In the spirit of your inner family unit,
Meditating with Your Inner Family
Four seasons, four stages of life
The ‘inner family’ as I call it has been a contemplative tool that I started using when during a time when I studied the Wheel of the Year and the Western Wheel of Life in some detail. The essence of it is that, in the same way that a year has four seasons, spring, summer, autumn and winter, so we have four stages of life that correspond to these seasons. These stages are childhood, youth (or young adulthood), maturity (or middle age, the age of ‘responsibility’) and old age/death. The final stage, old age and death in turn leads to rebirth. The idea with your ‘inner family’ is that you have four personalities, or aspects of self inside you that correspond to each of these stages. Regardless of what physical stage of life you are in, each of these ‘four selves’ is available to draw upon as an energy resource, a perspective, a power and a wisdom.
The basic qualities of your inner family members
Your Child self has the qualities of innocence, playfulness, creativity, spontaneity, wonder. To have a functional inner child is to have access to all the above qualities in our life. The child self lacks planning ability and mature wisdom, so needs to be guided and looked after by the older members in order to remain healthy.
Your Youthful or Young Adult self corresponds to the age approximating 17-34. S/he is full of vital energy and life-force, is ambitious, looking to establish her identity in the world and make an impact upon it. S/he is the part of us that may be explicitly concerned with looks and sexuality, being attractive, and so forth. We can draw upon her to get things done, fire our enthusiasm, be determined, and regenerate our appetite for life.
Your Mature self is the part of you that corresponds to middle age. More mature and settled than the youthful self, the mature self is good at planning, being responsible, problem solving, looking after others, and bearing burdens. When we are in actual middle age, this part of ourself can feel pretty run down, and so needs the energy and support of the ‘younger selves’ as well as the wisdom and perspective of the old self!
Your Old or Wise self is that part of you that views life from the perspective of being close to deaths door. S/he has lived through all the previous stages, and the ups and downs that they have brought with them. Ideally this part of you is actively available to the three younger members for consultation and wisdom.
Tapping into the wisdom of your inner family
I often simply imagine myself in a place in nature, and then see the members of my inner family coming to meet me, and sitting around in a circle. Once we have ‘checked in’ with each other, we might then go on to tackle a particular problem together.
For example, I am about to move apartment for the fourth time in a year. My mature self (I’m literally 45 in physical age) is feeling a bit run down and tired by this, mentally and physically. As I sit with my inner family group, I let my mature self-receive the love and playful enthusiasm of my child self. My youthful self offers support and vital strength, as well as keeping my appetite for life and ambition burning away in a healthy manner. My old or wise self is on hand just to smile, empathizing at the suffering, and gently helping me pace myself through wisely. All in all having my inner family around makes the experience enjoyable; I don’t feel alone or isolated. It’s a perfect complement to my outer family!
You might like to find your own inner place in meditation where you can meet and get to know your inner family. You can then consult them at will about any situation or challenge you are going through, facing it together, like a team.
© Toby Ouvry 2018, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com
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