Many people have heard of the concept of ‘inner child healing’. We often go through traumas as we grow up, learning about the world and our sense of self go hand in hand with experiencing pain and loss. For many people, reconnecting with their hurt inner child can be extremely healing.
Meditating, journaling, contemplating and occasionally sending our younger selves compassion and love are some of the ways we can learn how to accept ourselves in the present. However, this isn’t the only way we can reconnect to our younger selves in a positive way.
Relearning play as a way of living is a powerful and enjoyable way to learn how to relax more deeply and live more lightly.
Many adults equate relaxation with having a glass of wine after work, or going to the gym. Some people choose comfort food, or meditate to find spaces of relaxation. Some of these ways of relaxing are healthy and some aren’t, but many of them forget an essential element of relaxation – finding a sense of playful joy within us.
As children, we play naturally. We take objects and make believe with them, or we run after our friends playing chase. If you’ve ever walked past a playground at school during break time you will hear the chatter and excited screams of children running around and having fun.
As adults, we forget how to do this. We lose connection to the joyful sense of play that came so naturally to us as children.
When people first consider this an automatic reaction is ‘Well I’m an adult now, I can’t go around playing make belief or building forts.’ And for some people this isn’t an option or something they feel comfortable with.
But we can still learn to connect to a sense of playful joy form an adult perspective.
All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Art and creativity
For many people this can involve artwork or creative pursuits. Sitting down with some modelling clay or some oil paints and simply seeing what happens, and enjoying the process of tactile sensations is immensely healing. The aim of this sort of play isn’t to produce an amazing piece of art, worthy of being hung in a gallery (although if you do -fantastic!). No, the aim here is to remember the fun and joy in just creating and seeing what comes of that, rather than worrying about quality or meaning.
Other ways of reconnecting to joyful play could be singing or dancing. Put on some music you love when no one else is about and just start to move around. Don’t worry about what you look like, or if you are doing it ‘right.’ There is no right or wrong, it’s about remembering that freedom that came with just dancing around the room when you were happy. If you prefer to sing chose a time when no one else is about – you could sing when driving your car, or when at home with no one else around. Put on a song you enjoy and just make noise. You can chant, or yell or laugh, or sing. It doesn’t have to be in tune and it doesn’t have to even ‘go’ with the music. Again, the aim is simply to reconnect to that feeling you had as a child when you were less self-conscious and simply acted the way you felt at the time.
When you have begun to find a sense of play in your life, you can bring in your inner child by asking her or him how she feels about play. You can imagine taking your inner child’s hand for example and running down a hill together when out for a walk. Or you can dance, imagining you are dancing with your inner child. Send them light and love and remember the times you giggled and laughed as a child, without worrying about anyone else.
Reconnecting with ourselves in this way is profoundly healing – and a whole lot of fun! It can take a little getting used to as you learn to stop being ‘on show’ all the time. As adults, we are always conforming to how we are supposed to behave. A common insult to children growing up and to adults who are not behaving as they should is ‘grow up!’ Well, growing up is all well and good, but growing up and forgetting how to play and the joy that comes from such activity can lead us to feel rigid and trapped.
Joyful play is a feeling which resonates with one of the highest vibrations there is – laughter and freedom. It doesn’t worry about being ‘right’ or acting how we ‘should.’ Joyful play is about throwing off the shackles of societal constructs for a few minutes each week and remembering and embracing the loving child inside us all.