When confronting your child’s illness, it can be a harrowing, exhausting and isolating time. You want to be strong for your child. You might be anxious and stressed, having only a limited amount of time, if any, for yourself. “Normal” life is turned upside down. As a result, people frequently lose touch with their inner core, the strong foundation that is their essence.
We’ve searched worldwide to find and learn from leaders in four important disciplines: Mind, Body and Wellness; Counseling; Education and Motivational Coaching. The teachings of these experts will give you the strength and support you need during challenging and difficult times. Soaringwords’ articles and exercises will take only minutes and yet will transform your mindset and increase your overall health. Another benefit of these resources is the positive impact they can have on your entire family circle. These articles can help you identify and express what is important to you, your children and your loved ones and to let go of the things that drain you physically and emotionally.
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Dr. Ron Taffel is known as one of the most captivating and practical child-rearing experts in the country. He is the author of two best-selling books, Parenting by Heart: How to be in Charge, Stay Connected and Instill Your Values- When it Feels Like You’ve Got 15 Minutes a Day (Addison Wesley) and Why Parents Disagree: How Women and Men Parent Differently and How We Can Work Together (Morrow). He was a frequent contributor to The Confident Parent, a monthly column that ran in McCalls Magazine from 1991 to 1996. He has also been featured on 20/20, The Today Show, CNN, and hundreds of radio shows. Ron has a private practice in New York City and is the Founder of The Family Therapy Division at The Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy. He is married and has two children. In order to care for our children, we have to take time to nurture and protect ourselves. In this article, Dr. Ron Taffel offers success strategies that are easy to implement and are not time consuming. They work immediately and you’ll feel their positive impact.
Pay attention to what you are feeling when with others. Some people make you feel better, others don’t. It is essential to stay around people who have positive attitudes. The reactions you sometimes ignore are actually your best guide. Honor them.
Be direct and tell people what helps and what doesn’t. A crisis is no time to protect others’ feelings. You need protection, not just your children.
Always leave more time to do the business of mourning, healing and dealing than youfirst think you’ll need. Hard-pressed parents invariably say they underestimated how much time they needed to get through trying life experiences.
Seek out people from the past who were able to take care of you when you were younger. Those who once had the ability to nurture may still be able to make you feel well cared for again. It is very helpful for parents who must take themselves and kids through tough times to occasionally be cared for as if they were young again.
Stick to as many rituals as you possibly can during your everyday life – whether theylast for a minute or a few moments. Rituals serve as anchors during chaotic times; they are an expression of faith despite the fact that everything in your family feels totally out of control. You can maintain some semblance of order in your life with rituals.
Allow time to talk to those who are most important to you.Nurture yourself with positive meditations in particular at moments which you are most vulnerable – bedtime, waking up, just before and after eating, sitting alone in waiting rooms, on a crowded highway. These are times when simple meditations and mantras soothe.
Find an “after hours” talking buddy. This is very helpful during the depths of a crisis. The middle of the night, especially towards the morning (the “hour of the wolf” as the time from 3:00 am- 5:00 am has been called) is terribly painful for just about everyone going through a difficult time. Whenever it’s possible, ask for after-hours companionship from the people who love you. Nurturance during this time will help you deal with your kids more effectively the next day.
Try not to take moments of connection for granted with your significant other or your children. Those potential moments of connection are often the ones that get ignored. And then, very quickly, one can feel deprived and alone. Because there’s so much to take care of, it’s easy to pass up possibilities to connect with those who are actually the most available.
Create new rituals – a month, a half-year, or a year after the crisis has happened. These are natural times to nurture yourself by remembering with others who know what you went through.
Dr. Ron Taffel is one of the most eclectic and practical child-rearing experts in the country and the author of two best-selling books, Parenting by Heart: How to be in Charge, Stay Connected and Instill Your Values- When it Feels Like You’ve Got 15 Minutes a Day (Addison Wesley) and Why Parents Disagree: How Women and Men Parent Differently and How We Can Work Together (Morrow). He has also been featured on 20/20, The Today Show, CNN, and hundreds of radio shows.
