A couple of years ago I began to dive head first into meditation.
I found myself exploring a whole new world of possibilities brought on by books I was reading and my own intuitive take while in the experience.
Of course, there are many ways to meditate and what works for one person will not work for another. I believe the process of learning how to meditate takes time, and that different experiences we go through will call for different techniques. It’s a game of trial and error. We find our way when we are open to what resonates best for our own unique personality and life experience.
That being said, one sunny afternoon while meditating in my room, I started to meditate as I normally do.
I began to focus on my breath, using it as an anchor to bring me back from the stream of thoughts passing through my mind relentlessly trying to grab my attention. As the seconds turned into minutes and as the minutes passed, I began to feel this desire within me to go back in time. Not to revisit the past and obsess about what happened and why, but to simply pay a visit to my younger self—at a time when I knew she had struggled the most. I felt there was something there to be experienced although I didn’t have the words for it yet.
So off I went. I found her sitting alone in a dark-ish living room with a few plants being the only other sign of another’s presence in the house. I walked over to her to sit next to her, gave her a hug and began to speak to her. I asked her how she was doing, what was wrong and if there was anything I could do to help.
She spoke to me in the best way she knew how and as she did, I began to experience with her the sadness and pain she felt having been left alone—for long periods of time. Too long, for a child at that age to bear without turning the experience into one of self-blame, something all children do when they are being hurt by the ones they love and are dependent on.
I comforted her doing my best to soothe her and told her how much I loved her. As is typical of inner child work, I let her know what was happening in her environment with her parents, that their absence was not about their lack of love for her but about their own limitations. That they were doing the best they could given what they had at the moment. I gave her the love and protection she felt she was lacking and sat with her while she took it all in.
Instead of stopping there, which is a common place to stop with this type of work, I found myself beginning to experiment. It dawned on me that I could show my younger self how to meditate so I began to do just that. I taught her how to work with thoughts that were entering her mind that made her feel unworthy of love. I showed her how to manage the hurtful words of others and feelings that were not hers so that she could have a way to not internalize them as her own.
If she felt sadness around her, I encouraged her to see the sadness around her—as a fog of energy in the room that she could duck under or walk around so as to not be consumed by it. I gave her a different image to use for when anxiety was the prominent emotion. I showed her how to connect with nature, the trees and the small pond in her backyard, as a way to ground herself.
This meditation had a profound impact on me.
Not only because it connected me with some of my feelings I needed to feel but also because I had experienced the healing power of the present moment in a deeply profound way.
Since our unresolved issues of the past are always being lived out in the present and since the future is always being created from the present, we have to take special care of the now. In my meditation, by being in the present moment to take care of this younger version of myself that was still in need of attention, I had gifted the “young me” with new ways of looking at and being with her painful experiences. And because I chose to honor and be with her instead of neglect this part of myself, the “adult me” benefited. With this shift in awareness and presence, a new possibility for my future opened.
This is healing.
It is not linear and while we cannot change events that occurred, we can shift our consciousness by paying a visit to ourselves. We can go wherever we need to go in a mindful way to make our present experiences come more to life and be more peaceful.
When I meditate I don’t always go back in time through visualizations such as these.
However, when I meditate I often invite my younger self in the room to meditate with me. I call her in and she sits next to me and then we begin. I find this extremely helpful especially if I am battling a difficult and overwhelming emotion. I call her in and she sits there beside me or wherever she chooses and she knows that she is being taken care of simply through the invitation.
My younger self and I join forces to find peace and presence together.
Author: Danielle Benvenuto
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Image: Author’s Own