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inspiration, instinctive meditation, instinctive meditation, journaling, meditation, mindfulness, passion, Personal Development, Personal growth

The Many Doorways to Meditation

Today I came across the poem “On Meditating, Sort Of” by Mary Oliver, and I feel it’s a great description of instinctive meditation, which is what I practice.

She describes the common perception of meditation requiring a certain posture, mindset, or even staying awake. How wonderful it feels to enter that place in between, and the deliciousness of returning, feeling refreshed, relaxed, and a deeper connection to self and everything there is.

This is the beauty of instinctive meditation. It can happen spontaneously, like when you look at a flower or rock so intimately that you follow the textures and colours to their own stories. Or become aware of the conversation between different types of trees when the wind dances with them. Feeling the energy of the sun seep into the galaxies of cells in your body. Laying down for a sacred nap and floating for awhile.

It’s a beautiful gift to yourself to set aside intentional time each day for meditation, as well. I like to do this when I first wake up, before getting out of bed, and last thing. Mid-afternoons, too when I have time. It doesn’t have to be for long. If your day is busy and you are in the midst of other people, you can make a couple minutes private time to remember a favourite place, or a time you felt so at home with yourself, and come back a bit more refreshed. Maybe you have a rock, or shell, or some other small object you can carry with you as a reminder.

These times you gift yourself don’t have to be spent in stillness, with your eyes closed. If you enjoy listening to music, listen. If you like e to make your own music, play. Dance, go surfing, run, or go for a walk if movement is your jam. Make jam! Write in your journal, draw long flowing lines, or paint, or weed your garden. Anything that is time just for you, and brings a sense of ease to your day.

Try it for a week, and let me know how it goes!

Affirmations, focus, goal setting, inspiration, journaling, mindfulness, Personal Development, Personal growth

“What Do You Do?”: Moving Beyond a Work-based Identity

Me back in ancient times, playing with my pet turtle in our blow-up swimming pool

In the culture I grew up in, training to identify with work started at an early age. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” A lot of kids answers have some element of adventure to it, once you take away the label. Fire fighter, astronaut, faery, explorer. Some are more practical: teacher, nurse, scientist, doctor, parent. For an entire year, I insisted I was a pirate named Maria.

Later, if we go to school beyond the teenage years, it’s “What’s your major? What trade are you training in?” And of course, the good old fall back at social gatherings: “What do you do?”, meaning what do you do for work. It’s a way to compare social status, I suppose.

All of these are identifiers as who we are as commodities, or part of a work community, but not who we are as people. I’ve done everything from cleaning bathrooms, to being an executive assistant to having the privilege to meeting a U.S. President. Those are all things I’ve done for work, but not who I am as a person. They don’t describe how I like to watch the play of light and shadow, stop to talk with birds, feel the texture of beads in my hands, get carried away in meditation, or how creating music will carry me away for hours. For a time I ran a group called “I am not my day job”, where we celebrated what we enjoyed when we weren’t working.

I’ve mentioned before elsewhere how having an event at one of my workplaces changed how different departments viewed and interacted with each other, simply by having a day of sharing what we all enjoyed doing outside of work. It elevated communication and interpersonal respect, and that improved productivity.

There’s so much beyond that practical value, though. I feel in so many cases now, there’s more and more pressure and expectation to produce more, with less time, and give up more of our time to our work. In some jobs, the time it takes to complete a task is monitored, not taking into account that workers are biological beings, and not machines.

This leaves very little time for us to do things we love, spending time with family, and just being. It’s gotten to the point where many of us are expected to be available for work 24/7. Belgium just recently passed a law that government workers no longer have to answer work emails or calls after work hours. Technology’s been great in so many ways, and it’s also accelerated burn out for workers.

It’s time to change how we identify, if we haven’t already. One of the- I suppose you could call it gifts- of the past couple of years is that many had an opportunity to rediscover things they love to do, and the desire to have a better balance in life.

