You’re glowing. Literally… So be sure to shine on your kids

momA recent study by several Japanese scientists found that, “The human body literally glimmers.”  It turns out that the light the body gives off is of 1000 times lower intensity than the sensitivity of our naked eyes. They found this by making a rather fancy camera that could pick up the bioluminescence of the body—a process similar to that seen in fireflies and certain jellyfish.  To check out the study by Kobayashi, Kikuchi and Okamura see:

As a mindfulness-oriented parent (and person) this research caught my eye because of the subtle implications that fired my imagination.  Some claim able to see auras, I believe that women glow when they are first pregnant and some people seem to glimmer when in love; maybe these ways of talking about extra life-energy have a physical (i.e. not just metaphorical or metaphysical) reality?

Another intriguing finding of this research project was that the level of bioluminescence varied with the metabolism of the subjects.  As cortisol levels dropped during sleep, the luminescence increased.  One way of thinking about this could be that when we are calm, we glow.  Cortisol relates to adrenaline and stress, so becoming Zen helps us reduce risk of heart disease, improves immune functioning and makes us better parents at the behavioral level (i.e. not shouting); maybe it also makes us more radiant, which might help our kids shine too.

Moses by MichelangeloIn the Old Testament, when Moses comes down from the mountain after forty days and nights of communing with God, he is described as glowing or radiant.  In fact, the Greek translation of the word was “horned” (meaning with rays of light), which inspired Michelangelo to sculpt Moses as having little goat-like horns.  Over the years this lead to the ignorant misconception of Jews having horns.  In getting back to the intended meaning, it would seem that communing with spirit, whether we find it on the mountain or with our children, might also contribute to our inner as well as outer radiance.

The researchers assert that we have “clock genes” that know what time it is, and that the human body glitters to the rhythm of the circadian clock.  As conscious beings perhaps we can go beyond the clock, and cultivate our luminous aspect by being compassionate.  Stranger things have happened.

Bioluminescence is not spread evenly across the body, with the face being the most luminous region.  So, in addition to the elixir of attention that we shine upon our kids, when we turn to face them we may literally be shining our love on them… even if it is at a very subtle level of wattage.

I know that I am exaggerating and extrapolating from the modest lab findings of some super-sensitive cameras, but I do believe that we humans are much more sensitive to cues, vibes and thoughts than we often consciously realize.  Thus cultivating a loving and compassionate heart is a great idea no matter whether anyone is able to consciously see it, but if anyone can see it, that would probably be our children—especially when they are very new in the world and have not yet been taught what they are supposed, and not supposed, to see.

So, let’s dedicate today to doing whatever we can to be full of life, of love and compassion—to cultivate equanimity in the service of shining whatever light we can muster on all our collective children.  Maybe it will make our world a little brighter, even if we’re too dim to consciously see it.

Namaste, Bruce


4 Responses to “You’re glowing. Literally… So be sure to shine on your kids”

  1. Laurie Says:

    I was telling my son about us shimmering and he said, “you know we’re made of stardust so it makes sense that we glow”.

  2. privilegeofparenting Says:

    Bright kid.

  3. Jo Park Says:

    wow…what an interesting fact. i’m going to have to remember that as i pass by makeup advertisements that promise ‘shimmer’. i’ll save a buck or two by just remaining calm.

  4. krk Says:

    I can see this(shimmer) in some children when we are having a quiet conversation.

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