STEP 2: HELP RECRUIT 5–10 LICENSED ZUMBA® INSTRUCTORS TO JOIN YOUR HOSPITAL TEAM (KIDS/GOLD SPECIALTIES RECOMMENDED)
STEP 3: IDENTIFY THE HOSPITAL
Identify a local hospital with pediatric patients.
Ask your friends and family if they know someone at the hospital who can help “open the door” if Soaringwords doesn’t already have a relationship with that hospital.
Soaringwords will reach out to the hospital to get approval, or you can take the lead once you have talked to Soaringwords. Download recommended hospital introduction documents through Dropbox: http://bit.ly/1ErYaN9
STEP 4: VOLUNTEER TEAM CO-LEAD SITE VISIT Schedule a hospital visit prior to the first class to meet with hospital professionals to:
Fill out any necessary paperwork the hospital may require.
Confirm monthly date, time and space.
See the room/space for the class and perform a sound check.
STEP 5: GET STARTED If you are the team lead, be sure to confirm with the hospital and your volunteer team one week prior to each monthly class.
STEP 6: BE A CHAMPION Complete mandatory Post-Event Feedback Form after each class: https://goo.gl/iN5zni
“I look forward to teaching my monthly classes at Children’s Hospital. Seemingly healthy children and those hooked up to IVs join the fun, some in wheelchairs, all ready to dance. These are regular kids who just want to DANCE and have FUN. We have the pleasure of delivering joy. The joy spreads and follows them back to their rooms and changes the perspective life of those present forever!” – Richard Gormley, Zumba Education Specialist
In 2012, three weeks before the Zumba® Instructor Convention, Zumba Fitness CEO Alberto Perlman met Lisa Buksbaum, CEO & Founder of Soaringwords. They had a “meeting of the minds” and realized that it would be amazing to invite ZIN™ members to share love and passion with hospitalized children to inspire them to dance and experience some joy, even in the midst of serious medical challenges. After the Convention, three Soaringwords + Zumba Fitness delegations started sharing free monthly classes with hospitalized children in Ft. Lauderdale, Chicago and Atlanta.
Soaringwords is working closely with hospitals to bring more ZIN™ members into the collaboration each month. We would like you to be a part of this powerful wellness initiative.
There are number of ways to help support this important initiative:
1. Make a donation 100% of your donation will go towards the coordination of hospitals and Zumba® Fitness instructors worldwide. With your support, we will be able to share the healing power of dance, movement, laughter, and community to transform the lives of pediatric patients. Click here to make a donation.
2. Volunteer at a Hospital Would you like to volunteer to teach Zumba® Fitness classes to pediatric patients, families and staff in a local children’s hospital? We are looking for Zumba® Fitness Instructors who are licensed in Zumba® Fitness Kids to volunteer to lead monthly classes for hospitalized children. This is a great way to build awareness for you as a Zumba® Fitness Instructor and get more paying classes and clients.
If interested in volunteering: a)Click here for 6 Easy Steps to bring Soaringwords + Zumba Fitness to children in your local hospital. b) We require instructors to complete the New Volunteer Questionnaire. c) Review and sign Volunteer Dance Agreement with electronic signature. d) Submit two Professional References. We encourage you to secure recommendations from a Supervisor at a gym or studio who knows you and your work, a ZES™ or ZJ™, a Supervisor from another field who knows you and your work, or a Supervisor from a non-profit organization where you have volunteered. e) After you have identify your local hospital with a pediatric population and connect with the appropriate hospital professional, then customize Hospital Documents. f) Visit Hospital Page to download Soaringwords Activities and to read Hospital Visitor Guidelines.
3. Volunteer at the office or remotely Help coordinate Soaringwords + Zumba Initiative. Click here to learn more.
4. Organize a Zumba® Master Class or Zumbathon® Charity Event
SOARINGWORDS’ MISSION is to inspire ill children and their families to take active roles in self-healing. Soaringwords is unique as it is the only organization to motivate ill children and families to “pay it forward” to help others. Studies show that when a child does something kind for another child it accelerates transformative healing. Soaringwords provides fun, creative and educational activities both in person and online based on positive psychology concepts.
On June 12, a standing-room-only crowd of 1,000 people gathered at the illustrious Streicker Center at the Temple Emanu-El on Fifth Avenue in New York City for a talk by world-renowned happiness expert, Tal Ben-Shahar. Tal is deeply humble, but he mesmerized an audience that hung on his every word, eager to learn about the science and practical steps necessary to experience greater well-being. At the end of his presentation, Julie Rice, WeWork’s Chief Marketing Officer, interviewed Tal in a riveting discussion of happiness. I shall cover 3 out of his 5 major points in this article and return on Thursday with the rest.
1. Be Open to Negative Emotions
Tal opened his talk with a paradox: when we suppress or reject painful emotions, it actually hurts us because we internalize the trauma. Tal recommends a middle ground where we do not deny painful emotions, but we also do not give in to despair.