My invitations to you this week are these:
When you meet someone, instead of asking them “what do you do” ask them what brings them joy, where’s the best place they’ve visited, first music they bought. Get creative in your inquiries.

And for yourself:
Write “I ….” and list as many things you can think of. Challenge yourself not to edit. These can be affirmations, such as “I am joyful”, things you like to do “I like wiggling my bear toes in the sand” “I love sinking into my bed after a long day” “I make music that fills my soul” “I am a friend/lover/parent/child”.

Make a list of your values. How do these reflect what you love to do? Who you are at your essence? Does what you do for work incorporate your values, or is it in conflict with them? (Sometimes we have to do what we have to do for work, and that’s OK!) If your work doesn’t align with your values, how can you make more space in your day for what does? Are there changes you can make within your current circumstances to better reflect who you are?

Look to see if there are groups or categories of identifiers. Are there unmet longings? Habits-in-waiting asking for attention? What action steps will you take today to bring these to reality?

I’d love to hear how it goes for you.
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This is a taste of the course I’m developing on defining one’s life purposes that I’ll be offering later this year. If this sounds interesting to you, send me an email at info@craftingthespirit.com and let me know you’d like to be on the mailing list.

creative practice, Creativity, focus, goal setting, inspiration, instinctive meditation, meditation, passion, Personal Development, Personal growth

Desire, Devotion, Discipline, and Dedication: Ways in to Habit Formation

Now that we’re a month into the new year, many of us have had resolutions or goals that have started to fall by the wayside. There are a lot reasons that this happens, and for so many. It could be that the goal was too ambitious, such as “I’m going to go to the gym everyday and work out for 2 hours” when you’ve only worked out an hour a week previously. Or “I’m going to write 3,000 words a day” when the most you’ve done is a couple of 140 word social media entries a week.

Why does this happen, why do we do this to ourselves, and how can we change this?

For one, as I said earlier, it might be too ambitious from the standpoint of our current reality. Or it might not be in alignment with our core values and life purposes. Or maybe we did it because we’re “supposed to”, and not because we want to.

Desire is the first key. What are some of your deepest longings? How are they currently appearing in your life, and how might you bring them forward? How do they fit in with your values? I’m a big fan of meditation being a form of mind-wandering. Take a moment to explore your desires. Something might show up asking for attention that surprises and delights you.

I feel devotion is the second key. Devotion is about love, tenderness, curiosity, and playfulness. Without engagement of joy and enthusiasm, the thing we’ve vowed to do can quickly become a burdensome chore. Sure, at times something will feel like a chore and not hold meaning, but the center of that will always (or mostly) be there.

Discipline I see as more, for lack of words at the moment, more linear or rigid. It can contain the training to learn a skill, or commitment to a time each day one sets aside to do the thing, such as writing first thing in the morning. It might include the rules one has around their practice.

Dedication to me is an amalgamation of it all. Desire, devotion, and discipline working in partnership.

It might be helpful to ask yourself these questions, originating from the work of Alan Seale, and I have used so much in life:

  1. What wants to happen? Not what do I want to happen, but what is coming forward, asking to be expressed?
  2. Who is what wants to happen asking me to be? What inner parts of me are going to be engaged to make things happen?
  3. What needs to happen? What are the action steps?

Then make time for creating the habit of what you want to do. Schedule 2, or 5, or 20 minutes to do the thing. Be realistic, and perhaps start small. You can go beyond the time if you want. With any luck, the doing, the making, the moving, will become as natural as say… cliche, I know… but as natural as brushing your teeth.

If you’re still having a challenge working something into your day, try making a list of parts of what you want to do, like a menu. Choose one, two, or three things to complete that day. A sense of accomplishment can be a reward in its own right, and created the desire to do “the thing” again.

