“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
Do you ever stop and think to yourself, “When did I get so serious?”
I watched Peter Pan when I was a child, and I longed to live in Never Land with the Lost Boys. I never wanted to grow up. Failing that, I assured myself I would at least not be one of those monotonous adults taking life so serious. Okay, I might not have worded it that way a child would, but those were the general ideals.
Recently, with an increased yoga practice, I have begun to finally take a step back to try and look at my life and be more mindful of every passing moment. Perhaps it’s a quarter-life crisis, but I deemed it necessary to make a thorough evaluation of how I am living. What I have found is that I have been neglecting an important trait. More than a trait even, but a core essence of my being.
My inner child is going to throw an almighty tantrum if it doesn’t get some badly needed attention soon.
How we lost it.
Our creativity is educated out of us. When I was in school I loved art. But then it came time for me to choose the subjects I would study for my Leaving Certificate. I knew that these subjects would be a deciding factor in which university I would attend and what I would study there. I knew ultimately, those subjects I had to choose would decide the job I would have one day.
At the age of 15, I made the mature, informed and sensible decision to pick the most boring and reliable subjects there were. They were accounting, business studies and economics. The language I chose was French, and the other compulsory subjects were mathematics, English and Irish. Not once did I consider whether I would be interested in, or even vaguely like, these subjects. That was not of any importance in the grand scheme of things. These decisions that I made and the decisions that students, from a younger and younger age, have to make are influenced by our society.
What society has created is an obsession with education elitism.
In Ken Robinson’s TED talk entitled “Schools Kill Creativity,” he suggests that, “We educate from the waist up. Focus on the brain, particularly the left side.” In my case, and for many of my peers, this was true. We were constantly encouraged to use the left side of our brains but very seldom encouraged to use the right or our bodies.
Despite these thoughts, I don’t regret anything I chose to do. It has all led me to where I am now, and I quite like where I am now. However, it is time for me to be reintroduced to my inner child. I think others should do the same and see the difference it makes.
How to get it back.
Do yoga. No better way to feel like a child again than by standing on one’s head. I didn’t know what yoga was when I was a child but like other children, I just did it. Handstands, headstands, shoulder stands, bow, bridge; they were all done just for the hell of it. Of course, it doesn’t have to be yoga as long as it gets your body moving and firing up some Shakti energy. Dance, run, jump on a trampoline. Just do it because it’s fun.
Live in the moment.
Children don’t constantly worry about the future or feel sad about the past. They have not unlearned mindfulness yet. They are more content because they truly live in the moment.
As adults, our minds never stop thinking. Try lying in savasana or meditating for 30 seconds without 30 thoughts racing by. “What will I eat for dinner? Do I need to go to the supermarket? Eek! I better pay my gas bill tomorrow before they fine me again!” (“Can you pay my bills? Can you pay my telephone bills?” I miss Destiny’s Child).
Yes, it’s exhausting. I love how Thich Nhat Hanh eloquently put it in his book You Are Here. He said:
“I think, therefore I am … not here. You are lost in your thinking, so you are really not here.”
At times, it seems unstoppable. When you begin to notice it, you see how frustrating it can be trying to stop the flood of unnecessary ramblings through your mind. It takes practice, but it is wonderful to be able to be content through so many of life’s little moments.
Laugh, especially at yourself. I think every year we grow older, our ego grows along with us. We’ve gone to what we like to think were prestigious colleges. We don’t talk about our jobs anymore; we talk about our “careers.” We must constantly portray an image that we know exactly what the hell we’re doing with our lives, and we are on the right track to achieving it all. Whatever “it all” is.
But, let’s face it; it’s really not that important.
So, if you’re being an uptight, over educated, over thinking, narcissistic adult, realize it and laugh at yourself. Your inner child is laughing at you too.
Christine Hayes is an Irish girl living in South Korea. She teaches English at an all boys Middle School where she has been unpleasantly surprised to realize that ten years on, she is still the smallest person in a grade three classroom. One day, as she cycled home from work, a motorist blew their horn at her for cycling through a red light. She had a vision of jumping up on their bonnet and smashing in their windshield for having the audacity to suggest, through their horn blowing, that she was a hazard to other road users. That’s when she decided yoga might be a good idea. It was. She no longer has a strong urge to vandalise vehicles and is currently training to be a yoga teacher.
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Editor: Cassandra Smith