Instead, he recommends active acceptance: experiencing the painful emotions, then letting them flow out of us and dissipate, thereby allowing us, in time, to have room to experience more positive emotions.
We allow ourselves to be human when we experience the full gamut of emotions. In this way we can truly appreciate the good, and then the good grows.
Tal quoted Golda Meir, former Prime Minister of Israel who said, “Those who don’t know how to weep with their whole heart don’t know how to laugh either.”
2. Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste!
According to David Schnarch, world-renowned sex and marital therapist, the most common causes of relationship gridlock are things that won’t surprise you. The deepest conflicts ensue from four areas: The Kids/Education, Sex, Money, In-laws.
According to Tal, when couples reach an impasse, there are three common ways to respond:
The partners separate.
The partners stay together, but they are not really emotionally together.
The partners stay together and things are bumpy, it feels hard, and it hurts. With time, the difficult emotions pass, and the relationship is stronger because it endured the difficulty. The best relationships are those where the people work through conflict together. They follow Winston Churchill’s advice:
“Don’t let a good crisis go to waste.”
Things do not always happen for the best, but some people are able to make the best out of things that happen. The most successful learn from the challenging circumstances.
This is true in other arenas besides personal relationships. Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas concluded that adversity brings out the best in real leaders.
“Even when battered by experience, leaders do not see themselves as helpless or find themselves paralyzed. They look at the same events that unstring those less capable and fortunate and see something useful, and often a plan of action as well.” ~ Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas
3. Stress is Here to Stay. It’s All About Recovery.
Everyone appreciates that life today is full of stress. Wherever we turn, stressors abound. It’s naïve to imagine that you can avoid stress, so the operative question is, “How can you best recover from stress?” Tal posits that ability to recover distinguishes those who experience well-being from those who experience burn-out.
Tal presented a three-tiered approach to recovery that is easy to implement in any stressful situation, as long as you remember to pause and detach for a moment.
It only takes 30 seconds to 2 minutes to experience a Micro-level Recovery Break. Close your eyes, and take three deep breaths. This puts the brakes on your amygdala flooding your brain with stress hormones. Your mind and body can come back to balance.
Tal recommends setting an alarm or building this practice into your schedule four times each day. This practice can make an enormous difference in your well-being.
Reciting Blessings over Shabbat candles
Tal expounds the necessity of getting a good night’s sleep (eight hours) and taking a Sabbath or mini-vacation for one day each week. Tal is a sabra born in Israel, so he appreciates the practice of observing a day of rest. The country of Israel officially slows down on the Jewish Sabbath so that people can spend time relaxing and being with family and friends.
It’s no coincidence that the words creation and recreation are similar. J.P. Morgan, one of the most successful business leaders of all time alluded to the need for recharge and step away from the daily grind by saying, “I can do the work of a year in nine months, but not in twelve.”
To read Part 2 of Permission to be Happy click here.
What if you could make a small shift in your parenting style that would yield enormous results for your child… and for you?
If you’re like most people, you want to raise emotionally and intellectually healthy children. But today there’s so much pressure to have our children and grandchildren excel in EVERY aspect of their tender lives.
Dr. Lea Waters
Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, parents can post every trophy and accomplishment on social media. Today’s children are the most documented generation of all time. Being bombarded with daily photo and video montages showcasing the accolades and adventures of other peoples’ seemingly perfect children tends to accentuate the tendency to focus on what’s wrong with our children and then try to fix it.
Lea Water’s break-through strength-based parenting approach changes that around. First it helps you see what is right about your children. Then it helps you nurture and cultivate their innate strengths and talents.
Sounds great. How do I do this?
Start with observation. If your daughter is really interested in music and loves to sing along with every song on the radio, perhaps you want to encourage her to join a chorus at her school, pick up an instrument, or start writing her own lyrics. If your son is likes to read more than he enjoys playing sports, perhaps you want to introduce him to some age-appropriate book series that pique his interests instead of pushing him to compete in sports that he does not enjoy.
Thus the strength-based parenting approach involves two simple steps: First see your child’s strengths. Then build upon them.
Dr. Waters notes three strength-based parenting styles:
Parents love to share strengths
Strengths Communicators: Parents who naturally use conversation with their kids to highlight strengths and talk about opportunities to use strengths for better outcomes.
Strengths Activators: Parents who coach their children to practice their strengths when hands-on opportunities arise.
Strengths Creators: Parents who are big-picture thinkers that can strategically create strengths-based opportunities for their kids.
Use the Strengths Switch to Short-circuit Negative Thoughts
At the end of the day, chances are, your energy is depleted from hours of work, significant responsibilities, and caring for your children. When you’re hungry, angry, and tired it’s easy to become irritable. Dr. Waters offers the strength switch as a simple but powerful tool to help you shift from focusing on your children’s weaknesses to focusing on their strengths. The strength switch acts like a circuit breaker, which is defined by Wikipedia as an automatically operated electrical switch designed to protect an electrical circuit from damage caused by excess current that typically results from an overload or short circuit. The circuit breaker interrupts current flow after a fault is detected.
