Have you ever looked into the eyes of an infant and felt that you could jump in and go for a swim? They are so open and inviting it’s almost unnerving.
You can’t help but wonder how they see life; that somehow they experience a magical world beyond your vision.
Why do we feel that? It isn’t logical. If you couldn’t walk or feed yourself; if you were incontinent; if all you could do was roll over in bed; if you had no ability to speak or even think in rational verbal terms — wouldn’t you be considered disabled?
Why then are we so quietly envious of these little people? What magic do we sense in them? Does Buddha swim in the depths of those liquid eyes?
Perhaps there is a Buddha consciousness in these 6 month old, uninhibited, sometimes serene, often demanding, easily fascinated, bed-wetting bundles of joy. Why not? Life is strange. Is it such a stretch that infants, despite all of their outward limitations, process abilities of perception we wish we had? And since their limitations primarily set them apart from us, could it be that these limitations are their causative Buddha-factor?
The silent advantage of infants
Infants perceive their world in each moment, fully, deeply, and without bias. Us big people on the other hand, experience a verbal-thought-summation of what we see in the moment based on pre-established judgments. Adults perceive life through a template of fixed, albeit slowly changing, definitions. Infants have no template blocking their vision.
One of the reasons for this is that infants have no verbal language associated with their thought and perception.
Think for a moment about this vast mysterious world. Try to use all of your imagination to probe the depth and reach of its content. It’s impossible. And yet, we allow words to define our experience of it.
Can you imagine what it might be like to have no words entering your mind as you perceive and think about your world? How would that change your world-view?
Also, because everything is new to them, infants judge less. They haven’t yet acquired the experience to know what to accept and what to reject. How would it change your life if you could selectively suspend judgment to facilitate a more dynamic view of circumstance?
Science Daily recently featured the research of Lisa Scott, a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The articles reported her findings on the perceptual development of infants. Of infants 6 months or under, Lisa says, “During this time the brain is sensitive and responsive to the surrounding environment.”
But after 6 months of age, Scott concludes, “what is most intriguing about these findings is that they collectively suggest that typical perceptual specialization and development is characterized by the gradual decline of abilities.”
Scott is suggesting that we loose our dynamic responsiveness to the world after 6 months of age, in preference for a selective focus on the essential elements of survival and satisfaction.
In the Association for Psychological Science, an article titled, New study shows that infants have mind-reading capability describes the work of Luca Surian, a psychologist at the University of Trento in Italy.
Luca’s research is primarily concerned with the ability to reason about the mind. According to the article in APS, his findings indicate that psychological reasoning skills enabling us to predict another’s behavior are in place in infants, independent of environmental or learned behavior. Surian explains that, “this is mind reading proper, however rudimentary.”
Is it possible that infants have perceptual and intuitive abilities, and that we have lost some of those attributes? It appears so. Can we reclaim them? The research isn’t clear on that, so perhaps the best way to explore this is experientially.
Here then is one of my favorite, definitely fun, meditation techniques, that will always connect you to that pure awareness and fascination of an infant.
Little Buddha Walking meditation
It is not as silly as it sounds. Outwardly, you will be going for a simple stroll, but inwardly you will be having an immersive experience. No one will notice your mental gymnastics.
Your own little Buddha will constantly challenge you, but you will find this exercise easier than standard meditation training. Anyone can master this after a few attempts. Even if you have never had an interest in meditation, this enjoyable exercise will teach you some rather advanced core meditative skills.
Try your best to follow the steps below:
- Pick a time when you are in a calm and neutral state of mind. Plan a 20 minute solitary walking route where there is no chance that people will engage you in conversation.
- Your goal on this walk is to avoid thinking in words, and other than safety-related concerns, to avoid conscious judgments. Remember that you are now an infant, albeit, an infant that can walk. This can be challenging so you are going to have be vigilantly self-aware.
- As you walk, observe everything you see. Soak it all in without labeling. When you catch yourself thinking in words, let them go and get back to being present in your body.
- Take in all the sights, colors, and smells; feel the air on your skin; how your feet strike the ground and move you forward. Listen intently to every sound. Let your environment wash through you. Become part of your surroundings.
- Allow yourself to experience fascination and awe. Give yourself permission to explore your surroundings deeply without the usual “seen this, done that” judgment.
- When you arrive home, spend 5 minutes or so enjoying a comfortable chair. Like a fine tea, allow your experience to steep and mature into your mind and body. Now you can go about your day, and your inner Buddha will be there with you.
That wasn’t so bad was it? Don’t be fooled by its simplicity though. This is a powerful practice that just so happens to feel exquisite.
Have you ever wondered what awareness precedes your verbal thoughts?
The words could not have arisen first. They merely describe your mind’s creation. What then comes before the words? Can you recall?
Your moments of genius, and everyone has them, occur before you put words to your mental creations. If you cannot recall that process, then you are not consciously present or in control of your genius.
The creative moments of infants are different though. Because they have no words to freeze-frame and define their creative process, thereby stopping it cold, they remain continually present within it.
Your adult verbal thoughts are mostly pointless interruptions to your true creative processes. Pay close attention to your thoughts and you will realize this. Every time you refrain from thinking in words, your creative ability becomes more open-ended and less fixed, and your appreciation of life deepens.
You have the right to choose how you think and create, and how you experience your world. The Little Buddha Walking meditation gives you that choice.
Pardon the pun, but words cannot describe how this walking meditation technique will make you feel. Try it a few times. Give it your full attention and you will enter a new and fresh world of perception, creativity, and satisfaction.
What do you think? Will you try it?
Over to you now.