Meditation and the Inner Child
Having spent over 6 years learning from and working with my holistic living counselling teacher Alannah Dore, I learned about something very profound that changed the way I manage my life (especially my emotional life). That emotional honesty and validation of the inner child are the cornerstone of healing, self love and personal success. This can be achieved through meditation and befriending the inner child.
Our inner child is our feelings. These may be current feelings that we experience day to day and past emotions that resurface from time to time. In meditation teaching, as in other fields of personal growth and psychology, we can find the belief espoused that we need to keep some distance from our feelings. When meditating regularly our observer/witness self is activated and emotional regulation is a pleasant result. We don’t feel as overwhelmed by our feelings and that is a wonderful thing. However we need to be aware and careful that we don’t move too far in the other direction and ignore, deny or intellectualize our feelings.
Meditation and stillness provide a huge opportunity. A chance to hear the deeper stirrings within ourselves and become aware of our feelings. If we see our negative feelings as something to be avoided, then we may miss out on hearing what our inner child has to say. If we are afraid of our negative feelings then we will inevitably also be unable to fully feel our positive feelings. The heart cannot distinguish between positive and negative. If we close our hearts to the feelings that we perceive as negative, then we will also shut away the potential joy, love, deep compassion and rapture that can be achieved through meditation.
Jack Kornfield is a strong advocate of feeling all our feelings: “When pleasant feelings arise and we automatically grasp them, or when unpleasant feelings arise and we try to avoid them, we set up a chain reaction of entanglement and suffering. This perpetuates the body of fear. However, if we learn to be aware of feelings without grasping or aversion, then they can move through us like changing weather, and we can be free to feel them and move on like the wind. It can be a very interesting meditation exercise to focus specifically on our feelings for several days.” https://jackkornfield.com/full-awareness-feelings/
To embrace our deepest potential in meditation and in life, we need to develop the openness of listening to our feelings or inner child. This opens our hearts to our full potential and the brilliance of our inner child, including:
- original ideas and thinking
- deeper, more soulful connection with ourselves, nature and others
- more joy
- spontaneity and fun
- sense of adventure, wonder and awe
These feelings are accessible when we nurture and support our inner child by listening to their feelings and needs and acting on any needs that are illuminated. Being open to feelings in meditation and beginning a journalling practice are great ways to start. Of course, if your negative feelings are overwhelming to you at any time, then it’s important to seek counselling and someone to talk to.
What do we all need? Someone to listen, care, understand and really see us. As you listen to yourself and support your feelings responsibly, with healthy boundaries, you show great care and develop a deep understanding both of yourself and human nature. You can then come out the other side of these feelings with true compassion and wisdom, and a new respect for the incredibly wise, strong, honest and beautiful child within.
When we use practices that enable this relationship to flourish and operate, we build feelings of self-efficacy and self-esteem, we feel empowered and are able to handle the ups and downs that life brings with optimism and the true wisdom that comes from deep inner resolution.