To thine own self be true

“To thine own self be true,” said William Shakespeare.

This sounds great, but how do we even know what it means to be true to oneself? Young children seem very free to express their true nature. A child’s laughter is one of the most beautiful sounds: full, joyous, and resonant. Unfortunately, many of us learn to squelch that natural laughter, to subdue our energy, or to be “seen and not heard,” so that by the time we are adults we have difficulty knowing who we are.

Society encourages us to look a certain way, speak so that other people will approve of us, follow the trends that are popular. Today’s pre-teenagers already wear makeup and speak in voices they imitate from TV or video. I recently spoke with a 60-something woman who told me she was going to let her hair go natural. She has been straightening it since she was in her 20’s and covering the gray since the age of 40. “I think it’s time for me to find out what I really look like,” she said. “I don’t even know what my natural look is!”

How can we truly express ourselves if we don’t even know who we are? We need to learn to re-connect with the Real Self, the inner self. Exploring our true nature can be an exciting prospect. We can begin by learning to quiet the outer mind. All of that brain chatter that says we should think, talk, or act in ways that are “appropriate” must cease so that we can become still and listen to our own inner voice.

Concentration exercises are especially helpful for calming the mind. A simple breathing exercise can do wonders. Inhale deeply through the nose, hold the breath for a moment, and then exhale through the mouth. Do this a few times, rhythmically and easily. Then breathe naturally, and simply observe the breath. You will find your mind becoming quieter.

Spend some time alone in this quiet state. You can write, take a walk, enjoy a creative activity, or simply sit. Once you become accustomed to enjoying your own company you will find it much easier to express your true nature.

Meditation is another way to discover more of the Real You. Meditation is a form of inner listening. With a still, calm mind, this practice feels nourishing. Deep meditation can be more relaxing than a nap. Daily meditation can aid anyone to know the self that exists beyond the physical body and the five senses. This higher self can provide answers and give us guidance when we learn to listen.

Remembering night-time dreams and learning to interpret them is another wonderful way to know the self. Dreams come from the inner self or subconscious mind and give guidance to the outer self or conscious mind. The key to understanding dreams is to learn the language in which they communicate.

Keep a dream journal by the bed to capture the dream upon awakening. Dreams can clue us into our life purpose, our own attitudes and state of awareness, and can even connect us with other people and resources. There are famous tales of inventors, scientists, artists, writers, musicians, and entrepreneurs who received inspiration from dreams.
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To start using dream-inspiration for creative expression, write down in your dream journal, “I want to remember my dreams.” Then, ask your subconscious mind a question. In the morning, make sure to write down the first thing you remember, before you hop out of bed or start talking or thinking about your day.

A couple of years ago I was writing a book on visualization. It was a revision and update of a book I’d written thirteen years earlier. The first book had gone out of print, and I had been told that the title was not catchy. I couldn’t seem to come up with a good title for the new book. I had lists of possible titles, some recommended by other people, some that I had considered. None was exactly right. So one night I asked for a dream to give me the book title. In the morning, as I awoke, I heard in my mind the words, “The Law of Attraction and Other Secrets of Visualization.” I immediately wrote it down in my dream journal. I decided to use that title for the book, and it has turned out to be highly successful! The book sold out in the first year and went into a second printing before the year was over.

Listen to your inner self. It will guide you, so that your creative expression comes from your heart. That is the road to fulfillment and to aiding others with your unique gifts.