May I serve the Lord in my childhood and youth, and meditate on God in my middle and old age.
This content is excerpted from the Lifecycles & Lifestyles Student Manual. Copyright: Kundalini Research Institute 2007.
Ages Three through Seven
Because of the innocence of young children, they tend to learn through the heart not the head. They need to experience, not be told and controlled. It is a good time to teach through stories that connect them to a sense of belonging and to their heritage.
Personal stories of lineage, spiritual stories of spiritual teachers and their spiritual path, and stories that instruct them about the way ahead are all excellent influences. They need to learn who they are and who their parents are and how they are each unique.
They are beginning to expand beyond their parents and family. Their minds are absorbing everything in their environment. Continue to establish a daily practice of children’s yoga and meditation with them. Inner discipline will serve them in life much more than external pressures.
From ages three to seven the child ventures further into the world through companions and increased contact with the father. It is essential to have gained trust in themselves through the mother’s love and connection by this point.
Now they will learn to trust in the world as they explore, form friends and reach into new social environments. The child tests whether things are real. Their mind wants to know how to control things and what works. Guiding them with increasing physical, social and cognitive challenges so they can test themselves and learn is essential.
Ages Seven through Eleven
Seven is a significant year for the child. It marks the first 7- year Cycle of Consciousness. Whereas family was his or her main priority, the child realizes that his world is expanding into new relationships and experiences. The child of these years sees everything in absolutes with very little awareness of the grays in life.
It is an age of values, such as truth, courage, purity and honesty. They want those closest to them to live these values to affirm their own sense of right and wrong in the world. This is also a time of tremendous intellectual potential. The child’s mind is capable of absorbing large amounts of information in their environment.
With increased global competition in sports and in technology, you see children as young as three or four begin to imitate their parents and leap ahead in areas of performance. The amazing plasticity of this period is designed for modeling and apprenticeship. The self-contained confidence and self-recognition of the parent helps the child develop their own identity.
Anxiety and too much dependence of the parent on the child for a hopeful future or for fulfillment of the parent’s desires blunt the crystallization of the sense of self-efficacy and sovereignty. The result of the first seven years is a feeling of sovereignty. You are complete. Nothing is lacking. You can call on resources. You are self-approving. You are an individual by yourself.
From seven to eleven years, the father increases their formative influence. A good relationship to the masculine principle strengthens the trust needed to explore the world further. The result is grit and endurance. You not only have sovereignty, you can deliver your sovereignty on the battlefield of life. You begin to test your identity.
Baby beliefs can be challenged and superseded through the experiences of this period or they can be submerged into a covert existence if catered to. We develop our sense of individuality freely and completely.
Both love and rigid discipline can interfere. If we find our sense of self, then our connection to Dharma—to a spiritual sensitivity and disciplined path—and to the intuitive self is assured. It is very important to not try to live your dreams through your children . . .
This is also the period when we normally develop an identity crisis. If all goes well, we emerge with a clear identity, a sense of self, and trust to act on that identity with an intuitive connection to our destiny and the universe.
But what commonly happens is we leave those years filled with distrust. We split ourselves with conflicts. Those conflicts split our actions. Our actions become desynchronized from our perceptions so that we seem to have many difficulties. Later in life, we can counter this identity conflict, if we work to have a deep experience of our self, and if we confront the false self with enough self love and respect.
Without this deep rebirthing of our self and renewal of our self-concept, we continue to lead a life of intrigues and games and pain. Each child is born with great sensitivity and lots of potential. If we give them too much, they do not know how to use their own pranic body to discover themselves and to create. If we protect too much, they lose the sensitivity of the arc body and seek others for protection rather than cultivating the confidence and mastering the ability to protect and project themselves.
To fly on their own they must take on challenges steadily and gradually until the parent leaves them as a child and meets them as a person.