creative practice, instinctive meditation, journaling, meditation, music, sound therapy, Uncategorized

The Joy of Being an Open-minded Skeptic

This video combines three of my creative practices: music, art, and meditation. I used the often accepted premise of colour and sound associations with the seven main chakras of the human body.

I got to thinking- what is the origin of these associations? I mean- the notes are from a modern Western scale. Even thinking about the chakras themselves. They line up with major endocrine glands, and that makes some sense. Sometimes I think every cell might be a chakra- little galaxies dancing around in the dense formation we call our body. It’s useful to have guides of some sort for visualization. When I’ve worked with people’s energies, I have felt different buzzes of energy rather than colours, and not necessarily where the chakras have been traditionally assigned. After all, the body’s nervous system is bioelectrical, and I’ve often thought just as possible to “leak” as a light switch that’s not wired correctly.

Humans are interesting in to what they give value and meaning. I found information that the association of colours with chakras either began with the Tantric association with the elements, in 1927 from Charles W. Leadbeater’s 1927 book “The Chakras”or in the 1970s with Christopher Hill’s book called “Nuclear Evolution: Discovery of the Rainbow Body”. So colours have become associated by mostly universal agreement.

Sound is another matter. There’s been a bit more study from my short stint of looking, around the effect of sound as a healing tool. Also a lot of claims, and again agreed upon parameters.

There’s no doubt that sound can create the opportunity, a doorway, if you will, for the brain and body’s relaxation response to kick in. And I’ve seen videos of people with Parkinson’s have their tremors decrease dramatically when music, especially favourites of the subject is played.

Music- groups of sounds linked together in a deliberate (even in improvisational music) has been a proven tool for people to access their unconscious mind, express feelings they might not be able to with words (emotionally or physiologically), and connecting with the breath through movement, vocalizations, and breath.

I’m less certain of claims, for example, of a tuning fork or singing bowl of a certain frequency being placed on the body will invoke healing. The vibrations feel good, but I’m not certain of the healing properties. Or laying on a vibroacoustic table (I’d like to try that out! For science!) Other than the mind is a very powerful tool on its own. Plus. Singing bowls have a fundamental tone and multiple overtones, so which is the supposedly healing tone?

I do what I call sound experiences, but I wouldn’t call it sound healing. I create a safe and supportive atmosphere with sound allowing the listener the opportunity to relax and allow the body’s natural instinct to rest and repair to activate. I will sometimes invite participants to sense if they feel a sound in their body, and if and thoughts or associations come up that they’d like to explore.

Sound/music has the potential to invoke a relaxation response- which can include a decrease in blood pressure and theta and delta waves of the brain, but it’s not guaranteed. Sounds one person finds soothing, another may find jarring or creates tension. I personally have trouble feeling relaxed around high pitched notes, ocean drums or white noise.

I’m excited for the research to dive into this intriguing field.

creative practice, Creativity, inspiration, instinctive meditation, instinctive meditation, journaling, meditation, mindfulness, Uncategorized

Daydreaming is a Superpower

Sometimes a focal point can serve as a doorway into daydreaming

I found a piece of writing I wanted to share here today, and while reading was instantly transported to the scene that inspired it. I was driving, and while at a stop sign, saw a man waiting for a bus. As I drove on, a whole story was born, simply from that chance encounter.

Then I thought: Oh! My theme for today is daydreaming. I did a bunch of research on the significance and importance of daydreaming, and was set to write A Big Article, and it didn’t feel right. So I did some dishes and went for a walk, and had my AHA.

This was the practice of daydreaming in action!

The default mode for our minds is wandering, which I feel in part is why so many people who sit to meditate feel they fail. Our minds have a bunch of “apps” running in the background, sorting, categorizing, resetting, and when we take time to sit, it all comes to the surface, it’s named as monkey mind, and we decide we are meditating wrong.

In this mode, we are working against the natural process of the mind. If you choose instead to get curious, you might notice a vacillation between analytic/linear and empathetic/creative processes. This is part of the beautiful syzygy of being human- the flow between opposites.

