I truly do believe that the way we spend our new year just might be a peek into how we’ll spend the next year. Somehow, this year, our family ended up at the big ball drop….no, no, not that madness they call the Times Square ball drop, but the great Novato ball drop. It felt just as hard getting out of the house and there as if we were crossing the country to NYC. With an almost 5 year old, a 5 month old baby and our newest family member—because hey why not add a little more chao—an 8 week old puppy! Of course this shindig was decided on after a back-and-forth between daddy’s friends’ festivities and friends I wanted to connect with…invitations, looming sleeplessness, brain fog, etc.
But, finally we made the decision and slid into downtown Novato where an MC on a forty-foot crane was already on a one minute countdown…
Daddy pulled up (50, 49, 48) I chaotically grabbed the kids and ran out of the car (35, 34, 33) through a massive masked crowd to get our daughter into the front row for the massive piñata pop (5, 4, 3, 2, 1). Then yay…22,000 bouncy balls are flying everywhere!!! It was definitely a sight to see and the kids were ecstatic, but I couldn’t help thinking that maybe this is a metaphor for what has been and what may need to change. I don’t want to be like our puppy chasing all the balls. How do I create more spaciousness, reduce the chaos and have fewer balls in the air at one time?
Don’t get me wrong, it was bittersweet to watch kids obsess about getting every ball, try the impossible task of carrying them all, and then freak out thinking someone else would grab that really cool pink tie dye one…#fomo. But what can I learn from this experience? Isn’t that the question after every experience?
It makes me think of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, which is basically the bible for yogis on the path to attain wisdom and self realization through yoga. The second yoga sutra: “Yogas citta vrtti nirodhah” explains the ultimate purpose of yoga is to help calm the fluctuations of the mind. I explain this in a silly, but simple way in my Wee Yogis song: Little Monkeys!
“My mind has lots of thoughts.
They jump around, jump around like little monkeys nonstop.
But if I practice yoga I can make them calm.”
So here we go: if we practice yoga, breathing exercises, meditation and mindfulness then maybe we can calm that monkey mind to see more clearly, to see what’s important. And then wallah; it will be like we are celebrating New Year’s Eve in Times Square with just one big shining ball. All joking aside, wouldn’t it be nice to have that clarity, less chaos, and overall more grace, more peace in our minds in 2022?
Here are a few exercises to help find that clarity:
PARENTS Dim the lights and light a candle. Find a comfortable sitting position about two feet away from the candle and focus on the flame. Allow your breath to become full while imagining the light of the candle breathing into you. If thoughts arise, and they will, gently let them go by returning your attention to the flame as an anchor. If you have a wandering mind like myself it can be very helpful to have a point of focus rather than a traditional closed eye meditation. Try this for 5 minutes and then over time increase a little, this will definitely help your focus improve and sooner than later it will be easier to ignore other disturbances.
Have your little one lay down on their back and place their favorite stuffed animal on their belly. Have them breathe in and out and try to lift the stuffy up and down. Imagine that the stuffy is floating in the oceans and being rocked by the waves.
If their mind wanders, bring them back with playful questions like; “Do you think “stuffy” is sleeping or should we rock them more?
How does it feel to lift your stuffy? Does the stuffy feel hard or soft? Can you slow your breath down and take deeper breaths?”
This breathing exercise will help them develop focus and learn how to take calming belly breaths.
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Jocelyn Kay Levy is a mama, musician, yogi and social innovator. She has been performing music and leading yoga and barre fitness workshops for over 15 years. Jocelyn is the founder of Wee Yogis Organization whose mission is to bring yoga and mindfulness to children through music, videos, podcasts, and teacher training. Wee Yogis is also the kids yoga program for Ram Dass’ Nonprofit Love serve remember. Learn more at weeyogis.com