I love my March theme!! Most of the practices felt really good to do, and the universe provided even more opportunity to live this theme than I had planned. More on that in a moment.
Photo: Temari 09 on Flickr
First, reflections on a couple of the practices. I really enjoyed asking, “How am I showing up?” At first I had thought of this exclusively for when I was interacting with others through work, but I soon realized that I could also ask how I was showing up in anything, and even how I was showing up for myself. Such a useful question. It helped me come back to presence before or during a call, and at least acknowledge to myself where I was, hopefully without judgment.
I also found the practice of choosing to do something and connecting with why I was doing it in the moment to be powerful. Thanks to Kendra’s comment on my previous post, that practice too expanded beyond what I had originally thought. I still struggled with it, especially as I was working on my taxes, which always brings up a fair amount of panic. For days I wondered what possible in-the-moment ‘why’ would support me to feel better about doing my taxes. What came to me, eventually, was that I wanted to be in reality around money and my finances. Doing my taxes did not become enjoyable, however, it helped me feel like I was in more control and taking care of myself.
Asking what would nourish me and checking in with heartspace and gutspace regularly both felt like supportive self-care tools that I want to continue.
The unexpected part of this theme came from a workshop I did the last three days of the month. I have been very drawn lately to ThetaHealing®, and I had a couple of sessions with an experienced practitioner and then did the basic training. The days immediately after the workshop I was aware of a greater sense of fullness in my body—I felt more embodied.
Since March felt way too short, as did February, I’m thinking that a month may not be enough for me to dive into a theme as much as I would like. While I consider what I want to do about that, I decided that April would be a month of revisiting those practices from these first three months that I want to continue focusing on.
- Decluttering and Organizing
- Choose to do and connect with why
- What would nourish me?
- How am I showing up?
- Why am I enough?
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Photo: Mike Baird, flickr.bairdphotos.com
My theme for this month is to engage practices that support me to embody spirit as fully as I can. Since I want to start from the truth of what is when thinking about my themes, I have a confession.
The truth is, much of my life I haven’t wanted to be embodied. Since being diagnosed with asthma as a toddler, being a body seemed problematic. Mind was a rich and wonderful place to roam; body was a necessity to be hyper vigilant about controlling, lest I end up unable to breathe or find something new going wrong. I thought my mind was on my side, whereas my body was likely to betray me, as it seemed to when I developed an autoimmune disease.
The result was that I ignored a lot of my body’s needs—still do, even after all I’ve done to increase my self-care. I’ve improved dramatically, but still see ways that I treat my body more like an annoyance than a loved and cherished being.
My year theme is inspiration, and as I considered the question “What inspires me about embodying spirit?” I was immediately struck with the tie between these themes and my health issues. One of the meanings of “inspire” is to affect by divine influence, and another is to inhale. Older meanings of the word include “to breathe on” and “to breathe life into.” Experiencing lifelong problems with breathing, perhaps it’s no wonder embodying spirit was also a problem.
Embodying spirit to me means living more fully, allowing as much of spirit to come into this body and world as I can, and to fully live out the purpose of being me. This inspires me. So does seeing how fully I can receive what is already here for me, to be nourished by movement, the sun, the food I eat, breath, touch, sound, beauty. I want to continue to increase my capacity to listen for what my body needs and consider how its needs directly relate to bringing spirit/soul more fully into the world.
Ultimately, it comes down to love. (Doesn’t everything?) Can I learn to love myself, including my body, unconditionally? Can I love my body through my frustration at food allergies and not being able to eat what I want? Through times I have difficulty breathing? Through the process of aging? Even though I don’t have hair? Can I love my body regardless of whether I get healthier or sicker? Can I end the basic separation inherent in these questions?
My practices for this month:
- Checking in regularly with heartspace/gutspace
- Letting go of attachment to experience
- Choose to do things and connect with why I’m doing them in the present (as opposed to future feedback, result, or outcome)
- What would nourish me?
- How am I showing up?
- Of course, checking in with previous habits
What’s your favorite way to embody spirit fully?