Solid historical evidence shows that children’s sense of self-esteem, self-worth, mood, and anxiety lifts when given the opportunity to help others. In fact, Freud instructed parents of an anxious and ill child to purchase a dog for the girl. The child moved beyond her fears by focusing on caring for her pet. Since this time, parents and professionals have found, over and over again, that vulnerable or stressed children (and adults) are relieved of burdens when offered the opportunity to care for others. Unfortunately, today’s pop culture promotes the notion that kids just want to consume things. This focus on “stuff” and material acquisition makes us forget that children’s powerful and inate desire to help others is still intact. It is compelling to remember that even children who are clearly suffering will be relieved of their burdens when they can do something to help someone else.
Acts of kindness give children a sense of power at a point when they are feeling the worst sense of powerlessness. The hospital environment isolates children — machines beeping at all hours of the day and night, tubes, procedures, and too much time away from friends. They feel so many negative things inside because “nothing seems to be working right” in their body and they have no control. Doing an act of kindness helps children feel empowered. This feeling is contagious. It makes them feel more in control and more powerful at a difficult time.
Children identify with each other. Doing something positive for another ill child reduces feelings of isolation and despair. From nursery school through college, children are surrounded by their peers. Their self-identity is wrapped up in beliefs, language, trends and behaviors that are shaped and shared in groups. That’s why it is not surprising that the isolation of illness is one of the biggest hardships for hospitalized and chronically ill children. When ill and challenged children reach out and take actions to help others, it gives them an experience that is incalculably positive because it instills a sense of hope. They can immediately see or imagine how this kindness transforms an ill child. Then they feel a sense of possibility and hope, leaving their sadness and isolation behind. The child learns and borrows from this experience allowing them to feel more hopeful and positive in the face of the most difficult circumstances.
When children are ill, adults tend to focus primarily on the treatment of the child’s illness. It is natural that when a child is ill, his or her parents will organize around attending to the child’s needs, treatments, and the alleviation of symptoms and discomfort. Normal routines (enjoying fun activities together, doing homework, eating dinner together, watching TV and relaxing) go by the wayside and the child’s identity can be subsumed by the illness. Another positive consequence when an ill child does kind acts for other ill children is that it gives parents, doctors, nurses and other caregivers the opportunity to acknowledge the child’s true personality as evidenced through creativity, kindness, and compassion. This in turn makes the child feel more positively about themselves and their actions.
Michelle Brauntuch, M.S., CCLS. Certified Child Life Specialist Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, Englewood, N.J.
How to Reduce Anxiety
Everyone, even adults, experiences anxiety prior to surgery. For children especially, what they imagine is often more frightening than reality. You can, however, reduce your child’s fears and minimize your own anxiety by preparing your child for what will actually happen during the hospital experience.
You may want to call the Child Life Department or your doctor to see if it is possible to tour the Medical Center before surgery. Visiting a Medical Center for a tour and reading books about going to the hospital give you and your child a way to talk about some of the feelings you both have about the hospital and surgery. Talking together, playing “doctor” or “hospital,” drawing and writing about the upcoming hospital experience are all important ways to help make feelings more manageable. This preparation will help to increase your child’s confidence and ability to cope, as well as reduce any fears.
After the tour, you and your child can plan and rehearse effective coping strategies at home to use on the day of surgery. For example, you can plan to tell your child to hold a Teddy bear or other special toy until you can enter the recovery room.
How to Explain Surgery to a Child
It is important to be as honest as you can with your child about the upcoming surgery. Simple, accurate explanations in developmentally appropriate words are best. To communicate what an operation is, you should tell your child that it is a way for a doctor to fix something inside your body or to take something out of your body that is giving you trouble. For example, you might say: “The doctor is going to help you and take your adenoids out of your body so you don’t keep getting all those ear infections.” If the surgery is to remove something, it is important to tell your child that we are all born with parts of our body that we don’t need, so its okay for the doctor to take it out. Emphasize that life will be fine without it.
Children under age five need to know that they did not do anything wrong. The operation is not a punishment of any kind. Younger children have “magical thinking” and are developmentally egocentric. They think that they are the cause of everything that happens. It is, therefore, important for a child not to feel at fault for needing this operation. It’s just that a part of the body needs help – like people who wear glasses need help for their eyes to see clearly.
