Lynn Jericho is a grandmother, teacher, counselor, guide and author. She is a midwife to the soul, who helps us come to know ourselves. Lynn works out of Anthroposophy, the creative worldview and understanding of the complexity of being human and being an individual seeking the balance between spirit and matter, developed by Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf Education. She focuses on organizing thoughts, harmonizing feelings and energizing the will through an imaginative, practical, personal and playful approach to inner growth and development.
I have spent the past year delving into The Inner Year work with Lynn and am now delving into The Inner Life. It has been an enlightening, deepening and strengthening experience for me.
Work with Lynn encompasses and reveals the inner moods, gestures and attitudes of the human soul as reflected in nature and the environment and each other. Lynn’s work brings spiritual relevance, insight and possibility to people of all faiths and beliefs. It is universal in scope and reaches beyond the religious institution of the Church.
I have been encouraging Lynn to offer work that is specific to parents and to take up the importance and challenges of the inner life for parents, home educators, and childcare providers. As parents, what a task we are given with little foresight, no training and no guidance and yet we are the guides! Our children choose us to be their guides. My work with Lynn has helped me see my gifts and develop confidence and certainty in why I do what I do with my children and in my life.
I was fortunate to be able to sit down with Lynn and ask her some questions about parents and inner life work and how it relates to the Waldorf curriculum for home educators.
Lisa: What brought you to this work?
Lynn: I always wanted to be a helper, caregiver and teacher – a mother! I always loved the mysteries of the soul. I needed to “fix” my sense of self from a very damaging childhood. I loved sharing what worked for me. But most of all I wanted to give my son and daughter all that I had needed. This parental longing and responsibility led me to be a pioneer parent at the Waldorf School of Princeton. I had no idea I was coming home to myself when I found this amazing pedagogy. Within three years I was giving talks and leading workshops. People found the lens I offered made the wisdom of anthroposophy real and personal. My clients and students feel safe, seen and encouraged. Simply, my childhood and my children brought me to this work.
Tell us more about the “inner” life?
It’s the layers and layers of perceptions, thoughts, feelings and intentions living inside our soul. Our inner Life is shaped and impacted by three forces: our biology, our biography and our spiritual ideals, beliefs and practices. Let me explain…
Our inner life is a life of forms, flows and functions just like our biology. It is vital and digests, breathes, moves, reproduces, etc. Our inner life reacts to its surroundings and has an ecology. The health of our inner life and the health of our physical body impact each other. Try being really happy or creative when you have the flu! If your adrenals are exhausted, you will tend to imagine doing great things and take on more work just hoping that the excitement of the possibility will cause your adrenals to reboot and give your body and mind the feeling of being truly alive. But your adrenals cannot support the actions, and a mood of inadequacy or failure will overtake your soul. Here the biology of the soul and the biology of the body intertwine. You need to restore your adrenals and reframe your thoughts at the same time. Likewise, when your inner life is filled with clear thinking, harmonious feeling and good and fulfilled intentions, you can maintain your physical well-being easily – breathing more deeply, sustaining warmth in and around you, releasing toxins quickly, etc. We need to pay attention to the living health of our body and soul!
Our inner life is a retelling remembered and imagined events and relationships. Just take a minute to reflect on the conversations that have changed the way you “see” things. Or think about how you feel inside when you are in a new situation. In my counseling work and in my teleseminars and workshops, I make people feel at ease, seen but not judged. Why? My parents divorced when I was seven, shattering my life and then moving back and forth between them I was in seven different schools in three very formative years. I didn’t know how to fit in and I was always being “judged” as the new kid. I was ostracized, marginalized and ridiculed. A horrible suffering in my childhood, that developed into a true and genuine gift in my adult life. Doing biography work has de-dramatized these memories. I can “see” my story as an unfolding destiny. I also know that if I hadn’t had all the crazy stuff in my education, I would not have been motivated to find Waldorf education. I can look to my childhood biography and see in my struggles the gifts that led me to be a founder of a birthcenter, a Waldorf school and to bring biography work (The Inner Life programs) to parents and teachers.
Our inner life is where we form and re-form our relationships to both spirit and matter. Whether we are spiritually filled with a rigid system of beliefs or live in a spiritual playground, our inner life is an expression of our spiritual reality as a path of moral development. We either conform to the institutionalized and traditional practices of our religion or we seek new ways to live spiritually. What is important is the recognition and attention we pay to our thoughts, feelings and gestures in seeking the divine in our lives. That there is meaning, purpose and significance in all we do. Our inner life is filled with numinous and mysterious questions, imaginations, inspirations and intuitions.
You know we never use words like numinous and mysterious about making the bed, but what we are thinking and feeling as we make the bed can be quite luminous and soul-making. Wow, Lisa, we just came up with a new spiritual practice, “soul-making while bed-making!” Actually, the way we bring our attention to bed-making, if we make the bed as if we were creating a work of art or saying a prayer, can give us new inner discipline. Everything in life can be imbued with meaning and bring real grace.
Lynn, what can we do to nurture our Inner Life?
The same way we nurture anything complex and precious, we pay attention and give care.
~ Keep an inner life journal. Fill it with questions. Use it to digest your feelings about your day. Reconnect with the wonder of childhood, only now the wonder is about the inner world, not the outer world.
~ Develop new capacities for gratitude for everything in detail and create ways to celebrate being you.
~ Create a spiritual friendship. I have a dear friend in Canada. We have never met in person. We speak for 60-90 minutes twice a month and we will talk about our common struggles with managing our finances and about mysterious things like the activity of angels. I look forward to these nurturing conversations.
~ Put a few beautiful postcards or inspiring quotes up in strange places – the bathroom mirror, the closet door, above the kitchen sink. This will remind you in your daily busyness that you have an inner life. Smile with your heart when you notice these.
