From the foreword by Gabor Maté M.D.
We now know that early experiences largely determine our worldview, sense of ourselves, capacity for relationships, self-concept, mental-emotional balance and, indeed, the very neurobiology of our brains. As a seminal article in the journal Pediatrics pointed out, “The interaction of genes and experiences literally shapes the circuitry of the developing brain, and is critically influenced by the mutual responsiveness of adult-child relationships, particularly in the early childhood years…” The most poignant passages in the book reflect Michael’s willingness to be transformed by his interactions with his daughter, by the life wisdom the child naturally embodies when invited to be herself in the presence of a loving adult who knows when to guide and when to be guided. “As I witness and strive to nurture Carly’s next self- discovery, she is doing the same for me, she at her stage of unfoldment and me at mine,” he writes. “We are each providing for the other the precise catalyst, overflowing with care and boundless affection, needed for the others continuing unfoldment.”
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Focus and Intent
“The” gift and guide every expecting father receives from caring friends and relatives.
Changing the world one father at a time – from the inside out.
Four million expecting fathers each year in the United States (plus mothers, grandparents and early care and education providers). Eight million existing fathers and mothers with young children that renew each year in the United States, plus international markets.
Parenting, especially fathers, and early childhood care and education
The neuroscience is conclusive: child development is model dependent. Ideally then, the focus of early childhood development would be to optimize the model-environment each parent represents. Most of the attention and preparation that pregnancy, birth and bonding imply focus on the mother. Then it is all about ‘the baby’. But what about fathers? The role that fathers play is often dwarfed by comparison, historically little more than a pat on the back and a cigar. Yet, the strength, active participation and support each father provides creates a foundation upon which the entire enterprise rests. Imagine each father being as aware, practiced and present, as many are approaching a three-foot putt, when relating to mother and baby during the most critical and formative months of his child’s life. Imagine each father discovering something new about himself every step of the way as he guides and mentors his child’s explosive self-discover. This is what being a father means today and the vision and practice Playful Wisdom invites.
Playful Wisdom is the synthesis of raising three children, now ages forty, thirty and currently two-point-five, plus over thirty-five years researching, writing and interviewing hundreds of top experts in the field, including Joseph Chilton Pearce, author of thirteen books on expansive human potential, and Bev Bos, founder and director of the Roseville Community Preschool, a keynote presenter at over 6,000 professional workshops for childcare providers and early childhood education. The passion and insights of both are featured extensively.
Playful Wisdom transforms the experience of being a father, as many mother’s know, into a deep and profound state of constant learning and growth. Being a father today is not easy. The growth that occurs during the critical early years happens so fast and the changes are so profound that we can barely keep up. Fathers are often dazed by the blast. If we blink it is over and that moment will never repeat itself again.
“Playful Wisdom offers a treasure trove of insights and stories interwoven with research that will inspire everyone. The book feels alive. It sparkles with life-giving energy. Michael’s gift is the integration of everyday experience with wisdom gathered from multiple disciplines and wisdom keepers. Every word feels important, unlike many reads where there is often a lot of fluff. Here, love and wisdom drip off each page. You want to catch it in a cup to save. Playful Wisdom is a resource that will enrich future courses on child raising, compassion or wisdom. Every new and future parent and grandparent will delight in its riches.”
Darcia Narvaez, PhD, Professor of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame specializing in ethical development and moral education, and a fellow of the American Psychological Association. She is the author of Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture and Wisdom, Contexts for Young Child Flourishing: Evolution, Family and Society, Embodied Morality and other works.
If there is reason to take the journey this journal invites it’s so we don’t miss the most important challenge of our lives and the most formative moments of our child’s life - because everything a father does matters. For most however, a child’s basic nature is formed while many fathers are rather distant, certainly by the first year or second. The role a father plays during this period is both essential and critical. If we get the beginning right the entire flight opens and continually expands as nature designed. If not, there is trouble at every turn, trouble for everyone.
“I would love to eavesdrop on discussion groups exploring the practical insights Michael has gathered. The intertwining voices of Mendizza, Pearce and Bos—and the presence of Carly herself—make this book ideal for both parents and early childhood professionals. Whether you are a new parent or a seasoned hand, the book will inspire you to remember your own inner and playful wisdom.”
