The prospect of e-publishing my latest and longest developing book, Creating Space – The Practice of Transformation, Volume 1, is close at hand. March is my month to tidy up all the loose ends keeping me from this goal. Because of its e-book format, it is my intention over the next several blogs, to give you a weekly peak at each of the chapters constituting this first volume. Creating Space is a do-it-yourself handbook chronicling powerful transformation tools (awareness and inspirational writing, meditation and yoga). At the same time, it is also an account of navigating personal and professional change in a world where the New Normal is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.
The five chapters in Volume 1 provide the opportunity to open up to, become aware of, and practice inspirational living from a whole-person perspective. Through getting to know our spiritual, physical, intellectual, communal and emotional selves (SPICE) — one of the free Joy Tools you can receive off my website — we align ourselves to the triple bottom line of people, prosperity and planet. These five bodies of intelligence communicate to us and through us in each and every moment. Our job is to pay attention to (be inspired by) their messages and to follow through by taking action on our own and others’ behalves.
The focus of Chapter 1 (another free download) is about understanding and enabling our spiritual self and provides anecdotes and exercises to accomplish this goal. If you are like me, this aspect of myself was uncharted territory and only through exploration did I discover that we are all on a spiritual journey. Many of us lost our connection to this very wise inner essence and now seek to rediscover what spirit means to us. For me, spirit means trusting that inspiration is the off-ramp leading to creativity. When today’s problems can no longer be solved by yesterday’s solutions, creativity and innovation are fundamental for both surviving and thriving in this New Normal.
Below is a passage from Chapter 1, which allows you to sample some of its contents.
Inspiration, like radio waves, requires a receiver. We are the receivers of ‘an idea stimulating creativity’. Osho, Eastern mystic and philosopher, believed for inspiration to be ‘heard’, we must engage our feminine or receptive creative energy. The surest way to be open and receptive is to stay conscious and connected in the present moment, and inspiration will show itself. This mysterious force, when allowed to lead, shifts from our shoulders the great burden of feeling singularly responsible. No longer do we have to always know what is required or right, particularly when we are uncertain of the way or means. Staying awake in the present moment, experiencing inspiration’s voice and then acting on its guidance, is what many refer to as being ‘in the flow’ of life’s process. Present moment awareness is where we begin to align our internal experience with the natural order and patterns of life’s flow.
It seems simple enough. Just stay present, release the hold of the past and stop worrying about the future. However, simple and easy do not necessarily equate because it is not our practice (habit) to live in the present. Our conditioning tends to keep us dwelling either — 1) in the past’s repressed and unresolved scenarios often triggered by some current event, or 2) flying from one future goal to another without enjoying each of the steps along the way. Often our habit is to bounce back and forth between both.
Try this small exercise to see for yourself. Set a timer for five minutes. Take a couple of deep breaths while you close your eyes and allow your attention to move inward. Begin to watch your mind without controlling its direction. As a new thought appears, place it into one of three storage bins — past, present, future. When the five minutes elapse, note which of your bins is fullest. I use this exercise periodically to assess where my focus is, particularly if I am feeling stress.
Another quick and easy method for bringing my attention into the present is to focus on where I feel energy in my body. In my case, my feet telegraph the strongest energy signature. It is here where I feel a continuous but subtle tingling sensation, which I can increase in volume and direction through concentration. Conversely, if I have allowed my attention to stray into regrets about the past or worries about the future, this energetic sensation and flow reduces proportionately.
Present moment awareness is a matter of changing our habits. Changing a habit is a matter of changing our mind and refocusing our attention in order to access our awareness of who we are, what we value and why we are here. By keeping our attention in the present moment, we allow inspiration to speak its wisdom to every unanswered question we carry within.
Awareness means to watch, to observe what is going on within you and
around you. Anthony de Mello
I spent the first half of my life seeking outside myself for anything that would bring me a sense of peace — athletics, relationships, alcohol, cigarettes, food, marijuana, shopping and the list goes on. Everything worth pursuing seemed to exist externally, and I was a great explorer always looking for the next ‘greener pasture’ but unaware of the fertile ground to be explored within me. On the surface, it looked as though I knew what I was doing and I fancied myself as somewhat of a pioneer in my chosen profession. All the while, lying under the surface of consciousness, I held this limiting belief — I couldn’t possibly be smart enough to have all the answers I sought within me. Even though I was raised to believe I could be, do and have anything I wanted, I never translated it to mean everything I sought could be found by listening to me, to all of me.
The way and the truth is within. It has always been so and will always be so.
When you have learned to live in the truth, you will never need to defend
yourself again. Ron Rathbun
When I first read Rathbun’s passage, I had no idea what he meant by “the way and the truth is within” but I felt a strong urge to find out. I began my journey within by experimenting with guided visualization and meditation. Both techniques emphasize concentration, mindfulness and positive emotional expression. Although I enjoyed guided visualization exercises, I soon felt restricted by their imposed structure and chose the greater flexibility afforded in meditation.
Throughout the first year of my meditation practice, I consistently experienced my consciousness leaving my body. Although I was awake and aware for the duration of each session, my predominant sensation was one of exiting my body at the session’s beginning and re-entering at its end. In addition, it was impossible not to notice my complete absence of back pain during meditation. This relief and relaxation was my first taste of peacefulness. I remember feeling disappointed when my meditation experience unexpectedly changed and I stopped ‘flying’ out of my body.
Interestingly enough, the pain-free body and peaceful mind stayed with me. Here was a cause and an effect that I could see in operation. The more I meditated, the less overall tension I experienced in my body, the calmer and gentler I became. Meditation alerted me to my body’s ‘voice’. As I listened to it speak its pain and pleasure to me, I was increasingly more responsive to its needs. This is what it means to be grounded in the present and in one’s body. And when meditation turned into a daily practice, I saw much more than past wounds being healed. Turning inward through meditation revealed the truth, and my truth became a real experience opening me up to develop the most important relationship of my life, that with myself.
Did anyone ever say to you, “The most significant relationship you will develop is not with your parents or life mate, but with yourself?” Trial and error led me to trip over this truth. If you want to be more conscious about choosing, get to know yourself. How is your relationship with yourself? Do you know who you are, what you are passionate about? Do you recognize the ‘voice’ of your spirit? Do you feel aligned with Life’s flow and purpose?