JOYFULLY BRIDGING THE BODY-MIND DISCONNECT IN SOME GIFTED CHILDREN:
We know that our very gifted children have the capacity to garner an extraordinary amount of input from the environment through a heightened sensory awareness.
Even while paying direct attention children are also absorbing information that lies beyond their immediate focus. This can be overwhelming to them; they may not even be consciously aware HOW much they are taking in.
It may feel like a state of constant mild stress or distress, a state that is difficult to tease out, one that is constant and enervating.
How do we help them engage in activities AND PRACTICES that integrate sensory data without undue duress, allowing them to live fully, and to flourish?
We can start simply.
LET’S TALK ABOUT THE MIND-BODY CONNECTION:
“Your body responds to the way you think, feel and act. This is often called the “mind/body connection”.
“When excited, stressed, anxious or upset, our body tries to tell us that something is about to happen or that maybe something is not quite right”
We’ll start with: STOP AND GENTLY THINK:
Begin by interrupting your normal daily thoughts. In a calm way, think about what is going on around you in the immediate environment. Then switch your thoughts to yourself and your breathing. Take a few deep breaths, exhaling slowly. Do this gently and easily, with a curious mind, and long slow calm breaths. Allow your breath to carry any stressful feelings away, just a little bit at a time.
WE CAN ALWAYS DO A BODY SCAN: Mentally scan your body. Notice areas that feel tense or cramped, such as your neck or shoulders. Loosen up these areas. Let go of as much tension as you can. Think of this with appreciation FOR YOUR PHYSICAL BODY: I am letting go of some tensions that are not needed and allowing my body to move more freely in the world.
AND WE CAN GET A MOVE ON:
Exercise clears the mind.
It gets our blood pumping and oxygen delivered to the brain
We know that physical activity is related to better cognitive health and effective functioning across the lifespan.
We can all get moving, even in little ways, and model this for our children!
In fact, aerobic exercise program brings benefits to individuals with depressive and anxiety symptoms and very definitely improves our physical and mental well-being overall.
What are all the ways we can help our gifted children move?
Nature walks, beach walks or hiking
Walks to the library or to the grocery store.
Dance: because you can and music inspires!
Taking the stairs when there is the option to do so
Non-competitive sports: Frisbee playing in the park, skateboarding, recreational basketball, baseball (or any other sport done simply for enjoyment and camaraderie), running, hoola-hoops, skipping, and any other made-up game that gets our children moving.
Any competitive sport that the child is comfortable doing; some gifted children thrive in these environments, others very definitely do not.
Martial Arts: many, many options for all the different tastes of our gifted children.
Fencing, archery, sword play: all bring body awareness and some level of body fitness
Fort building and active play in nature
Water sports of all kinds
About the Author: P. Susan Jackson, Therapeutic Director of The Daimon Institute for the Highly Gifted in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada. This international institute offers service to highly and profoundly gifted children and adults, supporting the learning needs and overall development of this exceptional population.
Her clinical work spans 25 years, comprising over 40,000 hours of psychotherapy wholly with this exceptional population. She is the author of numerous articles and chapters in the gifted education literature. Her Integral Practice for the Gifted model addresses multiple aspects of human functioning – cognitive, emotional, spiritual, physical and talent based dimensions – and explains how advanced cognition influences all of these elements, the Self, and the expression of talent.
In 2010, she produced a short documentary entitled “Exceptionally Gifted Children”, which she received wide acclaim internationally. In 2013-2014, the Daimon Institute produced “Rise: The Extraordinary Story of the Exceptionally Gifted” – a 60 minute film on the lives of 12 exceptionally and profoundly gifted persons from all over the globe.
Sue served as the Chair of the Parents and Curriculum Networks Communications Committee and Counseling and Guidance Network (National Association to Support Gifted Children), and is a member of the advisory board for SENG. She is recognized as an international expert in the field of the Exceptionally and Profoundly Gifted and regularly presents with other leading experts at the international conferences. She is a (nascent) photographer, poet, and nature lover with a passionate interest in advanced development, optimal health and well-being for the Profoundly Gifted populace.