Don’t you love watching kids play? They have the capacity to completely immerse themselves in the world around them albeit for short periods of time. I particularly enjoy the way they freely express themselves devoid of guilt, criticism, worries or hang-ups. I can’t help but wonder at how strikingly similar this is to the practice of mindfulness. Kids are naturally mindful and I say this because mindfulness is an appreciative awareness of the present moment, free of judgement and expectation and the natural state accompanying mindfulness is that of pure joy.
When children play their attention is focused on the world around them. They are not living in their heads preoccupied with cares and judgements. We were like that once but then we matured and took on the responsibilities of adulthood and slowly became more and more disengaged from the present moment. We lost touch with that playful, happy, uncomplicated kid and in so doing, began to question our self belief. Louise Hay, who is a well known Inner Child work enthusiast, says, “we were all born beautiful little babies, totally open and trusting of life with lots of self-worth and self esteem.” Fortunately those childhood qualities have not vaporised – they’re still within us. They are part of what makes us who we are.
Our Inner Child is the vulnerable, innocent and trusting part of us that needs to be nurtured and loved. It needs to play, have fun and create. It needs to feel safe and accepted. Because our Inner Child is an emotional part of our whole, the more we listen to and fulfil its needs, the more balanced and complete we become.
When you’re hard on yourself consider what you are doing to your Inner Child. It’s much easier to feel compassion for the young and vulnerable when you realise how lost, lonely and rejected this part of you may feel. Becoming aware of our Inner Child’s needs helps us to be more self nurturing. If our Inner Child is happy and self honouring, then so are we. Quiet introspection on our Inner Child and its needs can reveal much about how we really feel about ourselves.
Art therapy or mindful colouring is a pleasant and creative way to induce an introspective/meditative state and appease the childlike quality within us. Mindful colouring books have become quite popular, popping up in department stores and book shops. The hand/eye movement coupled with focus on colour and design is guaranteed to calm the body and the mind. Make it your intent, whilst colouring, to rekindle your relationship with your Inner Child and see what happens.
There’s an old Hawaiian saying “there are no adults, only kids”. Although, unfortunately, most of us here have forgotten how to loosen up and be that kid, I did enjoy watching a group of people having the time of their lives the other night. We wandered into a fairly packed Karaoke bar after dinner. There were a few women dancing and singing along to the karaoke singers on the dance floor. Throughout the night they remained totally absorbed in the experience, totally unaware of the crowd and totally at ease in their skin. They each had several goes at karaoke. None of them were particularly good and one in fact had trouble holding a tune – not that it worried her, she was in her element and enjoying every moment. Interestingly the audience was absorbed in her performance. There were no giggles or criticism from the crowd, only smiles. Her joy and child like authenticity was so infectious and she got a huge round of applause.
We could all do with a good dose of childish fun. We just have to loosen up a little, forget what others may think and learn to laugh till it hurts again.