Consciously Walking the Journey of Life With Our Children

The journey of life is about being aware of the essence of who we are – and consciously bringing forth that essence in our daily lives moment by moment.  Like our children, we came to the planet like seeds falling upon the fertile earth. Our mission is to become the true measure of ourselves, and to grow into the fullness of our unique potential.  Each of us has special gifts to share with the world. As we adults encourage our children to connect to their inner world and become more aware of their gifts, we can at the same time continue to cultivate and develop our own.

Maria Montessori’s words about the preparation of the teacher can equally apply to being a parent: “The real preparation for education is the study of one’s self. The training of the teacher is something far more than the learning of ideas.  It includes the training of character; it is a preparation of the spirit. If we substitute the word parent for the word teacher, this quote is a call to action for all of us adults to the inner work of becoming reflective caregivers and guides.

Grounded in a practice of our own personal reflection and inner awareness, we can be a much more supportive guide to our children. There are no college degrees in fostering the inner spirit of the child. There is now blueprint for how to do it.  However, we have one important resource at our disposal – our own inner world, that special inviolable place deep within each one of us. The more we can spend quiet “big picture” time with ourselves, the better parents and teachers we will be. For it is during these quiet times that we can find the peace, inspiration, energy and imagination we need to nurture the possibilities for the spiritual awareness and healthy development of our children.

We can help our children experience the good things – the beautiful, sweet, pure, and profound experiences of childhood – as deeply as possible so they will have a solid emotional and spiritual foundation upon which they can build their adulthood. It can be a simultaneous and reciprocal process; we allow what is childlike in us the space and time it needs to be nourished, while we provide an environment in which our children’s spirits can become illumined with sustaining self-awareness.  Viewed in this way, childhood is never really “lost” but can live and evolve in us – and in our children – always.

Below are two activities to do in order to connect with your own inner self  – and also to share a positive, meaningful experience with your child:

Practice 1 – Returning to the Flow: Close your eyes and take 3 mindful breaths. Spend a few minutes thinking of a childhood memory, which was very happy – an experience when you felt free, unfettered and content. If your childhood was not a happy one and you don’t want to go there, please think of another happy moment of your life – a time when you were in “the flow” and feeling connected and in tune with life.

 Try to remember the surroundings or circumstances of your happy moment. Where were you? Were you with somebody special or were you by yourself?  Are there sights, sounds, smells you can recall? Perhaps you were in place that was soft to the touch such as the summer grass or smooth like a mountaintop stone or squishy like the wet sand on the beach. Or maybe it was not in nature at all – but a time when you were zooming down the street on your bike for the first time. Try to recall as many details as you can.

 Now try to remember the feeling of that moment in time. Only you can know the particular feelings of that special time. Reconnect with that feeling by naming it. Or you can put the feeling into a sentence: “I was so happy then.” Or “My whole being was so light and carefree.” Whatever it was put it into a few words and speak the words softly to yourself. Of course, you can put the words into the present tense if you wish.

 Stay in this reverie long enough so that you can remember a few central details and so you can speak the feeling(s) of that moment in time. Open your eyes and spend 10 minutes writing or sketching your moment in time if you wish. This will help you to return to this visualization in the future and possibility go deeper into it – or lay the foundation for you to visualize another happy moment in the past.

 Practice 2 – Revisiting an Important Moment in Time with Your Child

Take your child back to a place of one of your happiest childhood memories – or to a place of a very happy moment in your adult life. If going to the place is not practically possible, you can show your child a photograph of the place / time. It could be the same point in time that you reflected on in exercise #1 – or a totally different one.

 Tell your child what was special to you about that moment in time and about the place where it occurred. Tell them why it was important to you. Share how you felt about the experience and why it was and is important to you.

 Let your child ask questions about the event, as this is how he or she will form a more complete picture of it in their minds.

 Doing this exercise will help bond you with your child around an experience important to you and will give your child a sense of what matters to you. It will connect you together around the positive emotions of happiness and connectedness. It will bring you back into “the flow of life” – an experience your child is likely to understand very readily.

 As adults, it is like we are trying to retrace our steps back to that special place deep within ourselves – where time stands still.   It takes acts of conscious will to re-discover our own inner world – and our own inner world is the well-spring from which inspiration and life-satisfaction flows.  As we walk along the journey of life – toward our own self-actualization  and happiness– we can at support and nurture the unfolding of our child’s self-awareness at the same time.

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