This was an email from a father of two small children, who also works full-time and is going to school full time. (He was a film directing student of mine - not a meditation student):
Q: so last night you mentioned you were concerned about my work load.
thanks by the way
any ideas on how to not burn out?
Literally. (and other stuff added below)
That could mean meditation, or just simply 'stopping'. By the way, this is a wonderful thing for kids to get young. We live in a 'driven' society - always pushing to the next thing. It's always about the things that need to be done, our lists, what we want, what we do and the last thing we do is tune into ourselves. You can think of that like not having an air holes - a kind of suffocation, really. (And the body, which “doesn’t lie”, will almost always, at some point, break down in response to this either sickness, backaches, headaches, etc. - in addition to emotional responses depression, anxiety, etc.)
When we're in a period of our lives of lots of commitments, as you are - and as I was for the first half of this year, where it just seems like everything is important and there's no let up, that's the most important time to incorporate into the fabric of all the 'doing' - little stops, pauses, breaths, moments to tune inside.
You can get a little 5-15 min. guided meditation CD to follow, just sit and follow the breath (mindfulness i.e. tuning into your own experience is proven to be beneficial for alleviating discomfort, stress, trauma.)
If you want to really help kids get it (and one of the nicest ways to learn something is to teach it to someone else) is to have a bell remind me and I’ll bring one to class and whenever it rings they’ve got to close their eyes and feel the vibration of the bell in their bodies and not move till the ring is totally gone. Works for really little kids I did it when my niece & nephew were 3 & 5. My (adult) meditation students all remark that, now, just the sound of my bell as we begin a meditation puts them into a deeper state. (A kind of Pavlovian/Skinnerian conditioning.)
Or you can just stop and count 10 breaths, noticing the movement of the body as it breathes, the expansion & contraction & the pause between breathes.
And whenever the mind wanders into thought, gently bring it back to the breath.
By literally moving the focus inward, it's a kind of watering of the plant. It's been proven we physically benefit - in addition to developing new neuropathways in the brain. (I went to a workshop at UCLA, by the way, research done by Dr. David ___? can't remember last name, showed that when a parent instead of focusing on the child's behavior - focus on their intention - the child literally develops parts of the brain that help with social functioning - i.e. affecting all relationships & interacting in their lives. Interesting, no?)
The other things that I, personally, happen to believe are extremely important for physical, mental, emotional & spiritual health are: