In the poem entitled, “New Vision,” that I wrote earlier this year, the first four lines are, “Grounding a New Vision. Words, music, movement, continuing the flow of life energy, standing up and seeing what arises, the moment will bring the material if we tune in and listen.” The poem was inspired by my time in Austin, TX, reading at an open mic poetry night. A group of anywhere between six and twenty people would gather and share their work. A few people would come with their instruments as well, and share their songs. It was a magical experience. It offered this safe space for free expression and creativity to flow. And it provided people with the opportunity to get in touch with their voice and share their words with a group. Many times people hold back their “truth” for fear of judgment, rejection or being misunderstood. Many people keep their inspired or creative ideas inside because don’t want to be rejected or seen as being “crazy” or too “out there.” So, without that outlet to speak and share, that creative urge gets stuck or stifled and can lead to all sorts of inner discord. Some will find that they have all sorts of mental activity, feel restless, or feel fatigued for no reason.
We’re coming into a time when it’s more and more imperative to re-connect with our voice, and find outlets for the creative activity that surges within us. We can’t turn it off, and we’re simply not meant to. The key is to find a safe context where you can begin. For me, reading at the open mic inspired me to write poetry. Before that time, poetry wasn’t even on the radar as a way for me to express my creative ideas! But wow, what a gift it has been, and what a journey as well! Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m writing, the words come so fast. I share some of my experience here as a way of inviting you to get in touch with your voice and find an outlet to express it. It can begin with journal writing, or with meeting with a good friend at a coffee shop and talking about what you’re most inspired by. Or if you're feeling stuck, not knowing where to begin, talk to a coach (hint, hint). It can also take the form of a blog post, a youtube video, or commenting on some one else’s blog post. The key is to start where you are, and begin to build momentum. Once that judgmental mind quiets and the creative mind is sparked so much more is possible, and you’ll feel much better as a result. When I say in the poem, “The moment will bring the material if we tune in and listen,” I’m talking about that creative expression that just shows up and is ready to be shared. Think of the child, who with enthusiasm speaks what’s on their mind, without all the filters of questions like, “What will people think when I say this?” Once this type of creative expression starts to happen it can be so freeing and fun! Again, as mentioned earlier, it starts with finding a safe space, where you’re comfortable sharing. If you set the intention, something is bound to show up. 3,2,1…go!
In one of my poems called, Walking into Uncertainty, two of the lines were, “Things are exactly as they should be, given the patterns and belief systems we have internalized throughout time.” It was a poem I had written while in Moncton, New Brunswick in August of this year. This morning shortly after I woke up, I had a flash to that moment when I was living in Austin, TX, sitting at a coffee shop and that revelation washed over me. “Things are exactly as they should be.” In that moment I felt freer than I ever had before. It was this moment of complete allowance of everything that was happening around me. For a moment, I could see beyond the surface and at how family patterns, media, education systems, language, and personal experiences to date influences what is happening now, in this moment in time, for each person living on this planet. Now by no means am I saying that I have things figured out, or that what is happening now on this planet is good or desired. What this meant for me though, was that the weight of judgment that I was carrying about someone or something based on a snapshot of time dissolved. Instead of carrying all sorts of thoughts about how things should be…i.e. people should be more kind, loving, understanding….and less angry, aggressive, and violent, I could see that I had no idea what had unfolded in all their moments on this earth leading up to the one I was witnessing them in. Who was I to say how they should be? And who was I to say how I should be? I wasn’t in a state of conscious choice my whole life. I would simply react to life in the way that I knew how, based on what I was taught and whatever other imprinting I was carrying. When I woke up, or realized that I had a choice of how I was thinking/feeling/experiencing life then I could take a greater responsibility for how I was being in the world, but before then, I was at the whim of my environment. Who knows where the person I was witnessing was at, in terms of realizing or reclaiming their ability to choose. And even if they had become a more conscious participant on this planet, who knows what the current state of their mental/physical/emotional system was in that moment.
So, where am I going with all this? Well, this concept that things are exactly as they should be is equivalent to saying, this is what is happening now. This does not mean that I think it’s good or right, or even bad or wrong, it’s just what’s happening. When I can really move into that state, I can free myself from being entangled in it and shift to asking, “How would I like to be? What can I choose right now? What sort of environment would I like to live in?” Basically, by shifting out of judgment (which is always based on limited information), into awareness, I can stay connected to my creativity and ability to choose. It also helps to free me from the desire to change people, or tell them how they should be (for my sake), because I get that they are where they are (and I don’t know the least bit about the whole concoction of events that let them to that moment in time) and I can’t possibly know how they “should” be. The beautiful thing that this shift from judgment helps with as well is connecting me to my vision, or my ability to envision future possibilities.
Speaking more generally, by shifting from judgment to awareness (being present with what’s happening as best as we are able to), we can sync in to our creative ability to envision other possibilities for our life, our community and even this World. We are not denying the current reality, but we are also CHOOSING not to get stuck in it. Instead, we are seeing what’s here and envisioning what’s possible based the highest creative capacities we can muster up in the moment. Know that we are starting where we are. We’re starting with what we’ve been given to date, and working with it. We’re starting with the current state of our mental/physical/emotional systems and the more we can acknowledge where we are, the more able we’ll be to tap into a creative force through which we can generate something new in our lives. I am as I am right now. Everyone is as they are right now. What else is possible?
