Child's play: Relax-- look between your legs

By Elizabeth Kiem

It’s amazing how many different ways we can be told that the essence of being a good person is to enjoy yourself, and that the essence of being a good parent is to enjoy yourself together with your kids. It’s simple advice, and yet can be made infinitely complex in argumentation.
That’s what happens when Carla Hannaford, a self-proclaimed parent of a “wisdom child” with a scientific background, deconstructs the spiritual forces at work in parenting. Biological terminology and medical research abound in her new book Awakening the Child Heart, an illustrated guide to the straightforward science of being at peace, and a manual that one Georgetown medical professor calls a “brilliant synthesis of … consciousness, quantum physics and practical health…”
Ultimately, Hannaford wants all of us engaged in a truly physiological trick-– training our tickers to maintain a pattern of “coherence.” Our emotions, according to her, are not a function of our prefrontal cortex, but of the magnetic field around our heart, which transmits coherent or incoherent nervous signals not just to our own organism’s brain, but to others as well. She’s got EKG readings to prove it.
To create heart coherence, Hannaford recommends regressing to a state of childlike delight, thereby eliminating stress and incoherence– byproducts of experience and bad memories. That, Hannaford assures us, can be as easy a task as “to stand up, lean over and look through your legs at the world.”
It’s easy to cry “Pollyanna” at life-advice that leans hard on magic, marvel, and daisy-chains, but there is a lot to be said for a spiritually rational approach to life, and the argument that a parent’s obligation to a child is to reduce “incoherence” seems sound. Hannaford recalls her daughter spiraling into a funk during a semester of courses in Deviant Behavior, Black Literature, and Abnormal Psychology. Mom prescribed long walks in nature, playful talk, and cuddling.
Such attentions can deliver us from depression. Mental illness and traumatic distress sometimes rule out Zen therapies is a reality quite apparent today, a fact which Hannaford unconsciously alludes to when she writes that “the Osama bin Ladens” of our world… have forced us to acknowledge that great trouble exists in the collective heart and mind of humanity.”
Would things be different if bin Laden’s pop had encouraged him to bend over and look between his legs a few times?

Awakening the Child Heart, published by Jamilla Nur press in Hawaii is available at the Quest, where neurophysiologist and educator Carla Hannaford will give a workshop on Thursday, July 25 at 7pm. Participants are asked to bring $25 and come dressed to play.