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Try telling a young child, “We’ll do that next year”. To them next year is an eternity, even tomorrow is a year away. NOW is where life is, and in the next few moments. Healthy children play in a state of blissful timelessness, and they play for joy. Because they see life as a treasure trove of unexplored adventure, they inhabit an endless day of happiness.
What if we adults could be fluid enough to access our own endless day of happiness? What if we remembered to access the newness and freshness of each day? Whatever you are doing – be present, be here now. Joy can only be accessed in timelessness, in the here and now. Watch a child – they will show you how.
3. The places where we rigidly control
Control issues come from our own fearful survival experiences. When we encounter experiences that are too big, too dark or too difficult to integrate, fear rushes in. Locked in survival mode we make mental and emotional adjustments. Later we consciously or otherwise shield ourselves from any part of life that reminds us of that dark, difficult place. If we experienced extreme fear, particularly in early life, we can even shut out that memory for years. But that memory will unconsciously show itself in controlling behaviour.
When children appear with their natural flow and natural feelings, expressing all without a care, we may react with too much control. In the places where we have cut off our own feelings we will, without realising it, stamp over our children’s feelings. In this way we might demand obedience and try to parent from a state of fear, and have little faith in our children’s own ways of being.
Under the weight of parent’s rigid rules and beliefs children will either become militant and awkward, or they will repress their natural vibrancy and become moody and self-limiting. Subsequently the child will either avoid being around a parent or adult and may unknowingly embarrass the parent in an attempt to be free of the oppressiveness of the rigidly held belief.
Children show us where our trouble spots are, where we left a piece of our own vibrancy behind. We need to go back and examine them, heal them, and free ourselves. Then, like children, we can dream bigger, be more present, and live the adventurous life that we came here for.
1. Dreaming properly means dreaming bigger than reality
The adult mind can get trapped in ‘reality’. But is ‘reality’ reality, or is it just a limited version of reality a person has become accustomed to? We map out our future based on our personal version of reality. But a limited version of reality can lead to a limited life. Our minds have undergone conditioning in ways we have forgotten, and will put undesirable fences where gateways could be.
We can see this illustrated clearly in the rise of fundamentalism, people who only see limited versions of life and thus try to impose those limitations on others. It has been noticed that a fundamentalist is a person lacking in imagination. The mentalist activity will tread on their dreams, and, the dreams of others.
Children don’t practice fundamentalism because they live closer to the wild forest of imagination. That forest is a non-critical place, a place full of rich, infinite ideas waiting to be played with. Watch a child at play, in the blink of an eye they become a famous adventurer, a gifted sports person, or a circus performer. All the imagery necessary to play is available to them, as if a gate into another universe opens and a love of life flows in unimpeded. Children make friends quickly and play easily. It’s their imaginations that are the relational tool, almost as if they say, “let’s dream big together”. Notice also how children respond to stories; very quickly they are in the story relating to the characters, wondering what comes next.
Allow the mind to play outside its normal constraints, slow down the eagerness to classify and criticise. Don’t let life become dull and unadventurous by cutting off the ability to dream bigger than reality. Try creating reality out of a bigger dream than the one you had last week. If you get stuck become a child for a day and let yourself play!
2. The gift of Timelessness
It’s easy to fall into the notion that life has to be a certain way before happiness can fill our day. Happiness can enter when we ease our fixed mind and allow in the fluid. Happiness is connected to timelessness. If we lose ourselves in each moment and let go of the constraint of time our deeper happiness surfaces. Time is always a limited thing for a mind that is too fixed.