Have you ever wondered why your child might be having trouble focusing for more than seconds at a time? Do you often think he’s deliberately not listening to you? Whether you are a parent, an educator, or a caretaker of tiny humans, you are surely no stranger to an at-times-seemingly-incapable-of-focus child.
According to Donna Eden, creator of the Eden Method, to concentrate and learn optimally three energetic conditions must be met. First, our body’s energy must travel from the right side of the body to the left, and vice versa. If that condition is not fulfilled, energy travels up and down the body in parallel lines. This is known as a homolateral state. Under that condition, our body’s ability (and therefore our brain’s ability) is reduced by about 50%. It is impossible to learn optimally if we operate with 50% of our energetic capacity! The second condition is that there must be space for the energy to move freely and to prevent energetic blockages. Finally, our energy needs to be organized, or unscrambled. Just as it is easier to find objects in a well-organized drawer, our energy operates more efficiently if it is organized.
To aid us in helping our bodies meet the above-mentioned optimal functioning conditions as much of the time as possible, Donna Eden has developed a Daily Energy Routine (DER), which consists of a series of simple exercises or movements, that help move our energy in ways that optimize our chances of the above three conditions being met. The routine only takes a few minutes to perform and can have profound effects on the body and mind. This is where I could go on for pages and pages detailing the energetic benefits of every exercise and the countless ways in which it has helped not only myself, but my children, clients, and friends, with physical issues, psychological issues, as well as concentration and learning. The benefits of an energy system that flows harmoniously reach far beyond increased concentration. The health benefits are endless! However, for the purpose of this article, I would like to focus on one particular instance in which this routine was particularly useful in concentration and learning for a group of Grade 1 students.
While working as a mental health counsellor in an elementary school, I committed myself to sharing Donna Eden’s Daily Energy Routine with whoever was willing to entertain the idea of something new to them, that could perhaps be helpful, or in my opinion, quite revolutionary. Among other willing participants, Mme Sirois, a phenomenal Grade 1 teacher, who is always open to new ideas, and always looking for ways to help her students in whatever capacity she can, enthusiastically accepted my offer of introducing this routine to her students. The routine was to take 6 minutes every morning. Here is what we did:
Every morning, for a week, I went into her classroom and modeled the routine for the students and for herself. On the first morning, it took us about 20 minutes to get through it, explaining the various parts, and attempting to get everyone onboard. The second morning was a bit quicker. By the third morning, I selected a student as my volunteer assistant to lead the class through the routine. I did the routine alongside my assistant. A different assistant was selected for the fourth and fifth days. The routine I taught them was a slightly modified version of the official DER that suited the needs of children (see video at the end of this article). After that week, Mme Sirois took over and kept doing the routine with her students every morning as part of the morning routine. She did it every day and observed. Here is what she noticed (free translation from French):
When I do the Energy Routine with the students in the morning, I notice the children are more receptive to learning: they wiggle less and they can concentrate. I noticed that when I added the Energy Routine to existing structures in my classroom, my students quickly developed the ability to read and write for up to 45 consecutive minutes. Before integrating the routine into our class structure, we could read or write autonomously for approximately 7 consecutive minutes. We went from 7 minutes to 45 minutes in a very short amount of time!
When the children perform the routine, I notice a sense of calm spread through the classroom, as much for myself as for the children … I love seeing them yawn, knowing it signifies their energies are connecting! I explained to them the energetic meaning of their yawns. Frequently, when they would catch themselves yawning, they would proudly report it to me and tell me their energy is “going back into the right spots”!
I even noticed one student in particular, for who behavioural management was a challenge, would spontaneously begin to use energy-based strategies we learned in class (like tapping) when he noticed himself escalate into frustration. His self-awareness increased, and so did his toolkit. If he didn’t notice immediate relief, he would not use the strategy spontaneously.
— Mme Sirois
This is but one example of how this simple addition to one’s routine can have such a powerful impact on all areas of one’s life. It is beautiful, quick, free, and it’s quite fun as well! It can also reduce anxiety significantly. If you are curious about the routine, or would like to try it yourself, watch the videos below!
When I worked with the Grade 1 students, we used 3 deep breaths per exercise and the routine took us 6 minutes to complete. I recorded a follow-along version in English at home with my children, in which we use 4 slow breaths per exercise, so the recording is a bit longer (approximately 9 minutes).
Energy Routine for Kids
The Exercises: (The Eden DER name for each exercise is inserted between brackets.)
- Super Points – under eyes/clavicle/sternum/ribs (4 Thumps)
- Push the Earth and Sky (Connecting Heaven and Earth)
- Ankles-Arms-3rd eye (Wayne Cook Posture)
- Flower in the Wind/Glasses (Figure 8s)
- Giant on a Cloud (Cross Crawl)
- Brain Stretch (Crown Pull)
- Weaving and Beach Ball (Celtic Weave)
- Hook-Up (Hook-Up)
- Zip-Up (Zip-Up)
I personally do the full (adult) version, along with a few additions, such as meridian tracing every day, and I consistently feel the shifts happen in my body and mind. Because the routine essentially retrains your energy system into positive energetic habits, it might take a week or two at first to notice obvious changes since your body might need time to repattern (although some feel deep changes right away). Just keep doing it! It is one of the most worthwhile investments you will ever make!