The other day I was listening to a talk by Bradley T. Morris, a lifestyle and business design coach. He was describing one of his “AHA” moments. While sitting in Nature enjoying a sunset, he discovered he was already formulating a social media post rather than being absorbed in the moment. That realization was his inspiration to approach business in a completely different way. What a perfect example of how social media and online presence has taken over the lives of so many. Going through our days with an eye to creating content and capturing likes, follows, and share instead of fully embodying our experience.
Social media’s been mixed for me. I’ve definitely had moments when I take a picture or have a passionate flow of words come to me and think “Oh man! This will make a great post!” It’s also connected me to people I’ve come to call true friends, collaborators, teachers and mentors from all over the world I wouldn’t have had a chance to interact with otherwise. It’s provided an audience for my images, words, and music I might not have had. It’s inspired me to refine my photographic eye and hone other creative skills.
Being content-focused to me is living on the surface. It can take up a lot of energy, without a lot of reward for either the creator or consumer. Creating content with the goal of connection, though, has the potential to be inspirational and even interactive.
It’s important too, I feel to make sure the mission and message are aligned. That a subversive mission of gaining a following doesn’t dilute the offering.
In my own experience lately, I found I was expending a lot of effort in creating content in a way I thought would bring me passive income and potentially a large following. It. Was. All. So. Hard. I realized one day I had distracted myself from my original goal, which was (and still is) to find a way to share with others my joy of creative practice, and how it can contribute to making meaning.
To the point where even though a particular plan felt so uncomfortable, wrong, not “me”, I was pursuing it anyway. I had veered off the path of wanting to truly connect with others and holding space for them to make their own discoveries to healing, stillness, and celebration of this thing we call life.
So, Adele, you may be thinking… what does all this have to do with goals and plans?
For one, the concepts of content, connection, goals, and plans have been tumbling around all together in my mind these past few weeks.
Let’s consider, for a moment, to look at both content and goals as intent. They can both be broad and vague. Examples could be: This topic is trending and I’m going to rehash it/share a meme. I want to increase clicks with this catchy headline. We will create a brand that will create excitement in a certain demographic. I want to write a best seller novel/song. I want to be a baseball player. I want to change my weight/fitness level. Goals are an expression of a desire. Sometimes they are realistic, and sometimes they are really more dreams than anything.
Plans are the action steps: I’m going to go a new provocative route with this trending topic, and these are the steps I’m taking. The headline is not just a teaser, but the content makes you want more. This month we will launch new packaging that’s more appealing to a demographic. I am scheduling time each day to devote to a pursuit, either for enjoyment or mastery. I am sitting down today to make my meal plan for how I want to eat. They connect (see? this is how my brain works!) the dream to reality. The route to achievement. A sense of meaning is being created. Good stuff!
I chose the image for this post because for me it’s both content and connection. It’s made from a butter box I was going to recycle. I turned it inside out, and created something different. From the outside, it’s not what it appears to be. It can hold anything. Rocks, slips of paper with words of encouragement. Or as it turned out, a pair of sock I knitted and gave to a friend because I started knitting them while staying with her when I had nowhere else to stay.
My invitation to you this week is to look at what you are putting out to the world. Are your message and mission in alignment? Are you creating value, or simply a scroll pause?
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.
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:
What wants to happen? Not what do I want to happen, but what is coming forward, asking to be expressed?
Who is what wants to happen asking me to be? What inner parts of me are going to be engaged to make things happen?
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.