Have you ever noticed that if you are working and working and working on solving something and can’t, you get a sudden urge to do something else? Sure, it can be procrastination, or distraction. It can also be your mind telling you it needs a rest. To go deep into areas that are not accessed often and maybe even come up with a novel solution to what you were so struggling so hard to solve (or find your car keys).

Give into that urge. Set a timer if you are feeling time pressure. Do something mindless for a few minutes. Sudden remembering in the shower, anyone?

Structured daydreaming is when you select a topic. It’s a rehearsal of sorts, where you envision the entire reality, including all the steps, and any obstacles that might arise. Performers and athletes use this technique to visualize future actions all the time.

Some have described daydreaming as thinking for pleasure. Isn’t that a lovely concept? Allowing your mind to wander without a goal. Kids do it all the time. It becomes a social activity when a group gets together and creates a new reality or fantasy world together. It gives you an opportunity to explore interesting topics in new ways, and there are lots of studies showing that daydreaming can enhance creativity and productivity. It can decrease stress.

Hey!

This is sounding a lot like instinctive meditation! Why not set aside some time each day to daydream. Twenty minutes is great, as it gives you a chance to really get in there. Start with five or even two minutes if twenty feels daunting. I sometimes ask “OK mind, where would you like to go today?” After things like to do lists or other issues float by, I’m often delighted to find myself remembering a time I was in Nature, or sometimes music or writing or a visual art idea will come to me.

Daydreaming has been pushed to the back, I feel. Sure, some of us get lost in scrolling on our devices, but on some level that input is still being filtered through the mind, without giving it a chance to dance about in it’s own inner library.

Give it a try, and let me know how it goes. Give your mind some unstructured playtime, without expectation of an outcome. Let your inner critic/censurer take a break. Daydreaming is a great superpower to have!
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For those who are curious, here’s the written piece that ended up inspiring today’s theme.
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The man stood at the corner, hair slicked back. His grubby brown suit was tight, giving the impression that he’d been standing too long in the hot sun and had swollen up with the heat. Entire continents of sweat began to appear, spreading across the oceans of cloth. In one hand was a well-worn paper bag. He would look down the street… at his watch.. down the street.

With a sigh, he sat on the bench and opened the bag. The book was large and covered in elaborately tooled brown leather. It seemed the pages were made entirely of gold, the gilding was so heavy on the edges. He wiped his hand on the thigh of his pants, opened the book, and moved his lips as he read.

While he read, he imagined walking up and setting the book on the lectern. Now they would listen, and see his importance. After the service, the people would walk up to him, talk to him and….

Suddenly he heard the voice of his Grandmother: “The bigger the crown, the bigger the fool”.

The man closed the book, and began to weep.



course creation, creative block, creative practice, Creativity, goal setting, inspiration, journaling, Personal Development, Personal growth

Overwhelm Can Lead to Innovation

I will admit- the past couple of weeks I’ve found myself becoming overwhelmed. Both by content, and the goings on in the world. It’s seemed like a priviledged extravagance. It seemed that everywhere I went there was someone promising “complete transformation in just eight weeks”, offering an app that held content much like I want to present. or making this or that spiritual claim. I used this bombardment of information and enticements as a template, and I’m discovering that’s just not me. I was not being true to my values, beliefs and integrity. Which made me laugh, because that’s one of the explorations I offer to people.

Between finishing up some trainings, looking for a “regular” job to support me on my journey, coming up with course materials and trying to figure out platforms and methods of delivery, and .. and… and… whew. I kinda shut down.

This created a fantastic opportunity! Overwhelm can indicate that a person or group is out of alignment with core tenets and values, or headed a direction that’s not right for the project at hand. It’s a cue to step back, evaluate and recalibrate. Concepts might be vaild overall, but not for the current situation.

In my personal situation, it came to that I was trying to cram too much into one package. AND yay! Many packages! Sometimes it’s necessary to do some sorting out and see what’s noise, and what’s music.

I can’t promise, nor do I want to, a formulaic transformation miracle. I’m more a hands-on kind of person, so I’m beginning to think offering self-paced learning is not what I want to offer. There’s something about in person shared experience that lights me up. I want to take “just enough” time in developing things that when the world sees it, people will think “Yeah! That’s the stuff!”

