A miracle is a change in our perception, an article for parents about the children’s book ''Soni, the Girl Who Turned Into a Star''
In the years I lived in Thailand, I studied meditation with a very special teacher who didn’t just teach a technique but also explained very precious concepts about how the human mind functions.
He skillfully combined systems of practices from the East with the findings of modern psychology. Actually, many of our children’s books were written during the long silent retreats I did with this teacher, and many of our articles for parents are based on the fundamentals of what I studied with him. Often in those courses there were people who had had tough experiences, painful life events, and who carried severe traumas. Usually, in meditation, we learn to observe our mind and the kind of thoughts that are passing in front of our internal eye.
To the surprise of everyone who has practiced even only just a bit of meditation, one of the first things discovered is that a big part of our stream of thinking is not made up of practical thoughts about life management but rather of the same repetitive stories and conditioning that has become crystallized in our mind and has turned into our reality.
A simple example of what I mean could be that someone in our childhood joked about the look of our nose, and since then the belief that we have a big and ugly nose has been firmly planted in our mind. It is quite unbelievable how all of us are carrying in our head thoughts which gained momentum and became negative beliefs, and in so many cases those beliefs are not even true except to us. On one hand there is the event that truly happened, and on the other there is the story that we tell ourselves about what happened. If that story touches our ‘’sensitive buttons’’, that might lead to negative conditioning for us.
The friend who joked about our nose might not even mean what he said, maybe he just wanted to tease us and probably forgot about the whole event a few minutes later. But we remember it until today. Our interpretation of what happened kept building up a ‘’story’’ in our mind until it crystallized into a strong negative belief.
In meditation and through a process of inner observation, we learn to identify those conditionings and separate ourselves from them. In so doing, we learn to take away the hold they have on us. We learn to redirect our attention away from negative thoughts because an unskillful use of our precious thinking capacity necessarily leads to suffering. Therefore it takes us far from our peaceful essence.
Most human beings live with so many ‘’big noses’’ in their head that it seems impossible for them to imagine a mind that is free from negative thinking, but actually it is possible indeed. According to the eastern traditions we are calm and happy beings in our nature and we suffer only because our mind is full of wrong beliefs. Therefore the practice is to clean our mind from acquired negative thinking patterns in order to come back to our natural state that is quite joyful.
Modern psychological research proves that we have the tendency to negatively dramatize our past. There are psychologists who claim that we suffer 10% from our historical past and 90% from our psychological past. That is to say we suffer much more because of the way we interpret the event. If we think of it, It is crazy to know that 90% of the reality we live in is a manufactured reality that we unconsciously created.
Now, here is a real example I personally witnessed.
I remember a time during one of my retreats when one of the practitioners in the course asked about cases that are more serious than the one of the nose. She shared with us that 10 years before, her mother had passed away due to a difficult illness. And she, the practitioner, was carrying a heavy feeling of guilt for the fact that she was not in a good relationship with her mother and she didn’t help her mother enough in her last days. She felt such strong guilt and shame that it was hard for her to live with herself.
I will always remember how my teacher immediately answered her, ‘’Let’s observe your case according to what we are studying here. The event that you describe happened a long time ago. I’m sure you suffered greatly when your mother died and you probably suffered even more when you understood that some of your behaviours at that time were wrong.
‘’You experienced two kinds of suffering: one is the suffering of loss, and the second is the suffering from understanding that you were not mature enough to overcome the anger in the relationship with your mother. These two kinds of sufferings are absolutely legitimate and they belong to the historical past.
‘’Since then, it is obvious that you have undergone a long inner process; you understood where you were wrong; and it’s clear to me you understood what you had to fix. I’m certain that you will never repeat the same mistakes again.
‘’If all that I said is true, then your inner story should have ended here. What I’m trying to say is that today you’re not suffering anymore from the event. The event, as hard as it was, happened more than ten years ago. Today you suffer daily not because of what happened but because of the story that built up in your mind about the horrible person you are and how much you deserve to be punished and continue to suffer. And this self-judgement belongs to the 90% psychological suffering which is self-caused.
‘’Today you live a bitter and painful inner reality which is no longer related to what happened with your mother. The story that you have in your mind right now is not connected to either of the two kinds of legitimate suffering mentioned above. And I’m convinced that your mother, if she was alive now, she wouldn’t want you to suffer so many years later from the feeling of guilt. On the contrary she would probably wish to see you go on with your life and apply the lesson that you have learned to bring joy and happiness to other relationships in your life.’’ he concluded.
The practitioner was shocked. She said with tears that she had never seen things in this light, and with such clarity. She was so deeply in guilt and self-pity that the thought that you can rise and evolve from that place never crossed her mind. Everything was too painful and horrible just to look at. She said that not only could she finally start the process of living in peace with herself, she even felt that something very deep had been opened, as if she released the trauma that didn’t allow her to grieve the loss of her mother properly because of her previous guilt.
Soni, The Girl Who Turned Into A Star tells us about the ability to see situations in a wide and lucid way, rather than in a subjective conditioned way. When we learn to see things the way they are in their real proportions, simple and clear, our perspective on what we previously considered ‘’problems’’ might change.
Soni, The Girl Who Turned Into A Star, goes every night to a place from which she sees her world in its wholeness from the right & bright perspective.
When our children are facing difficulties, experiencing frustration and sadness we can tell them: ‘’try to think how this problem would look if you could, like Soni, see it from afar, as if you too were a star in the sky. Would you still be so focused on this small event here? Pay attention to your feelings. Is the problem really causing you pain right now? Or are you holding on to those upset feelings? Could you maybe see that soon your feelings about the situation will change, that the world is wide and beautiful, that there is so much to see and to do that it’s a pity to waste time by thinking about it. There is no need to allow it to bother you even more than it already did.’’
Thus we can start practicing with our children what I have described above.
If we show our kids than we ourselves don’t make a big deal out of small problems and we can truly let them go, it will be easier for the child to not develop negative thinking conditionings in the first place.
Our own personal example is the first and most essential teaching for our children. In other words the best way to help our kids is to work on ourselves.
What happened to the practitioner in my course and the way her life changed in a moment of understanding can be considered a miracle to me, not a smaller miracle than becoming a start in the sky.
This article is about the message of our children's book Soni, the Girl who Turned into a Star.