Most of us can appreciate how negative thoughts and emotions can short-circuit our sense of balance. So thinking about this metaphor sounds good on paper, but how do you practice strength-based parenting in the moment when negative emotions start to overwhelm? Dr. Waters has a step-by-step guide for the strength switch briefly summarized here:
Where was the bike left out?
Observe your child’s action. For now, let’s assume your child did not put his bicycle away. It’s blocking the front door of your apartment so you have to move it in order to get inside your home.
Take a nanosecond to remember that just because you aren’t seeing your child’s strengths in that moment, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t there.
Pause for a moment: be mindful when the knee-jerk negative default feelings and thoughts start to take over. Taking a pause helps you get between your thoughts and feelings and a negative reaction.
Take a couple of deep breaths. Each time you breath out, you reduce stress hormones and calm your body.
Insert the thought, “The strengths are here, but they’re hiding. Let me switch over to find them.”
Take a few minutes to allow yourself to settle down. Perhaps you want to hang up your coat, or change out of your work clothes. Maybe you want to listen to your favorite song before speaking to your son.
Say what you mean, but not in a way that is mean. Children, especially very young ones, cannot distinguish subtle emotions such as irony or sarcasm. It’s best to say what you want in a neutral and loving way, not letting anger or frustration seep into your voice.
Say something such as, “I see that you cleaned your room and made your bed this morning before you went to school. That’s great. I had a bit of trouble getting into the house today when I got home because your bike was blocking the door. When you come home from school tomorrow, I’d like you to remember to park your bike on the side of the house.
When we activate the strength switch, it can produce radically different results. Flipping the switch, we experience a sense of control by actively choosing where to put our selective attention. Where attention goes, energy flows. Imagine how liberating it is to choose to focus on the positive instead of harping on the negatives. Reinforcing your child’s strengths gives you both a powerful foundation of good will and trust. This fertile ground is a much better place to address areas that need fine-tuning.
Sharing smiles and encouragement, even in the midst of medical challenges
Practice the Strength Switch Think of a situation from the past couple of weeks where your negative feelings escalated and you lost your cool with your child, causing both of you to feel crummy about the situation. In a couple of sentences write down what happened simply re-telling the facts.
Now close your eyes and breathe out and re-imagine the scene. See yourself taking a pause, and see yourself remembering that your child has strengths, even though you temporarily are focusing on something that is out of balance. Now, write down a new ending to this story where you flipped the strength switch and approached the situation from a place of love and patience, recognizing the good in the child before addressing the situation that needs an adjustment.
Reread your notes. See how taking a few moments to recalibrate your thoughts, feelings, and actions can make an enormous difference in the outcome: Happier parent. Happier child, motivated to remember to use her strengths in the future.
Click here, to explore the distinction Dr. Waters makes between strengths and learned behaviors.
This time of year, holiday euphoria bursts into our lives as people whip themselves into a frenzy thicker than the marshmallow topping on a Thanksgiving sweet potato soufflé. Shopping lists, holiday meal plans, and travel logistics loom larger than the giant Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.
At the same time, seasonal depression rates spike. Feelings of melancholy and sadness are especially high among millions of children, teens and families grappling with illness. Instead of spending hours pondering what Chanukah gifts to buy or which stocking stuffer is “perfect” for each person, families experiencing illness focus on getting through each day.
Being bombarded with exuberant holiday music for hours, days or weeks can evoke negative responses from people already feeling vulnerable during the holidays. “Perfect family holiday tableaus” appear everywhere creating a tsunami of holiday-hoopla that makes people feel even worse about their current situation. This reaction is what psychologists call Social Comparison Theory, more commonly known as “Compare and Despair” Syndrome. Hearing about all the wonderful holiday celebrations and plans can trigger woeful sentiments such as “Everyone else is feeling exuberant and joyful, what’s wrong with me?”
How to Avoid Falling into This Negative Thinking Trap Dr. Karen Reivich and Dr. Andrew Shatte explain several common thinking traps in their book, The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life’s Hurdles (Random House, 2003). Enforced holiday glee triggers the Magnifying and Minimizing Thinking Trap where a person focuses on negative aspects of a situation which magnifies the impact while de-emphasizing the positive aspects of a situation. Maximizing thinking could sound something like,
“Mark is so weak now, I feel like our family will NEVER be able to enjoy holiday celebrations again…”
However, when we take the time to analyze things that “trigger” powerful feelings and negative emotions, often looking at the facts and understanding the underlying thinking can help us self-sooth ourselves, minimizing painful emotions the next time an activating situation occurs. This thought process is called Re-framing.
Re-framing One way that hospitalized children, teens and their family members can begin to experience greater optimism during the holidays (and all year long) is a process called re-framing. Re-framing is the ability to look beyond the negative or painful aspects of an illness or hospitalization and to see and appreciate some of the special or awe-inspiring moments that happen. Glass half full, glass half empty… when you focus on small or heroic acts of progress that a child or teen has taken in her recovery you are re-framing a difficult situation to focus on hope and resilience instead of despair. When you appreciate a kind gesture from a nurse or hospital volunteer experiencing the goodness in another person with no ulterior motive except to make you feel loved and supported, that’s re-framing by accepting something good even in the midst of hardship.
