I believe that each of us is born with an inherent natural sense of imagination and a propensity for wonder. Every child, in their purest essence is a priest of priestess, an alchemist of imagination. And to the extent that we, as parents, caregivers, educators or therapists can be a support to nurture and nourish this state of wonder and create an atmosphere of wonderment around them, is the extent that they are awakened to the power of their imagination as a tool for peace, creativity, and ultimately grounded security within their life.
Imagination is the threshold through which wonder emerges…
The soul, and our ability to stay in touch with that essence within the heart that is the soul, is a safety mechanism to navigate all of life. Children are born in touch with this sense of soul and we have the opportunity as caregivers to nurture and to provide opportunities for maintaining this soul connection and nourishment from the heart within them. But, we have to tap into it for ourselves first and foremost. As grown-ups, it is so easy to get bogged down by the busy day to day life, the things we believe we “have” to do, to think that accomplishment comes from the physical world of stuff and external achievements rather than from our inner connection to our own nature, our soul, our heart. We get entranced by the external world and lose sight of the vast landscape of the inner wisdom and beauty within us. This make us pirates on the sea of conquest. Get the house, nail down the extracurricular activities, buy the stuff, attain the goals of career advancement, watch the shows….but it all boils down to get…get…get…on the outside of us. This pervasive neglect of our inner world is what is feeding the epidemic of anxiety, fear, depression, overwhelming confusion, distraction, and sadness. We’ve become lost in a world of instant gratification and we are suffering from WDD, Wonder Deficit Disorder.
How can we begin to bring back the wonder for ourselves and therefore for our children too? How can we step into the vast world of possibility, live from the possible every day, and tap the resources of our hearts? What’s the best way to slow down, take a deep breath where we find ourselves, and begin to bring back living from our innermost souls, where wonder is the natural state of being? We can begin to awaken to a whole new way of wonderment, living in a new kingdom that nourishes our imaginations and prompts us to reach more and more into the inner world within us.
So just what is contained within the basket of wonder? What are the qualities within it? I sat with this question this morning and here are some ingredients that popped up:
Surprise Inspiration Beauty Imagination Celebration Mystery Participation
Unpredictability Novelty Newness Freshness Play Whimsy Flow
New Horizons Grace Spontaneity Awe Juicy Easeful Serenity Peace
Activate Your Parent Imagination First
When is the last time that you sipped from the chalice of your own imagination? What inspires you? What lights you on fire for life and blows your mind with beauty? How can you begin to infuse an atmosphere of wonder into your parenting and family life? I invite you to contemplate and get quiet with these questions, maybe even journal with them for a while as you begin to plan for greater sharing of wonder with your child.
After you have contemplated wonder for yourself, you can begin to take small steps each day to infuse a sense of wonder into your experiences in daily family life. Here are some ideas for getting started!
ESTABLISH MOMENTS TO LIVE OFF THE GRID OF CONTROL AND PREDICTABILITY
First, we need to live off the grid of control and predictability. Where can you become more spontaneous in your life? Can you find time to not live off your calendar, digital or otherwise, and simply be in a space of no-plans, no “have to’s” and no “to do.” Begin by setting aside time each week, and then each day to drop the plans and reach for flexible thinking into waves of possibility. Stop and allow you inner impulses to guide you into what is next.
- Create a “TO BE” List for your week. Think of all the ways that you can pause and practice being present to the present moment. How can you slow down? In what spaces of each of your days this week can you allow time to breathe, to feel, to observe the world around you? Do you have time in nature built in?
- Amp up your relaxation practice each day and get on a schedule so that you begin to build the skills of “automatic default relaxation” into a special time with your child.
- Spontaneity can be fun, especially during vacation times from school or on the weekends. Can you un-schedule an entire Saturday once in a while to allow the Saturday to unfold with grace and ease in whatever way is inspiring that day?
ADOPT A MINDSET OF EXPLORATION
- Begin to ask more questions rather than give more answers, particularly as you are supporting your child’s learning. I know for myself as my daughters were growing up, I often rushed to provide an answer when they were struggling with things. Looking back, I can see now how jumping in quickly to help, rescue, or fix, I unwittingly sent the message that I believed they couldn’t arrive at answers on their own. Asking children questions helps them to build confidence in themself and also suggests that adults believe in their capacity and independence.
- Although actually exploring this great awesome world around us also builds wonder, it’s possible to activate a mindset of exploration just by intending to look through that lens. Each day, find ways to be curious, to open and expand your mind, to think outside the box. When you have a family decision to make, brainstorm! Think up as many solutions as possible and allow for wild and somewhat unorthodox ideas to be on the table. It doesn’t mean you might eventually land on that solution, but the very act itself of allowing the ideas to flow stimulates wonder and creativity.
- Learn new things! Ask your child–what would you like to learn about today that you haven’t thought about before? Give some examples: bioluminescence, ancient Peru, the habitat of marmots, what are unique deserts and sweet treats eaten around the world…Talk about a time you discovered a really interesting new topic and talk about what your learned, how you felt, the where and when of your discovery.
Here are some thoughts that can support your development of a mindset of exploration:
- Open your mind to the mystery of life.
- Thrive upon possibility, turn your thought compass towards considering infinite possibilities
- Be compassionate towards yourself as you are walking on the path of life–falling down is so useful towards learning and growing!
- Embrace the idea of “AND” rather than “OR”–let go of polarities of thought, black and white thinking and look for ways to navigate down the middle (less extreme, more slow, steady, gentle approaches in thought and action)
Allow Nature to Show You Its Wonder
My final recommendation as you begin to create an atmosphere of wonder in your family life, is to get out in nature and allow its essence and ways of being to show you what it is to be in wonder.
- Get up at dawn to hear the birds sing! Wake up early and go out with your child in the wee hours to hear the birds chatter.
- Walk barefoot in the grass.
- Sit by a river and just listen for a while.
- Hug a tree and sit beneath it to feel the roots underneath you. Look up into the canopy of leaves above and see the infinite ways the tree expresses in its foliage. Make a leaf drawing or create a leaf collage.
- Walk in the mist. Mist shows us exactly how to carefully tread with the unknown in life. Breathe deeply the moisture in the air and appreciate its beauty and the way it so delicately wraps the world around it.