Discover how getting in touch with our childlike wonder can make every day a new beginning.
We are born with a special quality that I like to think of as a “heart-light”—a spark of the divine source. It is our essence that shines from our heart-center, giving life to everything we see and do. Children have especially bright heart-lights, and though we may wish the children in our lives would be more like us, it might be better if we were more like them. In his enjoyable book Growing Young, Ashley Montagu describes how ourchildlike qualities are the very things that gave us our evolutionary advantage.
Everybody knows “it takes a village” to raise a child, but we often think that as adults we have to go it alone. Our culture emphasizes living independently, but in reality we are all interdependent. Humans need love and friendship, we thrive in relationships, and grown-ups need playdates, too! Playfulness is one of the most valuable traits of the human species; it leads to invention and discovery.
When we play with ideas we are using our imagination. We may not imagine ourselves as a super hero or a princess, but imagining we are something helps us to actually be that something. It is called the “as if” principle. Believing as if we already are what we are striving to be can literally work miracles.
To watch a child interact with her world is to see the gears turning in her mind. She is making new connections, learning, and experimenting. Everything is a wonder because everything is new! To be able to see the world with curiosity and wonder is to be a child, poet, artist, or scientist.
We often get set in our habits, but flexibility (the ability to modify, to change, to re-create ourselves) is a sign of good mental health. To be willing to rethink basic beliefs in light of new evidence, to adjust and adapt to the challenges of new ways while being respectful of the old ways is a challenge for adults, but kids do it every day.
When Jesus advised his followers to, “Become as little children to enter the kingdom of heaven,” he was giving a very strong recommendation to the heavenly state of mind that is childlike with all of the wonder, not childish with all of the immaturity. Eastern Wisdom calls it “beginner’s mind”—being able to let go of things we already know to be open to new things as they are.
Kids love to learn new things. It’s what they are designed to do! I have watched my grandkids as they learn a new skill. They do it over and over and over, confident that they will get it. Grown-ups oftentimes feel they have finished learning and are sometimes too embarrassed at their lack of skill to try something new (or they might attempt a few times and give up). This is why it’s not just old dogs that find it hard to learn new tricks.
Children also love to laugh, and sing, dance, and play. When was the last time you sang Little Bunny Foo Foo and changed the words as you went while you laughed until your face hurt? Or danced like nobody was watching, while doing your version of the hula to Up Town Funk? It’s more likely to have happened recently if you spend time with little ones, but we all still have those qualities within us. What did you love to do as a child? It’s never too late to do it again.
It is the essence of the divine within us, our heart-light, that we honor when we bring our hands together in prayer position to say the traditional yoga greeting, Namaste. It is translated various ways, depending on which divine qualities we wish to emphasize. Naming the childlike qualities helps us to claim them.
“All that is imaginative, creative, curious, open and full of wonder within me recognizes and honors all that is imaginative, creative, curious, open and full of wonder within you.” Some people translate Namaste simply as “Have a nice day,” and we will have a nice day if we recognize these qualities in ourselves (and others) because our little lights will then be especially bright. Namaste.
Kristie Abel is an artist and freelance editor. Janet Abel is an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher certified by the Yoga Alliance, a member of the Int’l Assn. of Yoga Therapists and a Mindful Living Consultant. Visit JanetAbel.com.