We can use our voice to claim our values and commit to expressing them more fully. For instance, with the client that I spoke of in the last blog post, it was about communication and using her voice to speak her truth. Typically, we get to a point where we become fed up with living out of alignment with our values. For instance, someone may realize that they really value health, but haven’t been demonstrating it in their day to day lives. In that case they could choose to make a declaration using their voice of truth to say that they’re ready to make a change, place a priority on health, and let go of unhealthy patterns.
What can be confusing and frustrating to the person living it, is that when he/she states that intention or makes that declaration, what isn’t aligned with health tends to be amplified! Looking from a big picture, it makes sense in that things that were hidden have come to the surface to be addressed. If an unhealthy pattern is not in our awareness, we can’t do much to change it. However, when it’s right in our face and we have the courage and willingness to look at it, we can decide what to do in order to let go of it and/or replace it with something more useful. This isn’t something we have to do alone. There are many people out there who can support us in adopting new patterns, and getting to the root of the old patterns. Usually it’s a matter of giving ourselves permission to be uncomfortable and not need to know why know why something is happening (temporarily), to create space for new insights to come in. The faster we jump to conclusions and fixed points of view (i.e. this is happening because… and this is what it means about me), the less likely we are to be able to receive new information that could change our reality in a big way and help us live our values with greater ease.
As an example, I worked with a client who wanted to improve her health, through becoming more active. She had come to me because she just couldn’t get motivated and didn’t know why. She had concluded that the reason why she didn’t run more (even though she loved it and felt great as a result of doing it), was because of her problem with motivation. As we worked together, and asked what else could be going on (opened to receiving new information about it), she talked about how she really enjoyed spending time with her boyfriend, and many times in the evenings they would sit and watch a movie together and relax. That was the time in her day when she could have gone running, or called up a friend to do something active. What she came to realize was that it wasn’t so much about motivation, it was more about her having placed a priority on spending time in her relationship. As we explored the subject further she became aware of some fears that she had about losing the relationship if she devoted more time to other things. As we resolved those fears (by bringing them to light and understanding why they were there) she felt more free to choose on any given day, whether to spend time with her boyfriend or go for a run. So, sometimes when we state what we want to focus on, something else seems to show up and get in the way (i.e. no motivation). Know that this doesn’t mean that we are doing something wrong, or that what's happening is "bad," it just means that there’s something at the surface that is ready to be addressed (and by getting to the root of that very thing, we can free ourselves from the unhealthy pattern for good). May we all have access to the tools and resources that’ll help us become more aware, address what’s at the surface and thus feel free to choose how we want to spend our time, and express what we most value.
I was working with a client the other day and the topic of communication and speaking her truth came up. She said,“What I want is to be in a relationship where I’m able to communicate effectively and be myself.” As we looked at the subject further, she realized that in work settings she has no problem speaking up, saying what works and doesn’t work for her, and respecting other perspectives. However, in relationship she tended to be with people who couldn’t communicate well, and thus she would have a difficult time expressing her truth because it was always met with backlash or argument. Upon looking deeper, she reflected on how growing up, when she “spoke up” she would get beaten or told to be quiet. It wasn’t okay to speak her opinion. She realized that because she had that belief she kept bringing men into her life who demonstrated that to be true. By becoming aware of this, she now has the ability to choose something different. By questioning the belief she previously held (that had lots of evidence to confirm that it was “true”), she could now open to a new possibility.
Maybe it’s possible for her to be in a relationship where she can feel safe to communicate and speak her truth and provide him with the space to do the same. Maybe it’s possible to be with someone who is able to honor her perspective, and appreciate who she is, even if he holds a different perspective. What a gift that would be! And what a challenge it can be to let go of an old belief when there is so much evidence to prove its validity. It takes a lot sometimes to truly open up to a new experience because it can be both unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Would it be comfortable to be with someone who loves and accepts you fully? Or would you try to “prove” that that’s not possible and that they must have some hidden agenda?
As you move into a new relationship, to prevent a repeat from the past(putting all the beliefs about “how things are” based on what you’ve experienced before on this new person), you can ask questions such as, “What’s different about this person? Who do I want to be in this relationship? How do I want to show up in this relationship? Am I able to offer to them what I most want from them?” As we develop new capacities and skills sets that we didn’t learn from our “role models” growing up (i.e. how to communicate effectively and how to listen and accept other people’s perspectives even if they are different from our own), we can bring something new to a relationship and thus receive something new from it. One of the gifts my client saw as she did some reflection, was how she had had the opportunity, through her work life, to develop her communication skills and her ability to listen. Once she saw the belief she held about “personal relationship” (that it wasn’t okay for her to speak her truth) and was willing to let that go, all of the skills that she had developed could now be transferred into this other context. Also, because her mind is more open, it is much more likely that she’ll be able to welcome someone into her life that will enable her to demonstrate these skills. What belief about “how things are” would you be willing to let go of if you knew that something else was possible?
