By Sara Shah
First and foremost, I wanted to thank you for sticking with me throughout this Mindful Monday series. I sincerely hope you have gained some of the skills and meditation tips you were looking for.
I thought I would finish this series with an inner child meditation. After all the hard work you’ve done through meditation, you deserve a little extra self-love just for you! So what’s the point of an inner child meditation? In short, we are born absolutely pure, complete, and wonderful, but somewhere along the way we seem to forget this. Maybe it’s because the world around us can be a little harsh, along with the people in it. Slowly, our child selves naturally retreat inwards during painful childhood experiences, from being spoken to harshly to embarrassing ourselves in front of our middle school crush. Then there can be more traumatic memories too. All of these contribute to our child selves feeling hurt, scared, unheard, or even unloved. By practicing inner child meditation we begin to heal these inner wounds that may have been present for years on end. By healing past wounds we are able to better connect with ourselves and our pure and whole childlike spirit.
What is an inner child meditation?
An inner child meditation is somewhat similar to the lovingkindness meditation we did last week. Instead of offering positive phrases of love and care to a loved one, difficult person, neutral person, and stranger—we offer those same phrases of lovingkindness to former versions of ourselves. The traditional phrases are:
- May you be happy.
- May you be healthy.
- May you be safe.
- May you be free from suffering.
- May you be free.
These phrases can be changed slightly. I like to add “may you love and may you be loved, wholly, completely, and fully” and if you have any phrases you would like to add you are welcome to do so. It is important that they are positive phrases of well wishes towards ourselves, as this positivity is what aids in cultivating self-love and kindness towards the past versions of ourselves. Only we truly know what our child selves need to hear so feel at liberty to experiment and add on whatever phrases may resonate with you. One of my other favorites is “May you feel at home in your body.” Think of it like a mixtape, and remember you can change the phrases based on the day and based on what you’re feeling too!
As a side note, a cool thing I like to do is to see if any feelings of resistance come up when I repeat any of the phrases to myself. We are often our own harshest critics, so extending self-love can feel awkward and uncomfortable at times. Some phrases may bring on more discomfort than others. I just recommend sitting with yourself and truly listening and feeling into your body to see if you feel any resistance come up after you say any of the phrases. If you do feel some pushback, I invite you to just take a couple breaths and repeat the phrase with even more love and care towards yourself until you become more comfortable hearing the phrase. Bathing ourselves in love isn’t always easy at first, so stick with whatever pace works for you!
What is the science behind inner child meditation?
Though not a lot has been studied on inner child meditations, there is scientific research on the benefits of lovingkindness meditation. And at the end of the day, an inner child meditation is really just a specialized version of lovingkindness. As mentioned in last week’s series posting, lovingkindness itself has been proved to increase feelings of positive self-esteem and decrease depressive symptoms. Overall it allows us to generate positive emotions towards whoever we are directing the meditation towards; since it is ourselves in this case I speculate the positive emotions we cultivate contribute further to increased self-esteem, self-acceptance, and as a result, a more wholesome sense of love for ourselves. So go ahead and exercise some self-compassion through meditation and love your child self to bits!
When is it helpful to do an inner child meditation?
Some days we need to practice a little extra self-love and care. Inner child meditation is perfect for those days. By cultivating and accepting our child selves in their entirety we begin to continue to grow a greater sense of love for our current selves.
Childhood can be hard, and by embracing that child version of ourselves who was just trying to figure it all out with love we are growing better at loving ourselves now, just as we are. Because at the end of the day we are all just larger versions of children still trying to figure it all out.
So the next time you have a hard day, or a good day, and you want to cultivate a little more self-acceptance and self-care into your regimen feel free to put on this recording and offer the phrases of love and warmth to your child self. At the end of the day, the better we are able to love ourselves, the better able we are to listen to ourselves, our needs, and our wants. And as cheesy as it sounds, we truly are better at loving others when we know and love ourselves more fully.
So go out there and continue to cultivate love and care for all the versions of yourself—past, present, and future. May you be happy today and everyday!
If you’re interested in learning more about meditation or would like to inquire about meditation coaching, feel free to reach out to me on my website.