When to Tell a Child About the Surgery
When approaching young children from two to six years of age, it is a good idea to tell them about the surgery only a few days prior to the actual date. The younger the child, the less preparation time is needed because a sense of time is not as developed. However, time is needed to play or “act out” the upcoming experience, so a child should be given at least two days notice. Children seven years of age and older need time to think about questions they may have and to work through their feelings. They should be told at least a week before surgery. Always tell your child the truth about what will happen. Listen to your child’s questions and discuss any concerns.
What to Bring to the Hospital
Allow your child to pack special things to take to the hospital, such as favorite toys, books or videos that are familiar and can give comfort. Pack slippers for walking to and from the playroom on the Pediatric Unit. Another important thing to explain to your child is that everyone at the hospital wears special clothes. There are hospital clothes in all different sizes for children and special green clothes called “scrubs” that people who work in the hospital or operating room wear. All these clothes are cleaned a special way to make sure that there are no germs on them.
The Day of Surgery
Can Parents Stay With Their Child?
Parents are encouraged to participate in their child’s hospital experience. You should ask your doctor who can go into the holding room and recovery room. The recovery room is when a favorite stuffed toy or “security” item from home can be helpful for your child until you get there.
What to Say When Your Child Asks if the Operation Will Hurt
Explain to your child the special kind of “sleeping” they will be doing during the operation. An anesthesiologist has the job of giving your child medicine that will help them sleep while their doctor performs the operation. Anesthesia is either in an I.V. for older children or perhaps inhaled through a fruit-flavored mask for younger children. Your child feels no pain during this special kind of sleep.
Explain that the doctor knows just how much medicine to give and when to stop giving it, so that your child will wake up when the operation is over. Assure your child that this waking up will happen only after the operation is over and not before
The type of surgery your child is having will determine how much pain your child will experience after the operation. Most surgery causes some pain or discomfort, but most post-operative pain can be prevented or at least reduced. There are many medicines and methods which can be used to treat pain, but there are a few simple things to remember:
Children must know that their pain will be taken seriously and they need to tell a grown up what is bothering them and where it hurts.
Their parents, doctors and nurses will do their best to stop the pain.
The pain will be treated.
Medicine will be given to stop the pain quickly.
Having a parent or another loved one present may be the best psychological treatment for the pain. Parents know more about comforting their own children than anyone else.
Parents can help relax or distract their children.
After surgery, your child will be brought back to the room and monitored by a nurse. When determined ready, a child will be given food or drink according to a diet ordered in advance by your physician. Generally, children are encouraged to drink clear liquids (apple juice, ginger ale) and are offered jello or ices. Check to make sure that the staff at the hospital will ensure that all necessary arrangements are made for equipment and all prescriptions for medications and will be delivered to you with discharge instructions before you leave the hospital.
What to Do Once at Home
Your child may seem to need you more than usual after getting home from the hospital. Brothers and sisters may feel jealous of this extra care and attention, so it is helpful to talk about these feelings as a family. Perhaps you can make arrangements to have siblings out of the house with friends and neighbors for a couple of hours when the patient returns home so they can settle restfully and you can give them your undivided attention. Otherwise, maybe you can have a special treat such as a new video rental for them to watch to give you some room to focus on the patient’s re-entry to the home.
Let concerned friends and family help out with siblings in a routinized, non-emergency way. This gives the siblings time to be the “center of the action” in normal play situations with friends and neighbors. Playing “operation” or “hospital” at home after surgery lets your child express important feelings and feel more in control.
Encourage your child to pretend giving you or a stuffed animal an operation, or suggest building a hospital out of blocks or drawing pictures and writing stories about the experience. Children can cope with the stresses of surgery and feel proud for having managed such a difficult experience.
Praise your child who will feel good about doing well on a difficult day. This will help your child feel competent and successful and more likely to be able to incorporate this experience into a positive sense of self-esteem. Do not hesitate to call your physician if you have any questions or if your child’s condition changes in any way.
Michelle Brauntuch is M.S., CCLS. Certified Child Life Specialist Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, Englewood, N.J. To children, the hospitalization of a brother or sister can be frightening. The children in these families may experience turbulent feelings, may be separated from their parents for an unusual or uncommon length of time and the familiar routines of their daily lives may be disrupted. Parents and other adults may act anxious or worried, and the children may hear words and phrases that sound very confusing or frightening. The needs of children whose sibling is hospitalized are too often forgotten in the midst of the tension and worry about the patient. During this experience, these children often feel mixed emotions that can be misunderstood by the adults around them. This article was written to help the family members recognize and understand some of the reactions and concerns children may have when a sibling is hospitalized and to provide some suggestions on helping children understand and cope during this experience.
