When I connect with my inner child, seeking to heal and grow, I sometimes wonder, who is really doing the healing? Am I saving my inner child or is he saving me? Have the skills, resilience and experience that I have gained as an adult, come at the cost of childhood’s long lost qualities?
Qualities like Spontaneity, courage, wonder, trust and curiosity. The thirst to learn and experience new things. A purity of spirit, sensing life as an enchanted and magical experience. These all still existwithin the deepest part of my being, my uninhibited and unrepressed self. In connecting to my inner child, I am looking not just to reassure and reconnect with what may be a lot of fear and repressed emotions but also, to reconnect with the wonderful simplicity of being a child and bringing that essence into my adult life.
I was never a ‘difficult’ child. I was not a troublemaker, but I was a rebel. I questioned authority and power, even when, with great resistance, I would comply with demands and instructions.
I would do as I was told, eventually, but often my inner disagreement remained. In school, I was excellent at subjects I enjoyed, but crap at those that I found too demanding or simply boring. I would confront teachers and staff without hesitation if I felt that I was being called out for irrelevant or pedantic issues like school uniform or losing interest in their mind-numbingly boring classes.
Perhaps, being raised by very alternative thinking parents, instilled in me a sense that the whole education thing was about conditioning me to become a pawn in society’s game and was something to be wary of, something to push back against, to preserve my natural dignity as a perfect being. I don’t know.
What I do know is that it did not win me many friends. In fact, I suffered chronic bullying all through my school career, due to my being an unusual type of person, with a different take on life, living in a fairly provincial, small minded environment.
I have always loved my rebellious nature. It feels intrinsic to me, something that I brought with me into the world. I did not learn it or cultivate it. It is a part of what I am. Honestly, I have always had this feeling that I am somehow meant for greatness. Destined for something meaningful and important. For better or worse it has had me on occasion, act with an entitlement and audacity that can leave those around me a bit shocked. I’m not saying that I am special, but somehow I act as if I am. I admit it, I fancy myself big time and yes, I have come down crashing on many occasions. I have to really work at accepting criticism and often fail, especially if I feel judged as well. But at the source of that is a strong energy. A force of wisdom and understanding within me, my inner child is not going to take any nonsense and I love him so much for that because, often he did have to take it and just put up with being abused, accused and targeted.
Born of this innate quality, there has arisen in me a realisation; an understanding that has changed my inner state, more than any practice, epiphany or insight ever has. It takes the form of an intention. A statement. I have decided that I am through with feeling scared about life. Yes, I learned to feel fear as a child but I also learned to find courage in the challenges of youth.
As a ten year old, I remember the first time I jumped from the highest diving board at my local swimming pool. I recall having to mentally force one foot in front of the other as I slowly approached the edgeof the board, looking down at the water and just freezing with fear. It was so much higher from up there. My heart thumping, feeling totally petrified. One half of me frantically trying to find a way to back out without looking a coward in front of my friends, the other half knowing that this challenge was actually doable and that I would survive.
I had to do it. But how could I gather the courage? In the end it came down to a moment – a single moment of commitment. I had to push myself to go beyond the point of no return and just trust. With my toes touching the edge and looking down at the distant water, I knew that all I needed was to feel strong enough and brave enough for just one second in time. One instant to change everything!
Forcing myself forward, fighting against my survival reflex, I jumped. Dropping… gasping in as I pinched my nose shut.
I slammed in to the water, a chaotic bomb of bubbles and noise. I sank all the way to the bottom, pushed off and headed back up. The moment I surfaced, fear was replaced with an elation and empowerment that only comes with a major victory against a perceived limitation. Almost like a birth – a new part of me. A released capacity, a new self-appreciation. The realisation that I can do this thing and from now on, I will always be able to do this thing!
That memory and many others from my childhood and teenage years have helped me to understand more about how fear moves in my life today. How it affects the choices I make and the consequences of those decisions. It has become such an essential tool for breaking out of my comfort zone.
So I cultivate and encourage this two-way relationship within me. As much as I seek to heal that young boy, I also seek his council, his courage and together we push through our barriers. It is not a denial of fear or a delusion that I have no fear but more of a joyful rebellion. It’s a bit like calling the bluff on the automatic fear response. When it comes, I immediately connect with the boy. I reassure him that all is well. I talk to him with tenderness and love, never criticising, never judging, just loving and accepting. Then my inner child gets his face on. He steps up and says, “Is that all you’ve got? Bring it on!”