I invite you to try this out, and let me know how it goes!

inspiration, instinctive meditation, journaling, meditation, mindfulness

Creating Sanctuary in a Busy World

I saw a sign while out walking the other day: “Access to Sanctuary”, showing a route for those who have challenges navigating stairs.

And it got me to thinking about personal sanctuary. How so many people have difficulty in finding sanctuary for and within themselves. A place to find respite from the every day world, or to relax and do something enjoyable, or to be in blissful silence for a few minutes

We have roommates, live with extended family, are care givers for children or aging parents. Some of us live in situations that are unsafe, where letting down our guard for an instant could bring on harm of some sort. We might be working multiple jobs in order to just survive. We might feel we need a lot of resources (time and money) to experience sanctuary as we see it. There may be attachment to outcome, if one sees an activity as needing to make something, versus the act of making for the pleasure of it.

All of these can seem like insurmountable obstacles to sanctuary. I feel there are small ways we can create sanctuary for ourselves that take very little in the way of time or material resources.

If you can’t create a corner of a room, that when you go there, people know it’s your “you” time, maybe there’s somewhere you can go. I know people who go to their car to sit for a moment of peace, or a few extra minutes in the bathroom. If that’s not an option, maybe you can walk around the block, or have say a hat, that when you put it on, others where you live know it’s your private time. Sanctuary can be created by listening to or creating music, scribbling on paper, journaling. Anything that gives you an opportunity to simply BE for a few minutes.

Or get your whole household involved. Agree to set a time aside that’s quiet, non-device time. Set a timer if need be. It doesn’t have to be something you do together.

If you work where you have a desk, and are allowed to have personal items, put up a picture of a favourite place, or have a rock or shell from a walk handy that you can pick up and hold. If you can, on your work breaks, get outside for a few minutes. When I worked in a retail setting, I often used my time in the freight elevator to find a peace moment. If you’re allowed to listen to music, do it!

And if none of those are options, there is always the breath. Slower, deeper breathing can trigger the parasympathetic nervous system- the relaxation response. Over time, I’ve taught myself to find a focused calmness in one breath. OK. Sometimes it takes a few on days I’m wound up. It happens! Give it a try. Breath in your natural rhythm and simply notice your breath. What is the texture of it, the sound? Are you breathing slowly and deeply, or fast and shallow? Where in your body do you feel it? Try breathing in slowly, hold for a few counts, exhale, hold for a few counts. Does that feel different to you?

One of my favourite things as a kid was blowing bubbles, which now that I think of it, is breath made visible. I just might have to make a bubble wand and blow bubbles soon!

I hope that this has given you some ideas how to find sanctuary for yourself. Try putting it in your schedule if you’re too busy. Two minutes. Everyday. Just for you.

inspiration, instinctive meditation, meditation, passion, Personal Development, Personal growth

Next Level Unlocked

It’s nice having tangible markers of achievement. This is part of a lifetime of learning and sharing.

For years I tried to meditation in the “usual” way. It just wasn’t for me. Antsy, brain bouncing, couldn’t remember mantras, you name it. Instinctive meditation has changed all that for me. It’s about finding your own unique way into relaxed awareness. Inclusive, non-judgemental, joyous, deep. Sometimes rest deeper and more refreshing than sleep!

This is a practice for every day people. You may be surprised once you start exploring, that you’ve been experiencing mini-meditation moments all along!

You can come join me on Saturdays at 10 AM Pacific Time via Zoom for a weekly free drop-in session. Register by sending me an email at info@craftingthespirit.com.

I’m also available on a fee basis for individual meditation coaching and group sessions. I will sometimes incorporate sound experiences, such as monochord, reverie harp, singing bowls, gongs, and other instruments into a session when so moved or requested. Maybe you would like to have a unique gathering with friends or collegues. Part of a self-care session, life event celebration, etc.

I can’t wait to guide others in creating their own instinctive meditation practice. It’s so versatile, rich, and customizable to however one is in this busy world.