Rahima Baldwin Dancy, Early childhood educator and author of You Are Your Child’s First Teacher
This labor of love began and as a personal reminder to not miss the moment. The insights on every page bubbled up drawing deep from the many years of experience and explorations that shape who I am today. The tapestry weaves four voices. There are the different feelings and perceptions being with Carly Elizabeth evoked beginning with our home birth-in-the-bath and how these were often different from the traditional role a father plays. There are echoes from the thirty-plus years interviewing hundreds of people invested in child and human development. There is the voice of my personal inquiry into the roots of violence as well as with I call the intelligence of play. There is the voice that has explored the nature and formation of the social-ego and the role it plays in limiting and constraining optimum learning and performance. And there are passionate and insightful quotes from two of my most rested teachers; Joseph Chilton Pearce and Bev Bos. Together these voices represent a choirs, at times both a deeply serious and playful melody found in every page.
“I love it! Playful Wisdom is an oasis of beauty in a time of insanity. Michael invites us to a most private sanctum, there to discover a universal realm of connection and knowledge. He moves from the intimate to the global, from the personal to the political. His baby whispers a timeless teaching and he listens. In between are quotes from wisdom-keepers and powerful insights from modern science. Michael champions direct sensory love; don’t let gadgetry stand between you and your child, between your child and the world! I thank Michael for the stand he takes: an empathic society begins with how we connect with our children. Playful Wisdom is for all parents who want to learn what their child has come to teach them.”
Robin Grille, Psychologist, author of Parenting for a Peaceful World and Heart-to-Heart Parenting.
Playful Wisdom is an intimate journal of an intimate adventure that transforms everyone who takes it. Helping along the way are insights from two of the most respected specialists of our time; Bev Bos and Joseph Chilton Pearce. Playful Wisdom is a meditation, a precious reminder to be touched every day with amazement and wonder, to be innocent once again, this time with wisdom as our wings.
“Playful Wisdom is, in a word, fantastic. It weaves together the writings, passion and insights of three well-known and respected experts in the field of child education and development: Joseph Chilton Pearce, Bev Bos, and Michael Mendizza. Bos and Pearce are featured guests. Carly, Michael’s new daughter, is the star. On the left pages you will find beautiful and revealing color images of Carly accompanied by quotes from Pearce or Bos. On the right is Michael’s intimate and inspiring narrative. The book could stand alone with just the quotes from Bos and Pearce, or the eloquent text of Mendizza, or the beautiful and inspiring pictures of Carly. The synergy of all four is both powerful and engaging. Playful Wisdom is brilliant and inspiring. It rests permanently with my collection of treasured books.”
William R. Emerson, PhD, A renowned workshop leader, writer, lecturer, and pioneer in the field of pre and perinatal psychology. He is among the first in the world to develop prenatal and perinatal treatment methods for infants and children, is an expert in treatment methods for adults, and is recognized world-wide for his contributions. He is also president emeritus of APPPAH, the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health.
“Playful Wisdom is an amazing mosaic of love, wisdom and play, driven by the deep care-taking, hard-wired stuff that is so often suppressed in our materialistic, technological, anti-nature culture. That, plus the years of sage explorations that brought Michael to this place in his remarkable life makes Playful Wisdom a must read for anyone who cares about the future of our children.”
Stuart Brown, MD, Author, PBS Producer and Founder of the National Institute for Play.
Stuart is play researcher who writes, speaks, consults and educates organizations, corporations, universities, and public policy makers about the importance of play in our lives and the unexpected, serious consequences that occur when play is neglected.
“Playful Wisdom: A Father's Adventure is a feast, three wonderful books woven together. First, Michael Mendizza has explored the leading edge of human potential. From this deep wisdom and heart he tells the story of his daughter, Carly Elizabeth, and their first two years together. Second, Michael shares what he has learned from his three plus decades of inquiry, with insights from Joseph Chilton Pearce, Allan Schore, James W. Prescott, Bev Bos and many others—by describing his own integral understanding and analysis. Third, given that Joe Pearce offered the most profound insights into human development of the past 40 years, the excerpts Michael offers are a gift for those who have read all of Pearce's books or for those who will come to this wisdom for the first time.”
David Marshak, Ed.D. , President (CEO), SelfDesign Graduate Institute.
SelfDesign promotes authentic self-discovery and respect for the rights of all learners, young and old, to assume responsibility for their own learning paths.
“Playful Wisdom gives us a rare glimpse into what the role of a father can be! Michael describes going to a restaurant and sitting his daughter Carly on the table so her eyes were at the same level with everyone else. I knew then he was being the kind of father every child would want. Michael was allowing Carly to grow and develop on her own timeline by loving, protecting, and respecting her authentic nature. Even more, he shows the importance of a father's role in the life of every child. I wish I had a father like that. Carly will not waste her precious life developing skills to overcome the obstacles many parents impose on their children. She will simply to be in the glory of who she naturally is. Playful Wisdom is a gift to every new parent, grandparent, to anyone who cares about children.”
