Kindness and connection are foundations for healing. We do connect with others, but connecting with ourselves, inviting our exiled parts home, comes first. Without that, we can’t be authentic and risk sharing who we really are.
As we do somatic (mindbody) healing, we become comfortable with sensations and energies in our body and we are increasingly able to stay present in this moment. We welcome these feelings and sensations as part of getting to know who we are. We repair the disconnection with our body. We learn to be on our own side. And many times, we connect with our younger selves who, at long last, experience an adult who is there for them. They are no longer scared and alone. They let it in when you reassure them “it was not your fault”. They begin to trust you.
Let’s work with a kindness relaxation practice with ourselves at a younger age, perhaps as a child. We will offer our younger self some kindness and relax with them. From our emotional stability and being grounded in this moment as an adult, we are able to co-regulate with our younger selves and they directly experience the healing power of safety and inclusion.
Bring up an image of yourself at the age you are working with. Look at photos or videos if you have them. We might notice we seem disconnected or our smile looks fake or we look angry. We can also bring up mental images of ourselves at that age.
The first time we go to summer camp, or when we leave our parents to go to school might come to mind, or a time when we were bullied or felt alone and afraid. Our system likes certainty. We feel safer when we have an idea what might happen so we can be prepared to protect ourselves.
What does thinking about this feel like in your body right now? Do you feel a natural sympathy or a connection with this younger self who was experiencing loneliness, hurt or a variety of emotions. What does it feel like in your body to remember that?
If you could sit with yourself at that age and help yourself to relax, what would help? Bring your attention to your forehead, eyebrows and all around your eyes. Notice your mouth and jaw and allow your face to soften. What did your face look like then? Your teeth? Your smile? Did you wear glasses? Have freckles?
Bring your attention to your neck and shoulders. What were they like when you were six years old or fourteen? Keep your younger self in your mind and allow yourself to settle back into the support of the floor or chair. Even if you experienced fear when you were that age and tightened up and held your breath, notice that threat is not here right now in this moment.
Reassure your younger self that it is okay to relax and to breathe. Notice your chest and your stomach. Soften your lower belly. If you are working with a young child, imagine a stuffed animal on their belly and watch it rise and fall with the breath.
We are not giving airtime to thoughts right now. Let them be in the background. Relax for a few minutes and let your body soften and your breath become smoother and with more ease.
Let your younger self feel the reassurance of your presence. They are not alone. You are here with them. Connect with them. You might have a visual of that or a felt sense. Maybe you are holding them or sitting beside them holding their hand. Bring your kind attention and presence to them. Notice what it feels like for you as an adult to be present for your younger self in this way. Notice what it feels like for your younger self to have you here with them.
Our intention is to be a kind presence with them. We are not entertaining a lot of thought. We are just being present with them with kind attention.
Notice your whole body and the movement of your breath. Is this an easy practice or is your mind wandering? Are you able to stay grounded in your body and connected with your breath?
What is the experience of your younger self in this moment while the body is relaxing, feeling safe and connected with you. Is there some hesitation? Maybe a moving toward and welcoming too? What does it feel like in your body? Kids often have those bony shoulders or awkwardness in their body. Feel that.
What would it have been like for you at that age to have a kind adult sitting with you as you relax? To hear that soft voice and be reassured by their presence?
I’m here with you now. You are going to be okay.
I am sad you were scared, hurt, feeling alone. You are not alone now.
I am right here with you. I will listen. I want to know. I will stay connected with you.
Let yourself absorb the words, the intention, the kind energy. Let your nervous system settle and your mind become calmer. Focus on the ease and continuity of your breathing. You feel safe. If it is not perfect safety, that is fine too. Whatever your experience is right now, notice and allow your body to continue to relax and soften. Let yourself know you are safe.
This is one of many times you will connect with your younger self this way. We don’t need a lot of words. Notice the connection itself as kindness. It is not necessarily empathy or compassion. It is a connection and a welcoming. Let your whole body be aware of that in your body at that age and in your body at the age you are now.
Let that in. Let yourself assimilate and integrate that into all the cells of your body. Immerse yourself in resting.
Set your intention to return to this again and again. Welcome your younger self at different ages so they will know and trust they are not alone. You are here with them. They are safe.
This is a longer relaxation and inquiry practice similar to the one above.