Recently my friend Allister shared a story on our podcast, Talking Not Ranting, where his four-year-old granddaughter helped enable his ‘brave’ by stretching his imagination and stepping into something that was important and unfamiliar.
Re-activating My Inner Child
If you have read my book, In Search of Safe Brave Spaces, you will remember my discovery of the opportunity to re-activate my inner child. The picture accompanying this blog was included in a lovely picture album given to me by my mother, from my childhood. It automatically evoked splendid memories of, and emotions around, past events and experiences.
When I first saw this photo of a three-year-old me, I was struck by the sense of wonder and curiosity in my face as a child. At this point in my life there seemed to be peaceful, loving energy that shone from the page. It led me to remember that we are born innocent, with this beautiful gift of wonder and openness. I recognize that I am blessed to have my parents, who even during some challenging times held the space open for me to experience this wonder. It strikes me now that this was an early experience of safe brave spaces and I wondered how I might reawaken that original truth and instinct of myself at three years old that had been buried, blunted, and reshaped through life experiences and a desire to fit in.
Over Time We Slowly Bury Our Wonder
Truths such as these are often hard to keep hidden as illustrated when we look at many traditions throughout the world. In my tradition, Christianity, I recall stories of Jesus telling the powerful, intellectual and influencers that they needed to “let the children come” and to “become like little children” in order to truly see.
Pragya in Sanskrit is used to refer to the highest and purest form of wisdom, intelligence, and understanding. It is “the state of wisdom which is higher than the knowledge obtained by reasoning and inference”. The Zen teachings of Shunryu Suzuki suggest “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
I have come to believe that over time we slowly bury our wonder, curiosity, and inner deeper wisdom.
During our journey through life, we learn through experience. This method of learning is part of our individual growth and it equips us for our unique contribution to the world. Each of these experiences, both good and bad enrich this core wisdom as we grow.
Unfortunately, over the years I believe that we fill up the rooms of our mind and heart with untruths and place this innate wisdom of our childhood into a dark place in our attic. We create relational, mental and emotional calluses which cover the truth and result in blind spots, biases and fears that limit our potential and impact. Ego plays a big part in this, helpful in some things to enable stretch and growth, however often limiting as it sometimes overwhelms more vulnerable truths.
In my personal journey, during a moment of deep despair, when I could no longer find a pathway forward myself, I finally let go and opened up to others. In this moment, I sensed a quick whisper of my inner child that reminded me of the value of wonder.
How To Re-discover Our Inner Child
Re-discovering our inner child requires us to learn to pause and to experience each moment with a beginner’s mind. Strengthening my ability to pause, and become more mindful and present included: learning to meditate, a 40-week study with a spiritual director and spending more time walking and running along local trails. Within dialogues in our Safe Brave Circles, others have shared that they have found different pathways to pause including sitting by the lake, playing soccer, or simply looking out their window watching life transpire on a busy street in Toronto. Each participant in the Safe Brave Circles found unique ways to slow down and become more aware of what was happening both within them and around them in the moment.
This was the most significant initial shift that each participant identified in their journey towards safe brave spaces. It enabled them to begin the move from surface to substance.
From A Place Of Pause, We Can Find Energy
From this place of pause and through strengthening my inner child I uncovered the opportunity to ELOPE (energy>love>openness>presence>engaged).
Merriam-Webster recently redefined elope as running towards love which I think could also capture the attitude in which we approach life as a young child. The young Greg, in the picture above, lived in the moment, deeply aware of his feelings & energy; curious, compassionate through love; filled with wonder and open to the possibilities; fully present in the moment; allowing him to connect and engage fully with his inner wisdom and the immediate situation.
There have been moments in my sixty-plus years when I have had flashes of these moments and now, I am equipping myself to enhance the frequency of these events by choosing to be ME @ 3.
Simple reminders like the above picture taped to my computer monitor, a weekly review of my Being ME profile and assembling an ‘inner circle’ for support are the foundations of this work.
The result has been astounding.
I am beginning to discover that for years I have missed so many miracles and magical moments that are happening all the time. Albert Einstein said that “There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Awakened by ME @ 3 and equipped with my safe brave plan I am choosing and experiencing the second way.
For more information and support in the journey towards discovering ME check out my book, In Search of Safe Brave Spaces: A Guide to Unlocking and Releasing Potential, or my website at www.safebravespaces.com.