I was laying in bed a few Sundays ago, scrolling through my Instagram stories, when I saw something that moved my whole spirit. One of my friends had posted a video of her little girl in front of a mirror at a retail store, wearing the coolest sunglasses, and dancing her booty off to Cardi B’s “I like it.” What really captured my attention was how freely she was moving. So unbridled. Joyful in her spirit. No self-consciousness at all, just pure self-expression.
In witnessing her, I remembered the freedom of expression that I had as a little tot. The joy and delight I embodied. I was totally carefree…willing to listen to the music of the moment and to move to the beat of my own drum. Maybe you can relate?
Watching this little girl’s dance really got me thinking. We live in a world where, as small children, our joyful expression (like dancing wildly in a retail store mirror to Cardi B or grooving down the grocery store aisle to Whitney Houston, am I right?)is seen as cute. Yet, when we begin to grow into teenage and adult women, our expression is judged differently. A grown woman acting that way “must be drunk,” “must be crazy,” or is a product of “girls gone wild.” There’s an implication that if we’re loose and free in our bodies, especially in public, that we’re somehow weird…off our rockers or out for attention.
When we’re young, our freedom of expression is celebrated and we’re a source of joy for others. When we trust our impulses, allowing ourselves to move, our natural outpouring of joyful energy inspires those around us. As we grow older though, we’re taught to shut it down. We learn to contain, control, and squelch those impulses. To perfect our presentation. To dim our light. Not to draw too much attention.
Heck, I even think about myself. Despite the fact that I’ve been focusing on and diligently practicing reconnecting to my essential expression for years now, there are still times when I don’t trust myself fully. Times when I ignore or avoid my own inner impulses to express, be free, and move to the music. Moments when I choose not to move or sing or dance because I’m fearful of what those watching may think. After all, reconnecting to who we are is an ongoing practice.
This habit of cutting ourselves off from our own internal knowing is one of the reasons that, as a society, I feel we’re more anxious than ever. That energy–the natural expression of who we are–needs to go somewhere. And when we don’t allow ourselves to express it as it aries, it builds up in our bodies until eventually, it becomes like a volcano, waiting to erupt. I can feel this in my own experience: the increase in anxiety that occurs when there is an inherent part of myself I am ignoring or refusing to express.
In my experience, getting back to full freedom in our expression isn’t always as easy as “just do it.” There are often layers and layers of conditioning that are part of this unwinding, and it’s not a one-size fits all process. It can take time to reconnect to your inner being, especially if those internal cues have been shut off for a while. So be gentle with yourself, as this is something I work for months on with clients.
What I do want to leave you with today is a reminder: that that little girl dancing in front of the mirror to Cardi B’s “I like it”? She’s in you. In fact, she is you. She’s always been in there, ready and waiting to be unleashed on the world. She’s eager for you to remember what it’s like to feel free. To dance like no one’s watching, even if they are.
This week, I invite you to give yourself permission to notice where you might be cutting off or squelching your impulses to express yourself. Get curious about what’s going on in there, pay attention to the ways in which you’re keeping yourself small…the times when you’re feeling inspired to express yourself and then don’t. Simply notice.
Becoming aware of who and how you’re being is the first step to reawakening that precious part of yourself. And then, take baby steps! Perhaps you just begin by dancing freely in your own room… then slowly and surely you can begin to play your edges in more public spaces. Make that audible sigh in a yoga class, belt out your favorite song in the car, allow even just a little wiggle of your body in public, even if it feels awkward or uncomfortable at first.
When I saw that video of my friend’s little girl dancing I realized that sometimes, it’s as if we’ve left our own inner two-year-old hidden away somewhere. It’s our responsibility to go scoop her up, hug her, integrate her into our everyday way of being, and promise we won’t abandon her again.
If you’re feeling called to dive deep into reconnecting with forgotten parts of yourself and reawakening your most essential expression, there’s still time to register and receive the early bird discount for this year’s Yoga’licious Retreat: Coming Home to Yourself, which is happening in Ojai, CA from August 8-11th. Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a no-strings-attached call in which we’ll clarify your vision and discover if this retreat is what your soul and your inner two-year-old have been longing for…I’m really looking forward to playing with you.