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged body, disease, inspiration, practice, spirit, spirit embodied | 2 Comments »
February went way too quickly – and now half of March is gone too! My theme for February proved to be a little more challenging than the one in January; I had more open spaces in my tracking sheet than I’d like. A lesson in choosing the practices, I think.
A few practices were difficult to track whether I’d done them that day or not. I liked the idea of tracking my action taking schematic, but it hardly ever happened, I think it’s easier for larger tasks, not so much daily actions. I didn’t remember to send out care with online interactions very often since I didn’t find a way to remember it in the moment. Two other practices, noticing judgments and enoughness were not tied specifically to anything, so they didn’t tend to come up unless I happened to be looking at my sheet at that moment.
Still, I feel good about mindfulness overall. I think I did grow in my awareness of how I’m feeling in the moment, of noticing things more quickly, of bringing myself back to presence. I didn’t think of including a practice around breath, but was doing it anyway—taking deeper breaths in the midst of work and otherwise. Such a simple thing, but it reminds me to let go of whatever has captured me at the moment and be aware of the larger now. My focus during my meditation and small breaks throughout the day on allowing, receiving, and relaxing is slowly creeping into the times I’m not meditating or taking a break.
Of course, mindfulness is a lifelong growth process and won’t end now that it’s March and I am on to a new theme!
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Photo: David Drexler
My theme for February is mindfulness. I chose it because again it’s already something I was working on, and when I read my list of possibilities, it jumped out at me. It also feels foundational, as did my January theme.
Inspiration and Mindfulness
Since my year theme is inspiration, I ask each month what inspires me about that theme, with an eye toward what inspires me in the present moment, not as a potential for the future. I feel inspired about bringing myself more fully into the present moment as a way to bring myself more fully into the world. If now is truly the only “place” we can be, then really being “here” might be a good idea, instead of being somewhere else—past, future, fantasy, intellect. I’m also inspired by the idea of being more in harmony, starting with myself, and moving outward. I ask myself, “How much can I open to fully receiving what is here right now? Can I allow what is in this moment to be and to flow, as all energy wants to flow?”
I can see benefit to bringing mindfulness to many areas of my life:
- Emotion and thoughts
- My body – paying attention and giving it what it needs
- Interactions with others on- and off-line
- Where I try to numb, go away, escape
- Where I am judging myself or my life
- Taking action
- Openness and receptivity
My daily practices for this month:
- Notice judgments
- Practice receiving receptivity
- Send at least 2 online interactions out with care
- Notice 1 aspect of doing schematic around one action (I’ll blog on this soon)
- Notice enoughness
- Check in with last month’s practices
What are you practicing this month to shift your habits and achieve your goals?
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My first theme for the year is health and energy. I decided on this one because it was already my highest priority and I’ve been focused on it, so that made it easy to segue into this new structure.
I could say that what inspires me about this area of my life is the thought of being able to breathe freely, or my hair growing back, but I don’t want my inspiration to be about something that may or may not happen in the future. I want what I’m inspired by to be about the present. So what inspires me about this topic?
- Having energy to get through the day and be able to be excited about things. It’s hard to be excited when exhausted.
- Taking care of myself. If actions speak volumes, it’s a way of showing myself love.
- To feel good in my body, to feel strong, so I can dance my way through life.
- Noticing what the process of healing, regardless of outcomes, does in terms of growth and learning.
- Seeing what small daily actions I can take to positively affect my health and energy.
The practices for January have been:
- Stop what I’m doing by 9:30 and go to bed
- Deal with my food issues
- 5-10 minutes a day of exercise
- Decluttering/organizing my space and computer
- One-sentence journal entry
- Spend time simply accepting what is
The only one of these that doesn’t directly relate to health is the one sentence journal. That idea came from the book The Happiness Project, and I liked it, perhaps because it’s just so easy (and couldn’t we all use a little more ease in our lives?), and gives me a definite thing I can always check on my tracking sheet at the end of the day!
I wasn’t specific enough on “deal with my food issues” because I couldn’t figure out what exactly to do for that. I was thinking that when I’m frustrated about the diet I’m on to inquire into it, which I have done, it’s just a little hard to track.
