EMBRACING YOUR INNER SNAIL
LOVING "HERE" AND MOVING FORWARD ONE STEP AT A TIME
"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished." - Lao Tzu
I love this photo. Doesn't it capture those moments where you feel like the path to self realization is sooooooo long and you'll never get "there"? So many people are dying to get "there". They ask me: "how'd you get there?", what do I need to do to get there?", etc.
Where is "there"? There is where we wish we were; a fantasy we create of how life will be better later, once we're thinner, stronger, wiser, clearer, more grounded, more aware, more in touch, more easy going. There is where we'll be once we've healed, we've learned, we've integrated and become. Most of us want to get "there" so badly that we fall into over-doing mode, trying to do everything we can to get us closer to "there". We spin our wheels doing everything we can to improve our current situation only to later hit burn out or worse, get bored. Our efforts self combust and that's when we back pedal and end up self-sabotaging ourselves and our dreams.
I admit to falling victim to the get-there-quickly mentality from time to time. For example, as I dedicate time towards planning my upcoming wedding, other areas of my life, such as my business, naturally receive less of my focus. While this is a conscious choice on my part, my Saboteur can't help but speak up occasionally, feeding me the propaganda that I'm loosing valuable business opportunities by dedicating one day a week to the wedding. Along those same lines, I remember when I was in the midst of my physical healing process. I was so nervous that I was wasting precious time by resting and recuperating instead of going on dates and trying to find my husband. Ironically, it was my process of healing (physical on one level but ultimately emotional, mental and spiritual healing) that lead me to my fiancé. Similarly, the fact that I am consciously taking time away from work to design my wedding and this wonderfully sacred right of passage is actually igniting my creative juices and feeding my entrepreneurial spirit. We have time for it all. And actually, right now in this very moment, you're happen to be on your way "there".
WHAT IF "HERE" WAS AS GOOD AS "THERE"?
So what if here was as good as there? What is slow was better than fast? What if the lessons, gifts and opportunities for growth existed by being instead of doing? What if now brought us to later?
When we can accept where we are in this very moment then it actually creates the growth we desire. Appreciate your current life, learn from it, relish in the gifts that exist here for you. These challenges are the opportunities that have shown up for you because you're ready for them. The very act of embracing "here" will ironically open you up to the next step and inherently move you forward. Who would have thought?! The very thing we're fighting is the very thing we need to embrace. The opportunity for healing and evolving only exist right now. That's because this is where you are whether you like it or not. It's time to acknowledge where you are in this moment. It's time to name your experience, name your current emotion and let it be so you can grow past it.
I'm not promoting settling. I'm not saying take no action nor am I saying to wallow in where you are now without dreaming of where you wish to be. I am a HUGE believer of taking big, bold leaps in life so as to reap the big rewards. Without those risks and decisions we simply do not move forward effectively. See my article on Dreaming BIG for more on that. Rather, what I am pointing to is that often we're in such a hurry to get "there" that we miss the opportunity for evolution that is here now, right in front of us. When we seize that opportunity, then the growth actually happens. It can be small growth in the form of one step or it can inspire you to leap further than you ever have before.
TIPS TO EMBRACE YOUR INNER SNAIL
The inner snail-ness that I'm referring to touches on two ways of being. The first is getting present to what's here now. The second is about appreciating the next tiny step you can take instead of needing to win the whole race. This is important because most often, when we're itching to get "there" it means we're in a process of learning and that we're new at something. Imagine that you were learning to play baseball. Your first step in mastering the sport might be to simply get comfortable holding the bat. Then you'd practice swinging over and over before moving onto throwing and catching. You wouldn't expect to go out and win the World Series upon your first attempt at playing the game. Keep this in mind and your inner snail will gracefully and easily guide you through your process of growth.
Questions to ask to help you become present to this moment:
1. What am I noticing about myself right now?
2. What do I need in this moment?
3. How can I lovingly honor my feelings and needs in this moment?
4. Where am I rushing to?
Questions to ask to identify your next step:
1. What do I know about this in my gut?
2. What do I need to practice so that I can be more of the person I want to be?
3. What is one way to BE today that aligns with my higher purpose and path?
4. What one step can I take that will inch me closer to _________? (i.e. to being vulnerable, authentic, brave, truthful, embodied, etc. - This is the goal you have of how to be or how you want your life to be. You could also say closer to being in a loving, committed relationship, etc.).
The next step is going out to "swing the bat" if you will. Simply practice that little step. You may hate it and long to be the World Series pitcher, but for now you simply need to practice swinging the bat. See what it opens up for you. You never know!
Get ready because your ego and Saboteurs will not like this new way of being. They reside in a place of limited beliefs and they like quick results, quick fixes and impulsivity. They'll feed you all kinds of stories and illusions about why slowing down is dangerous. That's because they're threatened when we do slow down to pause and tune into our deeper inner wisdom that empowers us to make the right choices. Instead of resisting it, acknowledge your Saboteur as well. By doing so, it will actually shrink in size and will gently move out of the way.
An old coach of mine used to tell me to enjoy my "cozy slippers" phase; i.e. that period of many months in which I was inwardly focused, in which life wasn't glamorous and I rested my body and quietly fed my soul. Oh how I frowned at those damn cozy slippers. Thank goodness for them though because they quieted me down long enough to hear my dreams whisper to me; long enough so I could sense what it would feel to be grounded in love, inspired by my authentic career and empowered by being my truest self. Ironically, those cozy slippers lead me to my current "here" and oh how grateful I am for that.
