Throughout the years I have dedicated a significant amount of time on my personal spiritual growth. I have spent countless hours poring over development books, researched various religions and spoke with many spiritual leaders. I have attended trainings and workshops on a wide range of topics and approaches in cultivating inner peace. Throughout this process I have learned a lot, especially regarding those practices that tend to be common themes and “secrets” for achieving sustainable joy in life. It is a constant growth process since all of these things require continued practice and while I have understood much of it logically, some areas have been difficult for me to feel.
As I have expanded my concept of “spiritual teachers” to include everyone in my life, knowing that each and every person has something to offer, I have found the clearest teachers to be children. There is so much I have learned from seeing how we come into this world, what our natural state truly is and how we get pulled off track as we grow and develop. We so often look at our relationship with our children as one where we have to bare the burden of teaching them everything however if we shift our perception to a spiritual partnership, one where we teach each other, then the spiritual growth they can help facilitate for us is limitless. We can teach them how to interact per this world’s “rules” but they can teach us about our true nature and how to live it. They have truly helped me see how to apply some of the themes that were harder for me to grasp and serve as a constant reminder on practicing.
Fearlessness – Anyone that has seen a baby clumsily wobble around can see that fear is not something we are born with. It is something we learn. Children lead with their heart, diving into whatever action their heart guides them to without fear of pain, judgment or failure. All of these concepts are foreign to them and we can learn much from the “just go for it” attitude that children of many ages have. Letting our heart lead, and taking action without fear allows us to boldly live and revel in the rewards of new experiences.
Joy – Joy on the other hand isn’t something we learn, it is our natural state. A child’s general disposition is pure happiness. Eager to play, laugh and truly have fun, children embrace happiness and never question if they deserve it or wonder if it will last. As I have grown there are many times I have lost sight of the beauty in doing something just for the pure joy of it. Like many people I know, the to do lists can take over and keep me from fully living in the moment, especially when it is something as “frivolous” as having fun. What I have learned from children is that fun is never frivolous; it is something our soul needs.
Love freely – The heartache we feel in life can sometimes cause us to be guarded. Keeping love out completely or limited to those that seem “safe”, we lose the incredible gift that comes with a wide-open heart. Children don’t hold back love. If they want to give a hug, they give a hug. If a little baby wants to stare in your eyes and give you a smile for no reason, they do. There aren’t expectations of this love being returned, they just give it without condition. Each baby that comes into this world is the perfect love that we all hold in us and they show it however they feel guided to. We can begin to learn that this is our natural state from watching children of all ages embrace this emotion. It is who we are and the pain we learn is truly from expecting love back, not necessarily giving it.
Authenticity – Children learn the concept of “fitting in” from parents, friends and people in their life, they don’t arrive into the world with it. They are who they are. Many of us have seen a child want to wear outrageously bright, mismatched clothes simply because they like it and it represents who they are, never putting a thought into what others will think. Without the interference of judgment, children live completely authentically. This is something many of us spend years trying to get back to once we learn that what others think of us isn’t nearly as important as our own happiness. Children can show us that it is perfectly natural for us to be guided by our hearts and inner guidance, as it is how they live.
Curiosity – Nothing is more thrilling than seeing a baby look around, taking the world in and clearly demonstrating a complete sense of awe. They absorb everything around them without judgment so they can learn. They smile at every small accomplishment and are hungry to keep exploring. This is our natural state, a place of curiosity, bewilderment and awe. The world offers us as many unique things to learn and look at but often we become comfortable and lose the sense of wonder that we come into the world with. Children show us the incredible joy that comes from not being the expert but rather being a perpetual student.
Creativity – As adults we tend to lump ourselves into groups – left brain versus right brain, creative versus logical, structured versus spontaneous, etc. While all of these may be us having a tendency to being more comfortable leaning towards one direction or another, none of us are born into this world lacking any of these characteristics. All children enjoy coloring, making art projects, dancing to music or playing an instrument. They love bringing something beautiful into the world, and that doesn’t change just because they grow up. They play make believe games and daydream about the future. They demonstrate to us that a basic desire is to be in a creative space. Whether it is art, music, writing, inventions, machines or even new businesses all of us can benefit from allowing ourselves to be creative. As we grow, they way we express our creativity changes but they key is to never shut it out completely.
If we watch closely, children can show us how to get back to our original nature. Allowing ourselves to be our inner child, even if just for a moment, will give us an amazing gift of pure happiness.
With immense love and gratitude for all the children in the world – April