Close your eyes and imagine standing on a beach … warm sand under your bare feet – a light sea breeze brushing your skin – gulls sailing above the sparkling crests of waves. Breathe a while, to the rhythm of the surf lapping at the shore – in – out – in – out – in – out – and let your eyes rest on the silver skyline.
There is nobody here but you – and a visitor – a child you invite to appear as it will.
At what distance does the little person appear?
Observe its posture, age, gender?
What do you sense about it?
Does it look at you, or not?
Is it curious, shy, withdrawn?
Notice your thoughts and feelings, don’t draw conclusions – do nothing.
Sense the realm of consciousness this little person lives in, and still your mind. If the child plays with shells do the same, remaining where you are. If the child skips along the surf, wait. If it takes one step towards you, wait. If it turns its back on you or walks away, sit down and wait. All the while communicate silently – I’m here as a friend.
He or she may come close – or not – play with you – or not. Be patient. This little one represents your essence and must be free to approach the strange adult you’ve become as it chooses and when it’s ready. Maybe next time. Don’t over-act. Even if the child is friendly, keep in mind it may try to please your expectations. Remain calm, interested, approachable.
* * *
Visiting an imaginary coastline, metaphorically a boundary between the conscious and the less conscious psyche, brings insights even if no images emerge. Try and silence your usual thinking process. Enter the scene as in a daydream, or have a friend slowly read the text.
Insights change from day to day, according to mood. You could experience joy, get a glimpse of what’s important in your life, or be prompted to engage in frank reflections – a valuable process, helping us to develop empathy.
For example, if sadness or pain knock at the sight of this child, ask yourself … have guardians chided your curiosity and strong spirit, or humiliated your weakness and poor confidence? As a result your own adult may have unwittingly come to reject your child as unworthy, regarding it as ungrateful, stubborn, nagging, or awkward with the shame of buried secrets? Consider – fear of abandonment, punishment or guilt about early fantasies may compel children to please grown ups in order to cope and emotionally survive. The legacy could be a distrust one’s own feelings. Signals received as pain, or love, might equally overwhelm.
Next time you hear a baby or toddler screams, let’s say, in a supermarket, observe what happens in your body, and watch other shoppers. It grates at our nerves at best, and can trigger physically embedded memories of helplessness, and sometimes more. Good to remember when we judge people who shout and act irrationally. There are behavioural therapies to desensitize triggers that threaten to overwhelm people with rage. Then again, active imagination is more deeply transforming, and the symbolic expression of complex emotions (see later) frees energy and meaning, making a difference to our collective state of consciousness.
If some of these reflections ring true, return to the imaginary shore as long as it takes to earn the trust of your child. Your adult’s task is simply to be present, reflect, and allow the younger being to initiate communication.
In daily life, begin to set aside pockets of time for that little person in you, encourage a symbolic process, without pressure, to write or draw about early joys, pains, hurts or dark thoughts, like having hated a parent, or once wished someone to drop dead. Children have such fleeting fantasies when they feel threatened and powerless. It’s normal. Holding on to self blame is the problem.
Suffering brought to consciousness lifts the spell of self blame. Despite appearances of confidence and adult bravado, the child in us is often anxious. Deep down may linger legitimate anger, and, deeper still, sadness and the longing for a precious moment of total acceptance. We call it love. It takes time to soften hearts.
Imagination serves multiple roles. It can draw us into habitual loops of negativity and self harm, or stimulate insights and enhance creativity. Artists know this. Imagination can also heal psychic wounds frequently handed down through generations. The healing aspect is especially powerful when employed consciously. Jung called it ‘Active Imagination.’
In this way, every imaginary journeys can be followed up by freeing condensed energy and meaning – symbolically – through drawing, painting, writing, movement, music or play, allowing what wants to emerge, be it forgotten wonders, or burdens, like unacknowledged anger a child had no means to express in early life.
And most significantly, nurturing a trusting relationship and rapport with our younger being invites the Beloved – our essence – and with it the light of intuition and inner guidance.
