Lilies and Elephants is a collection of my thoughts, musings, ideas, personal impressions, and stories. I think out loud and encourage others to express themselves. I write about life and my personal journey living with a mood cycling disorder. I'm on a mission to motivate openness about and acceptance of mental health and chronic illness, to chip away at the stigma, offer support, raise awareness, and perhaps provide some inspiration along the way.
The other day I did a guided meditation
focused on finding your inner child. I
do 15 minutes of guided meditation daily and while all of them help me relax
and center myself, this one reached me in a way that most of the others have
I have a vivid imagination, which actually helps when doing
these meditations it is relatively easy for me to transport myself into the
images and nuances described by the guide.
However, I also have a wandering mind that can go off on a tangent at a
moments notice, and have to keep bringing myself back to the meditation. So
when instructed to close my eyes, let my inner child surface and allow myself
to feel the emotions of that child, I was pretty astounded when my body and
mind underwent a noticeable change almost immediately. I could feel the excitement and energy in my
heart, my mind relaxed and I actually felt a smile come across my face. Now, I
know that traditionally the objective of meditation is to remain rather still
with a calm mind and heart, but this was about finding the child within you,
and what child remains still with a calm mind?
So I just let my mind and body react as they did without questioning
it. The simple act of “allowing” the
child in me to come out brought about this rapid change in me physically and
mentally. Pretty incredible.
I was a baby Mozart! Not really, but I had fun.
I actually tend to see glimpses my inner child quite a bit.
I love to do cheesy and cliché things like splash in puddles and dance around
my kitchen singing while cooking dinner. I thrive on new adventures and
excitement. I’m a fan of pillow fights
and food fights (though not necessarily simultaneously), laughing until I’m crying, and tickling wars. Unfortunately,
these don’t comprise much of my daily, or even weekly, routine. I’m a travel
planner for a living so, needless to say, a lot of my life involves
pre-planning. It’s tough to be spontaneous and silly while booking airfare. The
airlines don’t appreciate that too much, and probably neither will my clients.
When your job revolves around planning, you tend to be someone who plans when
not on the job as well (or vice versa,
you go into planning as a career because you excel in it in everyday life).
Either way, it’s unlikely to be a highly spontaneous person who plans for a
living. Not impossible, but unlikely. For those who are successful at this, I’d
truly love to hear your strategies. For
me, despite the obvious divide between “living in the moment” and planning for
a living, I miss my inner child and I wish I could hold on to her longer and
The meditation got me thinking about my favorite aspects of
my younger self. What did I used to do and be that I feel I’ve lost? What do I
wish I could learn from the child version of me? As the meditation guided me through these
questions, a few key characteristics continued to surface.
·Fearlessness: I think virtually anyone would say
they were less afraid of things as a child that they are now. Closed in spaces?
Great hiding spot. Snakes? Make great pets. Standing on top of a very high
mountain and looking down? Exciting, not terrifying. Fears seem to develop when
we begin thinking more in depth about a situation – what could go wrong, should
I do this or not, what are the long-term ramifications, etc? Children, for the most part, don’t question life in this way
very often. Adults probably question things too much, hence the fear
Enjoying my bike
·Confidence: My biggest fear (other than bees,
because I’m allergic) is probably public speaking, or really anything that
involves being up in front of people. I don’t like the sole attention being me,
and I don’t like feeling like I’m being judged or watched. Yet in third grade I
tried out for, and got, the lead in the class play. Through middle school I was
a soloist in chorus every year (fun fact: I used to have quite a good singing
voice). Yet now, giving a 10-minute presentation in front of a few colleagues
requires me picturing everyone in their underwear and I’m pretty petrified of
karaoke. It's a fear I make myself work through, and I'm getting more comfortable with it, but I still don't love it.
·Freedom: It may seem that I have more freedom
now since I own my own business and make my own hours instead of my day being
dictated by homework and bedtimes, but we have a lot more worries as adults and
put more pressure on ourselves. We often think ten steps ahead (or behind, if
we feel we’ve made a mistake) instead of enjoying the moment. While this is
helpful in paying our bills and keeping our jobs, it takes away from the
day-to-day enjoyment in life. Wouldn’t
it be great if we could truly just enjoy the good parts of our day without
having deadlines, rent payments and other must dos in the back of our minds the
·Spontaneity: This is a big one for me. I have
two sides that often seem to be at odds. As I've mentioned, there’s the part of me that
loves planning and organization, but there’s the part of me that wants to do things on a whim, that likes to
just jump in the car on a nice day and drive to an un-determined destination, who loves to sing and dance walking down the street until I realize I’m doing
it out loud and in public and people are staring at me. I think of everything, this ability to be
spontaneous without worrying about being judged by others is what I miss the
most. When a little kid breaks out in song in an inappropriate place, it’s
funny at best and slightly embarrassing at the worst. When you do it as an
adult you can get kicked out or arrested for disturbing the peace, or at best
have the people around you thinking our a bit off your rocker. Doesn’t quite
Me and my brother, playing in the Georgia mud
If you haven’t taken a look at your inner child lately, I
highly encourage it. It might be in the form of a guided meditation, or it
might be doing something you haven’t done in a long time that brings back good
childhood memories. I’ve recently
connected with some old friends (i.e. from childhood, not elderly), and it’s
helped me a lot. Not only do we reminisce about the old times, but I realize
that the same reasons we were close then are the reasons we’re reconnecting
now, and it brings out some of the spontaneity, freedom and confidence that I
had when we were younger. I’d love to hear others’ techniques for bringing out
their inner child. It’s a step that I think is so important for anyone trying
to re-discover themselves and rebuild, and I’d love to make it more a part of
my weekly, or even daily, routine.