May 5, 2017

Looking to our kids to move us forward.....

Emotional intelligence has a lot more traction than it once did.  It's exciting to hear people from varied fields talk about the brain, self-awareness, compassion, emotional regulation, and human development.

Societal shifts in the ways we see ourselves and our relationships take time. And we experience the ebbs and flows of these shifts from within systems: family groups, educational systems, our professional arenas, etc.

While I am fascinated by societal paradigms and movements and our individual and collective influences on such,  I am also desperately eager to see us apply some of the emotional intelligence wisdom now: Tools that are at once innovative as they are ancient.

In January I asked some close friends to pilot a parent-child meditation program.  I designed 3 sessions where parents and kids were asked to join me for movement, guided meditation, individual and group reflection, and arts activities.

I wanted to see how the adults and kids engaged and responded.

I built the sessions from what I've learned in my recent personal development courses and per insights from trusted friends and leaders in the field of mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and energy healing.

While both parents and children shared positive feedback about the sessions, I was blown away by how easily the children connected with the experiences and were able to identify their thoughts, feelings, and physical manifestations. When we debriefed after meditations, the children shared vivid descriptions of their visions, insights, and physical experiences.  Take a look at some of their powerful written comments after one of the meditation sessions:

"I feel like I am in a never ending spring and summer and just have to do nothing except relax. And my job is to relax" 9 year old

" I felt happy.  I saw a camp fire and tent and a lake and saw a lightening bolt. I saw every color in the world, except gray, black, and brown." 7 year old

"My body was a rainbow and a purple cord connected me to the earth. There were butterflies flying around the cord and coming up from the earth.  There was a rhino who gave me a present and the message, "You can't control me."" 8 year old

Their openness and clarity reinforced for me that when we make the time to create the space for our children to look inward, they do so with an ease unfamiliar to many adults. When we ask them how they are feeling and take the time to truly listen, without judgment, they tell us fairly directly what they feel and why they are feeling it.  Moreover, when we are brave and ask them, they have insights about how we and our mates impact those feelings. And they often have solutions for bringing more peace into our homes.

I'm not suggesting that it's always easy to structure open and safe forums for parent and child exchange, but I believe in the power of sacred space...where we as parents slow down and tune into our children -- to support our children tuning into themselves.  And meditation experiences can help us suss out what feelings are theirs versus ours, or even our projections onto our kiddos.

I'm eager to see where the emotional intelligence movement takes us. But I'm not going to wait for societal consensus or a "tipping point" to start adopting emotional intelligence in our home.  Our children were born ready for this.  Let's follow their leads~