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My Fourth Grade Teacher Taught Me a Relaxation Technique That My Kids and I Use to This Day

The best relaxation techniques I've ever learned were taught to me by my fourth grade teacher. She would turn off the lights, instruct us to sit with both feet planted to the floor, with our arms to our sides. Then, she would turn on a CD (yes, I'm aging myself) that would play soft music and a gentle voice would ask us to concentrate on relaxing our feet, and to imagine them melting into the floor. Next, it would instruct us to relax our ankles, then our legs. This would continue on until our entire bodies were rid of any tension.

At first, it seemed a little strange. My classmates would giggle, as it felt awkward to be doing something so out of the ordinary at school. It didn't take long, however, for this simple exercise to become something I looked forward to. It felt like a little treat in the middle of a busy day, a way to stop, slow down for a minute, and just breathe. I didn't know it then, but this was my first experience with meditation.

As an adult, I have found this exercise helpful when I am trying to quiet my mind enough to meditate. The key is to remove outside stimuli, and concentrate on relaxing individual body parts one at a time. When my mind begins to wander, I circle back to this exercise and imagine my body is melting into the floor.