Here is a photograph of a good friend and I that was taken at Cloverpoint in Victoria, BC. For me it’s truly magical to see us suspended in the air and witness how a moment in time can be captured in such an amazing way! May we jump up and celebrate our Life in Full Expression as it shows up for us in so many forms. May the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of our Self be embraced and honored and may we come together and share our visions, values and voice and see what’s possible. Happy 11-11-11. May this time of initiation and entry into a new cycle inspire and energize us to do more, be more and express more. 3,2,1…go!
The last few blog posts were intended to help you to become more aware of what you value and what influences your thought patterns and decision making. Another thing that you can take a look at is how you are expressing yourself and what type of words you are using in your communication. Do the words and the tone you use to express yourself reflect what you value? Or are you trying to live according to what other people value? Sometimes we may deny our true expression out of a desire to fit in or appear a certain way. For instance, if we were taught as children that it’s good to be quiet and do what we're told, as adults we may stifle our desire to be bold and courageous. One question we can ask ourselves is, “What is my life calling me to become now?”
Situations may show up in our lives to assist us to let go of outdated ideas (that we adopted from others) in order to step into a new way of being. As an example, we may find ourselves in a difficult situation at work that requires us to be bold and courageous, and express our discomfort with how things are being done, instead of staying quiet and following orders. As we step up and speak our truth, we’re in a sense, giving ourselves permission to be more of ourselves. This does not mean being in opposition to others, or needing to defend what we believe in, but it does mean honoring our experience and choosing how we want to respond to what’s showing up in our lives.
Lots of things are shifting on a broad scale. We are living in a time when many old, outdated systems that don’t support life are crumbling and we are called to wake up and ask new questions, find our voice and start asking, “What do we want to be a part of? What role do we want to play in the bigger picture?” Now is the time to shift. Many of us are starting to connect with our true voice, and share new ideas that are both energizing and inspiring. Click here, to read an article I wrote entitled, “Harnessing Authentic Power and Strength in Service of Good.” It speaks more to this subject. So, as you take a look at your current circumstances, what would your answer be to the question, "What is your life asking of you now?"
In the last blog post I explored the subject of identifying your values. In doing the exercise of identifying what you most value, it may also be useful to take note of five value words that you tend to resist or react to, i.e. looking at the word 'conformity' and thinking,“I definitely don’t value that!” Click here to access the list. By becoming aware of what you don’t value, the next step would be to look at the people in your life that you tend to have the most difficulty with and ask,“What do they value most?”
What can happen with someone who displays a value that you don’t align with is that it can lead you to not like the person, feel frustrated around them etc. By becoming more aware of what you don’t value, it can help you to become more accepting of other people. Instead of feeling like they are threatening what you believe in you can choose to take a deep breath and say yes to diversity and variety!
Although we know this at some level, keep in mind that there are at least 374 things that can play into the reasons why people do things the way they do! When you’re around people who think and act differently from you ask yourself, “I wonder what values are influencing their behaviour right now?” This can help you to move from judgment (which can be seen as an act of defending what you believe in) to open-mindedness. Making this shift into greater allowance (allowing people to be as they are), can help you to feel more peaceful, balanced, and at ease. Now, how many “value” words were just brought forward in this post?!
Wow…values impact our lives and our language in a multitude of ways! What would the world look like if we all were to become aware of our values and be able to consciously make choices based on them? Many people are still making choices based on what they think they should value (based on what they’ve been taught by the media, the education system, parents, etc.). It’s no fun to take action and then feel confused and frustrated wondering, “Why did I do that?” This usually happens when we’ve adopted values that aren’t true for us, or are trying to satisfy the preferences of others (giving them what we think they want from us) or being who we think they want us to be. Have you had experience with this? What would it look like to live according to your true values and allow others to do the same?
There can be a lot of focus on what we're doing. I can think of the number of times, upon meeting someone new I’ve been asked the question, “What do you do?” It can be both useful and energizing to set goals, plan, and think about what we would like to do in the future. Another question to ask though is, “Why are you doing what you’re doing?” This question can help us to access our values and get clearer on what is influencing and/or driving our actions. Some may simply answer with something like, “Because I have to,” “to make money,” “because I like it” etc. What if there was a layer deeper than that? For example, in asking, “Why do you like it?” Responses may surface such as, “It gives me a sense of satisfaction,” or “I enjoy the freedom,” or “it enables me to contribute to the community.”
Accessing these values, such as satisfaction, freedom and contribution, can help to clarify what’s most important. Once this is in your awareness, you can start to ensure that the decisions you are making are in line with your values. You can also assess whether the activities of your life demonstrate what you value or not. Typically, when we are living out of alignment with our values we will feel off balance, out of sorts or stuck. When I did a quick search to find a list of values to help facilitate this exploration, I found a site that has a list of 374 words! Here’s the link to the list of values, courtesy of Steve Pavlina. To start this process, you can identify your top five values and ask, “What can I do in my life to demonstrate what I most value?” I’d be happy to hear what you come up with!