Meditation Audios from the Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids Workbook
Thousands of research studies have shown that meditation -- which is a form of “brain training” -- can rewire your brain, reducing anxiety and depression and improving resilience, including the brain’s ability to return to calm.
Mindfulness-based attention, including body scans and focusing on the breath, also develops the prefrontal cortex, which is the executive center of the brain that helps you self-regulate. LovingKindness meditation develops compassion, changes behavior in relationships, and increases well-being. Just eight weeks of dedicated mindfulness meditation can even measurably shrink the size of the amygdala -- the alarm system that tends to get over-active in modern life. And from personal experience, I can say that Body Scans are one of the best ways to clear out the emotional backpack.
So I encourage you to begin even a short regular daily meditation or mindfulness practice. One easy way to get started is guided meditation.
I've recorded the following meditations for you, which are mentioned in the Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids Workbook but can stand alone. For help with listening to these meditations with or without an internet connection, please read our Audio FAQs.
The Body Scan
We know that if we allow ourselves to feel our emotions, they begin to dissipate. And we know that emotions are stored in our bodies. That’s why body scans are a wonderful way to clear emotions and keep your emotional backpack light. Because you have to concentrate as you move through your body to stay with each new experience, body scans also strengthen concentration. (Mentioned on page 72)
Peaceful Parent Happy Kids Workbook - The Body Scan
I recommend that you try this guided meditation, even if you don’t have anything in particular to grieve except the small losses of daily life.
As with all deep emotions, we heal grief by bringing our conscious attention to the feeling and holding ourselves with compassion while we experience it. One way to do this is through guided meditation. I first learned a version of this meditation for healing grief from mindfulness teacher Stephen Levine when I had the good fortune to attend one of his workshops 30 years ago. I’ve taken the liberty of adapting it here. (Mentioned on page 57)
Peaceful Parent Happy Kids Workbook - Healing Grief
(9 minute meditation; 3-minute introduction)
There are two versions of this exercise. The first time you listen, please listen to the slightly longer version, which starts with a three minute introduction. You'll find that you benefit from repeated listening, so I've also provided a version without the introduction for subsequent listening.
Healing Shame (with intro) - First time listening
Peaceful Parent Happy Kids Workbook - The Antidote To Shame Is Love with Intro
Healing Shame - subsequent listening (no intro)
Peaceful Parent Happy Kids Workbook - The Antidote To Shame Is Love
Every time you do this exercise, you will either experience love, which transforms you, or (and this is just as valuable) you will experience “not love” or the feeling that you’re not lovable. That’s shame. As you allow those feelings and hold yourself with compassion while you breathe through them, they begin to evaporate.
In this exercise, as well as others in this book, I suggest putting your hand on your heart and breathing into your heart. This technique, known as “heart-focused breathing,” has been shown by researchers to have a calming effect on the nervous system. It also shifts your brain away from our usual intense focus on incoming perceptions and into the open neural circuitry that allows you to unlearn old, automatic responses and relearn new, healthier responses. You might think of it as activating your heart perceptions so you can see beyond the fears and judgments of the mind. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
In this meditation, we invoke both love and compassion. You might think of love as the ultimate connection of warmth, affection, and opening. You might think of compassion as the willingness to be present with suffering. (Mentioned on page 54 of the Workbook.)
There's an entire body of research now on the positive effects of meditation. I've provided these links as sources for the assertions in the article above. The book Buddha's Brain by Rick Hanson is a great place to begin if you'd like to read more. a good place to begin.
[i] Hanson, R. (2009). Buddha’s brain. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.
[ii]Walton, A. G. (2015, February 9). 7 ways meditation can actually change the brain. Forbes. Retrieved October 6, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/02/09/7-ways-meditation-can-actually-change-the-brain/#62dbbbc41465
[iii]Lutz, A, Brefczynski-Lewis, J., Johnstone, T., Davidson, R.J. (2008) Regulation of the Neural Circuitry of Emotion by Compassion Meditation: Effects of Meditative Expertise. PLOS One,3(3): e1897. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0001897.
[iv] Taren, A. A., Creswell, J. D., & Gianaros, P. J. (2013). Dispositional mindfulness co-varies with smaller amygdala and caudate volumes in community adults. PLOS One, 8(5), e64574. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0064574