Otherwise, I’ve done pretty well with these. One thing I’ve noticed is how decluttering and organizing is a self-perpetuating activity for me. Even if I just take a couple of minutes (one minute even!) to organize some part of my room or desk, throw some papers away, or file something, I get an immediate hit of satisfaction, not to mention a cleaner space. I finally got my email inbox back down to 0 emails, and though that feels like a never-ending challenge, it is a relief to leave it that way at the end of the day. The benefit of these practices so far encourages me to keep them going.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged 2013, goals, health, personal development, personal growth | 2 Comments »
Photo: David Lin
Much is made at the new year of making goals or resolutions, thinking back on the year before and the year ahead. I’ve even written about that in the past. In previous years, however, I didn’t have a very structured way of going about that reflection, and my progress (or lack thereof) during the rest of the year towards my goals exposed that deficiency.
This time, at the cusp of 2013 (once we made it safely past the whole 2012 end-of-the-world thing), I reflected on the year just finished and the one ahead in a much more conscious way. I compiled a number of questions from different people’s lists, and reflected and wrote on many of them. That’s not what I want to focus on, however; I also created a plan that will keep me focused throughout the year on what it is I’m working on in my life. That’s what I’d like to share with you, in the hopes that it sparks some ideas for you about how you can move through the year more consciously attuned to your own path of growth.
I pulled ideas for my structure from too many places to mention them all, but two key ones were my research in the past year on habits and how to be successful at change, and Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project.
So here’s the basics of my plan.
- My theme for the year is Inspiration, as that’s one of the things I would like to experience more of this year.
- Each month, I will choose a different area of my life to focus my habit change efforts.
- Within that area, I’ll choose a small number of practices (preferably daily ones) that will move me ahead in the ways I would like to improve in that area.
- I created a simple tracking system for these practices. The idea is for those daily efforts to get established as habits during that month and continue on.
- I am also linking my main theme of Inspiration to my monthly themes.
- I’ve already scheduled time into my calendar for the end of each month to choose the theme and practices (from my habit waiting list) for the coming month.
- I will keep all the tracking sheets for my end-of-the-year reflection time, which is also already scheduled into my calendar.
And that’s it! So far, it’s going well, even just three weeks into the new year. I plan to write each month about the theme and practices for that month (which will keep me accountable) so stay tuned!
What’s your plan for staying on track this year?
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged 2013, goals, new year, personal development, personal growth | 2 Comments »
In focusing lately on practicing presence in my daily life, I’ve been reflecting on the paradoxes of my experience.
Paying attention to my body is one way to focus myself on being present, and at the same time, my body is what makes it difficult to be present. Each morning I sit down to meditate, being with whatever arises in my body, and I notice that I feel like I have about three inches in which to breathe. I find it difficult to be with the level of discomfort that my body is at times. Of course, calling it discomfort is a subtle judgment itself, and is another layer of experience to be present with.
Photo: Frédéric Bisson
There have also been times in my life when every ounce of energy I had was directed towards getting enough air. Asthma would force presence; I couldn’t do anything else, not even read or watch tv. It was all I could do to breath, and breath is all there was. People have occasionally told me that I have a strong and solid presence, and I wonder sometimes if that’s why; it’s as if those times were forging presence in the fire of dis-ease.
It’s one thing to have circumstance require me to be present, another to choose to be present with the lesser but ongoing feelings of constriction, tension, and limitation. I cultivated mind, after all, because I preferred “being” there to being with the general low level of unease in my body. Choosing, moment by moment to be with whatever is happening, particularly in discomfort, is another kind of forge, a lesser heat, perhaps, but no less important for that.
Thus there’s an effort that’s required, and yet at the same time it’s also an allowing. The effort comes in keeping myself here or bringing myself back when all I want to do is leave. Then there’s dropping in to whatever is happening, and allowing it all to be there, unhindered, witnessed, felt deeply, and even, when I can manage it, surrendered to and accepted.
How do you walk the line between the effort and effortlessness of presence? What is your version of forging presence?
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged health, presence | 2 Comments »