Unlocking Childhood Trauma

As part of my recent journey into meditation and mindfulness, I’ve started reading books written by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, such as Work, How To Eat, and How To Sit.

Today, as I was trying out a new sitting meditation, I literally entered an experience where I think I unlocked one of my childhood traumas, and it was so profound that after writing about it in my Sitting Notebook, I took some time to think about whether I should write about this experience, because it’s so personal, yet so everyday, that maybe someone reading this would benefit in some way and find your own path to peace.

I’m not even sure I’m doing it right, as I’m super new to Buddhism, mindfulness, meditation and the whole thing. This is just what I’ve been through, not sure if it’s supposed to turn out like this, but I’m documenting it anyway.

Talking with your inner child

After starting my sitting meditation with gathas suggested in the How To Sit book, for example: “Calming my body, I breathe in. Caring for my body, I breathe out. Calming [inhale] / Caring [exhale]”, I moved on to “Buddha is breathing, Buddha is sitting. I am breathing, I am sitting.” until I felt I was properly breathing from the abs and in a calm state.

For the “Talking With Your Inner Child” guided meditation, the book suggested I sit on one cushion and put another cushion in front of me to visualise myself as a five-year-old. When I closed my eyes and started to welcome my inner child, she appeared in the form of a nine-year-old. I invited her to tell me how she felt and what’s troubling her.

She said she was scared of being left alone when her grandparents and parents pass away, like feeling abandoned and alone. I assured her that although eventually our older family members will pass away, we won’t be alone, as we have our siblings, husband, children, in-laws and other relatives to look out for us.

She then shared her memory of our grandfather’s death, how she felt, when sitting on a plastic chair next to Kong Kong’s coffin at his wake (for context, I was nine-years-old when my maternal grandfather passed away and this is my inner child reliving that experience), plucking flowers from the wreaths and plucking the petals one by one, because she didn’t know what else to do to connect with Kong Kong who had passed away and couldn’t talk to him, except just sit by his side quietly and pluck flowers while looking at his body.

The last time she saw him alive was in hospital, but she didn’t know it was going to be the last time. It was her first time seeing death, the wake, and funeral up close.

I invited Kong Kong to join us (the book mentioned that we could invite our ancestors to breathe with us in sitting meditation. It also said “When they were alive, they might not have had a chance to sit mindfully and breathe peacefully. But now, in you, they have that chance. … We are a continuation.”). He came and sat next to my inner child (on her left).

We both cried as we missed him so much. He saw us grow up from a baby until nine-years-old.

He said that he’s watching us from heaven/above. My inner child said she didn’t know how to talk to him and felt sad the connection was suddenly cut off. He assured her that she could talk to him anytime and he’ll be listening and watching over her. It was getting super emotional so we said our goodbyes for the time being, and asked to meet again.

After he left, I said to my inner child that we can speak to him again in future, and hoped she felt better. She said yes she wanted to meet again, and her likeness became one of a happy, bouncy, joyful child after being able to see Kong Kong and talk to him. I told her I love her, and we said to Kong Kong we love him too (hope he could hear us).

I then went through the gatha “Buddha is breathing, Buddha is sitting. I am breathing, I am sitting.” until I felt I had calmed down enough to open my eyes. I then wrote in my Sitting Notebook about this experience, while wiping up tears.

After writing, I still felt not calm, so I continued with walking meditation saying “I have arrived, I am home”. I asked Kong Kong to watch over me, not to leave me alone, and talk to me if possible. To my inner child, I asked her to stay pure at heart, be honest with me about her feelings, and work with me.

I sat and thought about the whole experience, and wondered how many others are suffering out there, unable to access their inner child who needs attention.

In his book Work, Thich Nhat Hanh wrote “When a mother hears her baby crying, she stops whatever she’s doing and goes directly to the baby. The first thing she does is to pick up the baby and hold her tenderly in her arms. In the baby there is the energy of suffering. In the mother there is the energy of tenderness, which begins to penetrate into the body of the baby. Similarly, your fear is your baby. Your anger is your baby. Your despair is your baby. Your baby needs you to go home and take care of it. Go home to your hermitage, to the island of self right away, and take care of your baby.”

I need to take care of my baby / inner child, and I hope you find a way to do so too.

Featured photo: AZ Quotes