Mental Health is just as important as Physical Health.
I believe good mental health begins in childhood. I see many ailments resulting from so much suppression of individual’s natural expression, personality and character that have their origin in childhood. Either in their upbringing, often in their school-life, life-events, or a set of impacting events producing Aetiology (the cause, set of causes, or manner of causation of a disease or condition).
Author, international speaker and cancer survivor Anita Moorjani offers some insight into ‘suppression of our true-self’ in the following quote:
“When I was born into this world
The things I knew were to love, laugh, and shine my light brightly.
Then as I grew, people told me to stop laughing.
“Take life seriously.” They said.
“If you want to get ahead in this world.”
So I stopped laughing.
People told me, “Be careful who you love
If you don’t want your heart broken.”
So I stopped loving.
They said, “Don’t shine your light so bright
As it draws too much attention onto you.”
So I stopped shining
And became small
Only to learn upon death
That all that matters in life
Is to Love, Laugh, and Shine our Light Brightly!”
– Anita Moorjani
I’m sure we can all relate to the above text, including myself and my children. There is so much pressure to conform, in society, within our family, peer-groups, work environments, educational establishments, the list is endless. One thing for sure is that obstacles will always present themselves on our life journey and it’s through these challenges and encounters that we learn to develop understanding, empathy and hopefully wisdom, that mold us into our wonderfully unique and special ‘Self’!
My children, family, friends, yoga students, often receive wisdom and valuable lessons I’ve experienced in my life – ‘Geri Tales’ they’re affectionately known as. These stories are sometimes hilarious, serious, sad, heartbreaking, but always thought provoking. The important thing is I survived these encounters, learned from them (or maybe not) and am still here journeying through more life experiences – Good, Bad and Ugly ones! My Yoga Family nicknamed me ‘Wonder Woman’ which I consider to be quite a compliment but only some days I feel like a superhero other days I’m happy to retreat to be quiet, still, peaceful, contemplate and recharge.
On Radio 2 last week the term ‘Lawnmower parenting’ was mentioned – and has been defined by ‘We Are Teachers blog’ as “parents [who] go to whatever lengths necessary to prevent their child from having to face adversity, struggle, or failure. Instead of preparing children for challenges, they mow obstacles down so they won’t experience them in the first place. ”
The blog post concluded “If we want our children to be successful, healthy adults, we must teach them how to process through their own challenges, respond to adversity, and advocate for themselves.” I couldn’t agree more with this author (who I’m sorry is unknown to me). Yes, there are times when as parents, care-providers, we need to advocate for our children and safeguard their physical, emotional, mental health and wellbeing but this needs to be balanced with encouragement, preparing them for life, all its wonders, trials and tribulations.
‘We’re Going On a Bear Hunt’ by Michael Rosen is one of my favourite children’s books. It is beautifully illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, full of rhythm and rhyme, with the characters facing a series of obstacles they need to go through on their journey.
For my 50th Birthday I received so many lovely birthday cards and wishes but one card springs to mind as I write this blog:
“Friend, to get old and wise
You must first be young and stupid.
It’s up to you to decide which you think you are!”