Part One: Childhood and Spirituality

DEAR FRIENDS- As the Buddha had the courage to acknowledge, we live in a world where the vast majority of people are in pain . Rich or poor, young and old , almost everyone carries a burden of fear and sorrow , anger and shame. Beneath our denial and behind the masks we wear to hide away our pain, the shared reality of our suffering transcends all boundaries.
All religions and spiritual paths attempt to explain this universal suffering- and its cure. In practical terms , an effective spirituality should help us to heal our pain and develop positive attitudes at the most basic level. The purpose of true spirituality is to enable us to validate the beauty and rightness of who we are, to love ourselves and others and to be fulfilled by life. True spirituality enables us to combine the open heart of a child with the wisdom and strength of an adult!
In the twentieth century humanity made a radical leap forward in its drive toward awareness, love and freedom. Sigmund Freud and the psychoanalysts discovered the role of childhood pain in the attitudes and behaviors of adults. This knowledge has begun a cultural and spiritual transformation which in time will free humanity as much as the Christian and Buddhist revolutions which came before.
Indeed, it will be precisely this knowledge that will enable the Judeo-Christian ethic of love and brotherhood and the Buddhist emphasis on compassion and tolerance to finally and fully succeed.
We now know something central to our existence that no previous spiritual teaching grasped or emphasized. The indispensable next step in our drive toward enlightenment- indeed, in the literal saving of the world- will involve humanity's widespread grasp that the misunderstanding of children's emotional/developmental needs, and the culturally sanctioned mistreatment of children, is the primal cause of peoples' lifelong pain and destructive behavior.
Past spiritualities assigned the origin of our emotional pain, negative attitudes and destructive behaviors to causes such as Original Sin, the karmic repercussions of past lives, or the intrinsic inability of the self to satisfy its desires. If a spiritual/religious path is a form of medicine, the accuracy of the diagnosis will greatly effect the completeness of the cure. I propose that there is both more love and more truth in the notion that the real source of people's pain and negative behavior lay in childhood traumas and deprivations.
To be clear- it is my observation that at this point in time (and for thousands of years prior to today), there is a serious inability, in cultures and societies world-wide, to mentally grasp and open-heartedly respond to the real emotional needs of growing children. And that the resulting pain that is stored up in the masses results both in lifelong individual suffering and in humanity's inability to conquer it's ongoing problems- war, poverty, disease and injustice.
In the service of helping people awaken to the true nature of their suffering- and be empowered to heal it!- I offer this simple exercise to release the pain of your "Inner Child". To heal the world, let us begin by healing ourselves. We were all born with the capacity for joy, and with hearts that were fully open to love. For our own liberation, and for the sake of the generations to come, let us work to reclaim our birthright of happiness and inner peace.

Part Two: Healing Your Inner Child

What is the Inner Child? Your Inner Child can be understood in these two basic ways:
1. It is the part of you that was hurt while you were growing up, and which is still in pain within you.
2. It is the place in your heart that can trust without fear of betrayal; that is unafraid to love and be loved; that is capable of full and joyful self-expression; that takes great pleasure in play, creativity and imagination!
To free the life-embracing capacities and positive energy of your Inner Child- and therefore to reclaim your love of life and heal yourself- his/her pain must be acknowledged, taken seriously and fully released.
To thoroughly heal and finally be free, your Inner Child must have a Champion. That is, a compassionate witness that completely validates both your pain and your fundamental innocence and "rightness". Your Champion is unconditionally on your side!
At the beginning of the process, your Champion may be another person -- a therapist, a spiritual teacher, a wise and loving friend.
However, for the healing to be complete, you must become your Inner Child's ultimate Champion! Why?Because your Inner Child is a part of you, and therefore you are in the best possible position to give him/her exactly what is needed.
Complete self-empowerment and emotional security can only be gained when you yourself can fully stand up for your Inner Child. You must become the Unconditionally Loving Parent and Invincible Champion that your Inner Child never had!
Here is a beginning exercise to help you awaken to the pain of your Inner Child, and to begin the process of healing him/her.
EXERCISE: Becoming Your Own Champion
1. Recall something that your Mother or Father did -- either once or repeatedly -- that made you feel ashamed, afraid, guilty, lonely or very sad. Try to picture an incident or example of this as clearly as you can. Write down a few words describing it.
2. Try to recall -- or if you can't exactly remember, imagine -- what you felt. Write down a few words describing what you felt. Then write down what you would have said if -- like all children -- you weren't afraid of losing their love by being real and honest.
3. Now go to the mirror. The person in the mirror will be your Inner Child, who has suffered from this misunderstanding, mistreatment or abuse. You are going to speak to your Child as his/her Champion. Try saying these statements to start off, then experiment and expand on them if you like.
Beginning with your own name (or even better, a tender endearment like "sweety, honey" etc.) say the following:
a. ____, they were wrong to do that. You needed love and understanding, not ____. You were just a child!
b. You didn't make them do it. You didn't deserve it. Their own problems made them do it.
c. You don't have to be guilty or ashamed. The fault was theirs, not yours.
d. It's okay to feel angry if you want. It's safe now -- I'll protect you.
e. If you want to feel sad, that's okay -- it's natural. You can cry and let it out if you want -- I'll be here for you.
f. I'm on your side no matter what. I'll never let them hurt you again.
g. I'm going to listen to you, love you and help you until the pain is all gone.

I wish each of you complete success in loving, understanding and healing your precious Inner Child. ALL MY LOVE- BRYAN