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Lions Roar : March 2011
40 SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2011 Healing the Child Within I n each of us, there is a young, suffering child. We have all had times of difficulty as children and many of us have experienced trauma. To protect and defend ourselves against future suffering, we often try to forget those painful times. every time we’re in touch with the experience of suffering, we believe we can’t bear it, and we stuff our feelings and memories deep down in our unconscious mind. It may be that we haven’t dared to face this child for many decades. The cry we hear from deep in our hearts, says Thich NhaT haNh, comes from the wounded child within. Healing this inner child’s pain is the key to transforming anger, sadness, and fear. But just because we may have ignored the child doesn’t mean she or he isn’t there. The wounded child is always there, trying to get our attention. The child says, “I’m here. I’m here. You can’t avoid me. You can’t run away from me.” We want to end our suffering by sending the child to a deep place inside, and staying as far away as possible. But running away doesn’t end our suffering; it only prolongs it. The wounded child asks for care and love, but we do the opposite. We run away because we’re afraid of suffering. The block of pain and sorrow in us feels overwhelming. even if we have time, we don’t come home to ourselves. We try to keep ourselves constantly entertained—watch- ing television or movies, socializing, or using alcohol or drugs—because we don’t want to experience that suffer- ing all over again. The wounded child is there and we don’t even know she is there. The wounded child in us is a reality, but we can’t see her. That inability to see is a kind of ignorance. Thich Nhat Hanh phoToBYvelcrorIpper THicH NHaT HaNH is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, poet, scholar, and human rights activist, who was nominated by Martin Luther King, Jr. for the Nobel Peace Prize. Nhat Hanh’s books include Being peace.