Reconnect with Your Inner Child
A Guided Meditation for Healing your Inner child
Doing inner child work is something that all of us can benefit from, no matter what our childhood experiences were. This kind of work is not exclusive to people who may have experienced big childhood traumas, it really applies to all of us, for no matter what our upbringing, nearly all of us have suffered some kind of wounding as children, be that physical, emotional or mental.
Healing your inner child is the process of connecting with, and understanding your first original self, the person you were when you first came innocently into this world.
The wonderful and wise Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh explores this idea in his book Reconciliation: Healing The Inner Child (2010). He says that in each of us is a young and suffering child and that wounded child will not go away simply because we ignore it. It is always there, demanding our attention. He talks about healing the inner child within us all as the most important way to show ourselves love, compassion, and understanding.
The way I understand it is, our unhealed inner children are at the root of many of our dysfunctional issues, psychological problems, and accumulated emotional baggage.
Our society on the whole forces us to keep our inner children wounded and hidden, we have to tend to our adult lives and that doesn’t usually involve deep, healing inner child work. Our capacity for innocence, playfulness, joy, and wonder is often repressed, and many people operate instead from a place of fear, anger, shame, self-criticism, low self-esteem, and insecurity that originated from those traumatic childhood experiences.
Childhood trauma or adverse childhood experiences (ACE) might include the following:
- Being hit or smacked
- Having an emotionally distant/ unavailable parent or caregiver.
- Being sexually abused
- Emotional or physical neglect
- Any kind of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
- Being punished in inappropriate ways.
- Seeing violence against a parent
- Living with anyone who was mentally ill, suicidal, criminal, or a substance abuser.
- Being humiliated
- Having your personal belongings destroyed
- Having undue responsibilities for others or yourself
- Accidents or traumatic illness
- Being the child of divorce
- Being bullied at school.
These traumatic events may have happened on a large or small scale, either way, they can have extremely negative lasting effects on your physical and mental health and well-being. Serious maltreatment can cause such chronic ill health and stress that your brain function and the development of your nervous system is affected.
Some of us may not even fully remember or understand the details of our negative childhood memories or feel guilt and shame at the idea of criticizing or analyzing our childhood experiences out of loyalty to our parents or caregivers.
That’s why I think it’s important for all of us to do inner child work. Even if you have a wonderful relationship with your family today, your child self may still demand your attention and you may well be pleasantly surprised at the kind of deep healing that comes about from an inner child meditation. Maybe your parents got divorced and despite their best efforts you felt torn between them. Or perhaps you were bullied at school or had a difficult time when you moved house, or your best friend left town for good. The only way you can find out how your inner child feels is to go within and connect with him or her.
How to Heal your Inner Child with a Guided Meditation
The reason that meditation works so well to heal our wounded children is that it allows us a safe space to make that connection and to bring compassion to these fragmented, forgotten parts of ourselves.
A lack of loving-kindness and compassion in childhood leads to a lack of self-love and self-compassion in adulthood, it’s as simple as that. And as Thich Nhat Hanh says, love is an extremely powerful form of energy that can bring a complete transformation to ourselves and others.
When we are children we need to feel understood, loved, and a sense of belonging. If we don’t experience the feeling of being seen and supported, we can carry that sadness through to adulthood and disconnect from our selves.
Through meditation, we can address that sense of belonging, that need to been seen and heard. We can tell our younger selves that we are here for them now, no matter how neglected or abandoned they have felt, or whatever happened in the past.
This work can be incredibly healing, and might just change your life. Being a spiritually whole, happy, functional adult demands inner child work.
My Guided Meditation for Healing your Inner Child
Find yourself a comfortable, quiet place to sit where you will be undisturbed for at least ten minutes.
Allow your physical body to settle into where you are seated. Feel your weight upon the chair, your feet flat on the ground.
Allow a sense of calm to wash over you, as you take some deep, healing breaths. Feel any tension or stress dissipate as you drop into the present moment.
Bring your focus to your breath, feeling it as it fills your belly and chest, expanding and then feel it as it leaves your body on the exhale. Allow your awareness to follow your breath, in and out, rising and falling.
Begin to scan your body in your mind, all the way from the crown of your head to your feet. As you scan through your body in your mind, become aware of the places where you feel relaxed, and the places where you feel tense.
Invite your body to soften now, as you sit here. Calm yourself down by telling your body, it’s ok to relax now. This is a time for healing. Be mindful of the thoughts that come into your mind as you send that loving-kindness to your body.
Relax here for a few moments, just breathing and being in the present moment.
Now, you are going to become aware of yourself as a little child. see yourself standing in front of you when you were five, or six years old.
Look deeply into the eyes of this child before you, and feel whatever emotions begin to arise in you. Can you feel how that child is feeling? Can you sense their fragility, fear or vulnerability?
Allow that child to respond to you however that may appear to you, whether with words, a hug or perhaps trepidation and fear. This divine child part of you may not understand that the adult version of you is here to take care of them and love them now. Remember that this inner child of yours may feel abandoned and repressed if this is the first time you are connecting with him or her in many years.
If difficult emotions arise for you here, just breathe through them. Allow your breath to be a guiding, centering force to bring you back to stillness and calm.
Tell this child in front of you, that you are here to listen to them and to protect them. You can hold your arms out and wait for the child to come to you before you embrace them tenderly and with so much love.
Tell your little child that you love them. Ask them if there is anything they wish to express to you, and wait patiently for whatever comes up for you here.
This is very individual, and you may hear words or see images or memories that are painful. Just allow all things to be what they are, as you breathe through the experience.
You can now take the hands of your child self and remind them that they are safe now, they are seen, supported, and accepted. They are enough, they are loved and you are always here for them. You are with them, to love them and protect them, as the adult version. You are capable of integrating this part of you, your inner child into your current reality.
Now, begin to bring yourself back into the space where you are seated, slowly returning to waking life from this meditation.
I hope that this meditation helps you to open your heart with love and compassion for the inner child within you and connect to your younger self. When you are able to connect with these vulnerable parts of yourself, you actually strengthen and transform your entire life experience, and bring deep healing to any negative patterns, beliefs, phobias, and other traits of lasting trauma from childhood.
Meditation has the power to heal anything, my hope for you is that with time and practice you can learn to evolve into the best and most powerful version of yourself through opening your heart and your mind to the divine child within and the abundance of self-love contained there.