As many countries celebrate Children’s Day, we invite you to explore healing practices for your inner child.
Our teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, has taught that we each have a wounded and suffering inner child within us. Instead of running away from that suffering, he has encouraged us to take care of our inner child. Here, we offer some practical ways, offered by Thay and other Plum Village teachers, you can do just that.
Please leave a comment at the bottom of the page to let us know your ways of staying in touch with your inner child.
Thich Nhat Hanh on healing our inner child
When you climb a beautiful mountain, invite your child within to climb with you.Thich Nhat Hanh
In each of us, there is a young, suffering child. We have all had times of difficulty as children. To protect and defend ourselves against future suffering, we often try to forget those painful times. 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—watching television or movies, socializing, or using alcohol or drugs—because we don’t want to experience that suffering all over again. But just as the suffering is present in every cell of our body, so are the seeds of awakened understanding and happiness handed down to us from our ancestors. We just have to use them. We have a lamp of mindfulness, which we can light anytime. The oil of that lamp is our breathing, our steps, and our peaceful smile. When we speak of listening with compassion, we usually think of listening to someone else. But we must also listen to the wounded child inside us. Sometimes the wounded child in us needs all our attention. That little child might emerge from the depths of our consciousness and ask for our attention. If we are mindful, we will hear his or her voice calling for help. At that moment, instead of paying attention to whatever is in front of us, go back and tenderly embrace the wounded child. We can talk directly to the child with the language of love, saying, “In the past, I left you alone. I went away from you. Now, I am very sorry. I am going to embrace you.” We have to talk to our child several times a day. Only then can healing take place. Embracing the child tenderly, we reassure him that you will never let him down again or leave him unattended. The little child has been left alone for so long. That is why we need to begin this practice right away. If you know how to go back to her and listen carefully every day for five or ten minutes, healing will take place. When you climb a beautiful mountain, invite your child within to climb with you. When you contemplate the sunset, invite her to enjoy it with you. If you do that for a few weeks or a few months, the wounded child in you will experience healing. Excerpt from Reconciliation - Healing the Inner Child by Thich Nhat Hanh
Practices to connect with your inner child
[Please note that if your childhood experiences include trauma these practices can be beneficial, but it is important to ensure you have enough stability and support (including professional support where necessary) to engage with them.]