My 9-year-old granddaughter, Chloe, confides to me that she keeps the family copy of The Meditative Gardener in her room, and she reads it every day. Well, really, she looks at the pictures. She loves looking at the pictures.
"What's your favorite part?" she asks me. That question stumps me.
So i ask her. "What's your favorite part?"
"It's the part about Feelings," she says. "Here. I can find it by looking at the pictures." Then she reads my own words to me.
"In English, the word "Feelings" has many meanings. "Feelings" can mean, among others, emotions or tactile sensations or "a consciousness without regard to thought." For example, when you receive a "first impression," you instantly know how you feel even if you cannot articulate it. When you walk into a silent meditation retreat, you immediately know whom you like and whom you don't, even though you haven't talked to them."
"That's just what happens on the soccer field," Chloe says. She has just come from soccer team try-outs.
"You have a gut reaction to other girls whom you've never met before?" i ask.
She nods. The relational girl who always puts others needs before her own. Reading this paragraph outloud is tantamount to admitting something she might not dare to put into words, for fear of hurting someone else's feelings.
"Yes," i say. "That's our old reptilian brain--the amygdala--at work. Making those instant decisions of 'like' and 'don't like'."