As a mother of three young kids, I experience the bedtime routine mostly as a battle. Starting at 5pm, the battle begins: I battle with my children to wash their hands before eating dinner, to eat dinner, to not dance on the furniture while eating, to take a bath, to brush their teeth, to get dressed after bath, to pick their bedtime stories, and to keep their heads on their pillows after I turn off the lights for our nightly songs. (Actually, this nightly battle is mainly with my 4-year-old. My 9- and 7- year olds are pretty easy, but helping all three kids complete their responsibilities and getting them to sleep by an hour that’s not far past their ideal bedtime takes enormous focus and energy!)
Chanting has become part of my family’s bedtime routine
Surprisingly, a lovely nightly routine has unintentionally developed: chanting om.
Due to my limited memory of song lyrics, I’ve been singing the same short list of songs for years. When I find my children (or I) are bored of the same songs, including the few Sanskrit mantras that I know, I find myself repeatedly chanting om. In fact, after completing bedtime stories and then turning off the lights, I always begin and end bedtime songs with om, a sacred sound with meanings that vary by the different scriptures.
According to an article by Valerie Reiss, “The Sound of Om,” examples of some descriptions of om include: “the sound of the universe;” “the past, the present, and the future;” “the waking, dreaming, and dreamless states;” and a tool to align body/mind/spirit, to align with one another, and to align with the universe.
While chanting it, I sometimes reflect back to when I took my yoga teacher training program a decade ago. I remember learning about the healing and centering powers of singing, and especially chanting, and especially chanting Sanskrit mantras. There are reports that singing and chanting can silence the mind, and that the vibrations created from singing, humming, or chanting can loosen energy blocks, release tension, and heal.
After nine years of chanting om as part of our nightly routine, I experience chanting om as not only a release of stress, but it also brings us more into the present moment and soothes my children to sleep. These effects are also seen in my most challenging child to put to bed: my 4-year-old.
While chanting, I see her body and mind calm down. She becomes more present, and notices the comfort of her bed, notices that she’s tired, and then falls asleep.
I recently asked my children about their thoughts on me chanting om each night. They each said that they liked it. Then my 4-year-old chimed in, I like it… When you die, I’ll think of you when I hear it.
While I hope to have a long life ahead of me, I’m really glad they’ll think of me when they hear om. This ancient sound has also been used by many to connect — with oneself, others, the moment, and with eternity.
What a nice way to unwind and prepare for sleep.
Originally published at medium.com