Marilyn F. Milos, RN, Activist, Director, Genital Autonomy - America (formerly NOCIRC)
The National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers
"Michael’s insights and participation as his new daughter Carly explores and integrates her world have profound implications for providing a positive future for every child, and by extension, the fate of human civilization. Playful Wisdom opens wide the doors perception into the new field of behavioral epigenetics, the science of how environment and our perception of the environment are responsible for controlling our genetic activity and health. Michael’s parenting studies are particularly relevant given our new understanding that late in life dysfunctions, such as cancer, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, are seeded by environmental influences experienced in infancy."
Bruce Lipton, PhD., Cellular biologist, author of The Biology of Belief, Spontaneous Evolution and the Honeymoon Effect.
"Opening our minds and hearts to the joyous, curious, playful, zen-like nature of children helps us remember what it means to be “fully alive." Playful Wisdom: A Father's Adventure is delightful, especially the inclusions of Joe Pearce and Bev Bos as well as the skillful integration of the science that illustrates the remarkable development of a child's brain. Michael’s synthesis helps us better understand how miraculous children really are and how important it is that we nurture them to reach their full potential. Our future depends on it!"
Lysa Parker, MS, CFLE, CEIM, Attachment Parenting International-API
Founder & Director Emeritus
Magical Parent-Magical Child, the Optimum Learning Relationship is the first book to define parenting, coaching and educating children as developmental, transformative practices for adults. The central theme of the book is the transformation of childhood through the transformation of adults. Our goal is to optimize the adult-child interface by applying the proven strategies that allow top athletes and other specialists to consistently perform at extraordinary levels. If optimum learning, performance and well-being is the goal when relating to tennis balls and hockey pucks, what about you and I? What about our children? Do they, or we, deserve anything less?
We do this by helping adults rediscover the "playful" and "childlike" genius of their own innate intelligence, as they guide, learn from and mentor children, which awakens and develops in adults new capacities and possibilities. Infusing the adult-child relationship with this fresh creative energy and attention transforms the adult which results in a radically different learning environment for children. Changing the adult changes the environment we call childhood. This transforms the child, which cycles back and transforms the adult. We call this playful, reciprocal-dynamic, the Optimum Learning Relationship.
The book develops this theme by exploring and applying the psychology of optimum experience to parenting, childcare, education and coaching. Research shows that the "state" athletes call the Zone, what researchers and professionals call Flow and what children call Play share the basic characteristic of complete self-less absorption and engagement in the moment. This "state" of complete unconflictedbehavior is nature's baseline, her expectation, for optimum learning, performance and well-being. Yoga, meditation and athletics, when approached in their true spirit, attune us to this optimum state. Looking deeper we discover that all learning, performance and wellness is "state specific." States of being are primary; they come first, filter and define what we learn, how we perform, and our relative wellness or disease, moment to moment.
The actual state of the relationship is the primary "content" of our experience, which is learned and remembered, often lifelong, especially for children, regardless of adult intentions. When adults give attention to "state as content," the playful, dynamic and reciprocal nature of the adult-child relationship becomes the Optimum Learning Relationship for both children and adults. The adult-child relationship becomes a renewing and profoundly challenging environment for self-actualization and mastery. The relationship itself becomes a transformative practice every bit as demanding and powerful as found in any monastery, martial art or athletic training camp.
We all know that childhood is a developmental process for children. Magical Parent-Magical Child awakens a deep realization that guiding, learning from and mentoring the future of humanity is a developmental process for adults. When approached in this way the relationship, with its learning and personal development, becomes dynamic, reciprocal and truly playful. Conflict is reduced, transforming all of childhood and adulthood. Optimizing the interface between children and adults restores the body-mind to its natural order. The results, we believe, are radically different human beings, and therefore culture, than we see today.
Joseph Chilton Pearce and I believe this little work is truly revolutionary, unique and exactly right for challenges facing today's children, families, and educators.
People around the world have been asking Joseph Chilton Pearce, author of the national best-seller The Magical Child and other works including Crack in the Cosmic Egg, Evolution's End, Bond of Power, Magical Child Matures, and his most recently published The Biology of Transcendence, to write a no-nonsense, down-to-earth, practical guide for parenting and coaching healthy, happy, intelligent children in today's turbulent environment. This is it.
Magical Parent - Magical Child distills Pearce's collected works, a lifetime of research on human development, into a revolutionary model for parenting, coaching, and educating in the Zone. Paralleling the narrative are sidebar quotes from Pearce's collected works, over thirty-five years of distilled insights punctuating, complementing, and expanding a completely new model of relationship and peak performance for children and adults. Beyond enriching the reader's present experience, the sidebars draw attention to Pearce's previous works. They represent a powerful introduction or reintroduction to the treasures readers will find in each.
