The Practice of Creativity

Posts Tagged ‘Jumpstart Your June

Being able to slow down is one of the gifts of summer. Authors Alan Jones and John O’Neil of Seasons of Grace: The Life-Giving Practice of Gratitude remind us that summer can be a time of ‘sweet rest’: “Sweet rest is not a matter of zonking out. It is not a mere passivity but a kind of passionate waiting in the moment.”

Cultivating ‘sweet rest’ can lead us to a feeling of interconnectedness, a sense of the sacred. How do we get there? Artist and writer Lucy Curran offers us three practices.

 NaturalCalmWomanCalmLegs

Stop, Repeat, and Thank You

When life gets busy, it sometimes feels as if there’s no time for the sacred in the midst of everything else. However, if we rush through life without pausing now and again to ground ourselves and reconnect with our spirit in whatever way we know how, life can begin to lose its luster.

In case this sounds familiar, here are three practices that have helped me reconnect with the sacred in my life. I hope you will find them useful, too!

 

STOP

Peaceful-WomanPausing for a moment to simply breathe can be a revolutionary act of healing and empowerment. I sometimes do a quick body scan: how am I feeling in my body? Are there any places where I am holding tension or where there is discomfort or pain? Without trying to “fix” anything, I bring my awareness to each point of tension in turn, and focus on breathing into each with the intention of creating space and ease there.

REPEAT

It is tremendously powerful to have a positive phrase, vision statement, or mantra that feels sacred and inspiring, and that you can repeat to yourself at least once a day, every day. I have a “personal contract” that I repeat out loud to myself every morning, (while I wash my face!) It goes like this:

“I am loving, kind, and grateful, trusting in my heart and in life!”

I developed this contract as part of a workshop at Wings Seminars in Eugene, Oregon, and I have found it to be tremendously useful. I treat it as a sacred practice, and it serves as a reminder of the person I believe myself to be, and also the qualities that I aspire to live out in my life.

THANK YOU

bigstock-Gratitude-37954498

Developing a gratitude practice has been completely transformational for me. I simply write down a list of ten or more things that I am grateful for in my life.  Some days it takes a little longer than others (let’s face it: we all have challenging days from time to time). Eventually, though, writing out the list allows me to shift my focus onto the myriad ways in which things are going well in my life. In other words, the practice helps me remember my true priorities and allows me to focus on the positive.

Making space for the sacred in the midst of daily life is not only important: it’s imperative. Whatever your beliefs or practices, finding a way to reconnect with a sense of the sacred provides energy, healing, and fuel for a better and more impactful life lived from one’s deepest values.

Lucy Claire Curran is a freelance writer and artist living in San Francisco, California.

Website: www.lucyclairecurran.com

Twitter: @curran_lucy

Advertisements

The Chapel Hill News ‘My View’ column below kicks off my new blog series called ‘Jump-start Your June: Reigniting Your Vision Mid-Year’. June provides a great time for us to review the goals, commitments and visions we made at the beginning of the year. Do we even remember the commitments we made in January? Do our goals still take our breath away? Have we already accomplished some of them?

I’ll provide some tips about how to reconnect with meaningful goals. I’ve also asked several amazing thought leaders to write guest posts about how to ‘jump-start your June’ in a variety of areas including health, creativity, and finances.

I’d love to know: What aspect of your life could use a jump-start this June?

 

June’s a good time to check in on goals

In June most people want to talk about graduations, Father’s Day, and the start of summer. I’m, however, inclined to ask them, “How is the vision that you set in January coming along? Do the goals you affirmed still speak to you six months later? What intentions for your year have fallen by the wayside? Is that vision board or treasure map, representing your dreams, collecting dust in a corner?”

I wish we could label June as “Jump-start Your Vision” Month. Why? Because midyear we naturally turn toward an assessment of how the year has been going for us. Coaches often get a lot of work in June, most of it involving supporting people in creating forward momentum for pursuing a vision and tweaking their goals.

For many, the energy, commitment and intention to pursue a big vision can fizzle out by February. The fitness industry often labels people who sign up for a membership at the beginning of the year, “January Joiners.” Historically, by the second week of February, most of the newcomers won’t be seen again until late May (scared by the approach of summer).

Some people get discouraged if they’ve tried something for 30, 40 or even 90 days and haven’t seen results. We’ve all heard this mantra before – if you want to form a new habit or quit an old one, try something for 21, 28, or 30 days. Despite what we’ve heard from advertisers, some psychologists and self-help experts, there is little scientific evidence to support the idea that effort over any specific time period will automatically produce a positive behavioral change. Now, isn’t that liberating? Sometimes we can make rapid change in a short amount of time and sometimes we have to redouble our effort and change takes longer.

So, I say before we declare that in any given year, we’re going to do “x” for “x” number of days or weeks, let’s check in with ourselves. If the change we’d like make is in an area of life where nothing else has seemed to work, then OK, maybe we should go for an intense 30- or 40-day challenge, but then I advocate asking for support in a public way – solicit friends to help with accountability, or work with a coach. If people want to tweak a positive habit (i.e. something they are already doing, but would like to do more of), then I recommend choosing a smaller increment (10 days as opposed to 21 days), and to enjoy the sweet spot of repetition.

I review three key areas with clients in jump-starting their vision midyear:

•  Design and desire. We look at what’s not working and why. Let’s take the example of someone who created a goal to make a green smoothie every week and then stopped. I might explore how this goal sounded excellent in the abstract, but the design wasn’t very manageable (because of time, cost of materials, and/or motivation).

I’d then discern if the underlying desire for the client is to possess better health and increased energy. If so I’d strategize to see if we can fulfill this desire by designing a more effective pathway, strategy or behavior. The elements of design and desire need to be in sync for effective goal setting.

•  Buffets and three meals a day. In looking at action steps in pursuing goals, I contrast eating at buffets versus planning three healthy meals a day. We can fall into a trap of constantly taking actions (or piling up our plates at a buffet) that don’t really serve us and dissipate our energy. For example, I work with many creative writers who spend so much time developing their platform (i.e. creating a Facebook page, posting multiple Tweets, writing on a blog, etc.) that they have less energy to deepen their craft. We need to plan a series of thoughtful actions (like our daily meals) as a staple for reaching our goals.

•  Questions and answers. Writer, anthropologist and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston said, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” The great thing about a midyear vision check-in is that enough time has passed to ask deeper questions of ourselves than we could in January. Employing a sense of wonder and gratitude, we can track the insights, synchronicities, and serendipity that has shown up our lives since the beginning of the year. With our environment in full bloom, we can feel supported by physical lushness while digging a bit deeper in our internal gardens.

Column reprinted with permission. Originally published on June 15: http://www.chapelhillnews.com/2013/06/15/76706/berger-junes-a-good-time-to-check.html


Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

View Full Profile →

Follow me on Twitter

Follow The Practice of Creativity on WordPress.com
Advertisements