As infants we were instinctively aware that we could not survive without our caregivers. This produced “original fear”. Even as we grow from infant to child, we were aware of the feelings of needing someone to protect us, defend us and nurture us. We were dependent.
As we mature, our bodies and minds change and develop from new experiences and education. We learned in childhood how to cooperate with our caregivers in exchange for protection and attention, setting the stage to deal with groups and adult situations, to live with what presents toward us, to live in the present. As we become independent of caregivers, we begin take care of outer selves.
But within each of us the original fear leaves strong memories, and if we are not mindful to educate and advance the inner child, the fearful infant inside can awaken old feelings in new situations.
We have learned that recalling a past suffering without awareness or mindfulness, causes the same feelings again – a resentment– for us to suffer again, despite that the painful event occurred only one time.
Mindfulness reminds us when presented with resentments, that it’s possible to be in the here and now. Mindfulness reminds us that the present moment is always available to us; we don’t have to live resentments over and over again.
Because it is so easy to be resentful of past events, it’s helpful to have a reminder to stay in the present moment. Monasteries and retreats have a proctor ring a bell at random times, reminding all to practice breathing in and out mindfully, thinking; “As I listen to the bell, it brings me to my true home – the here and now. The past is not my true home.”
You might want to say to the infant inside, the infant of the past, “The past is not our home; our home is here, where we live our life. We can get all the nourishment and healing we need here, in the present moment.”
Some of our original fears persist because the inner child hasn’t been liberated. Mindfulness and controlled breathing can, with practice, help this child realize that she is safe with you, the adult, and by degrees she can be freed.