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The Re-Enchantment of Childhood



The University of Michigan reports that during the last twenty years, kids' daily playtime has been downsized by four hours. Sheer creative play is fast becoming a forgotten part of childhood — a fact that can jeopardize children's ability to handle stress and compromise their immune systems. Here; an expert in the practice of imagery offers some simple games that help kids catch their breath. Beyond all else, using imagination helps children become whole and responsible human beings — something even elaborate technologies or expensive playthings cannot provide.

This article appeared in the Summer 2001 issue of Spirituality & Health. When her mother began using imagery as part of her healing from ovarian cancer, six-year-old Emily had been suffering with asthma for three years. Pretty soon Emily tried imagery, too. During one of her asthma attacks, she imagined entering her body to find out what got in the way of her breathing. Once inside, she saw that the sun and the moon were having a fight, so she joined with the sun to overcome the moon. Soon the battle was won and she felt relief. For the next seven days, Emily repeated the exercise and, “magically” the asthmatic symptoms vanished. Since then, she has not used conventional medication. She reports that both the sun and the moon are now her allies, and for added healing power, she uses the stars as well. Emily’s story of healing is dramatic but not uncommon. I’ve seen many children overcome asthma using imagery techniques, and the benefits extend well beyond relief of symptoms. The imagery process opens a new way of relating — it provides parent and child with a heartfelt bond that transcends …

Fran Greenfield is an integrative psychotherapist in New York City and a former teacher. She is the author of Asthma Free in 21 Days: The Breakthrough Mindbody Healing Program (HarperSanFrancisco).

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