I believe my music, words, and energy come through me not from me, and I never want to lose sight of that. I witnessed too many people I’ve admired on their journeys begin to believe their own hype and become characatures of themselves.

I believe in the science behind the healing properties of meditation, sound, and energy, and that there are many ways to achieve a state of relaxed awareness. That this is accessible to everyone, and much as there are people more receptive to talents with words, or music, or painting, there are people who are more open to being channels for energy.

That some of the practices I’m exploring use symbols and tools that don’t quite jive for me, and that’s OK.

What I can, and deeply desire to offer:
* A safe and sacred space for people to find their way to relaxed awareness. This can
be through conversation, meditation, sound experiences and creative practice.
* That in this state, people can discover what makes life meaningful to them, and a
few life purposes to lead a satisfied life.
* Contemplative excercises, including some fun creative practices, that have worked
for me in making these discoveries, and maybe they will work for you, too.

I invite you to begin by thinking of a time you felt fully yourself, being and doing something you completely got lost in. Commit to doing this activity twice a day, for twenty minutes. Write, walk, make or listen to music, participate in your community in an uplifiting way. It can be anything that aligns with your values and longings.

If any of this sounds interesting to you, let’s chat! We can explore together a way for you or your team to develop a personalized course. Become more effective and satisfied with your life. I can be reached at info@craftingthespirit.com

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

Reimagining Sacrifice

“Every choice we make is a sacrifice of sorts, when you think of it. And we often do it without thought. It’s when we are confronted with the biggies… changing our life course in one way or another… that sacrifice becomes A Really Big Deal. Learning to cultivate the awareness of this, and transferring energy to radical positive actions is an art.”

I’ve been thinking lately about the concept of sacrifice. How it’s often seen in a negative light… one of nostalgia, guilt or regret. Of giving up one’s own path to boost another’s. Of deprivation. Of punishment. And often unwillingly.

I began then to consider a shift in perspective. To see sacrifice as an intentional, willing offering up. An act of redemption and rebirth. A surrender to what is, in order to allow opportunities to be seen. A liberation from the tight attempted control of ego over circumstances. As the book I’m reading currently says “giving up the transitory for the sake of the transcendent.”

Every choice we make is a sacrifice of sorts, when you think of it. And we often do it without thought. It’s when we are confronted with the biggies… changing our life course in one way or another… that sacrifice becomes A Really Big Deal. Learning to cultivate the awareness of this, and transferring energy to radical positive actions is an art.

Callings” by Gregg Levoy is one of the guiding books I’ve returned to many times in life. He writes: “Every sacrifice, though, every step toward action, every response to a call necessitates a leap of faith and is done without knowing the outcome. It is, as the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard described, the epitome of anxiety meeting courage. It is Jonah leaping overboard, which seems like madness, yet often in following our own calls, we’re told by others that we’re crazy. At some level, we, too have to make an ultimate sacrifice to our callings. We need to devote everything, our whole selves. A part-time, sorta-kinda commitment, an untested promise, wont’s suffice. You must know that you mean business, that you’re going to jump into it up to your eye sockets and not turn back at the last minute. In making the leap from vision to form, you will be tested and suffer setbacks, occasionally severe. At our first steps toward authenticity– or love or compassion or any high calling–every devil in in hell will come out to meet us. Only when you try your vision in the world can you test whether it’s true.”

The description of sacrifice being the epitome of anxiety meeting courage… whoa! What a powerful interpretation of the concept of “leap of faith”!! I’ve talked before about the “oh shit” moment from the book “Radical Leap”, and following the what ifs as a jumping off point for adventure and discovery. And committing once and for all, as presented by Alan Seale. These are all ways of sacrificing what was, what is, for what can be. Devoting one’s self to the process, regardless of outcome.

You be thinking, but hey.. he’s talking about commitment to an action… isn’t that contradictory to surrender? I don’t see it as such. What if you replace the word surrender to awareness, acknowledgement, or acceptance? Doing so might open sight to possibilities within a circumstance. Or it might indicate we need to change something completely.

“What are you willing to give up to ensure your own unfolding, and the unfolding of what is holy in your life?”

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!