Friday, January 29, 2010

Manifesting what we hope for

I've been thinking a lot lately (really, always) about our ability to create. A number of years ago, I heard someone say, "If you want to see what your own thought looks like, look around." This was a profound statement for me. Look at my relationships; look at my house; look at my work; look at my dreams. What did my thoughts look like? What was currently manifesting in my life? If it wasn't exactly what I was hoping for in my heart, did I have some blocks to break through in that area?

That idea has stayed with me all these years and I can look around today and see and know that I do in fact have great shaping power on my own life. I'm not saying there are no other influences, but perhaps the volume on those other influences can be turned down (or off) depending on how well I am able to lovingly manage and direct my creative thought. I can see how my own beliefs about certain things have created barriers (that could and can be dissolved) to some aspects of wholeness I am still opening to.

I've watched movies like The Secret and What the Bleep Do We Know? and I love the creative power they represent and the ideas they hold out to us--that perhaps the ability to create loving, harmonious, beautiful lives is truly within us. My own developing thoughts and beliefs need to put all that creative potential in the context of divine relationship--I want what I create in my life to be the expression of God; creations in line with truth, beauty, goodness, wholeness, kindness, and peace.

To get a clearer picture of both my intention to create and the result (I often skate right on by the result and move to the next thing, which keeps me feeling like I never reach any destination), I created this simple form yesterday to help me identify (1) the idea I want to manifest; (2) whether the environment is supportive for that idea right now or not; and (3) what actions I need to take to make it happen. Seems simple, right?

The big aha for me was in realizing that creating something doesn't just involve an idea and effort--it also needs a supportive environment, which I haven't always had for the things I wanted to create. I'd have the idea and dive right into the effort, working and working and working at something, without noticing that the right supports weren't present to support the idea's growth. Maybe others weren't cooperating. Perhaps I didn't really have the time. It could have been any number of things. But I recognize that my own pattern is to throw myself head-long into projects and then work really hard--maybe even harder--if the environment doesn't have the support I need to reach the goal.

Well, no more. This form helps me assess the supportiveness of the environment, as well as crystalize the idea, plan my action, and then name and celebrate the result. Let's see what happens! Here's the form in case you want to try something similar, too. If you use the form and find that it's helpful (or not, really), post a comment or write to me and let me know--I'd love to hear about your experience, too.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I am grateful to the earth

From "This Is Where We Live," by Pablo Neruda, in The Poetry of Pablo Neruda:
    I am grateful to the earth
    for having waited
    for me
    when sky and sea came together
    like two lips touching;
    for that's no small thing, no?--
    to have lived
    through one solitude to arrive at another,
    to feel oneself many things and recover wholeness.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Responding to a crisis

The pastor of my Quaker meeting sent me a postcard after I first visited the church, ten years ago now. It says
    I Am a Quaker.
    In Case of Emergency
    Please Be Quiet.
That postcard is still hanging right here in my line of sight, just over my monitor. It hangs there in large part because it says something true about who I am and how I approach things. When life speeds up too much, when crises come, when friends struggle, my first instinct is to slow down, to pray, to listen carefully, to tune into my heart.

Here's what we know about crisis:
  • Crisis throws your normal way of doing things up in the air.
  • Crisis can bring panic.
  • Crisis interrupts what you know about your life or yourself and makes you scramble to figure out what to do next.
  • You feel out of control in a crisis.
  • It's hard to see clearly in a crisis.
  • Emotions are very loud in a crisis, and problem-solving (which comes more from the rational parts of our brains) has trouble being heard.
  • Crisis often involves others as well as you, so you are dealing with the chaotic feelings and fears of many people--not just your own.
  • Our sense of "shoulds" can get stirred up in a crisis ("I should be handling this better," or "I shouldn't cry," or "My dad would have known what to do about this--but I don't.")
So what constitutes a crisis? Often we think of a crisis as something horrible--a car wreck, a divorce, a lost job, a bankruptcy, an illness. Yes, crisis can be triggered by all of those things, but you can also get thrown into crisis in the middle of good or growth-inducing things as well:
  • you get married
  • you find that job you've been looking for
  • you have a baby
  • you start training for a new position
  • you buy a great new house
  • you take a major step toward a new dream
In short, any time you step boldly--or get thrown--into the unknown, you can feel lost, uncertain, and unsure of what to do next. You are out of your comfort zone, and that can potentially trigger a crisis response.

