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Lions Roar : September 2019
2. LOVING-KINDNESS: HEALING YOUR INNER CHILD PEGGY ROWE WARD and LARRY WARD on how to give yourself the love and compassion you deserve. And send some of that love to the wounded child inside you. They need it. Perhaps you have an experience of being held this way. A few days after Peggy’s first husband, Steve, passed away, a close friend came to the house. Peggy remembers: “I was sitting on the couch. He put his arm solidly and yet loosely around me and held me for at least half an hour. He didn’t fidget, speak, or move. He didn’t squeeze or pat. He just sat with me. He met me where I was. I cried for many minutes and then experi- enced a great peace. He didn’t want anything from me. He was just there to be with me in my suffering.” This is the kind of love in which we hold the suffering child within us. Sometimes, though, you may experience that the suffering child is afraid to appear. Sometimes it seems this child is in a lost place. Sometimes the child does not trust you. This is to be expected. You will have to move slowly. You have observed that with children and animals, you shouldn’t approach them too quickly. The best method is to let them come to you in their own time. There are several prac- tices from Thich Nhat Hanh’s tradition that have helped each of us build a lov- ing and trusting relationship with the suffering child within us. One practice is to have a family altar. On this altar, Thich Nhat Hanh encouraged us to have photographs of ourselves as young children. This practice helps us build a relationship that hon- ors our inner child. A MEDITATION TO HEAL YOUR INNER CHILD The following meditation has helped us heal from early child- hood experiences. We regularly practice this meditation because it provides a kind space for the body, heart, and mind to gently remember. It offers a living space of inclusivity and compassion for childhood memories and all previous experi- ence as we continue to deepen and grow in self-love. 1 TAP YOUR RESOURCES OF LOVE AND SUPPORT Thich Nhat Hanh once spoke about cooking up love. He reminded us of how we can use pieces of straw or paper to start a good fire. Our resources for love are the pieces of straw that help us generate the energy of loving-kindness. Resources that help us develop self-love include people, places, pets, activities, and beautiful memories that soften our hearts and nourish our gratitude, love, and compassion. In your practice, take a few minutes to recall such a resource deeply. Make it come alive by activating your senses. One resource we are both grateful for is the wise and compassionate therapists, body healers, and shamans who have supported our journey of transformation and heal- ing. We often tell our friends that a somatic and trauma- informed therapist can be an essential support person for those on a spiritual path. A resource that opens our hearts is our dog, Charlie. Peggy imagines the weight of his body in her lap and the feel of his fur under her hand. She pictures his jaunty, bouncy walk and smile. When she brings Charlie to mind, she feels her body relax and her face and eyes soften. When Peggy needs even more support with her prac- tice, she imagines the Pieta in the Vatican, a beautiful statue by Leonardo da Vinci of Mary holding Jesus. She says, “Sometimes Jesus is holding me, but more frequently, I rest myself in the arms of the Mother Mary. Mary helps the mother in me who is learning how to love myself with each breath.” LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2019 45