Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I have upon my desk a photograph of a very cute and obviously gregarious five year old boy. This little boy is seated in a very grown up chair, with play reading glasses upon his nose, as he pretends to read a newspaper practically as large as he is. So gleefully unselfconscious is he that his underwear are staring out prominently from his summertime play shorts, and he has a make-belief pipe protruding from a smile so large he can barely keep it from falling out. I love this picture, and I have it displayed in a place where I see it several times a day when I am working at home. I am coming to love and appreciate this little boy more and more, and I am inviting myself into more of an experience of the obvious innocence that he conveys. I smile, sometimes tearfully, as I reflect back on all the times and experiences that have veiled so much of that five year old innocence. I wince a bit as I see the openness of that child, and realize how much vigilance it sometimes requires to maintain a fraction of that transparency. I compassion the number of times when that child showed up authentically, only to be rejected in the name of social or religious acceptability. I know this child well, for you see, this child was me.

Perhaps it is more accurate to say this child is me. I recently facilitated a workshop at which I had participants bring a childhood photo of themselves. We are each emotionally imprinted as children, and it is this imprinting that becomes an energetic container in which we live and by which we attract our life experiences. As much as I behold the innocence of my child at age five, I also painfully remember that there was already a sense of shamefulness that was beginning to shape my interactions in my world. The innate innocence of that child was already being shrouded by tribal notions that he, that I was not okay. This emotional imprinting stays with us and unconsciously governs our experiences until such a time as we are conscious enough to really deal with it, and release back into a state of Innocence transcendent of human programming, imprinting, behavior, or circumstance. It is a return to Innocence that is the great awakening, and it is the crux of the journey back to Self.

Because the emotional imprinting becomes a lens through which we see ourselves and our world, it takes great vigilance and dedication to develop an inner musculature to feel through this imprinting, while not believing or becoming its content. Until this data has been properly processed, it feeds the mental field with an endless commentary that we are hearing all of the time, but are rarely conscious of. Whatever messages we received as children are still looping through our just out-of awareness. These messages literally are coloring our world from the inside out. These messages must be confronted and exposed. This most often requires a sustained practice of inner stillness, in addition to the assistance of a trained spiritual director or counselor. We all need someone to bear witness to our pain- someone who will listen to yet not believe the imprinted versions of our wounded selves. We need someone to Presence our pain, until we are able to do that for ourselves. I have been so blessed to have a few people hold that space for me, and now I am honored to be that Presence with many others.
It takes great courage to face and to embrace these painful places. We are so addicted to feeling good that we really aren’t very good at feeling. The mental spin is the perfect escape hatch, allowing us to be lost in thought, and distanced from feeling. Yet that little child of long ago needs not to be distanced by story, but held in felt-embrace. We must listen to the scared little voices that have seldom if ever been heard. Most of us grew up in the “stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about” type of parenting. There is no wronging that realization; it is what our parents experienced themselves. It is what they knew to pass on. But now it is time, regardless of our age, to re-parent your self. It is time to stop, to feel what lies just beneath the surface, and to stay with it in uncompromising compassion and acceptance. It is time to be courageous enough to return to Innocence. To hold that inner child for as long as it needs to be held. To stay. My heart so feels that to the core of my being. Our healing depends on our ability and our choice to stay with exactly what is arising in any given moment. And we must face the pain of our past in order to open to the possibility of our future. Otherwise, the imprinting keeps us hostage in its unconscious grip.

Will you be courageous enough this day to face your own imprinted child, and to love it back to the Innocence beyond the story? Will you bring Presence where there has been pain and acceptance where there has been habitual rejection? This is the awakening and the healing of the world. The only way for it to occur in the macro is for it to be embodied in the micro. Feel within to where that little child may still be hovering in fear, and take it into your heartful loving embrace. Stay for as long as he or she needs you to stay. Let the Innocence shine through. This is the true meaning of re-birth. Your Innocence is your birthright and your destiny. Have the courage this day to bring it forth. The world is in great need of the experience of our collective Innocence. Your choice to embody your individual piece of the Collective Innocence is your contribution to the One.