Whole Heart Parenting
Below is a blog piece that I wrote about parenting. Please keep in mind as you read it that even if you don’t have children, you are still ‘parenting’ yourself. In fact, re-parenting ourselves is profound healing work. Of course, even if you do have children, don’t forget to apply Whole Heart Parenting principles to yourself, too.
Last weekend in a Whole Heart Connection mentorship class, we brought in pictures of our baby selves and used them as our virtual backgrounds on Zoom. It was so touching to see everyone against the backdrop of their original self. It was deeply moving and made the practice of inner re-parenting more real than ever. I’ll include here some of those images of students with their baby selves around them (photos used with permission).
There are many ways in which Whole Heart Connection skills transfer directly into the context of parenting. Not least is the ongoing emphasis on “sounding the note” with our own body language, voice, and alignment. In this way, we only “give” to others what we are embodying first. That’s why it’s called a me-first healing modality. This allows us to give with a much lower burnout rate—in fact, we are nourished by giving. This is important in parenting!
The practice of me-first giving is also an enormous eye-opener for our own awareness around what we are in fact already “giving” to others unconsciously. Often we have no idea what we are conveying with our voice, stance, and body language until we begin to engage it intentionally, in order to give from beyond ourselves.
Whole Heart Parenting, like all Whole Heart Connection work, emphasizes specific practices to allow us, in our bodies, to connect to a field that is larger than ourselves. First, we learn to entrain with the electromagnetic field of the earth. This is the experience of being grounded—which is so different from simply the idea of being grounded!
Next, we learn to entrain with the field of the sky—the sun, the stars, and the cosmos beyond. I often tell a story about Qi Gong Master Li Jun Feng, who first demonstrated this to me palpably while in an elevator going down to the lobby from the 18th floor of a convention center hotel in Austen, Texas. That man was gloriously unconfined and resourced way beyond his local circumstances—way beyond this earth.
Finally, we learn to connect to what I like to call the Flock Heart or the Big Heart. This is called many names by many people, and the names don’t really matter. What matters is the bodily-felt sense of connection from our own little beating heart, into the sense of universal With-ness.
The best news of all is that this is easily passed on. One person in this state can “sound the note” for another, and since it is a natural state for all beings, others pick up on it more or less easily. Yes, trauma and resignation will slow down this process significantly, but nothing can stop it. We can help each other ground, align and connect, just by doing so ourselves.
Parenting from Beyond Ourselves
There is a Sufi story about a garden nursery where one can go and look at the trees in pots, all sitting in a row. Most of the trees are small – but some of them are glorious, bursting upward into the sky! Those are the trees in the weaker pots. The pots broke, and the trees were then able to sink their roots into a much deeper earth, and thrive far beyond what they would have experienced in a stronger, more sturdy pot.
So many of us had parents who were in some ways like those less sturdy pots—they could not contain us fully, or give us all we needed—and by the exact same token, they opened our way to a deeper earth and sky.
In some ways, this may be one of the greatest gifts we can give our children – being “faulty” enough that they send their roots out far beyond us. This is not an excuse to be uncaring, or to stop holding our children with our personal love! It’s a reminder that they need to learn to draw from beyond us anyway, so we might as well start opening beyond ourselves right from the beginning.
Golden Rule of Parenting
One of the practical ways that we can open the field of our parenting beyond ourselves is when we have faith in our children and their healing process, in a field of resource that extends far beyond us. When we are grounded, aligned, and connected to the Big Heart—and we know that they are, too—our body language, stance and voice naturally communicate this.
When your child is ill, injured, or deeply struggling, more than anything—the Golden Rule of Parenting—is not to lose faith in your child’s capacity for healing. A young one’s capacity for recovery is astounding, especially if supported and affirmed by loved ones.
Do not lose faith, even if the healing process is not instantaneous. Even if it takes several days—or years!—before you can even be sure that healing is happening at all. Even if it seems that something more is required to help the healing, and you are not sure what is needed to support your child. Keep searching for what else your child needs, for sure. But during that whole time, do not lose faith in your child’s capacity to heal.
Trauma is not about what happens—trauma is about what happens AFTER what happens, happens. This time, now, is when you create the field for recovery rather than trauma by saying, “I don’t know exactly what is needed, and while I wait to get clear, I am not going to lose heart. I am going to keep on being the living breathing supportive affirmation of my child’s capacity to heal.”
If you have lost heart and lost faith in your child’s healing capacity, you are not insightful anymore. In fact, you are distraught and slightly insane.
Even if you don’t know what else to do, do the most important thing: know that your child has an innate capacity for healing that is actually much more flexible and resilient than yours! Most likely, you will not be the one to heal your child’s pain and sorrow. Most likely, you will support your child’s healing process first and foremost by having faith in it, and your child’s healing process will heal yours.
As you have faith (use your stubbornness to keep this faith! I know you’ve got that!), you shift into the physiology of insight. Trust the foundation of love that you have already given your child. Often healing from life events is like recovering from food poisoning; the body needs to puke and shit and run a fever, and it looks very messy, and it might take time and include dramatic expression of emotion. Don’t suppress the puking; keep sticking with your main job as a parent, which is to trust completely that your child has an innate sense of what health is, and is now valiantly thrashing back home again. It’s really ok for there to be strong emotions of all kinds blowing around like conflicting winds, as your child’s sweetheart (and other organs) work it out.
Surround your child with your faith in your child’s loving heart and healing capacity. It will teach you, and heal parts of you, that nothing else could ever touch before.
To learn more and develop your Whole Heart Parenting skills, join me at an upcoming Whole Heart Connection workshop.
To join the discussion, find us on my Perennial Medicine discussion listserv (all are welcome).