Magical Parent-Magical Child invites every parent, educator, childcare provider and coach to discover completely new states of perception, performance, and experience in themselves, while guiding, modeling and mentoring the future of humanity.
Part One, The Intelligence of Play, blends research on optimum learning, peak performance, and wellness from three distinct fields. Those fields encompass what athletes call the Zone, what the research community calls Flow, and what children call Play. The book demonstrates that the Zone, Flow and Play are one "state," viewed from different developmental stages. The Intelligence of Play brings learning and performance models up to date with the truth about our limitless capacity to learn, perform and feel great, lifelong. And the most dynamic relationship for this optimum learning and true development to unfold is between adults and children.
The brisk narrative is supported by personal interviews with national figures, including scientists like David Bohm, Ashley Montagu, and James W. Prescott; educators like George Leonard and Michael Murphy; play researchers like O. Fred Donaldson and Stuart Brown, M.D.; authors like Jean Leidloff of The ContinuumConcept, performance specialists and athletes like Johnny Miller, Peter Jacobsen, Nancy Lopez, John Doulliard, and Chuck Hogan. The book describes how optimum is natural, the extraordinary easy when self-imposed resistance is reduced or eliminated.
Part One reveals the true nature and function of our self-image. Rather than something to be justified and defended, the images we hold about ourselves and others represent a major obstacle to peak performance and optimum learning. The limitations and resistance imposed by these images are transcended in the state we call the Zone, Flow or authentic Play. Transcendence, the reader discovers, is nature's agenda for growth and true development, and play is the doorway to transcendence.
Part Two, Parenting Principles for Peak Performance, describes how to create, maintain and sustain Optimum Learning Relationships at any age, in any field. The section begins with a candid conversation between the authors on the well-intended limitations most adults impose on children "for their own good." Rather than uplifting, nurturing, and expanding the child's innate potential, most parenting, coaching, and educational strategies place severe limits on growth and true development. Adulterating children, with the best of intentions, ensures that the limitations most adults have accepted for themselves are transferred to the next generation. Culture places a lid on true development and locks it shut with contests, rewards, punishments, and shame. Part Two offers seven parenting principles that blow the lid off these limitations, not only for children but for adults as well. Simple, clear, and ever so practical, this collection of principles offers the parents, grandparents, educators, caregivers and coaches tools to transform their lives and the lives of the children they love.
Joseph Chilton Pearce
Best-selling author Joseph Chilton Pearce is a visionary developmentalist, a true living treasure. Pearce is best known for his national best-selling book Magical Child. He has published seven books and for thirty-five years has lectured internationally on human development and the changing needs of children. He was a faculty member on child development at the Jung Institute in Switzerland. He spoke on the new paradigm of human development at the seventh annual Transpersonal Psychology conference in India. Oxford University invited Joe to present information on the impact that current obstetrical practices are having on the development of child intelligence. The Canadian government sponsored a workshop with Joe for Native Americans on the prevention of violence and substance abuse. Sony Corporation sponsored a seventeen day lecture series on the future of education in Japan. He addressed Hawaii's crime prevention commission on the current causes of crime and violence. Louisiana sponsored an address on the crisis facing the American family. Departments at Harvard, UCLA, Stanford and Columbia University have sponsored educational conferences featuring his work. The governor of California invited Joe to address two special legislative planning sessions on the challenges facing children and families. Currently he finished a new book, The Biology of Transcendence, which describes the biological foundation for evolution's next great leap forward.
Foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
The word Buddha means awakened one or the enlightened one . This title refers to one who perceives directly the illusory, limited, and conflicted nature of reality common to humanity, and the false identity formed on this misguided foundation. With this awakening, everything changes; without it, nothing changes. Awakening therefore is and has been humanity s greatest challenge. Without compassion, Always Awakening explores how this insight was addressed 2,500 years ago by Gautama Siddhartha, and in a contemporary context, language, and metaphor by Krishnamurti. It engages and gives voice to one of the world s most respected Tibetan Buddhists, Samdhong Rinpoche, a distinguished scholar, trusted colleague of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and the only one with his background and training who had a personal relationship with Krishnamurti over many years. For those with a Buddhist orientation, Always Awakening provides a fresh context to approach and explore Krishnamurti s observations. For those familiar with Krishnamurti, Always Awakening provides a lucid and accessible window into Buddhist philosophy, practices, and traditions. The approach used by these two paradigms, these two ways of seeing, centuries apart, are very different, and this difference is exemplified in one of Krishnamurti s most distilled statements: It is the responsibility of each individual to bring about their own transformation, which is not dependent on knowledge or time. Always Awakening explores the common insight great teachers have been encouraging for thousands of years.
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