Several factors influence how a child will react to the hospitalization of a sibling :
the age and developmental level of the child
the seriousness of the illness of the sibling
the length of time the sibling has been ill and/or in the hospital
the amount to which the child’s daily routine is disrupted
the amount of time, if any, the child is separated from the parents/significant others with whom he/she lives
the attention that is given to the child’s reactions and feelings
the quality of explanations and answers the child receives to the questions about the ill sibling
A variety of feelings about the hospitalization of a sibling may be experienced by children of all ages. There also may be a variety of reasons why they experience these feelings. Depending on the child’s developmental level and on their perception of the hospitalization, some feelings may be more prominent than others. Their feelings may change from day to day or hour to hour. They may have any one or many of the following feelings. They may feel conflicted because they are having multiple feelings at the same time.
Confusion as to what is happening and why, particularly, if the hospitalization was very sudden or unexpected. Younger children may not even know what a hospital is – it needs to be described to them , for example, as “A place where doctors and nurses take care of people who are sick . These sick people (adults and children) are called patients. These patients may need either surgery (also called an operation), which is when the doctor fixes something in their body that isn’t working well or he takes something out of their body that is giving them trouble, like tonsils, etc. Patients also go to the hospital when they need to get medicine in a special way or they can’t take that medicine at home.”
Guilt about angry wishes or thoughts that they had toward the ill sibling. Younger children, especially, may even have feelings that they are in some way responsible for the illness and its cause. Young children are developmentally egocentric and view their actions as the cause of what happens in their world. In addition, it is not uncommon for school-aged children to “wish” negative things about a sibling (ex: to wish for the moment that their sibling was “dead” or “sick”). It is common for them to feel they somehow caused the hospitalization. In addition, they may also have feelings of guilt because they aren’t sick themselves.
Anger toward parents for not protecting the sick person from illness and also concern that the parents will not protect them from getting sick. Their trust in their parents may be shaken, and they may have feelings of insecurity.
Fear that they may become sick themselves or “catch it” and have to be hospitalized, especially if they are unsure of the reason for the hospitalization.
Abandonment and worry about not having their own needs and wants met. They may wonder who will be taking care of them or making sure they are all right.
Rejection or being left out. If the children are not kept involved or updated about the hospitalization, they may begin to feel like “outsiders” to the situation and not as important family members. They may also be jealous of all the attention and concern the patient is given and be disappointed that they don’t seem to receive or deserve an equal amount.
Resentment because there are two sets of rules or standards: one for the hospitalized child and one for the other children.
Embarrassment because of the sibling’s condition. The hospitalization may draw a great deal of attention to the children from friends, relatives, teachers peers and even hospital staff. Children may not know how to interpret this. There are many ways in which children express their concerns and feelings. Reactions depend on the individual child’s temperament as well as their age and developmental stage. Children understand and cope with stressful situations in different ways. Some of the ways children may express their feelings include:
separation issues – clinging to parents or caregivers
eating disturbances – lack of eating or overeating
behavior changes – withdrawal, outbursts, misbehaving, “acting like the perfect child”
displaying feelings of jealousy and competition, becoming argumentative, fighting with others
declining school performance
changing social patterns – decrease in interest or involvement with peers or withdrawing from family unit
becoming obsessed with the patient and the patient’s things
hypochondria – complaining of similar ailments to that of the patient
Helping Children Cope There are many ways that you can help children cope with and understand the hospitalization of a sibling. It is important to remember that incomplete information may create fantasies that are often worse than the real situation. Allow and encourage children to ask questions and express feelings. They may be hesitant to ask questions, especially if this is a very stressful time for the family. Give honest and understandable answers to their questions. Simple, direct answers are usually most helpful. The following are other ways you can make the hospitalization of a sibling easier to understand for children.
Be honest before, during and after the hospitalization. It is better to give correct information, rather than tell them something you will have to change later on or something that could cause incorrect fantasies.
Let the children know that it is okay to ask questions and talk about the hospitalization. Reassure them that if you become upset or cry, that this is all right, too. They may be afraid to ask questions because they may upset you. Help them understand it is all right to have and to express their feelings and they can do so without losing control. They will turn to you for examples of appropriate behavior.
