Third, if we don’t know how to use our will power to overcome faults in ourselves, or to set goals and accomplish them, then we will never know fulfillment in life. Finally, if we don’t develop our intellect, then we cannot understand things clearly, and our life’s experiences will come through our minds in a dull way.
So we have these four basic tools that enable us to grow toward ever-greater maturity: the body, the emotions or feelings, the will power, and the intellect. I’ve observed that the first six years of a child’s life tend to be the period when they have to learn how to get their bodies under control. You’ll see a child of four running down an aisle and knocking over a chair, or falling over something because he didn’t look down. It takes a lot of energy to somehow learn how to get this body working well for us.
During this period from one to six years, it’s important to teach children how to use their bodies to grow in other ways of understanding. For example, drama and dance movements, especially in the first six years, can be extremely important because children learn with their bodies at this stage. If through drama they can act out positive attitudes, or through dance they can be taught movements that help them express expansiveness, then they’re learning in a way that’s appropriate to that level of development. They can be shown those kinds of physical gestures that come with selfishness, for example and those that come with being generous and kind. This can be done in an amusing way so that it’s a game, and they can learn by imitation.
Often we can observe that if a person is unhappy, he’ll tend to look down, to slump forward, or to lean on a table. But conversely, our physical bearing can also influence our thoughts and feelings. If you’re feeling happy but slump forward with your head in your hands, you’re more likely to become open to the thoughts and feelings of depression. If on the other hand, you can sit up straight and look up, you find that this posture helps your emotions and will power. It’s hard to feel that you have a strong will if you sit slumped over. But if you sit straight with your chest up, it’s much easier to affirm that you’re strong and able to combat this difficulty or overcome that obstacle.
As the child matures and the intellect is brought into play, it’s very important to understand the effect of physical posture on our mental functions. The seat of the intellect is located at the point between the eyebrows, or the frontal lobe of the brain. Physiologists say that anatomically this is the most advanced part of the brain and it’s from here that we reason. If we can learn to bring our energy upward to this part of the brain, we find that we can think more clearly. If, however, we allow our energy to sink downward, it’s much more difficult to think deeply.
The next tool of maturity is the feelings, and these come into play during the next six-year period from six to twelve. At this time, it’s easiest to instruct children through their feelings, and to inspire them through stories of heroism and courage. It’s essential to give them fitting role models to follow—to talk about people throughout history who have done inspiring, great and beautiful deeds. There are so many such stories, but in our day and age it seems to be a practice to show that these heroes weren’t all that great after all. It seems to be the cynical philosophy of our time to bring people down to the lowest common denominator. I think that there are great things that man is capable of accomplishing, and we should explore that potential during these “feeling years.”