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!

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.