Allow children to help in the preparation and planning of events. This is as important to the healthy children to have some control over the situation as it is for the hospitalized child. For example, letting them help with packing things for the hospital. These are also excellent opportunities for talking and answering questions.
If the hospital provides a tour for patients before hospitalization, allow the siblings to also attend. If an emergency hospitalization occurs, explain it as soon as possible. Let them know how serious the illness or injury is and how soon they can see their sibling.
For younger children, you may act out the hospital experience with people, dolls or puppets. Using puppets is a good way for younger children to share feelings they may be uncomfortable saying otherwise.
Read or color books with stories about hospitals or let the children make their own story-picture books on what it is like to have a sibling go to the hospital. They could draw the pictures and you could write the story as they tell it to you.
If the children seem to be displaying a lot of anger or frustration, find an active or vigorous play outlet for them. Through play, children work through their feelings. It helps release their anxieties as well as burn off excess energy in a constructive manner.
Things You Can Do If you are staying at the hospital with the child that is ill and/or if the healthy sibling is staying somewhere other than at home, try to have contact with them daily. Let them know where you are and what arrangements you have made for them and for yourself. When you are with them, spend some special time alone with them if possible. This may be a good opportunity for them to share some of their thoughts, feelings or fears with you. You can help them find ways to cope and understand when you are not with them. Also try to provide maintain as much of the daily normal routine as possible. Try to continue the special activities of your child as much as possible, such as school or sport activities, birthday parties and holiday celebrations. These are still an important aspect of their life. Activities that may help both the parent and the patients stay involved with the healthy sibling are:
Write, e-mail or tape record “letters” to each other. Talk on the telephone as often as you can. Even if they cry when hearing your voice, allow these feelings to be expressed.
Tape record bedtime stories or read to them over the phone
Send a new piece to a puzzle to them every day
Send safe, unused trinkets from the hospital to the healthy sibling, such as seasoning packets, plastic silverware straws, plastic syringes without needles and other safe, disposable hospital items.
Have both the patients and the sibling make greeting cards, pictures and picture books for each other.
If you cannot be with the siblings, ask them to keep a special item of yours for you until you can be with them. It should be an item that they specifically associate with you, for example, your pillow from your bed or something from your pocketbook. This helps them feel connected to you and reassures them that you will be coming back.
Have a photo exchange between the patient and the sibling. Let the sibling select photos of themselves that they would like to send to the hospital for the patient. Place these on the patient’s bed or in a place where they can be viewed easily by the patient. If possible, take a picture of the patient actually in the hospital and send it to the sibling. A digital camera is useful for doing this, and if you do not have one, check to see if the hospital has one available. Pictures throughout a hospital stay can help keep the sibling updated on the patient’s progress as well as help prepare them for what to expect then they visit or when the patient comes home.
If possible, allow the sibling to visit the patient in the hospital. This allows them to see firsthand where the patient is and helps clear any fantasies or misconceptions that may have occurred. It offers an opportunity for questions to be asked. It may also help reduce stress for the patient and reassure him/her that the rest of the family is all right and that things will be the same when they go home. Before the visitation, however , prepare the sibling for the experience. Give the children a simple explanation of the situation. You may say that his brother/sister is in the hospital so that the doctors and nurses can help him get better. If the patient can have visitors in the room, you may say you will see his room, where he eats and sleeps and where he plays. In order to prepare them for some of the medical equipment they will see, you must use developmentally appropriate language. You should say that they may see some of the special things or medical equipment that help get the patient better. Encourage them to ask questions about what they don’t understand but , especially for younger children, provide information in case they don’t feel comfortable or can’t formulate the questions to ask. Depending on the age of the sibling, more or less information should be provided. Remember, there are Child Life Specialists or nurses available in most hospitals to provide any additional support or information that your children may need concerning the hospitalization.
Michelle Brauntuch is M.S., CCLS. Certified Child Life Specialist, Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, Englewood, N.J.
The following are some questions that siblings may ask and some answers you may use as a guideline when talking to them about the hospitalization. Again, remember to keep the children’s age and developmental level in mind when answering them. When questions are asked, you may first want to ask the child what they think the answers to their questions are (ex: “Why do you think he’s in the hospital”, “How do you think he got sick”), clear up any misconceptions they have, as well as provide more information.
