What if ... Possibilities for our Children, Our World by Janai Lowenstein, M.S.
"I don't think you will be able to do it." Her voice softened as she continued, "But you can try, and if you need medication, we'll inject at that point." Relieved, I thanked her for being open- minded. This foot surgery was an impending thorn in my side I could no longer avoid. Requesting to proceed through this bone spur, bursa and thickened skin tissue removal without pain medication was an important challenge for me. Maybe I couldn't control the circumstances surrounding surgery, but I certainly could control my attitude and actions dealing with it. MIND, BODY and WILL, step forward, please, and claim your potential!
One hour and twenty minutes after the procedure began, the surgery was complete without any assistance from a drug-related substance. I was happy. In fact, the endorphins created from this heightened state of awareness and mind/body control stayed for six days. What a fantastic natural high, confidence builder and fuel for being more fully human!
People ask, "WHY?" When our first child was born 22 years ago via C-Section, I went down under with a general anesthetic. Add the side effects of anesthesia, like coughing up green goo, being mentally disoriented and emotionally whacked, to becoming a new mom—it makes for a hefty effort in finding balance. It was at that time that I made the commitment to gain mind/body awareness and control to replace medication whenever possible. I requested no drugs for my second C-section and had no pain medication for root canals. Self-empowerment stretched me to places of adventure within myself. Scientists say we use a small percentage of our brains—the most advanced humans may not even use 15%. If true, then we all have the basic human right to tap those resources in that other 85%.
My experiences created an embracing reinforcement of my vision, passion and mission for the world's children. In my mind's eye, I see the world's children symbolically holding hands with glowing heart centers. They know, they see, they speak and they act on the truth, creating world peace. This vision lives in the cells of my blood, permeating the core fabric of my being. Yes, it is an ideal image and goal. And thank goodness for ideals. Without them we lose ourselves in the formidable terrain of confusion and aimlessness. Balancing ideals with everyday reality means finding a practical plan to bridge from here to there.
Manifesting a Bridge "Imagination is more important than knowledge." Einstein
Knowing the planet suffers and is in great need, it is common sense to refer to Einstein's wisdom and consciously make a choice. We can either imagine darkness and destruction without purpose, or light permeating the darkness with optimistic purpose. Since it's fat-free, I'm a light voter. That means I put my money where my mouth is.
Choosing to be a responsible member of the global village that guides children into the future means my vision must remain unforgetting of what is possible. This is a time of planetary ill health—the perfect time to feel needed and to care.
Children who do not care become lost. Children who do not realize their caring counts do not feel needed. In the agrarian society of our forbears, children were needed as a part of the family community. They had roles to fill, even if they complained about chores. Today, our youth cling to aimlessness in many situations where violence, crime, apathy and self-destruction rule the day. They don't know that we need their caring in helping us save the planet. Unaware, they don't know we can't do it without them. They see the world as a wasteland because they feel the wasteland internally. Emptiness cannot feel full.
Touch Today we are told not to touch children and fear disciplining them. Self-discipline is usually established through older persons, such as parents or teachers. These are the ones who guide children with an external voice until the child's own internal voice activates her conscience. Eventual self-discipline is a strengthening factor in grabbing life's reigns and feeling empowered.
Touch is not linear and flat like words. Safe, caring touch is multi-dimensional, expressing more than words can say. Safe touch can be a bridge when words are absent or do not fully embrace a message. Touch deprivation causes illness. It is another form of abuse and creates the illness of self-abuse, as do all forms of abuse. I tell people that as a mom, therapist, trainer, neighbor, and aunt, I will not stop touching children safely in a caring manner. Kidding and touching elbows, giving a pat on the back, asking if someone needs a hug, and joking with a "high-five" hand gesture—all are ways that a well-intentioned person can maintain the healing presence of touch as a natural factor in children's lives.
"We must be the change we want to see in the world." My long black sweatshirt carries this poignant quote by Mahatma Gandhi. This sweatshirt is my special reminder to be an adult who models for children what I want for them. "Ever slip, Janai?," you might question. Sure, it's the old eternal human factor. Slips are food. I use them as fuel to learn and continue onward, processing the slips with children when appropriate so we both learn. Children and slips provide ego balancing for adult guides.
What is possible? Einstein pointed the way of unlimited imagining as the first step of my bridge-making. In response, my mind soars with the freedom of an angel's wings in full flight headed for a special event. In my mind's eye, I watch a movie scripted and directed by Einstein and Gandhi....and I dare to dream.
What if....all children learn how to tap their inner resources and know themselves? What if....self-mastery of the mind/body/emotion connection is celebrated and nurtured within the family structure, socially, and in the educational institutions throughout a child's life?
What if....abused children learn to transform their demons into good, creative energy instead of self- and other-destructiveness? What if....they realize a continued state of dis-ease is self-imposed through negative self-talk, self-victimization, and through always giving one's power away by blaming others and circumstances. What if they learn that such dis-ease is perpetuated by abusing others, with the suffering that results from that.
What if....I find people around the world with whom I can network and find funding to carry out this work; people who recognize these issues as the most important priority on the planet.
What if....I realize through my own lifetime that enlightenment is possible if every thought, word and deed is healing in its nature....and What if....I can transmit that to the children I have contact with? And what if....they, in turn, plant those same seeds of kind light in their lives and relationships?
