Comments and expansion
Today, Sam Harris does a compassion meditation, using a simple version of inner child work. It may not work for everyone. But that´s life.
Visualize yourself as a child and direct loving kindness at that little boy or girl
This is a modern variant of loving kindness meditation. Sam Harris, in a modern twist, adds a little of what in therapy is known as "Inner Child Work".
Inner child work in therapy: Terry Real
This approach is used, for example, by Terry Real in couple coaching work. When one sees him work, in full concentration, it seems easy and natural, that his clients find an inner representation of this earlier state of themselves. They then respond at an emotional level, and may feel real tenderness, or "loving kindness" to themselves, or they break out in tears.
But then, the less experienced therapists trained by Terry often report that their clients don't have that easy access, and that they struggle to build up that inner connection to themselves. Very obviously, the charismatic personality of Terry Real helps. Btw, he is a Buddhist and sees his work as having spiritual elements. This is a topic for another post.
Then, there are a number of "tricks" by which this split personality approach (or, generalised, inner parts approach) is supported. For example the client is asked to bring a favorite foto of themselves as a child to the session to facilitate the visualisation.
Thus, when Sam Harris suggests in his minimalist approach to visualize the inner child, and direct love at them, some listeners may have more difficulties with this as other listeners.
Meeting "the inner child" may bring up painful memories. Or, one may feel nothing. Or, one may then feel like a failure.
These are all examples where meditation can lead to unexpected results.
Inner child as a fiction
Or, less impactful, some listeners may need much more time to create this inner model of themselves than allowed by the meditation.
The "inner child" is, of course, has as little reality as the Self.
It is as much a model, created by the mind about itself, as is the construct of the Self.
Thus, when Sam Harris talks about that little boy or girl, the meditator is doing what in non-dual meditation he is otherwise asked to not do: believe in a Self - a younger version of the current "empty" Self, but a Self nevertheless, that is seen as emotionally real as possible in this moment of inner child work.
No need for dogmatism! Here! This is a moment of therapy, not a moment of non dual meditation.