Sunday, August 17, 2014

Day 48: The Way of the Horse: Rhythmic Motion | Practical Parenting

I’ve decided to from now on throw in some ‘practical’ blogs in between my more ‘inner-process’ related blogs. After all, it’s easier to sit down to reflect on your process and yourself when your physical reality is relatively stable (eg. You’re not sleep deprived, your baby isn’t unnecessarily uncomfortable, your baby is in general not driving you insane).

Here I will share things that I’ve tried out and tested with Cesar which worked for us – and so may be of help for others.

So as the title suggests, the first practical point I want to share came from working with horses.

At the farm, we work with horses in close alignment with principles and methods of Natural Horsemanship. One of these points is that of ‘rhythmic motion’. Horses move within rhythmic motion, and through drawing on rhythmic motion ourselves, we are able to direct the horse. Besides using it as a form of communication, I also noticed that if my horse Charlie, was unsettles, was that rhythmic motion, sound and touch would settle him – from which I would be better able to direct him.

While this point of ‘rhythmic motion’ initially opened up with the horses, I have found that this point pretty much present with most animals, humans included.

When Cesar was very, very small – the only type of ‘rhythmic motion’ I would use, was that of me breathing. When he was upset, in pain or didn’t know what to do with himself, I would just hold him and breathe. I would first start of breathing normally and then slow down the pace – to which Cesar would then responding and get in sync. He didn’t breathe exactly in sync with me, because his lung capacity forces him to have to breathe more regularly than adults, but he would slow down proportionally with me. [As an FYI, according to some studies done on breathing with your child, the results show that breathing with your child in times of sickness helps accelerate healing]

Then, as he got older and a bit sturdier – I would start using my hands to make rhythmic motions and sounds (while all the while also just being aware of my breath, going with the rhythm).

I remember the one night he was up till 1-2 o’clock and just wouldn’t settle down, where the adrenaline that came with the teething had him going a bit nutty.

I then instinctively started using rhythmic motion on the mattress, tapping in a way to get a nice, low sound (he loves bassy sounds over high pitches) and finding the right rhythm. It’s quite interesting, because you’ll be playing with different speeds of tapping, and when you find ‘the one’, it’s like it just ‘catches’ them, and his whole being just settles down and centres. Then, I would keep tapping at that speed so he could really sink into the motion, and then slow down gradually. He was in crawling position on the mattress, and he his body sank down ever so slightly with each tap, until eventually he was lying down on his belly and then repositioned himself unto his side and then with the last tap just moved his head to a comfortable position.

Other variations I have done is where I am tapping him gently on his chest, or if he’s really ‘all over the place’ and not knowing what to do with himself, I would lay next to him on my side and put his legs in between mine so that I could ‘keep him in place’, which he initially would not like but after a few moments would then calm down and centre himself and then move himself to sleep with the tapping.

On other occasions, where the procedure was taking rather long or where I was already really tired when I started and my arm couldn’t hold much longer, I would utilize a metronome. When I was in music school we’d use a metronome which is a little gadget that you can use to set the ‘beats per minute’, where it either flashes a light or makes a sound (or both) so that it would assist in maintaining your rhythm/beats per minute. These days if you have a smartphone like an Android or iPhone – you can download a free metronome app and use your phone to do this. I would set it to x-amount of bpm (beats per minute), and would select a sound that Cesar responded to and would then once in a while set the amount of bpm lower and lower (while hiding it under my pillow).

This method is something I have found effective in times when Cesar overexerted himself (going overboard with standing/crawling or whatever – where he is not patient enough but straining his body) or was in a lot of pain where he would be in a state of ‘not knowing what to do with himself’, where the rhythmic motion gives him something to anchor to and direct his attention.

So when you’re all out of ideas, and your little one still won’t sleep = it’s worth a try!

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