Children are at risk of growing up with a heightened sense of anxiety or potentially an addiction to excitement if they live in a whirlwind of highs and lows. We can teach The Pendulum and the importance of True Rest to children directly. We can guide our own children or the children we teach and look after in how to live in the calm, how to live in the here and now. Hyperactivity in a child can happen as a result of family situations or home life where there is no built-in easing of pendulum swings or ‘down time’. In using the Calm of the Pendulum and demonstrating ways of ‘getting into the calm’ such as changing the environment, we can lead by example. To change the environment, to get into the calm, this can be as simple as standing up and walking across the room and sitting down in another chair. In the calm we have our best ability to cope.
When I was teaching in the primary classroom if things became fraught or there was an incident in the room whoever was able to start first would start to sing the song “Stand by me” and this would gradually filter around the room until we were all singing. This may sound rather unbelievable but it happened and it was beautiful. We did Circle Time every day and followed a simplified structure based on how the group would start and a round would be lead on The Pellin Training course.
The first time was very powerful and exciting. It was an hour until home time and we were breaking up for Christmas. The class parties were over and chaos and hype ran throughout the school. We shut the door sat cross legged in a circle on the carpet and did a simple breathing exercise. I talked about the fact that Christmas can be an exciting time but can also get a bit much with all the hype. I introduced the Pendulum for the first time and then suggested a round based on how you get into the calm when you are feeling all hyper and wound up. I shared some of my feelings and referrals about Christmas and my own personal battle with The Pendulum. I was moved by the way this enabled the children to listen to each other and talk on an emotional and personal level about what was going on for them and what ways of getting ‘into the calm’ worked for them. This experience resulted in a child volunteering to sit in the middle of the circle and tell the rest of the class about being broken into whilst in bed at home and his fear that ‘they’ would come back while his mum was in on her own. We all gave him reassuring feedback. It was very moving and bonding.
As we developed Circle Time individual children would lead the breathing exercise or guided fantasy meditation at the start, developing their own ideas for getting calm.
Here are some examples from 2003 of nine and ten year olds in Islington:
“…breathing in and out with the sea, go to a place in your mind that makes you feel calm with plenty of space around you…”
“wrap yourself in a magic colour and go to a secret place…”
Here are some responses to sharing in a round:
“it is good to listen to other people and hear how they feel inside.”
“…being able to be right here, now, how I’m feeling…”
A response to a guided fantasy “I could feel the wind in my hair …” from a boy who smashed a window in the school because he was having difficulty controlling his behaviour.
I worked with this particular class for two years and despite some extreme behaviour issues amongst the class I was able to give up control, close my eyes and follow the instructions of the child leading the class along with the other children. I am still in touch with many of those children who are now in their mid twenties.