Leaving Neverland - understanding child mental development from an Ayurvedic perspective

Photo by  Annie Spratt  on  Unsplash

In Australia, inmate Pell, the former Cardinal and Prefect for the Secretariat for the Economy, is serving time for sexually abusing boys in his care. To some, it is about time certain secrets have risen to the top, to others, notably our former Prime Minister, there is a fog of denial at his friends’ conviction. No matter which way you view the matter, it’s out, and the everyday person is willing to talk about it, even if our leaders are not.

Similarly, Leaving Neverland, the documentary exposing Michael Jackson as perpetuating sexual abuse with boys in his care, is having the same effect. Oprah Winfrey, understandably, has jumped on board the exposure inviting hundreds of former survivors to her audience to interview the two men that have accused Michael Jackson of seducing them as young boys into a sexual relationship. His estate, understandably, has issues with the matter as does his family and followers. The issue Oprah wishes to raise is that the topic of seduction can be more insidious than the act of physical abuse, convincing the child that the act is for their benefit until, which is what happened in the Neverland case, they become adults, have children of their own and see the comparison.

These are heavy times. It all sounds quite disturbing, but to think that people have lived with this kind of secret pain is even more heartbreaking. We are here for the survivors, providing support any which way we can. They are not alone. As much as the topic brings bile to the throat, it is necessary. You can’t heal an imbalance without first acknowledging it’s existence.

May all those that have suffered find peace in their lives.

I wanted to take an Ayurvedic perspective on the matter - step back from the emotional release to take a view on the raising of children and it’s important role in how society is created and conducted. From vaccines to climate striking to holding back harrowing secrets of abuse - they have a lot to work through and it’s about time we, as fully grown adults, took the world off their shoulders.

The Ayurvedic time of life - body and mind

In Ayurveda we organise all of nature, including times of life, into the tridoshic philosophy of Vata, Pita, Kapha. We believe everything can be explained through the elemental framework. When understanding the phases of life, we ascribe them to Kapha - formation, Pitta - productivity and Vata- dissolution. This idea is based mainly on how the physical physiology operates. The body grows and forms it’s infrastructure, it then uses what it knows to manifest things on earth, then it slowly fades away and detaches from society as it prepares for transition back to the ether (with the philosophy of reincarnation thrown in, if you hold that belief). The mind, we believe, follows the same trajectory as the body since they are intimately connected.

However, outside of the physiology of the mind and it’s stages of life, is the idea of creation of self confidence and belief in the Self. In that case, we might look at the formation of a person in the opposite direction. (Please note - these are general comments and it is assumed all humans play out these humours in various stages of a spectrum, depending on well-being.)

Kapha stage (childhood) - fragile ideas, learning and absorbing, open book, influence from others, lack of mind/body connection, constant changes, inability to create own environment, limited ability to support the self financially.

Pitta stage (adulthood) - clear ideas, desire to manifest, self sufficient, formed belief patterns, understanding your place in the world, ability to be financial and independent, learning to decipher between preferred and not preferred, creating your own children, being in a mentoring position to others.

Vata stage of life (elderly) - stepping away from society, less need for influence, lower desire to manifest, reduced energy, life lessons to draw wisdom from, firm beliefs.

As you can see that even though the body might slowly recede, the beliefs of who you are becomes stronger as we get older. There can be an assumption that because of the strong physique of the young, that their belief systems are similarly placed. This is mostly not true. The Kapha stage is the beginning formation of ideas, as fragile as they are, and even if the child appears self-assured, they do not have the language or self insight to know different. This stage of life must be protected until the child feels they are in a position to absorb and understand the consequences of their decisions.

Why understanding your body type is key to raising your children

Do you have children or do you raise children? Raising children is a completely different topic and not all parents clearly think about what effect their parenting will have on their children. It is mostly assumed that as adults our own beliefs are clear and without need for revaluation. For others, they hand the rearing over to other institutions, such as the Catholic Church, to teach certain ways of being. It is not an easy task of being a parent to teach them how to prepare for the life ahead of them.

One way to be sure in the journey is to take the self reflection yourself. Your kids are an extension of yourself - the more centered you become, the more your children will become. The more you break apart old belief patterns to see if they still hold true, the more freedom your child has to make their own.

From an Ayurvedic perspective, the way to a child with self confidence, is through the parent understanding their own body type.

There is a wonderful irony in the process - the more you understand of yourself the more you appreciate the differences in others. You may need breakfast, but your kid is more stocky than you and can go without, in fact breakfast make her feel sluggish. You may realise you tend towards flare ups on anger during the Summer season, and notice that one of your kids does the same but the other doesn’t. You may decide to feel the kid with the tendency more cooling foods whilst focusing differently on your other kid.

And so on. The process of self analysis is a non emotional, practical way to observe where your tendencies lie and then see them in others. Beliefs are invisible but the body can be seen and can indicate whether imbalances are present.

The body doesn’t lie - parents must learn the signs

Along with understanding your body type comes the education of observing your functions. If your kid is not sleeping well, there’s a problem. If they have lost their appetite, there’s a problem. Does the environment encourage speaking about the state of their bowel movements and urination? Do your girls know how to analyse the state of their menstrual cycle? Do they have bloating during certain times of the day, not able to digest the information they are receiving?

If you are aware of your own functions, then you can’t help but take notice of theirs. Words are cheap, they say, but the body doesn’t lie. If there are symptoms that something is out of balance, there may be an emotional component involved.

The difficulty may lie in the child not able to freely express themselves. There must be someone in the family or friends arena where this is made available. Not everyone has the knack to act as counsellor. The village mentality of raising a child is valid and we must utilise all those we trust to assist in the process.

Looking for happiness is a skill - children are beautiful in that they are not born deceiving themselves, that is taught.

Their growth into strong and stable members of society is our responsibility.

It starts with you.