“Better than Chocolate!”
Here’s a wonderful story and practice that materialized in one of my classes of 7- to 12-year-olds. It came on the heels of an inspiring three-day intensive training
One of the children, exclaimed, “Ice cream!”
I suggested that she imagine a tall building, and that if ice cream were one of the upper floors, what would be on the ground floor? Her voice softened and a tiny bit of color came to her face as she said, “My family and dog." I asked her to point to where in her body the center of that loving feeling was and to say how it felt. She pointed to just below the center of her chest and said, “Nice!”
Then I walked about ten feet away, turned and faced her, and asked that she imagine that I was a stranger, someone she had never met before.
From that distance, I asked, “Am I in your space now?” To which she replied, “No.” If she had said, “Yes,” I would have backed up until she felt relaxed and then checked with her to be sure that I was not in her space. Her task was to say, “Stop” when I entered her personal space as I slowly walked toward her.
When I was just about four feet away, she said, “Stop.” I asked, “Where in your body do you feel the feeling that tells you I am in your space?” These are unusual questions to ask anyone, but with a little coaching people will notice the tensions and contractions that occur somewhere in their bodies that alert them to a possible danger. She pointed to her chest and said that it felt tense.
Together, we connected the dots. This same spot is where she most acutely felt that feeling of love as well!
I suggested the tensing might be her own love and caring trying to get her attention to warn her so she would be safe. She agreed. I coached her to say to that place in her chest, “Thank you for warning me and caring for me.” She realized that as she acknowledged that place, the tension in her chest relaxed and she felt much better.
I moved a little closer and again a slight triggering came up in her chest. I suggested that she engage that tense spot in a conversation, beginning with, “I am listening” and “What are you suggesting I do?” She did this and to my amazement, she simply walked around me like a passerby on the street. She then thanked this “inner voice” for the caring and guidance.
She lit up, immediately understanding the value of being able to turn inward to find clarity and council from a place that cared deeply about her safety and well being.
I asked how it felt to have this “inner friend”. She exclaimed, “It’s better than chocolate!” We high-fived. I proceeded to do the same process (with minor variations) with each of the 10 kids in the workshop and had very similar experiences with each child.
Imagine how it would be to grow up cultivating such a friendship with our own bodies. What a joy it was for me to plant these seeds so early in their young lives!
In adult workshops, it’s pretty clear that those “inner friends” that put us in touch with our needs have too often been ignored for a very long time. The deep pain and joy of reunion can be profound. (See Grief and Gratitude pg.…) After class, one of the children came up to me and said: “My father works so hard. I wish he would listen to that part of himself more. I think he would be a lot happier.” ... See more