I talk with so many people who search for healing from difficult relationships with parents. The relationships were painful when these people were children, and they continue to be fraught with challenges as they grow to adulthood and the parents reach old age. It is no easy matter to make peace with such a past—especially when it continues into the present. Some people continue to accept the put-downs and manipulative behavior from parents. Others have had to shut their parents out of their lives.
Still others are able to find something between those opposites—and may need to learn a variety of spiritual practices and ways of reframing so they can get through life. So I was intrigued when I saw some breathing practices in Thich Nhat Hanh's book Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames.
Hanh suggests several options for releasing anger and doing breathwork:
"Seeing myself as a five-year-old child, I breathe in. Smiling to the five-year-old child, I breathe out." "Seeing the five-year-old child as fragile and vulnerable, I breathe in. Smiling with love to the five-year-old in me, I breathe out."
Or: "Seeing my five-year-old father as fragile and vulnerable, I breathe in. Smiling with love and understanding to my father as a five-year-old boy, I breathe out." (He substitutes the word "mother" for "father," using the same mantra as well.) Another one is: "Seeing my mother in me, I breathe in. Smiling to my mother in me, I breathe out." You get the idea. It seems as though such a practice might over time bring some insight and release.