Why Does the Holiday Season Actually Make People Feel Anxious and Downtrodden? Perhaps the best holiday example of all time that triggers Social Comparison and also motivates people to fall into Negative Thinking Traps is none other than New Year’s Eve: the only holiday that bridges the old and new year simultaneously.
New Year’s Eve is stacked with impossible-to-achieve expectations that Everybody (note the capital “E”) is having a rip-roarin’ great time. These super-sized expectations naturally start to generate built-in anticipatory stress that the holidays will be happy, happy, happy. Just like in the movies. Social media plays a large role in increasing social comparison. Recently Morning Edition on National Public Radio (NPR, May 2, 2017) hosted a segment entitled Why Social Media Isn’t Always Very Social. According to Barbara Kahn, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania who studies decision-making, social media generates a lot of FOMO which stands for Fear Of Missing Out. FOMO is another way people experience the false belief that “Everyone (again note the capital “E”) is having a better time than I am.” https://www.npr.org/2017/05/02/526514168/why-social-media-isnt-always-very-social
Five Simple Things You Can Do to Reduce “Happy Holiday” Burn-Out If you or someone you know is going through medical challenges during this holiday season you might want to read these five easy action steps to help reduce holiday stress. Better yet, share this post with your friends and family and then talk about something simple that you can do together to make the holidays more meaningful.
1. This is the perfect time to PRACTICE SELF-COMPASSION (or give someone permission to put his or her self-interest first) in order to confidently say “NO” to invitations or plans that seem overwhelming or impossible to participate in at this time. Simply explain that you and your family are not able to attend the family’s annual holiday tradition this year. Remember, “No” is a complete sentence.
2. Choose activities that are calming and cozy. Instead of focusing on what you and your family are NOT able to do during the holidays, it can be refreshing and even fun to do something different, like movie night – make sure you pick comedies and films with upbeat stories. Perhaps a scaled-down holiday meal where everyone comes in their PJs would be fun or a holiday get-together where everyone eats desserts first or, better yet, a get-together where you ONLY SERVE DESSERTS eliminating hours of preparation and expense from the rest of the meal.
3. Incorporate rituals that add meaning and joy. Last year my dad’s health was declining significantly and I wanted to do something positive to counter the sadness we were all experiencing. Prior to Thanksgiving, I sent everyone in my family a package with six blank cards and envelopes inviting them to participate in the First Annual Post-Thanksgiving Family Gratitude Circle. The instructions were simple each person wrote a Gratitude Letter to each person in our family. During Friday night dinner, on the day after Thanksgiving, each person brought a stack of six sealed envelopes to the table. Starting with my Mother, we went around the table as each person in the family read his or her Gratitude Letter to the designated relative. Laughs and tears reverberated around the table. It was a heart-felt, beautiful experience, a gift that exceeded the value of anything that could have been purchased in a store. Here’s a link to creating and sharing SoaringGratitude Letters at your family’s holiday celebration: http://www.soaringwords.org/gratitude-letter/
4) Holidays don’t have to be observed at a certain day or time even if this has always been a time-bound family tradition spanning decades (or centuries). When illness is part of the reality, sometimes people have to be flexible to accommodate the “new normal.” Perhaps some members of the family will leave the hospital in order to attend the annual meal while others will stay back with the person who is not able to make it to this year’s celebration. Other families experience tremendous relief by postponing their attendance at a family gathering. This decision to take a rain check takes the stress off of everyone and also can possibly give people something to look forward to at a future date.
5) It’s no accident that Chanukah and Christmas occur during the darkest time of the year when the days are shortest around the Winter Solstice. During this bleak time, it’s possible to remember that there are always other children, teens or families who are less fortunate than you. Opening yourself up to empathy and kindness reduces feelings of distress and isolation. The best way to transform feelings of despair into feelings of meaning and purpose is by embracing the needs of another person. According to the work of Adam Grant in his book Give and Take (Penguin Random House, 2014) when you take a simple action to lift the spirits of another person it also elevates your own well-being. That’s why we’ve built pay-if-forward activities into all of the Soaringwords’ programs we have shared with more than 500,000 children, teens and families over the past sixteen years. So whether you’re busy counting the days until the holidays officially begin… or whether you’re focusing all of your energy on positive, healthy outcomes for you or someone in your family, here are three wonderful ways to share some joy with hospitalized children, teens and families this holiday season.
SoaringSuperhero Message and Artwork: Strength and greatness is inside of everyone. When you create a superhero message and artwork to donate to an ill child it reminds him or her that they too have superpowers such as being strong, creative, funny or kind. You can use your strengths to inspire children to “Never give up!” Click here for the online activity.
