I’ve written a lot over the past months about my ‘healing journey’ and the effects of travelling, yoga, and other healing therapies on my emotional, physical and mental wellbeing. I’ve also alluded to a spiritual experience / internal change that occurred to me recently as a result of all this soul seeking. You could call it an awakening, a heightening of consciousness, or a rebirth if you relate to such concepts. Or, simply see it as me finding peace in myself and a greater sense of my purpose in the world. What’s important is that I’m in a much better place now than I was six months ago and I’d like to share with you what I think were some of the important steps I took, consciously or not, to get me here.
Why? I don’t profess to be a guru on wellbeing, but I definitely do understand how challenging and disheartening life can be when you spend forty-plus hours a week working, usually in a job you don’t particularly like or thrive in, making money for someone else just so that you can support yourself (and possibly your family too). I for one found it suffocating, and ultimately, soul destroying. Perhaps you are reading this and can relate. If so, then that makes writing this worthwhile.
I also know that not everyone can do what I did – pack up their life and get on a plane to India (If they could, India would be overflowing with Westerners on a spiritual journey. In fact it already is, in parts!) There are however, lots of things you can do without leaving the country to pay better attention to yourself and your own needs, to nourish yourself, and to bring joy, freedom and love into your life. That is ultimately what I hope to inspire with this blog.
Looking back on my own journey, I realise that one very important (and fun!) step in my personal development over recent months, was finding (and honouring) my inner child. Without having done that, I would probably still be blindly and fearfully trying to adhere to the societal doctrines of behaviour, structure and order that were previously holding me back from following my true passions and dreams, largely due to the fear of disappointing (or simply shocking) others by taking bold life choices and shunning the normal modes of modern Western living in a consumer capitalist society. You know what I mean… Get a job, with benefits and a pension if possible (because ‘protecting’ your future is far more important than enjoying the present, right?), work eight hours a day, or longer if you want to impress your boss and have any hope of a pay rise to enable you to enjoy your very limited free time, and basically pass each working week counting the hours down to the weekend, during which you spend all your money on wine on Friday night and nurse a horrible hangover for the remainder of your precious two days off… sound familiar? This was my life at least. Although I’ve been very blessed and fortunate in many ways, I nevertheless felt trapped by/in a system of living that I did not innately agree with and besieged by a desperate longing for something more.
We all have an inner child, no matter our age. The beauty of the human spirit is that this pure, innocent, joyful and fearless being never dies, no matter how old we get. Yet more often than not he/she gets suppressed, repressed, ignored and even bullied by our adult minds, conditioned to think and act in a certain way in order to keep the cogs of the socio-economic system in place.
As I approached my mid-twenties and believed I needed to start getting serious about life (conforming to what I believed was expected of ‘grown ups’), I buried my inner child inside, until there came a point when I could no longer relate to her at all. The little girl who gets excited about life’s simple pleasures, yearns to play, to explore, to use her hands and get them dirty, the girl who not only appreciates, but is amazed and captivated by life, was rarely to be seen. And the longer she was suffocated, forgotten even, the more depressed and disillusioned I became. I believe the same is true for a lot of adults, in the West especially. And it makes me sad… very sad!
I feel so strongly about this because I believe that this simple, and as I said, fun (!) endeavour, can help everyone feeling disillusioned, depressed, or even just bored with life, to ignite the fire inside our bellies again and see the world with fresh and wondrous eyes: with the eyes of a child. And ultimately, for me, finding my inner child helped me to find myself. It revealed to me the pure essence of who I was before I was conditioned, not in a malicious way necessarily, but in the way we all are to fit into a manmade society in which money, status and ‘career’ are placed in importance above family, community, happiness, health and wellbeing.
So, what do I mean by finding your inner child?
I mean to play, to explore life free of fear, guilt, obligation or responsibility. To appreciate life’s simple pleasures gleefully and innocently, without expecting some kind of reward, symbol of status or approval from ‘authority’. Do you have / know / spend time with any children? Then you’ll know that they look at the world with wonder. Everything is exciting, everything is a game, everything is an opportunity to play and to explore…
I thought I’d share some of the moments that, to this day, make me smile and even laugh out loud, remembering the silly, ridiculous, childish things my friends and I did together that made us feel incredibly connected with each other, with the world, and blissfully and innocently happy to be alive. I hope you enjoy!
1. Painting the walls of my friend’s house with our hands and, erm, our boobs: NYE 2013
We decided fireworks were boring that night and we needed to do something more memorable to ring in the near year. Logical solution: get semi-naked and paint the walls. Of course my friend (who has also since quit her job and is travelling with me now – viva la revolution!) just happened to have two big pots of blue and pink paint to hand. Much to the amusement of the rest of the party when they returned an hour later to see us running around, squealing with glee, covered head to toe in paint having created a masterpiece Picasso would be proud of on the walls. (Other housemates were less pleased with the mess on the floor but I’m sure our fine work in its lasting glory has lessened the blow.)
2. Playing dress up
This was a regular occurrence chez-aforementioned-friend’s house. She has not one, but a number of dressing-up boxes at home, open for all to explore. In fact I can’t quite believe she came out to Thailand to see me and didn’t bring my/her sequin disco pants?! (#epicfail) Prior to befriending this lady, and many other fabulous guys and girls with a penchant for ‘fashion, darling’, dressing up to me had felt like a pain in the ass and even a daunting prospect. I guess I was too concerned about what people thought of me – wanting to look ‘sexy’ or well put together. Letting that go and just embracing being childish and ridiculous was liberating and so much fun! I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
3. Playing ‘90s songs on YouTube – WITH LYRICS – in the wee hours of the morning and singing along at top volume
- Shola Ama – You Might Need Somebody
- Eternal – Wanna Be the Only One
- Annie Lenox – Step by Step
- Kelly Le Roc – Shower You with Kisses
- The Honeyz (with a ‘z’) – Finally Found
- KC & Jojo – All My Love
- And many more…
4. Putting dance routines together for aforementioned and other cheesy pop songs, dressing up and performing them to each other, and whoever else would watch!
The best example of this we captured on film one day using the iPhone5 slow-mo video app. Kids these days just don’t realise the tools at their disposal for making movie magic! Back in my day we were recording songs from the radio onto blank cassette tapes to accompany our brilliant choreography… well not anymore! (I don’t have the video to embed it here unfortunately, but I promise you, it was epic!)
5. Making a den under the furniture with duvet covers, sheets and whatever else we could find. Then inviting people to come inside (but only if they knew the secret password)
So, I hope that made you giggle at least… and with any luck, inspired you to find your own inner child.
I implore you to do something silly, at LEAST once a week, whether it’s paint with your hands, sing at top volume your favourite songs, watch a Disney film, hula hoop, have a water fight, dance like nobody’s watching…or whatever else makes you feel like a child again. In the words of Ghandi: “There is more to life than making it go faster.”
Oh OK, here are a few more…