Yoga and the Inner-Outer Life of Children
“Flow down and down in ever widening rings of being.” -Rumi
The above quote describes Rumi’s philosophy of what transpersonal psychologists call the dimensions of process. In layman terms, human life is composed of this fascinating relationship between inner and outer experience, and beyond that, a deeper and greater experience. Children are no different than adults when speaking of their complexity. Although kids seem to exist in a much simpler world, their inner and outer self includes all the same structures as an adult.
The interesting piece about children however, is that they tend to be much more inclined to share their inner world with others. When children play together they are bringing their inner world to the forefront and allowing it to manifest in outer reality. They play with personalities, ideas, and movements as they begin to slowly build an individualized self.
As children grow older, and certain inner qualities are supported and others admonished, their outer being starts to become harder and less fluid. Their boundaries between inner and outer life become less permeable, as society places a stronger focus on outer structures, such as actions, behavior, and place in the social structure. Oftentimes the inner life of a person may become less known to one’s self, as less awareness is placed inside.
Of course, this isn’t for all children, or all adults for that matter. It’s because our world puts such strong focus on the outer; what job we have, what car we drive, the house, the pet, the wife, the wardrobe, the children, etc., that we lose emphasis on what goes on inside each person as an individual.
The delicate balance between inner and outer life is largely the main focus of yoga. As Rumi quoted, the “flowing down into widening rings of being,” is the deepening self-awareness that comes about with a spiritual practice such as yoga. When kids have the chance to practice yoga with their peers and parents, it strengthens their ability to attend to both their outer and inner self. They learn to believe that it’s okay to feel and sense what’s going on inside before making a decision and acting out in the world. In fact, they learn that it’s not just okay, but it can actually make being in the world much easier.
It seems very simple, and it is, but as we see in the world at large, there may only be a handful of people who truly represent this ability. Many of us as adults were not brought up to listen to our feelings and intuition and so are now just learning to appreciate all that the inner world has to offer. Can you imagine what it would be like to grow up with such a strong sense of yourself? Of how we as humans embody inner and outer process, creating our realities with the subtle awareness of how we feel inside?
Our children are so lucky! Just to have parents and teachers who are reading this information and interested in transforming the inner and outer life of their self and others is an admirable step in our growth as a society as a whole… a people as a whole. Keep it up!
Stay tuned with Kids Yoga Guide, your resource for awesome information, dialogue, and a growing directory where you can find local kids yoga teachers near you! Be sure to read my next article, a continuation on this piece. The last piece of the puzzle includes the deeper and greater dimensions of being human…all very simply, central assets of yoga.