‘Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.’ ― Rumi –
Perhaps all the dragons of our lives
are princesses who are only waiting to
see us once, beautiful and brave.
Perhaps everything terrible is in
Its deepest being something
that needs our love. — Rainer Maria Rilke –
The imagery above is in continuation of my last post ‘journey into mystery.’
23 responses to “… the child in us …”
Ashen, I am unable to thank you enough for your loving wisdom. You open my heart “As spring opens, touching skillfully, mysteriously, its first rose” (ee cummings)
Thank you, Jed.
and another e. e. cummings,
who recognized and talked to his child,
comes to mind:
“children guessed (but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)…
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)”
Ah, delightful .. down they forget as up they grew …
It’s all perfectly arranged. Time buries stuff under snow and ice to silence. We re-member when links are missing in a puzzle.
Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light
(Fern Hill Dylan Thomas)
What you would have us all recover? I never read this without nostalgia.
Same here, nostalgia. Young and easy, I was princess of ponds in the woods 🙂 Love the word ‘dingle’ and the starry night above.
I once bought a CD, and the content was on the principals you outline ie: renewing your relationship with your child within.it was something that stimulated my thinking. Your wonderful extension of this thinking method is filled with peace. Being an artist I can tell you that your understanding of creative work is terrific. Playing beautiful music, dreaming and drawing all at once is just great. Thankyou for the sweet air you just manufactured- and enjoy peace yourself.B
I’m pleased my post carried a little peaceful air to Australia. Lovely to know.
Ah, it seems the time of year for meditation and reflection… this lovely exercise is appealing, I must say. I suspect the inner child will frown at me, half-turn her back on me to kick pebbles into the sea, yet one sulky eye will glance, just to make sure I’m watching, just to make sure I’m there.
Then again, second-guessing what the inner me might do is probably counterproductive and I should instead just do the exercise. She might surprise me.
Thanks Ashen for a well-timed and beautifully evocative post.
I’m glad the post chimed. The sulky eye 🙂 is familiar. My little one is easily suspicious – What do you want? Don’t spoil my fun – stretching patience. Best to offer a stretch of time with no adult tasks lined up.
this is lovely – I am going to try this meditation and see if I can find my lost child.
Thanks. You could tape your voice, or have someone else read the words to you.
The subdued petal, its silken flesh blessed by the dew, dances and sways in the spring sun’s rays, bending its delicate skirts in chiffon grace.
Beautiful post Ashen. 😀
I glimpse that child, with a host of friends, all appearing in your novel.
Lol, I DO so love your posts, Ashen, have you ever thought of pulling them all together into a novella? Your wise words and lessons in life would certainly be something I would pick off of the spiritual shelf. 🙂
It’s a thought. I’ve a folder with material collected over the years – needs working through. My novels took over. CoM has been sitting ready since last March. Now I must wait until autumn before its publication, due to life events, not mine. Hanging in there. The sequel is nearing completion, then more editing rounds. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a double?
Well honey, you know what they say? The best things are worth waiting for! CoM will be a smash, I have no doubt of that, and I’ll be wanting to but a signed copy if possible! Have you got a name for the sequel yet?
Yes, I do think a short novella of Ashen life lessons would be lovely! 😀
I am beginning to understand that my inner child failed to get the attention she needed when she needed it most (hence my blog post today).
Time to work through this, a bit at a time.
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Thanks, Viv. Yes, your post is spot on, phrases like attention-seeking cast a spell. It’s vital to keep sharing what’s meaningful to us and take the freedom to be, to dream … I’m looking forward to my hammock. Didn’t realise how much I missed it until I saw your new chair 🙂
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I need to remember this and also the importance of staying in a compassionate relationship with my struggling body. It’s a challenge to love my wounds and vulnerabilities. I’m not good at it but I keep practicing. Thank you for helping. Elaine
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Same here, Elaine. Compassion is needed. The body likes to be reminded of its youthful vitality, and thanked for its faithful service to life. Thanks for visiting ☼
Sharing something I wrote a few years ago . Do read it when you can 🙏
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