SOARING Gratitude Ladder: Gratitude opens your heart and inspires you to give back to others. Gratitude is about joy and appreciation of simple, little things that happen daily. Sometimes it is easy to take these things for granted. When you create a Gratitude Ladder for someone you will be giving them an incredible gift highlighting what you appreciate most about them. Click here for the activity.
SoaringLove Message: When you love someone or something it makes you feel really happy so your heart expands with joy. Many different cultures have LOVE symbols to communicate this powerful positive feeling. Native Americans consider the Hummingbird to be a symbol of Love. In China, the Maple Leaf shows the sweetness of Love. In Norway and Iceland, the Harp symbolizes love. Hinduism and Roman Mythology consider the Shell to be a love symbol while American Sign Language has the “I Love You” sign. Today you are invited to make a special SoaringLove message and artwork to give to a hospitalized child to brighten his day or you can surprise someone in your family by making a message just for them. Click here for the activity.
Call to action Give your project to someone special such as your mom, dad, brother or sister, friend, nurse, doctor or another child in the hospital.
Author: Lisa Honig Buksbaum is the CEO & Founder, Soaringwords a global not-for-profit organization that inspires ill children and families to take active roles in self-healing. Since 2001, Soaringwords has inspired more than 500,000 people to pay-it-forward to inspire ill children and teens to “Never give up!”
We are excited to share that the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of your eligible Amazon purchases to Soaringwords.
AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support Soaringwords every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you’re using your regular Amazon.com account with all your usual shopping cart, Wish List/registry, and other account settings… with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to Soaringwords. Tens of millions of products on AmazonSmile are eligible for these donations.
Signing up is easy.
Follow these simple steps to register Soaringwords as your favorite charity:
What are Visualizations? Healing Imagery exercises are designed to help ill children and their parents connect with their inner resources and are often used to bring about a feeling of calm, strength and wellness. You’ll find them comforting and relaxing. And, you’ll soon discover that the process of learning how to imagine healing actually transfers the power away from the illness and gives it to the person. These Imagery exercises work beautifully for children of all ages and also for adults who want to re-connect with their own deep inner resources of strength to be able to effectively take care of their child and themselves. (This is not meant to replace other sources of medical help.)
There is much research which documents the relationship between the mental act of imagery and biological/physiological change in the body. Illness often causes a lot of stress. Healing imagery exercises can help you take a break. They are easy to do. Doing these healing imagery does not actually take a lot of time (only a few minutes) and you can shift energy around immediately.
Even though you are doing these healing imagery exercises in your mind, you can feel a positive change in your emotions and perhaps in your body. Don’t be hard on yourself or try too hard; it just might take a little time to get the hang of it. So take a deep breath and let’s get started.
Soaringwords’ CEO & Founder, Lisa Buksbaum, has been an intuitive healer since she was a young child. When she was five years old she often felt special connections with people and nature. When she was in college she first learned about Mira Rivka her great great grandmother who was a healer in the 1880s in New York City. People would send for her (in a horse drawn carriage) to come and do the “laying of the hands” to help loved ones have a shift in their physical or emotional health. In her Soaringwords journey, Lisa has inspired thousands of people to experience a positive shift using healing imagery and the strength and wisdom inside each child and grown-up. If you are OPEN to these healing imagery exercises, you will be delighted to feel powerful changes. Below are twenty healing imagery exercises that Lisa wants to share with you. Send her an email at email@example.com and let her know what you experienced! Wishing you strength and Soaringwords.
Special thanks to Soaringwords interns Mara Stein, Zahava Presser, and Yedida Holzer for the beautiful illustrations.
Watch 12-year-old Gabby share her very own SoaringImagery that she has created.
Healing bees in a golden honey comb:
Close your eyes and breathe in and out three times slowly. See a beautiful honey comb filled with busy bees swarming all around the hive. Bees are so smart, even though they are rather small, they accomplish a lot. The hive is buzzing. Every bee knows precisely what to do to help the community and to make the honey flow. Let the bees enter your body and fly to all of your cells that need healing. Watch them communicate in their magnificent swirling, flying dance. Together they collect all the cells that need healing. Open your mouth and gently breathe out, let the bees all fly out, watch them shoot into space, never to return. You can see the bees buzzing around in a constellation of shooting stars when you look into the night sky. Know that the bees have left golden beads of honey inside your body. Taste its sweetness. Feel it healing you. Take a deep breath and exhale. Open your eyes.
Healing Rain Shower:
Breathe in and out three times slowly. It is clear and dry outside. The sky is a deep shade of blue. See a storm moving closer on the horizon. The sky turns grey and the storm moves in quickly. Feel pellets of rain falling diagonally, gently splashing your head, your shoulders, your arms, your body and your feet. Listen to the delicious sound of the rain splashing on the ground. Feel yourself getting completely wet. Feel the water invigorating your muscles and refreshing your bones. Feel the cool drops of water on your tongue. Let water gently wash over your entire body, washing over all of your negative thoughts and tension, cleansing you and healing you. The storm passes quickly. Reach for a large, fluffy, white towel. Feel how soft it is on your skin. Dry yourself off completely, enjoying the softness of the towel. Know that you are clean and light. Take a deep breath and exhale. Open your eyes.