Everything works in divine timing. In between your obvious, deliciously bold leaps on the path, I invite you to slow down, take a deep breath and allow yourself to grow from where you are right now.
BALANCING HOLIDAY CHEER & PERSONAL YEAR-END RESTORATION.
This is an especially interesting time of year. On the one hand, the holiday season is incredibly festive and illuminated. Everywhere we turn we see the bright, joyous lights of the holidays marking this special time. We gather, attending and hosting numerous holiday parties, engage the extroverted parts of ourselves and raise a glass to life.
On the other hand however, these are the shortest days of the winter season. The winter solstice falls on December 21st, reminding us that the darkness of winter is here for a reason. As night falls early, nature's cycles beckon us to slow down, to rest, reflect and hibernate during this time of year. Many of us regard January as our time to re-engage our ambitious, get-up-and-go approach to life, naturally making the end of December our time to go inward and recoup before we pick up the pace again.
Earlier this week in my monthly women's group, we discussed this paradox of being pulled towards external exuberance and internal restoration simultaneously. Many of us expressed feeling overwhelmed by holiday party obligations, shopping, hosting duties and year-end deadlines. While we love to see our friends, families and co-workers, we were quick to admit that we were craving a few quiet nights at home before 2012.
Our conversation gave me pause and had me realize just how overwhelming this time of year can be for many.
How do we get the full festive holiday experience while honoring our physical, emotional need to slow down?
In sitting with this inquiry, I feel we have the opportunity to celebrate the light while cherishing the hidden gifts of darkness. If we choose to be mindful about it, we can create balance this holiday season.
CELEBRATING THE LIGHT
Christmas and Hanukkah fall at the same time this year. Each of these holidays is marked by lights. As Christmas nears, we are surrounded by the quintessential holiday lights that remind us that something special is going on. It is a time for celebration, faith and cheer. As a child I remember walking down "Christmas Tree Lane" in my neighborhood and counting all the houses that were covered in lights. Although I am Jewish and do not celebrate Christmas, I remember feeling a sense of excitement and wonderment as we passed others who were sharing the delight of the lights and holiday season. It is a deeply joyous, spiritual time for many.
Hanukkah is a holiday that celebrates the miracle of light. Pause for a moment and take in this obvious blessing that we sometimes take for granted: the miracle of light. It is my favorite Jewish holiday of the year. In addition to the festive, social aspect of this holiday, this holiday is my favorite because for 8 nights we take time out to light candles and celebrate light. Lighting candles is ceremonial, sacred, meaningful. We do it during rituals, when we meditate and in honor of our birthdays. It is an opportunity to pause, become grateful and remember to be in awe of life. I also see it as a chance to celebrate how illuminated my life is and how brightly the inner light of my friends and family shine.
Here are some questions to stimulate your appreciation of the light all around you at this time:
* How can you truly celebrate the light of life this holiday season?
* What are you grateful for?
* Who and what are you in awe of?
* Before going to a holiday party, pause and ask yourself: What am I REALLY celebrating tonight?
* What miracles exist in your life? How are you blessed?
* How can you spread the holiday light to someone in need?
* In what ways do you have faith? What restores your faith?
* What are you praying for?
CHERISHING THE DARKNESS
Darkness is something we often want to run away from. To many it represents fear, hardship and confusion. I invite you to consider a different perspective: the beauty and blessing of darkness. Darkness can also represent stillness, rest and peace. It is by contrast to the dark that we actually can see the light. Imagine the beauty and stillness of a starry night out in nature, away from the city lights. It is stunning how many stars are actually visible across the backdrop of the dark night sky!
Darkness also represents going inward. While this is scary for some, in truth, it is one of the most beautiful, powerful practices we can engage in. It is through going inward that we get clarity, return to a place of trust vs. fear and restore our mental, emotional, spiritual and physical tanks. It is by going inward, reflecting and resting that our creative ideas suddenly re-emerge and our capacity for others multiplies ten fold. Ironically, it is through the inner peace and stillness of darkness that we access and strengthen our inner light.
On a physical level, darkness makes us sleepy. Melatonin, a hormone that makes us tired, is secreted upon exposure to darkness. As night falls, this hormone is released, allowing us to easily fall asleep. As the days shorten, we are called to go inward. Nature demands it of us. It is our time to rest, replenish, reflect and restore. To learn more about melatonin and other variables that impact your sleep/wake cycles, download my free article on
The Six Secrets To Splendid Sleep.
I invite you to turn your phone off and schedule time on your calendar for napping, meditation, alone time, baths, massages and personal pampering amidst the holiday buzz! Here are some questions to get you started:
* How can you create in-between moments of stillness amidst the holiday rush?
* Will you commit to sitting in silence for 5-10 minutes first thing every morning until 2012?
* Before entering a holiday party, sit in your car for 3 minutes and practice deep breathing. Go inward and ask yourself: What am I really feeling? How can I experience this party in the most balanced way?
* What can you say NO to? I give you permission to set boundaries!
* What does your ideal quiet night at home entail? Promise yourself one night like this before 2012.
* When you take a few moments and quiet yourself, what do you hear?
* What does your intuition tell you that you need?
May your light shine bright and your tanks be full.
Wishing you balance, joy, celebration and personal time for rest and restoration this holiday season!
I welcome your comments!