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Mindful Filling of Our Souls
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on Nov 28, 2013
Originally published about four years ago when our boys were 5 and 3.
One of the great joys of my life these days is getting to hear original thoughts that come rolling out of our boys.
A personal favorite came about when our older son, Joshua, asked about the origin of his belly button. After going through my anatomy atlas and discussing the roles of the umbilical cord and placenta, Margaret asked, "So why do you have a belly button?" To which Joshua's immediate reply was: "Because you cut the hose off!"
Equally memorable was the following exchange while Joshua was out with Margaret and they spotted a man smoking a cigarette:
Joshua: That man shouldn't be smoking. It's bad for his health!
Margaret: That's right, because smoking is bad for us and all of our insides, like our lungs and heart.
Joshua: It's bad for God too, because God is inside us, right here (tapping his chest).
How did Joshua come to believe that God resides in all of our thoracic cavities?
I've found that with Joshua's incessant questioning to get to the bottom of things, I often feel like I have nowhere left to go but to answer with, "Because that's the way God made it, son."
Here's how this happened shortly before Joshua's comment about God residing in our chests:
Joshua: Appa (Korean, for dad), can we play tennis today?
Me: I'm sorry Joshua, the weather forecast says that it's going to rain all day. But we can play when the rain stops and the courts are dry.
Joshua: When is it going to stop raining?
Me: I don't know. We just have to wait and see.
Joshua: But why does it rain?
Me: Sometimes, it rains when there are lots of clouds. Clouds are like big pillows of water up in the sky, and when they get too big and heavy, the water starts to spill out of the clouds. (Not sure if this is technically correct, but I suspect I'm not too far off the mark.)
Joshua: Well, where do the clouds come from?
Me: The water in the clouds comes from lakes and oceans. The water rises slowly through the air until it becomes a cloud. The wind blows clouds around and this is how trees and plants get the water they need to grow.
Joshua: Well, where does the wind come from?
Me: Well...God makes it, son. (Not sure if this is technically correct either.)
Joshua: Well, where's God?
Me: Well, God is everywhere. He's invisible.
Joshua: Is he right here on this blue couch?
Me: Yes, he's everywhere. He's on this blue couch, and he's inside all of us.
And that's a pretty accurate rundown of how Joshua has come to believe that when a person smokes, it hurts God, too. Makes perfect sense, right?
Our boys are now five and three years of age. They continue to surprise and fascinate me almost daily. When I interact with them or even just observe them from across a room, I'm often humbled and even slightly frightened by how much impact Margaret, our relatives, and I are having on who they are becoming.
The feeling is that they are these precious and lovely spiritual beings that are filling out and taking form right before our eyes; everything they see us say or do seemingly adds one more layer to the hundreds of thousands that they've already acquired in such a short time.
Like the other evening as we were getting ready for bed, I was telling Joshua about a time when he was about six months old and often needed some low grade vibration to go to sleep. As I ran the pads of my fingers through Joshua's beautifully thick, black hair, I recounted how on one cold, winter night, I ended up driving him all the way down to Toronto and back at around 1 am so that he could get some sleep in the car and Margaret could get some sleep at home.
As I shared the details of that memorable night and answered questions that he had about the circumstances surrounding our impromptu drive, Joshua's sparkling eyes and sweet, angelic smile told me that he was fully feeling how much I've always adored him - I guess we all like to hear about things that happened when were babies, right?
Well, after I finished our story and hugged and kissed Joshua good night, he bounded over our mattresses and almost jumped into Margaret's arms, making her year by giving her an unabashed and unsolicited kiss, smack on the lips, to which Margaret responded with an involuntary, almost loony squeal of happiness.
Now I might have been reading a smidge too much into things, but what I saw and felt in that moment was a real-time transfer of love. It's like I witnessed our little story time filling Joshua's soul up with enough affectionate love that he was ready to overflow.
Seeing this transfer was a powerful reminder of the value of being mindful of what we fill ourselves and others up with. Isn't it perfectly natural and human to share and pass on whatever is within us? To try to share compassion when what we're feeling is anything but isn't a sustainable pattern of being.
Sometimes, we get lucky and some other person or experience fills us up with a spirit worth passing on. (In a perfect world, we ought to strive to be that other person for those who surround us, especially young children who are infinitely more malleable than grown-ups.) But there are days - and this is just my belief - when we have to find our own good karma juice. Otherwise, it becomes easier to get filled with that it's-me-against-you juice that's so readily available in our world. And as we all know on some level, it's whatever juice that's inside of us that typically comes gushing out whenever we are squeezed by stressful circumstances.
This is why I place great value on setting aside some time each day for affirmations, prayer, meditation, journal writing, or reading from books that encourage us to live with love, compassion, and wisdom. In fact, when striving to experience optimal health, it's my belief that making time to do this is the single most important habit we can adopt to support our health.
To give a concrete example, one little ritual that has picked me up on many occasions over the years involves thinking about people who are dear to me - those who I love and those who I'm sure love me. Even spending a few minutes reflecting on the fondness and loyalty in these relationships can make me feel like I'm almost floating. Imagine making it a habit to meditate in this way every day upon awakening. To begin the day with this state of mind and heart is my idea of a religious experience.
Another example would be to think about three or five things that I am immensely grateful for. By really allowing myself to experience gratitude at a cellular level, there are times when I can actually feel a wave of reverence run through and envelope my body - if this isn't healing energy, I don't know what is.
Of course, the thing that I'm most grateful for these days is the gift of being father to Joshua and Noah. Their presence reminds me daily that as I walk and talk, I transfer whatever feelings and intentions I carry to people around me.
For those of us who can always use new ideas on how to fill ourselves up with love, compassion, and wisdom, I ask that you please consider sharing anything specific that you strive to do regularly to nourish your soul. You're welcome to use the comments section below or post your thoughts at our facebook page.
And please don't forget: when we smoke, we hurt God, too.
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