Breathe in and out three times slowly. You walk through a lush rain forest. The trees and flowers create magnificent rainbows of color. You are happy to see and smell such wondrous things. Suddenly you hear a faint sound of a waterfall. You walk to a clearing and look into the forest and see cascading water tumbling over the side of a cliff. You walk to the edge of the water in front of you and take off your shoes and place them on the grass. You step into the water, walking closer towards the falls. The water is shallow along the bank. It feels refreshing to be splashing through the water. You get so close to the waterfalls that you are standing under them. They are gently spraying over you like a giant watery umbrella. Hear the sound of the waterfall around you. The water flow feels like a gentle shower or hose, washing away all of your aches and pains. See yourself getting completely wet. Feel the cool water gently washing over your entire body and washing over all of your negative thoughts and fears, cleansing you and healing you. When you are ready, walk over to a large boulder and lie down, drying yourself in the sun. Enjoy the warmth of the sun. Know that you are clean, whole and healthy. Take a deep breath and exhale. Open your eyes.
Breathe in and out three times slowly. See yourself climbing a large mountain. It is a clear day. You walk along a path, going higher and higher, moving closer to the top of the mountain. The path wraps around the mountain, like a giant spiral. When you get to the top, you can see above the trees. You can see the tops of the other mountains. You can see for many, many miles. You are close to the clouds. Fluffy clouds surround you in wispy softness. When you are ready to go, leave your aches and pains on the top of the mountain. As you start walking down, you feel lighter knowing that you are leaving your heavy load and your pain behind. Take a deep breath and exhale. Open your eyes.
Ripples on a Pond:
Breathe in and out three times slowly. Go to the edge of a tranquil pond. The water is a gorgeous shade of bluish green. Sit on a large boulder and enjoy looking at the glassy surface of the water. Toss some pebbles into the water and watch the ripples. Toss your fear into the pond. Watch it make a little splash and then watch it sink into the mud at the bottom of the pond. Once it touches the mud, it will not resurface. Enjoy the warmth of the sun. Know that you can toss all of your fears into the pond. Watch them make ripples that radiate out until they disappear. Enjoy the calm stillness of the pond. Take a deep breath and exhale. Open your eyes.
Field of Sunflowers:
Breathe in and out three times slowly. Walk towards a field of sunflowers. Each stalk is so tall, it towers above you. There are so many sunflowers. For as far as you can see, tall sunflowers shimmer, like thousands of golden suns covering the entire field. Step off the country road and take a few steps into the field. Sunflowers brush against your arms. They gently sway in the breeze. They are touching you. The earth feels soft and cool under your feet. Feel the warmth and energy of the sun, which helps make the flowers open and grow. Take a few Sunflower seeds from the center and chew on them. Imagine that you a swallowing a bite of sunshine. Feel it warm your body. Feel the joy of the sun as it bathes the field in a healthy, yellow glow. Feel the warmth of the light as it enters your entire body and fills you with healing energy and radiance. Take a deep breath and exhale. Open your eyes.
Breathe in and out three times slowly. See a hummingbird dart in and out of the juicy, pink tubes of a honeysuckle flower. The hummingbird’s wings are moving so quickly that you can’t see them; it simply looks like the hummingbird is suspended in mid-air. Open your mouth and allow the hummingbird to fly inside your body. Sense the motion of the hummingbird as she moves around inside your body bringing healing nectar to your tired places. The hummingbird moves so fast as she bites off tiny pieces of illness, cleaning them away from inside of you. The particles are so small that you don’t even feel it. Know that the hummingbird is working with you to make your cells grow back healthy and strong. Take a deep breath and exhale. Open your eyes.
Breathe in and out three times slowly. Watch the monkeys swing through the trees. They always have so much fun. Grab a vine and swing over to them. Together you play games, swinging through the jungle, tossing bananas and stretching from vine to vine. Your body feels strong and healthy as it reaches for each new vine. The pain slips away, falling to the ground like cascading leaves. All the bad feelings can fall to the ground, smashing into the dirt like coconuts. Laugh and swing with your band of monkey friends feeling playful and carefree. Now you have no pain. It feels so good to laugh and have fun with total joy. Take a deep breath and exhale. Open your eyes.
Breathe in and out three times slowly. See yourself flying through the sky as a majestic eagle. Feel the wind brush against your face, feel the air tug at your wings. You swoop in large circles, seeing everything from high in the sky. Look down at obstacles and pains that seemed so large when you were on the ground. See how you can fly above your pain and let the freedom fill you up with positive energy. Enjoy the warmth of the sun. Know that you are strong and free just like the eagle. Take a deep breath and exhale. Open your eyes.
