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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Wise Elder Visualization: A Practice for Parents and Teachers

Photo by Aatik Tasneem on Unsplash

by Shauna Shapiro, PhD and Chris White, MD

"Wise Elder Visualization" is a sample activity from the book Mindful Discipline: A Loving Approach to Setting Limits& Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child and is reprinted here with permission from New Harbinger Publications, Inc.  The purpose is to imagine a supportive elder who can help you respond mindfully in emotionally-charged situations.

A note to teachers: This visualization was originally created for parents; wherever it says "child" you can substitute “student” (of any age).

Sit comfortably, eyes closed, body at ease. Feel the breath as it naturally flows in and out. 
Call to mind a difficult interaction with your child: something that is still unresolved and has caused significant stress. Imagine you are back in the heat of the disagreement or challenge, and as vividly as possible picture yourself and your child. Imagine what words are being exchanged. Feel the emotions, tension, and stress in your body.

Right in the middle of the conversation, imagine there’s a knock at the door. 
You pause the conversation and go to answer the door. Standing there is a wise elder, either your older wise self, or some wise being in your life. You invite the elder in, and with great compassion, their eyes and presence communicate to you, “I see how challenging this is. I am here for you. But I have complete confidence in you.”
You immediately sense the difference in your body. There’s greater ease and presence. Imagine yourself, supported by the wise elder, reengaging with your child. Listen to the words you speak, the tone of your voice, your body language, and how you’re feeling. Notice how your child is responding. Notice how wisdom and support bring out the best in you.

When you’re done with the visualization, make an intention to “call in the wise elder” the next time you find yourself spiraling into reactivity with your child. Sometimes simply having a loving and encouraging presence in the room can make all the difference.

Adapted from Mindful Discipline: A Loving Approach to Setting Limits & Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by Shauna Shapiro, PhD and Chris White, MD.© New Harbinger Publications, 2014. Reprinted with permission. 


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