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Functional Adulthood as a Spiritual Practice

By Nancy Minister, Workshop Facilitator, Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows

In this Mindful Monday series, we have presented many different ways of being mindful and many different benefits of having a mindfulness practice. We know that mindfulness is a deliberate practice and a deliberate experience of being present in the moment.

Today, I’m excited to talk about a passion of mine, which is working with the core issues and the ego states within mindfulness meditation. Meditation helps us to move away from our wounded child ego state and toward our functional adult ego state.

The Wounded Child Ego State

At The Meadows, we teach about the ego states as they were laid out by Senior Fellow Pia Mellody in her work on the Model of Developmental Immaturity. She explains that how our thinking and beliefs can be distorted in the wounded child ego state.

Sometimes, when we find ourselves in our wounded child ego state, we feel like we’re not as good as other people and we feel bad about ourselves.

We also tend to feel very vulnerable. We’re not able to protect ourselves when someone is critical or just not being present with us. We take it personally. We tend to have difficulty staying present because we give into our distorted thinking and we feel uncomfortable being in our bodies.

We tend to not really do good self-care when we’re in that place. We operate in extremes. We feel out of control.

It’s very difficult and painful to be in that state, so we learn how to avoid or discharge some of those negative feelings in a variety of ways. We do it by being judgmental of others and comparing ourselves with others. If we can see what’s wrong with someone else, it makes us feel better about ourselves.

We can start to become offensive in the ways that we want to control other people or give them advice.

We also tend to put up walls. Sometimes this includes not being able to ask anyone for any help; we have to do it all ourselves.

And, we can sometimes feel that we have to be “good” or “perfect” in order to make everything okay.

This is all part of that adapted wounded child place.

Moderation as a Spiritual Practice

I and my team had the wonderful privilege of spending some time with Pia Mellody recently. She reminded us all that working on our core issues and learning to live moderately is a spiritual practice.

It’s a spiritual practice to love ourselves and feel equal to other people.

It’s a spiritual practice to have boundaries, to be able to be connected with our selves in a way that we can separate from others and just value our own life experiences. We can also value others and allow them to be who they are, and we can build intimacy by sharing who we are through healthy boundaries.

When I’m in that place, I can hold boundaries. I can allow others to be who they are without getting all worked up about it or thinking I need to be a certain way in response.

I can also be fully present in my reality. When we are able to be present in the moment with our experience rather than seeing things in a way that’s distorted, we can feel truly connected. Finally, the functional adult place is a place of moderation. When we’re in that place we tend to be able to take care of our needs and wants in an appropriate way.

I have have found that when I sit and meditate on a daily basis I’m better able to be in my functional adult place, and to have the experiences I’ve described.

Take five minutes for yourself, every day, to relax, and to connect with yourself and your functional adult state in a deeper way.