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The wisdom of a child.
One of my most useful quotes comes from Jon Kabat Zinn:
Think of children as Zen masters in little bodies. They will bring you to every lesson you need to learn in life.
My little Zen masters have taught me invaluable lessons, and continue to do so every day. I had an advanced course this morning when my 14 year old taught me that I sometimes don’t listen very well, despite the fact that, a large part of my livelihood comes from my ability to teach others to listen.
He taught me that while parents think their goal is to teach a child how and what to be, what they really need is us to create an environment that allows and encourages their skills to flourish, even when as parents, we don’t understand their skill set.
I’ve learned that sometimes a six year old is the smartest person in the room. A client recently told me about an accident that happened to their younger child. While she was in a bit of shock over the affair, her six year old sat calmly beside her and kept reassuring her that things would be fine.
I’ve learned that adults often use the same behavior they criticize their children for- like yelling when they are angry. We tell ourselves that our anger is justified because it’s something big. But in reality, what a child is yelling about is equally big if not bigger to them because they often don’t have the tools or resources to counteract what is confronting them at the time. If we want them to stop that, maybe we should as well.
I’ve learned that you should carefully choose your words; they can crush someone’s soul if you forget to love a person when you speak to them. But in that same lesson, I also learned that love from a child is unbelievable strong and its power along with a little time, can often heal the deepest of wounds.
I’ve learned that most things in life can and should become lower in priority then missing a moment to share something important with another person. And that often what a person wants to share, isn’t the thing they are showing you, but rather the opportunity to let you know how important you are to them because they want to share it with you. If you are lucky enough to realize that at the time, don’t get lost trying to critique the thing you are looking at.
I’ve learned that- oh who am I kidding? I haven’t learned that patience is cultivated by lots of practice. I’m still working on this one. But I want to learn it so I’ll keep practicing. And I’m confident my Zen masters will remain at work to teach me.
I’ve learned that your body is an incredible source of wisdom. Things work a lot better if you listen to it and not try and cover up its messages with societal rules. Pee when you have to pee. Sleep when you have to sleep and eat when you have to eat.
I’ve learned that there aren’t really a lot of things that separate kids from adults. Adults have more cash, kids can bend and stretch more and run faster. But beyond a few things, we are more similar than different. It’s just that adults have more things to hide their fears and inadequacies behind. We have fancier words, letters behind our names and more powerfully built and long standing illusions than kids do. They use make believe to soothe themselves and so do we, but we are better at defending our coping mechanisms as legitimate. They use teddy bears. We use chemicals and compulsions.
I’ve learned that most things can be better explained in books 10 pages long and pictures than one with 300 pages and a bibliography.
And with the birth of my children I learned that love is something we decide. We extend our love to them before we ever know who they are. Even when they are covered in muck, red faced, wrinkly and screaming. Love is our power to give or to withhold. Whether we love a person or not has a lot less to do with who they are and what they do, and a lot more to do with what we are willing to pay attention to or let go.
This is such a brief snippet of the things I’ve learned or am learning from my Zen masters. What are yours? I hope to add to this list, and would love to know yours as well.
Please leave me a comment, and I hope you’ll pass this on to someone else and suggest they subscribe as well.