What if....we teach our children, on a planetary scale, to know themselves?
What if....children learn to heal the psychological wounds of childhood instead of letting those wounds become lifelong scars?
Sickly and scrawny, I was called "ugly stick" by some kids when I was a girl. "Ugly stick" became my subconscious director for negative self-talk. Unbeknownst to me, those taunting children were in pain. They were sharing and releasing it through hurting others. Not understanding that fact caused me more pain through low self-esteem and self-abuse. Once I understood, I forgave them and I healed. Then I was able to help others heal wounds.
What if....adults in the global village realize that children's wounds can be painfully life altering if the incidents aren't harnessed during these daily occurrences as opportunities for growth?
This is bridging, one step at a time, towards self-actualized children who are happy and healthy. The quality of their connectedness as they mature into adults, and inherit our world, does not have to be of stunted human potential as we are witnessing today in global relations. We can help them go beyond what we have created.
What if....We all realize that intrinsic worth is based not only on good values, but also practical skills....
The dreaming and visualizing is exhilarating. But it cannot survive unless it is anchored in our everyday world in a practical, step-by-step process.
The peacock symbolizes one who can take negativity or toxins from the environment and create something good to put back out into the environment. Children can learn this is their birthright. As their guides, we adults have to know how this works for ourselves, so the buck stops right here.
My Plan of Action For 22 years I have pulled a bandwagon, attempting many approaches to awaken interest. My latest attempt was teaching myself to write a grant (double ugh) to create a model program in the town of Drain, Oregon, entitled, KINDERGARTEN SELF-HELP PROGRAM. Children who know they have resources within them that can be tapped anytime, anywhere, will be confident in making their choices, good choices. They will manage emotions and stress, and practice competent problem solving. Such children can work with conflict resolution, manage anger wisely, know how the mind and body work together. In short, they will live healthier lives. They can use their imaginations to help the world grow in a brightly lit direction.
Drain is a small rural town with approximately 350 children in the elementary/middle school combination. In the 1995-96 school year, there were 250 referrals for misconduct to the principal's office. One year later, during the 1996-97 school term, the number of such referrals escalated to 1,278. This recent past school year, 1997-98, such referrals remained at the 96-97 pace. What’s going on? Don't bother blaming budget cuts alone. Wealthy school districts are equally afflicted with such statistics. The problem is complex and Band-Aid solutions are no longer acceptable. This illness calls for long-term investment and long-term change. Such vision and action find a home in the Kindergarten Self-Help Program. If it works here, it can work anywhere in the world.
Breathing Through the Process of Bridging The daily reality in our immediate lives is a key. We breathe everywhere we go and always take our minds and bodies. This natural resource can be a starting place for every child. I remember our children (now 22 and 17) being infants. I would breathe slowly and deeply, making an exaggerated ahhhhhh sound as I exhaled slowly, so they could hear and feel my calm breathing. When they were toddlers, we would immediately take deep exaggerated and loud breaths when they got hurt. Instead of focusing on the OUCH, we focused on the attitude and skill of handling the situation. Self-control, self-responsibility, and self-confidence in meeting life's challenges were polished as they gradually learned to mimic us. By the time our children were pre-schoolers, they initiated this behavior on their own.
It actually takes more time and energy to make a grimaced face and react with tension to a bloody knee. An adult's tension creates more tension in the child.
Anchoring the Bridge in Solid Ground Certainly, ideal envisioning is great fun. Everything looks and feels perfect. No muss, no fuss. Just perfection. But to be real, the bridge must be a healing process. It must be anchored by practical steps one can take, one at a time, that make sense and fit into a framework. Creating an internal frame of reference for ourselves is the first step in mapping out the framework for the bridge. In my own life, before I could request no drugs for foot surgery, I had to know myself.
The second step is to relay this wonderful life-giving ability to children. Even adults who aren't parents are role models in public places. Children are always watching us, our values, tone of voice, mannerisms and body language. We are all on stage, all the time. The quality of performance we give is up to us.
It is always a great privilege and honor to help children find the courage they will need to gain self-control to become who they want to be. How exhilarating to see a child who knows herself and talks about her anger and jealousy. She doesn't give her power away by blaming someone else—she understands her mind/body connection, she’s been taught awareness skills. How rewarding to hear a 12 year old boy set a goal of graduating from high school before he is 15 and accomplish it because he knows himself and exerts his will with skill.
These young people are building confidence from the inside-out as they learn to be accountable for their actions. They understand cause and effect, and empower themselves to imagine a new reality, to go beyond limited circumstances. Their bridges are being built. They don't have to do what I did by controlling pain. They have found their own ways to stretch into the untapped potential that is their human birthright.
May all the world's children be blessed with full hearts, clear minds, strong wills, good values with self-discipline, well-managed emotions, physical health and spiritual strength. May they value right human relations. May we mutually help each other in honor of our creative intelligence and planetary need.
Janai Lowenstein, M.S. is co-director of the Conscious Living Foundation. Oct. 21-23 she will be training adults to help children learn the internal frame of reference in her LIFE TREASURES workshop at Oregon House in Yachats. Janai is a speaker and trainer. She does individualized and group transformational work, designs private retreat experiences and is an author of materials for children, teens and adults. She can be reached at P.O. Box 9, Drain, OR. 97435, (541)836-2358 or by email.