Return to Innocence

Jun 20, 2014 | Updated Aug 20, 2014

I stayed at a friend's house while visiting Minneapolis a few weeks back and got the incredible opportunity to be around her kids, particularly her 4-year-old daughter Serena. Not only was Rena (as her family called her) sweet, energetic, and cute as a button, but she was quite precocious. I was utterly impressed by her ability to articulate herself so brilliantly, both through the thoughts she shared, as well as the answers she gave.

One evening as I was locating a comfy spot to sit, getting ready to start my meditation, Rena asked, "What are you doing?" I answered. "Well, I am getting ready to meditate." After which she asked, "What is meditation?" I was thinking to myself how to best explain something like this to a 4 year old and came up with nothing specific. So, I said (like I would to an adult), "Meditation is a place to be, and listen to what comes up inside, whether it be thoughts or physical sensations." Rena smiled enthusiastically, and replied something to the effect, "You mean I get to connect to myself? Can I meditate with you?" And the answer was "Of course! I would love that."

It's amazing how young kids, like Rena can grasp such a powerful concept and take it for its simplicity just the same. She neither argued nor tried to analyze it beyond asking what it is essentially. Her innocence kept her open, thus allowing her to be curious and embrace what she learned, which was in this case, that meditation is an opportunity to connect to self.

Food for Thought:
How efficiently do you think our bodies would function if it had to stop and analyze/consider/weigh every connection it made before it made it?

What you can do to choose peace and love now:
Stop analyzing every detail of your life. Ask yourself what would an innocent, open-minded child do in this similar situation? If you still don't know, why not ask one?

Why this helps:
Our life simply is a collection of the decisions we have made over time. Some feel "right" because it appears to take us closer to something we want, while others feel "wrong" because it hasn't. However, the important thing to recognize here is that whether something feels right or wrong, it had to happen in order to get us here. Furthermore, it is not enough to recognize this simple fact, but it is more important to see that it is our innocence (or openness) that dictates which direction we go from here.

When we choose this quality of innocence, we will see that fearlessness guides us, and the decisions we make are no longer out of fear, but in spite of it. This is real growth, whether we are growing from 4 years of age to adulthood, or adulthood to being elderly. Think about it. Isn't life truly nothing more than a series of opportunities to grow into more of who we are (whether in relationships, career, and especially in our expression of self)? And do we not want this for ourselves as much as we would for a child we love? Let's return to innocence...