Yoga Therapy Suggestions for a Frantic Mom

My private Yoga Therapy practice has taken off in the last six months, thank God. I get to help people doing what I do very well: sharing experiences, resources and the Light of Yoga. In the process of consulting with prospective clients, I ask a lot of questions, filtering, curiously, listening for compatibility. I am learning a ton – about boundaries, my scope of practice, who I can actually help with Yoga therapy and meditation… and that I have a trove of supportive tools that I would like to share, as a survivor and as a holistic healer. I share what I can in hour-ish-long calls and I follow up, because I care deeply about our community.

I received an email from a very worried, almost frantic single mom whose ten year old son is experiencing extreme combativeness and rage. He has turned tables over at school, he is bored and probably very bright. His father has addiction issues, parents separated.  He lives with his mom and toddler sister at his grandmother’s house. They’ve moved a lot,changed schools. One of his school therapists has suggested Oppositional Defiance Disorder as a diagnosis, stating that, for a boy with no history of trauma, he sure is acting out. Excuse me? No trauma? Are we… talking about the same kid? Yeah, but we are observing from totally different angles, listening for different things.

I suggested that his mother use critical thinking concerning her son and the system’s rejection of his cries for understanding. She was heartbreakingly worried about her boy, and financially strapped, and exhausted. I offered her hope, thank God. I would like to share some of what might have helped her through the next few weeks while she waited to hear about being hired for a new job that would offer more stability and choices for care.

Dear A,

Nice to talk with you – R is fortunate that you care so much for him!

Suggestions:
  • Alateen – looks like ages 13-18 but keep it in mind. http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/try-an-alateen-chat-meeting
  • Weighted blankets/swaddling/tucking him in /deep pressure/gentle stroking
  • http://www.exercisebuddy.com Created for but not limited to children with autism, may be helpful since it’s on a device and he responds to that. Reward him for five minutes in the morning, perhaps? Get him moving regualrly, ten minutes per day and have him notice how he feels before he starts and after so he has direct experience of the results. 
  • Martial Arts
  • Swim and other “free” activities without structure
  • Finding the right teacher(s) that he resonates with
  • Remembering that R isn’t wrong, he is maybe perfectly right in a world full of wrong; his self-soothing techniques of humming and hugging are appropriate. Consider avoiding using touch as punishment or reward but possibly as a short-term soothing technique for three minutes each evening, for example.
  • Practice your own five minute daily meditation. Even if you have to lock yourself in the bathroom. This may be the most difficult suggestion of all! He’ll model you, though. The effects will be noticeable. You might not mention that you are doing it at first. Try morning or evening or both – try evening after everyone is in bed. Meditation may refer to a moving meditation, like a sun salutation or Energization Exercises. R might respond to this video more – quick and cool Australian surfer guy adapting the Energization in less than three minutes. Morning or morning and night might be good.
  • deep breathing before sleep, six or twelve breaths
  • alternate nostril breathing
  • Humming Breath as Yogic Science for Stress Relief:
  • Quiet Time and Transcendental Meditation in Schools:
Tulsi Bagnoli teaches Transcendental Meditation. I am not sure how much it costs (I think it’s a one-time payment) or if she teaches to children (she probably does) but you might reach out to her. yogawithtulsi@gmail.com
Everyone responds differently to different people, different styles of Yoga and meditation. Keep trying!
I know what you are going through is exhausting for you. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts. If other resources come to mind, I will send them along, as well.
Her inspired, gorgeous, gracious reply:
Hi Brooke,

Thank you so much for all the resources and suggestions you have sent.  I am looking into all of these things – slowly but surely.  I also appreciate your encouragement to listen to myself – my gut, my thoughts and instincts – in doing what is best for R and help him find balance in an out-of-balance world.  
I think I will know any day now (or, at most, sometime in the next 2 weeks) if I got that job in town.  Because it’s really going to shape our immediate future – my decisions and commitments.  If I get the job, I’d like to talk with you more and seriously about committing to a practice with you, which would extend into a larger lifestyle practice.  If not, I would still like to consider meeting for a session or two, but I would need to do more research on your various recommendations to decide where we would need the most guidance.
And, last, I need to follow through on my own mental health.  These last three years have been tremendously stressful for me – and a large part of that is I’ve lost my quiet center.  Not having my own space, being under another’s roof, has been a real challenge, as I haven’t been able to completely relax, completely let down, the way one does in their own home.  And I kept putting the effort off, thinking my own space is just around the corner – and, in a way, it is.  But the inner turmoil has gotten so loud that it’s hard to hear my inner self – to hear my own thoughts – and make those big decisions. And, right now, I do need to find my quiet core, so I can help guide my son to find his.
So, these next couple weeks, as I wait for that phone call or email, as I stand at this crossroad and look out on these variable life paths, I am going to practice some quiet meditation, through yoga and exercise – and I will do those deep breaths.  And when I have a bit of clarity, or at least news, I will contact you.  Please know that I understand that your schedule may change during these next weeks as well, so I will understand if your availability changes while I take time to figure things out.  No worries.
I very much appreciate the time and thought that you have given to me and my family.  You have given me so much think about, as well as a feeling of hope and wellness.
Thank you again,
A
Keep listening.
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