Swimming with the Dolphins:
Breathe in and out three times slowly. See yourself swimming in the ocean with a large pod of dolphins. The baby dolphins play tag with you. They nuzzle you with their snouts and make playful squealing noises that bounce through the water and vibrate your body. Feel the healing vibrations. Wiggle your body and dive down, down deep into the sea. Feel supported by playful dolphins swimming all around you. Now swim upward, breaking through the waves, hurling your body through the air in a dolphin leap. You are free and happy and strong, surrounded by dolphin love. Know that you are pure joy and movement. Take a deep breath and exhale. Open your eyes.
Healing Moon Beam:
Breathe in and out three times slowly. Look to the moon. See its bright, clean light enter your body. Feel the moon beam fill you with a cool, gentle, healing light. The moon is silent and soothing. Let it fill your whole self up with healing moon beams. Know that the moon is always watching over you, even when you cannot see it because of the brightness of day. Know that you are always in the moon’s embrace, safe and protected. Take a deep breath and exhale. Open your eyes.
Breathe in and out three times slowly. A playful octopus enters your body and starts suctioning up all the cells that have illness in them. Slurp. Slurp. Slurp. The octopus is hungry. When he has grabbed all the cells with illness inside, he makes a big burp. You and the octopus laugh. You didn’t know that octopuses can burp! The bad cells float away in the water’s current. The octopus leaves your body and swims away. Grab a bunch of sea kelp from the bottom of the coral reef. Swallow it and feel it swim all around your body. Enjoy swimming around the sea. Know that you are clean and light. Take a deep breath and exhale. Open your eyes.
Breathe in and out three times slowly. You are walking through a field. You stand tall and your arms are relaxed at your sides. You see a strong and beautiful tree and walk towards it. It is a giant honey tree with a thick brown trunk and lots of branches with bright, healthy green leaves. You see honey sap oozing out of some of the nooks in the trunk. Sit under the tree and enjoy the shade. Taste some of the golden sap and let it fill your body with healing warmth. Feel the honey travelling through your body filling you with warmth and sweetness. Take a deep breath and exhale. Open your eyes.
Breathe in and out three times slowly. Puppy starts to nuzzle you and play. Feel her love as she tumbles around gently licking your arms, legs, and face. Puppy makes you smile. Together you laugh and roll around on the grass. Throw the ball to the puppy. You tumble through the grass, chasing the ball, shedding all of your aches and hurt. Now toss a bone to the puppy, she digs up a big hole and puts the bone into the hole. You throw your pain into the hole as puppy uses her paws to cover it up. Take a deep breath and exhale. Open your eyes.
Here are some additional healing Imagery exercises for children and adults that were created by world-renowned imagery expert, Dr. Gerald Epstein. Dr. Epstein is the Founder of the American Institute for Mental Imagery (AIMI). Lisa is earning a certificate at AIMI.
Dr. Gerald Epstein is a pioneer in the field of mind body medicine. He has written thirteen books. His book, Healing Visualizations: Creating Health Through Imagery, is considered the classic text of mental imagery exercises for healing. For thirty years, Dr. Epstein has helped patients reintegrate their minds, spirits and bodies through will, memory and imagination to heal virtually every kind of disease and prevent illness. He is on the Faculty of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and the Founder and Director of the American Institute for Mental Imagery. He is also the author of Healing Visualizations (Bantam), Healing into Immortality and Climbing Jacob’s Ladder (ACMI Press). He is married and has two children. Below are some visualizations that Jerry has created for patients and their families.
Visualization for Children: Correct the Memory
This is a useful corrective visualization to help your child get through painful medical procedures. Replace the highlighted situation with the appropriate language that works for your child’s medical condition. It is helpful for you to guide the child through the visualization every morning for 21 days. Make a little check list and post it by the child’s bed so you can keep track of your progress. Here’s what you say to the child: Close your eyes. Slowly breathe in and out three times. Experience your memory of getting a shot (substitute what is appropriate for the child here) for a moment. Breathe in and out. Now see yourself getting a shot but you are in a big ship and it is a nice warm sunny day. You are watching the waves bob up and down and listening to the seagulls flying overhead. You close your eyes and take a nice nap on the ship’s deck. (You can invite the child to substitute a situation here that they would enjoy or you can create one that you know they will appreciate). Breathe out. Open your eyes.
Visualization for Children: Fear
When a child gets sick it is often disorienting and scary. One of the scariest parts of childhood illness can be the fear of being left alone to confront the illness or to die. Naturally these feelings are heightened if your child is in the hospital and if you are not sleeping with them each night. This next visualization gives them some strategies to combat their fears. Here’s what you say to the child: Close your eyes. Breathe in and out three times slowly. Think about what you are afraid of. What does your fear look like? What is it doing? Tell me what you see. (Here the child describes what their fear looks like. For example a 3 or 5 year old says they are afraid of the dark because they think there are monsters in the room. Put an imaginary knife under their pillow. Tell the child the knife is there to kill the monsters if they need to. Do not be afraid to let the child kill monsters if the child thinks the monster is in their room to kill them). Okay, now let’s make your fear go away. (Invite the child to reverse the image, for example say to them, now let’s kill that monster. What do you see? The child sees the monster dying or disappearing. If the child does not see an antidote, guide them by helping them to see something that will reverse the image of fear). Tell me what you see. Take a deep breath and exhale. Know that the fear is gone. Open your eyes.
