Love. Attention. Assurance that they are wonderful. Belief. Acceptance.

It’s really what we all need.

Last night, I interviewed a family who are “unschooling” – a step beyond homeschooling, their kids don’t attend a school and learn at their own pace, on their own subjects, staying close to home and among family throughout childhood.

Today, I photographed 400 kids at Norup International School doing yoga, healing breath and meditation. I almost started to cry as Katherine Austin, the teacher who facilitated the entire program, led the children in reciting, “I am beautiful. Bountiful. Blissful.”

I wondered how many of those children had never said, I am beautiful, to themselves, who might not think that way or embrace their own inner beauty. I watched a transformation from giggly, fidgety, uncomfortable kids wondering what the heck was coming to them to a gym full of calm, peace and happiness.

It was about a half-hour from routine and regiment to bliss. Apparently that’s always how it goes, even among adults.

We have wonderful schools doing the best they can to educate large groups of children. I saw teachers hug their students, engage in yoga poses with them, smile at the kids from their classrooms. I know that my children are at the best place possible if they have to be away from me.

But after meeting the unschooling family last night, my mind resurrected those eternal questions about this life path we walk and whether it’s the ideal one for most of us.

We are born into a world of distance. Almost immediately, countless parents try to teach their babies to self-soothe, to be ok with aloneness, to learn that they must achieve happiness and contentedness in a dark room.

But we are beings who crave connection, and what we really need from those early days is love and warmth and nurturing and to be held close. If we don’t get it early on, we look for it all our lives.

And it doesn’t just stop at babyhood. In the Western world, we walk our children to the preschool door and become distressed when they are uneasy leaving us. We get frustrated and insist on immediate and quiet separation – not realizing that the connection between parent and child, the desire to be close to our Source, is natural and normal and healing.

Think about what would happen if we let our kids stick close by as long as they wanted. I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that eventually, they would all migrate into their own confident world when they are good and ready. They would take leave when they could handle it – without the destruction and angst of being thrust out before their time.

It is all I can do to attend to my four children simultaneously. This past weekend, I succeeded in having alone time – a date – with each of my kids and it was so wonderful. For both of us. That one-on-one time is essential to truly knowing another soul, to connecting, to soothing, to rewarding another with our whole undivided presence.

We all need that. And not just in childhood.

When was the last time you settled in for a hug? Who last told you you were beautiful? Whose voices guide you along your day and come to you in moments of stress?

How powerful it is that a school recognizes the importance of teaching children confidence and strength in body, mind and spirit. Our teachers are doing an amazing job with what they are given. Our children are hobbling along into their lives the best they can with what they’ve been saddled with.

And us…what about us? Are we healed? Or are we wounded adults, limping through our lives the best we can with what we were saddled with all those years ago?

Think of the people who trouble your days and your efforts at achievement. Were they truly loved, ever? Are they now?

And do you go about each task with a mindset of love and giving and service?

If not, it’s time for a little self-love and soul-building before heading out into the wide open world.

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