1. Why does “Michael” have to be in the hospital? You can say: “Michael has to be in the hospital because he is sick. The hospital has special medicine and equipment, and there are things that the nurses and doctors can do to help him get better faster than we could at home.” (Remind them that this is a different kind of “sick” that when they are sick.) If there is surgery, you may say “Michael will have an operation to fix _________, that is giving him trouble. An operation is when the doctor fixes something in your body that is giving you trouble or sometimes they take something out of your body that isn’t working well. People are born with parts of their bodies that they don’t need, like your appendix, and doctors take them out when they give you trouble and you can live just fine without them.”
2. When is “Michael” coming home? You can say: “Michael will come home as soon as he is well enough. The nurses and doctors will do every thing they possibly can to make him feel better and come home as soon as possible.”
3. Is “Michael” going to die? (The family may have had an experience where a relative or acquaintance went to the hospital and died, so they may associate hospitalization with death.) If the patient is terminally ill, you may want to prepare the children for this. For example: “ The nurses and doctors will do everything they possibly can to help Michael feel better and come home. We all hope he’ll be able to come home.” It is important to be receptive to the children’s feelings at this time and encourage them to let you know what they are feeling and thinking both now and later on. There are many books available on explaining death and dying to children of all ages that you may find helpful. If the patient is not terminally ill, reassure the children that the hospital staff is helping the patient to feel better and then focus on what will happen when the patient comes home again.
4. Will I have to go to the hospital? If the children have no foreseeable problem, let them know that when they are “sick”, it is different than the patient’s illness, and that they don’t have to go to the hospital. Tell them that if someday they have a problem that needs the special help from doctors and nurses or the special medicine or equipment, then they may go to the hospital, too. Reinforce that it they need to go to the hospital, you will be there with them also.
5. Will I catch it? Explain that the illness is not contagious (as long as that is true). Again, emphasize that this is a different kind of “sickness” than when they get sick (unless it is a hereditary illness). Then let them know that you will be there for them if they ever have to be hospitalized.
6. What will they do to “Michael” in the hospital? You can say : “The doctors and nurses will do everything they possibly can to make Michael feel better and get well as fast as possible. They may give him medicine, do a special test or take some special pictures to help them know what is going on inside his body and to help Michael get well the fastest”. Siblings may also be concerned with practical things like food, clothing, sleeping arrangements, friends, etc. Let them know how these things are provided for both the patient and yourself (ex: “Michael gets his meals on a tray in his room and Dad and I go to the cafeteria to eat”).
7. Why do you (the parent) have to go to the hospital? You can say: “There may be things that are very strange or may hurt or be scary for Michael, and I want to be there to help him feel more comfortable. I would want to be there if this was happening to you, too. The doctors and nurses aren’t trying to be mean to Michael. There are just things that need to be done to help them understand what is going on in his body and to help him get better the fastest. I will miss you when I’m not with you and I think you may be missing me and I wish I could be with you. You may be feeling scared or sad or even mad now, and those feelings are okay. I understand. Let’s plan something special for us to do together when I get home and maybe we can talk more about these feelings and help you feel better.”
8. Do you love “Michael” more than me? You can say: “I love you both. Michael needs some special attention from me right now. And when you need some special attention, I want to be able to be with you, too. I know you may be having a lot of different feelings now. What kinds of things might we do together to help you understand and feel better?”
9. Who will take care of me while you are gone? You can say: “I will make sure someone will always take care of you while I can’t be with you.” Give specific examples such as “During the day you will be at school and your teacher will be there for you. Then you’ll be playing at your friend’s house and his mom will be there if you need anything. I will be thinking of you and missing you when I can’t be there.” Be sure to let the children know if there are upcoming changes in routine. You may even want to make up a special calendar or daily schedule showing the children where they will be on each day and at what time. If possible, give the children a special list of telephone numbers, including emergency numbers, the number of the hospital room and/or where you can be reached, and numbers of friends and relatives they can call if they need help or are feeling lonely or upset. Friends and relatives may have misconceptions or fears about the hospitalization and may ask your children questions. This may be upsetting to the children, especially when they don’t understand everything. By discussing the hospitalization with your children, you help them with talking to others about it. After the patient comes home, continue to let the sibling participate in any home care that may be necessary. Spend some special time alone with them even after you have returned home.