His courage and audacity empowers me to take the next jump.
Now, in the work I do in The Trinity Process, using the extraordinary tools that Osho created, I find the greatest joy and fulfilment in helping others to build this special relationship, to both heal and be healed by the child within.
Most would claim that Meditation, (commonly imagined as sitting silently, becoming aware of the present moment or of ones breath), brings about a greater sense of calmness, clarity, serenity, and contentment. A break from the incessant chatter of the unstoppable inner voice clanging around in our heads. This of course is absolutely true. And then, there are all the benefits to our health, like reduced blood pressure, stress release, increased oxygen levels… it’s a long list, and all of it good stuff.
But what happens when we leave the cushion? When we roll up our mat? When the commentary in our heads starts running again? We are back in our thoughts, anxieties, and judgments. How quickly we lose our serenity and sense of ‘one-ness’. How easily we return to business as usual. Here is where we could be missing the greatest benefit that Meditation actually has to offer.
Let’s use the analogy of going to the gym or doing yoga, martial arts, or whatever physical pursuit scratches our itch. We do our workout, our practice or exercise. During and just afterwards, we often feel a nice warm rush in our bodies. Our bloodstream is flooded with yummy dopamine and we’re glowing and maybe even a bit high. Great feeling, but we know that it is not this immediate ‘hit’ that motivates us to keep going. What really gets us to commit to our practice is an understanding that over time, we are building and training our muscles to feel stronger, our heart and lungs to be more effective, increasing our physical ability and developing our body to work at its optimum. Making it as capable as possible of handling what modern life throws at it. We know we will be more able to deal with unexpected physical stress and strains, we’ll have less aches and pains.
We can dance all night, and do…other things.. all night. We feel less fatigue, more awake, sharper and fitter. In short, we become healthier and have a better quality of life.
Applying this understanding to Meditation is what will give us the secret superpower that is almost always overlooked.
When we meditate on a daily or very regular basis, we are in fact strengthening our ‘presence muscle’. That is to say, we are building our capacity to become present and aware when we really need it most – not on the mat or cushion, but when our sore points, our vulnerable places, are triggered in our ‘normal’ day to day activities.
When all is smooth and wonderful in life, we are mostly content, happy and connected. But when the shit hits the fan, when we are triggered, by our parents, our partners, our children, friends or work colleagues, it is in these moments of ‘reaction’ that we ‘lose consciousness’.
This moment is where we snap. It’s where we defend, rationalise, attack, manipulate and either act ‘out’ in aggression, or act ‘in’ through passive anger, punishment or just total shut down. This is when we actually feel the sting of abandonment, resentment, envy and fear in real-time and space. This is where we damage ourselves and others.
Meditation’s greatest gift, is that it can train us to expand that moment. It allows us to stretch that nano-second of time, just as we are triggered, offering to us an extra split second of hard-won presence and awareness. A capacity built over time, as we cultivate our ability to witness our thoughts and emotions from a higher perspective.
This little gap, this fleeting blink of an eye, is where the practice of Meditation manifests its most profound benefit.
In that extra interval lies the greatest power available to us. The capacity to choose how we will deal with the rush of pain, fear or anger welling up inside. It gives us the capacity to slow down time, take a breath and allow the emotional charge to subside, so that we can make a conscious decision about how we want to respond. This shift enables us to move from automatic conflict, towards resolution. From judgement to compassion. From anger to forgiveness. From fear to love.
It should though be understood, that this fundamental ability, this knack, is by no means easy, nor is it always welcomed by those around us. When we develop this capacity, we become uniquely empowered, as we step out of ‘character’ and no longer follow the scripts that have been playing out in the theatre of our lives. Others who are used to being able to trigger and control us, are suddenly left having to deal with their own thoughts and feelings, because we are no longer playing along and feeding the fire. We have learned to take each moment, each criticism, each comment that once had us lashing out in desperation and rage, and see it for what it really is…someone else’s inner world, their reality, not ours. We no longer take it personally.
This does not mean that we are no longer capable of hearing a valid criticism or are unable to receive feedback about where we can change, learn and grow.
We can in fact, remain more receptive, more discerning and better placed to make a healthy judgement as to whether we take on, or dismiss what comes our way from others.
With less fire and smoke comes clearer vision and understanding.
In the coolness of presence, we respond from our deepest, true nature.
This is real inner power.
This is ‘spiritual fitness’.
This is the secret superpower of Meditation!