“I only know how to play one role...me.” I remember reading these words from the German designer Karl Lagerfeld and thinking how lucky he was to know how to play that role, because for most of us we're still learning. Learning to be ourselves that is.
Although I am not hoisting Karl up as a perfect human example, he also has a very, shall we say, unique way in being himself saying things like; "Forgiveness is too easy, I can forget by indifference but not forgive. I prefer revenge." This goes completely against my view as a teacher of meditation and yoga. But what does interest me is how people learn to be themselves especially when there are so many things preventing us from doing just that...mostly inside ourselves (we can be so harsh on ourselves).
But what I have realised through Karl is that getting to know ourselves comes from getting older (you start to care less what people think) and being creative...because let's face it being creative also means spending time on our own - two things that (most of us don't have time for). This is why retreats are such a wonderful invention because it gives us back our time to reacquaint with ourselves and, as one lady told me after attending a retreat; "It was so good to just get away, unload all my emotional baggage and meet myself...and you know what? I rather like myself". There is an innocent almost child-like quality to that comment and it made think how getting in touch with our inner child is so important in meeting ourselves. Creativity is one way of doing that and anyone can be creative. Just have a go at these fun mindful ways of getting in touch with your inner child:
Using photography as meditation
Make sure you are relaxed first either by taking 21 conscious slow breaths and pay attention to your surroundings and, really take notice of what's around you. As you walk start taking photos ofsomething that looks red, then orange, followed by yellow...basically all the colours of the rainbow! Keep going until you get at least one photo with each colour. You could also bring a sketchbook which will help you to focus on what you are looking at. You could even write in a book all the things you notice and how it made you feel.
If you are overwhelmed by what you see and can't decide on what to photograph, then you can close your eyes and twirl around - either once or several times (maybe not in public view though!). Then when you open your eyes observe what you are naturally drawn to - i.e. a door, tree - then make it interesting by taking images from every angle (bending down, looking up, kneeling, lying on your back...yoga comes in handy here!).
See what happens when you write whatever comes to your mind and writing continuously either for a few minutes (you can set a timer) or for one to three pages and with no regard for spelling, grammar, or topic (it is free-flow writing after all). This can be an effective way to open your conscious, unconscious and intuitive mind. Thoughts are at their purest first thing in the morning because your day hasn't started yet. Try one page to begin with instead of the three that is recommended.
Lastly I recommend some great books to really get you in touch with your creative inner child and ultimately yourself:
Wake Up - Escaping a life on Autopilot (Chris Barez-Brown)
Wild Mind - Living the writer's life (Natalie Goldberg)
Big Magic - Creative living beyond fear (Elizabeth Gilbert) Art before breakfast (Danny Gregory)
Looking and seeing -an introduction to contemplative photography (John Mcquade & Miriam Hall)