Visualization for Children: Anger
It is pretty hard to talk about childhood illness without thinking about anger. Anger is a very powerful and draining emotion for everyone involved. The root of the word anger means constriction. This next visualization focuses on anger and gives you helpful tools first to express and then to diminish anger. You can guide the child through the exercise. Here’s what you say to the child: Close your eyes. Slowly breathe in and out three times. See your anger take a form. What does it look like? What is it doing? Tell me what you see. (Here the person describes what their anger looks like. For example, one person sees enormous flames of anger.) Okay, now let’s see the opposite. (Invite the child to reverse the image, for example say to them, now let’s put out those flames. What do you see? The child sees a fire engine arrive on the scene to put out the flames. If the child does not see an antidote or a way to reverse the image, you can guide them by suggesting something that will reverse his or her image of anger). Tell me what you see. Breathe in and out. Know that the anger is gone. Open your eyes.
Visualization for Children With Brain Tumors: Yellow Submarine
This visualization is done three times a day–once early in the morning, again at 5 PM, and once more before bed, for 21 days. Here’s what you say to the child: Close your eyes. Breathe out three times slowly. See yourself inside a yellow submarine. The sub has a porthole, a propeller in front, searchlight on top, and a vacuum hose underneath. You are the pilot. Take the yellow submarine to the tumor. Use the searchlight to show you the way. When you get to the tumor, let me know. Good. Now let the propeller churn up the tumor, breaking it into little pieces. Use your light to see everything going on. Now the vacuum hose sucks up all the broken pieces. Look at the place where the tumor was. The tumor has disappeared and this part of your body looks perfectly normal, as all the area has been filled in with healthy cells. Now turn your submarine around and leave your brain. Breathe out. Open your eyes.
Visualization for Children With Leukemia: Forest
This visualization is done three times a day–once early in the morning, again at 5 PM, and once more before bed, for 21 days. Here’s what you say to the child: Close your eyes. Slowly breathe in and exhale. See yourself in a beautiful forest. The wonderful animals are dancing, prancing, and moving up and down through the forest paths. Know that life is coming back to your bloodstream and all of your vital organs and that your white blood count becomes normal. Take a deep breath and exhale. Open your eyes.
Visualization for Children With Leukemia: Tropical Fish
Here’s what you say to the child: Close your eyes. Slowly breathe in and out three times slowly. See yourself swimming easily in and among schools of brightly colored tropical fish. Sense and see the movement of these fish as they swim in rhythm and their colors enter into you and fill you with light, life and health. Know that you are being restored to perfect health as your white cells return to normal. Take a deep breath and exhale. Open your eyes.
Visualization for Adults: Wheat Field
This exercise is designed to rejuvenate you and keep you strong. You can do it by yourself each morning, before you go to sleep at night and throughout the day whenever you feel anxious or exhausted. You can do this exercises by yourself or ask a friend or loved one to guide you through. Close your eyes. Breathe out 3 times slowly. Imagine yourself carrying a basket in a beautiful field. You are collecting golden grains and separating the wheat from the chaff. You take grains of wheat and fill your basket to overflowing. You leave the extra wheat on the ground for the animals to eat. At the end of the field, you see your farmhouse with smoke gently coming out of the chimney. You walk with your basket towards the house. In the center of the house is a large country kitchen. You come into the kitchen and lay out all the ingredients – the grains, a rolling pin, everything you need to make bread. You knead the dough and roll it and make the bread. You put your bread into a huge open hearth to bake. You watch the bread bake and see it slowly rising. You smell the delicious bread baking. Take your bread out of the hearth and cut a slice. Eat as much as you like. When you need to, you can go back to the farmhouse to get more bread or take a piece out of your pocket. You can eat your bread and sustain yourself throughout the entire day. Open your eyes.
Visualization for Adults: Seashore
This exercise is designed to rejuvenate you and keep you strong. You can do it by yourself each morning, before you go to sleep at night and throughout the day whenever you feel anxious or exhausted. You can do this exercises by yourself or ask a friend or loved one to guide you through.
Close your eyes. Breathe out 3 times slowly. You’re on the beach heading toward the water, fully clothed. As you move toward the water, you start taking off your clothes, one piece at a time. Empty your pockets of everything. If you are carrying a bag or purse, empty it of all its contents, keeping only what is indispensable. When you are completely naked, make yourself an abrasive compound of sand and water. Cleanse yourself with this pumice. Know that you are cleaning away all the unnecessary accumulations outside of your body and that you are also cleaning away the inner gloom and confusion at the same time. When you’re done, dive into the sea and immerse yourself fully. Cleanse yourself of any residue that may be left with sand from the bottom of the sea. Come out of the water and let the sun dry you off for a moment. Then, put on a new set of clothing that you find there. Breathe out. Open your eyes.