Barbara Billingsley believed in the power of meditation, hot baths and a positive attitude
The June Cleaver actress even thought Leave It to Beaver was a form of positive attitude adjustment.
Read to Me
The final episode of Leave It to Beaver opens with June Cleaver pulling a box off a shelf and peering inside. The audience watches as a smile stretches across her face, pushing June to sing out, "Ward! Will you come here?"
Soon we discover the box is full of precious family mementos, including a wind-up clown that was Beaver's first toy as a newborn baby. The proud parents cannot help themselves, and soon they've pulled out the "Family Scrapbook" (hence the title of the finale) settling in for a night revisiting old memories.
Throughout her time on Leave It to Beaver, Barbara Billingsley portrayed June as the ideal mother and wife, with every hair always in place as she maintained her sparkling clean home and raised her good-natured boys.
Behind the scenes, Billingsley revealed to The Independent in 1963, she had a secret to how she maintained June's perfect image onscreen: meditation. Behind the scenes, Billingsley closed her eyes and meditated to shut out studio chaos and keep her cool.
Billingsley had long ago taught herself a mental practice that helped her escape the bustle of being on set with two growing boys.
"It's the art of being able to shut my mind to noise and confusion, leaving inward quiet," Billingsley explained, describing this state of mind like she had entered an entirely different room.
To Billingsley, there was nothing more vital in life than a peaceful state of mind, which she saw as often the product of a positive attitude.
A year after Leave It to Beaver started, the actor even said that the sitcom's positive attitude was the reason for its popularity, because just by watching the show — which was finely crafted and entertaining — the audience regains positivity, feeling right at home in Beaver's carefully controlled world.
She enjoyed being part of the audience's positive attitude shift.
"Attitude is something one should watch very carefully," Billingsley told The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1958. "In it there is hidden power for good or for bad. It is possible that an unhappy incident or big problem can be reversed by a change in attitude."
Before she became best known as Beaver's mom, Billingsley was a high-fashion model, and she said this idea that she was a great beauty had to do with her positive attitude, too.
"State of mind affects one's regard for appearance and has a far-reaching effect on one's complexion, hair, sleep and digestion of food," Billingsley said. "One might say it is the very foundation of beauty."
You can see why Billingsley became a meditative person who could easily tune out the chatter of working on a busy set, but she said when she felt she truly needed an escape, she had an easy solution for that, too.
She liked to sink into a hot bath, where she was free to think through any little problem that might arise in her world. It was as much about solitude as it was about the soothing suds.
"I retreat to the tub when I get that crowded feeling," Billingsley told The Independent.
"I do my best thinking, planning, and a lot of reading while surrounded by hot water."
To Billingsley, life was all about knowing how and when to take a break and just relax, which remains a good tip for any mom or dad today.
"That's really living," she said.