Some situations resolve all on their own--you get used to the new job, you fall in love with your baby, your dream gains momentum and you feel more confident about it. In those situations, some simple techniques can help us support ourselves while crisis situations are working themselves out:
  • take three deep breaths and exhale completely;
  • say a favorite prayer or mantra;
  • focus your eyes intentionally on one beautiful thing and really feel it;
  • use an old EMDR trick to look straight ahead and then move your eyes first as far left as you can and then far right. Doing this a few times gets each side of your brain talking to the other, which increases oxygen and helps you feel more able to problem solve;
  • recount the facts of the situation to yourself or others. This anchors the situation to what's really happening and turns down the volume on the fears, anxieties, and "what ifs";
  • begin naming everything you can think of to be grateful for. I know this one sounds difficult, especially if there's a lot of upset in the situation, but I'm convinced that there is always something to be grateful for--even if it's only that you don't have to face the circumstance alone (which is a major blessing).
When the crisis situation is too big or threatening--or you simply need or want some extra support--reach out to people around you. Your pastor or spiritual leader knows how to be with you in crisis; your doctor can recommend a counselor; various agencies can offer a collection of resources. Spiritual direction also helps us explore where we draw the resources to meet the crises in our lives. There is always another view--God's view--and being open to that view, even in the midst of a chaotic and scary time, can bring peace, and calm, and healing.

Many blessings--beauty, joy, peace, and light--right where you are today!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

That peaceful easy feeling

This morning something strange happened. It was before dawn. The candle was burning. I slowly--mindfully--moved through the yoga-t'ai chi routine I've done for years. Somewhere around the warrior pose, I felt a sense of profound quiet--inside and out. I continued the slow movements, in time with that felt sense. Completing the yoga, I settled on the floor as usual for a few moments of meditation. I sat, said a prayer of blessing, and heard myself think, "I'm listening, God."

And then...nothing.

Quiet. Peace. Silence. Stillness.


No fluttering thoughts. No straining muscles or awareness of my breath. No internal to-do list took shape. No thoughts about deadlines, or expectations, or plans.

Quiet. Peace. Silence. Stillness.

I raised my hands to my face slowly, and felt the contact of my fingers on my cheeks. I smiled in the darkness. No, I wasn't having a stroke. I was just non-anxious.

My cycling mind was at rest. My body was at rest. My spirit was listening.

Strange, wonderful, beautiful, nourishing.

I hope to do it again tomorrow. :)

Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Everything present

I've been thinking a lot about our own personal influence in the way our days unfold. How much do we actually co-create, and how much (if anything) happens outside our control? I'm fascinated with the circumstances, situations, emotions, and interactions that seem to arise unbidden in our days. Where do they come from? Where do they go? What is being expressed? How am I contributing?

Yesterday it occurred to me that perhaps all emotions are present in any given situation, much light all light waves are present and all audio waves are present. I've heard it said that sound waves are all around us all the time, but we need to be tuned to them--or have the right receiver--before we will be able to hear them. I've heard something similar about colors and light--all colors are present in all light, but we have to have the right objects and the right amount of light in order to see the colors clearly.

What if all our emotions are already present in our surroundings, like light and sound? If emotions are simply energies, with a personal twist, or coming through a personal receiver, it isn't such a farout thought to imagine that we might be expressing certain emotions for somebody else or simply as a mouthpiece for our environment. Have you ever felt "mad" for someone else? Have you caught someone else's tiredness? Do you feel your spirit lift when you hear someone else laugh? Perhaps our emotions are not our "own" but part of the expression of life that is happening within us and around us in any given moment.