is. Play around with turning your light up to a 10 and back down to a 1, maybe it’s on a dimmer switch, (don’t go to sleep, please!) and back up again.
Think of something that you use your brain for a lot… school/work? Imagine being in school/work and see what number on the scale the light is. What color is the light? White light equals clearer thinking, happy. Pee-colored light, or a light bulb that is half on gives us cloudy, grumpy thinking. See if you can get your brain bulb to be at an 8 full of white light. Fill your full brain with white light. Now think of when you’re lying in bed, warm and cozy, and let your light drop down, gently, to a dim 2.
When ever you are in a situation where you need some brain power, imagine it at the most useful number (without taxing you) and a brilliant white. When ever you need your brain to slow down, watch it go from white to dim to black – again at the most useful number. Start by identifying how bright your light is on the 0-10 scale, then play with turning it up and down (and white). Then try setting it where you want it. Breathe easily through the whole exercise. See if that helps! Good luck little lights!