Important Points to Remember:
Siblings need help to make sense of the changes which occur in their world when a family member is hospitalized.
Open communication provides an environment free enough for children to express concerns and questions.
“Protecting” a child from knowledge creates anxiety. Children know about what is happening – they sense it.
Without correct information, children make up their own explanations for changing and frightening events. The reality is never as frightening as the ideas children invent to explain things to themselves.
The unknown can be more traumatic to children than the truth.
Dr. Ron Taffel is known as one of the most captivating and practical child-rearing experts in the country. He is the author of two best-selling books, Parenting by Heart: How to be in Charge, Stay Connected and Instill Your Values- When it Feels Like You’ve Got 15 Minutes a Day (Addison Wesley) and Why Parents Disagree: How Women and Men Parent Differently and How We Can Work Together (Morrow). He was a frequent contributor to The Confident Parent, a monthly column that ran in McCalls Magazine from 1991 to 1996. He has also been featured on 20/20, The Today Show, CNN, and hundreds of radio shows. Ron has a private practice in New York City and is the Founder of The Family Therapy Division at The Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy. He is married and has two children.
Often when a child becomes suddenly ill, or when there is a significant trauma in his life, or his medical condition changes, parents put additional pressure on themselves to communicate perfectly. The following is an article with success strategies to help you share important news with children.
Don’t feel pressured to communicate perfectly. With children there’s rarely one “make or break” conversation. Understand that many mini-discussions will occur. Any mistake you’ve made can be talked about again. Even when it comes to highly upsetting events, there are almost always second chances to talk things over. As you approach your child with new distressing information, try to be direct and kind. If there are two parents, rely on the parent who has the strength to take the lead in the conversation. If you are a single parent, ask the doctor or child life professional to answer questions that you have prior to talking to your child.
Know and respect your child’s communication style. This includes the time of day he/she usually talks, whether a lot of questions help or hinder, and activities during which he/she opens up.
Kids talk in the middle of doing other activities. This fact of communication does not change, even during a crisis. So remember, kids open up while in “parallel position” to parents. Some examples are walking to school, bath time and bedtime.
Protect these moments. Create or stick to as many “talking rituals” as possible and your child will naturally open up even about difficult matters.
Don’t assume. During crises, adults can’t help but interpret what kids feel. More often than not, our guesses don’t hit the mark, and kids can become more reluctant to talk. So try to keep an open attitude. As part of not assuming, stick to the questions your child asks. Try not to offer one fact more than a child brings up. Remember, kids can feel easily overwhelmed and far more anxious by too much information. Let your child lead.
Try not to pounce. During tough times parents want so badly to communicate that we tend to drop everything when a child seems ready to talk. Unfortunately, most kids feel pressure when we’re over-eager and they end up clamming up. Have faith in your child’s ability to gradually open up. In summary, if you:
Let your child lead
Protect talking rituals
Respect your child’s communication style
Remember that mini-discussions have the power to heal
Understand that mistakes can almost always be mended
… then you will keep the lines of communications open, even during the most challenging times.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman New York Times Best Selling Author: Eat to Live, Super Immunity and Disease Proof Your Child
In collaboration with Dr. Joel Fuhrman, we are excited to announce SoaringNutrition® — making every bite count! Dr. Joel Fuhrman is the New York Times best selling author of Eat to Live, Super Immunity and Disease Proof Your Child (www.drfuhrman.com).
What we put in our mouth matters
It determines not just our lifespan, but the quality of our life, especially when we are older. We put nutrition dollars in our body bank account and it pays us back with the best interest of all– great health as we age. Eating more nutrient bang per caloric buck is the secret to push the envelope of human health and longevity. Superior health flows naturally as a result of superior nutrition. So which food packs a more powerful punch per bite?
G-BOMBS – A fun way to remember your SUPER FOODS!
○ G – Greens ○ B – Beans ○ O – Onions ○ M – Mushrooms ○ B – Berries ○ S – Seeds
Do you eat a SAD diet, a Nutritarian diet or somewhere in between?
Sadly, in the Standard American Diet (SAD) it is recommended that less than 5% of the total caloric intake come from nutrient-rich foods.