~ And then there are the basics: eat a healthy diet, sleep, make love often, take walks in nature, have a long soak in a fragrant bath at least once a week, listen to music, sing, dance, write a poem or paint a picture.
Any suggestions for the inner lives of our children, how do we nurture them?
This is a tough question to respond to in a general way. But let me try… And let me begin by saying I did a good job of nurturing my kids’ inner life, but I also made some serious mistakes of omission, things I failed to do and one major mistake of commission – I projected my childhood needs on to my kids! Big mistake, on one hand, as my children had different needs. On the other it meant I was going to pay attention and make sure I listened to them and gave them some stability.
So the first admonition: Do your biography work (healing, liberating, empowering) so you are not using your kids for this process.
Learn all you can about the four temperaments and the twelve senses so you can understand your child’s way of being. This is key in understanding your child’s temperamental configuration and sensory sensitivities. You need to understand what soothing they need and what stimulating they need, which may be very different from your soothing and stimulating needs.
Help them feel and express their emotions. Childhood is the time we learn about being sad, angry, fearful and happy. These four basic emotions teach us about life. If you show loving interest in their emotions and not just try to make the “negative” emotions go away, you are blessing your child with emotional integrity and wholeness. This is tough if you believe that childhood is about continuous bliss. This becomes much easier if you have done your biography work and have a comfortable understanding of the temperaments and the senses.
Recognize that your child is much younger and smaller than you in relationship to material realities of time and space but equal to you spiritually and karmically. You and your child are a karmic relationship – he is morally shaping you and you are morally shaping him. The challenges of the relationship are there for a purpose, a divine purpose.
When you go to bed at night, picture your child just as he is, perhaps ask a question about the child, then fall asleep. This builds a conversation with your child’s guardian angel.
Lynn, will you tell us more about group work?
Group work or social work takes us away from the sense that we are precious and alone. It opens us up to the inspiration of the inner lives of others. It is important to live in a conscious individuality and paradoxically, to live in a conscious sense of a shared humanity. Alone and all one! Your child is alone and all one, too.
How do children benefit from the inner life work of the parent?
There is no limit to the benefit a child experiences when their parents strive inwardly. Energetically, the child is a mirror of their parents. When a parent begins living more harmoniously, more beautifully, the child’s ability to develop their thinking, feeling and willing lives in a rich, sound, stable way. If you want to make a gift to your child’s future, your child’s inner adult freedom, do your inner work.
Also do not feel the perfect, beautiful childhood is the goal. Your child may need to suffer real challenges to awaken the capacities they need to meet their destiny! Not easy for you as a parent to embrace, but what a gift if you can embrace you child’s destiny without feeling you have failed at giving them a perfect childhood.
Do your best to stay calm. There is so much anxiety in parenting and your child feels your anxiety and will introject it and become anxious, too. Their behavior, depending on their temperament, will express anxiety by either shutting down or ramping up their engagement with life. When I was studying flower essence healing, my teacher, David Dalton, said to always treat the parent when treating a child! It’s true.
What are the challenges to the inner life for parents of young children?
Finding the time or claiming the time for self-nurturing and self-development without feeling guilt or overwhelm. A good parent claims and honors their own boundaries and needs. Yes, we struggle with the paradoxical feelings around giving time to ourselves and the desire to be eternally available to our kids – to be the best parent ever.
The more you find a free and creative relationship to yourself and your biography the more your kids will find a parent worth imitating.
And for parents of school age children?
Nothing is more helpful than understanding the archetypal development of their inner life and their connection to the world and their peers. The Waldorf curriculum is brilliant in addressing this.
Listen, listen, listen and don’t be frightened by their feelings and their need to find their own unique identity.
Tell us something about your program Lifting the Veils.
I developed the Inner Life biography program for everyone. But you, Lisa, inspired me to develop Lifting the Veils. Our personal biographies are like veils that blur our ability to see ourselves and see our children. The two Lifting the Veils intensives are designed to support a healthy relationship between the parent’s life story and how they experience their children.
The courses also develop in the participants a new way of understanding themselves that will serve them in all areas of their lives. The two Lifting the Veils courses, one for parents focusing on their life memories and stories during the years from birth to the change of teeth and the second focusing on the years from the change of teeth to puberty, will make sense of the shaping of the inner life during these two important periods and bring freedom and reverence to parenting.
Whether someone works with me as a guide or does this work on her own or with a therapist, the more she develops freedom in knowing herself and the patterns of her biography, the more her child will thrive in an environment that nurtures his reality and his potential.
Thank you Lynn for taking the time to share your wisdom and a glimpse into the work that you do.
Lifting the Veils from Birth to Age Seven, an eight-week series for parents will be offered this winter and will be followed by Lifting the Veils from Age Seven to Fourteen. To receive information on these programs join Lynn’s mailing list at her website.
Lynn and Lisa will be offering a weekly program on questions of the Inner life and the pedagogy of the Waldorf Curriculum.
Lynn Jericho wrote the book “Six Ways to Celebrate Christmas & Celebrate You!,” and each year at Christmas Lynn offers, as a gift to the world, the Inner Christmas messages supporting the development of the soul and the renewal of spirit: one each day for the Twelve Holy Nights beginning Christmas day, December 25th, continuing through January 6th. After January 6th, Lynn continues to inspire and guide personal development through a new understanding of the Esoteric Christian Year festivals. She offers a series of teleseminars on The Inner Year and The Inner Life (Biography work) as well as workshops, counseling sessions and classes on the twelves senses and the temperaments. Her blog is found at The Inner Year.
Additional photography provided by Julia Daby.