On the other hand as Dr. Fuhrman describes, a Nutritarian, is a person whose food choices are influenced by nutritional quality. Nutritarians strive to consume at least 90% of their diet from nutrient rich foods (vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds).
For optimal health and to combat disease, it is necessary to consume enough of these foods that deliver the highest concentration of nutrients. Let your mantra be, “Salad is the Main Dish”.
Hope matters. The author of Making Hope Happen: Create the Future You Want for Yourself and Others shares important tools.
Just because you may be grappling with serious illness in your family, you still can have HOPE. How do some people deal with and bounce back from setbacks? Why do they lead happier and healthier lives? It’s because they have hope. So, what exactly is hope and how can you develop it, too? Using discoveries from the largest study of hopeful people ever conducted, world-renowned expert on the psychology of hope, Shane J. Lopez, Ph.D., shares strategies for building a high-hope mindset. He tells uplifting stories of real people who are Making Hope Happen in their lives. The message is clear: Hope matters. Hope is a choice. Hope can be learned. Hope is contagious.
1) Make sure you call ahead and confirm that it is okay to visit on that date and time. You may even call a couple of hours before to make sure things have not changed with the hospital schedule. Also, understand that your visit may be interrupted by a doctor, nurse or procedure that needs to take place.
2) Be fully present during your visit, giving your attention and energy to the patient. We recommend that you take care of all your personal needs prior to the visit. For example, you should not use the patient’s restroom and you may want to make any phone calls prior to the visit so you can give all of yourself to the patient and his or her family.
3) Leave heavy bags and valuables in your car or at home as space is at a premium in hospital rooms and large items can get in the way and be a tripping hazard.
4) Don’t wear heavy perfume or cologne. Many patients are allergic and have lower resistance to odors and smells, even nice ones!
5) Wash or disinfect your hands at the hospital scrub station before you go into the room and also after leaving the room.
6) If you are bringing your child who is friends with the patient, anticipate that the initial hello may be awkward for both children, which is totally normal. You might want to have a conversation with your child prior to the visit to address any concerns or questions that they might have. You may first want to ask the child what their answers are to questions such as “Why do you think he’s in the hospital” or “How do you think he got sick”. In this way, you can provide accurate information and clear up any misconceptions they may have.
7) Bring a gift for the patient. It can be a card, book, magazine, stickers, poster or a memento that a child would like to keep in their room. It does not have to be expensive, just something to remind them that you care. Take note that some hospitals may not allow balloons, flowers or plants. If you are bringing food, make sure to ask about dietary restrictions and other hospital rules. Many children are on restricted diets (no candy or solid food).
8) Try to keep it upbeat. Patients and their families really appreciate and enjoy the distraction from illness, hospital routines and procedures. You can also talk about the gift you brought or comment on something they have in the room (such as a teddy bear, poster, game, or photo), or discuss something that happened in the community.
9) Sometimes just being there is enough. Do not panic if there are times when you are not talking. Do not feel that you have to over-compensate by talking every minute to fill in the silence.
10) Take your cues from the patient and do not overstay your welcome or tire the patient out. Parents frequently cannot leave their child’s room, even for short periods of time. Don’t be insulted if the parent cannot walk you to the elevator or spend time in the lounge talking with you.
11) Understand that the child may be drowsy from medication and their illness. The child may also feel self conscious — imagine how you’d feel if someone came to visit you and you were wearing your pajamas and had not taken a shower or washed your hair in a couple of days. Please do not personalize any lack of enthusiasm. There is a reason they are in the hospital (they are really ill or recovering from a procedure) and what you are seeing is the result of the illness and not a reflection on you.
12) Be supportive of parents (or caregivers). Often parents can’t leave the hospital room because the child might be afraid to stay alone. If you know the parents has a favorite food, offer to bring them a lunch or dinner. Hospital food can be expensive and gets boring after awhile. It would also be helpful to offer to stay with the child while parents take care of important errands, or even leave the patient’s room for a short time to make a personal phone call or take a walk.
We have created a series of SoaringImagery videos to help you reduce anxiety, fear and depression during challenging times. Here are some special SoaringImagery videos featuring guest expert Rachel Epstein, Director, American Institute of Mental Imagery, to help reduce stress from COVID-19.
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.