For most of the years of my adult life, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas has felt like a race.
"A race to where?" you might ask.
Instead of racing through your list of "to do"s, try something new this holiday. Try adding some restorative practices to your days, and checking in with yourself to ensure that you are sharing and giving your best self to the people you care most about.
Don't know what restores you?
Well, here's a great place to start: STOP.
Yes, that's right. STOP doing for even one whole minute each day. For those of us who thrive on the thrill of accomplishment, fitting in, doing more, working harder, and making things look good, this might be as big of a challenge as anything you've put on your "to do" list.
That's why you need to do it now. STOP.
Just sit still with yourself for ONE ENTIRE MINUTE each day, and watch what happens. Feel everything that comes up. Feel your resistance. Feel your annoyance. Feel your jitters. Feel your desire to be anywhere but right here, right now.
Give yourself this gift every day during the month of December, and you'll be on your way to being able to give to others what they truly desire - your full presence and peace with yourself.
Want more inspiration and instructions on how to create restorative practices and restore sanity to your holiday season? Enroll in my online course starting December 13th. Register here>>
Have you ever tried actually doing one thing at a time?
I've found that it takes a tremendous amount of trust - an amount I often don't have - to truly do one thing at a time.
Somehow my brain prefers that high-anxiety mode of doing many things at once, having many irons in the fire, keeping many options open, so to speak. But the reality of that mode is nothing ever gets done, and I never feel totally complete. In other words, I set myself up to prove the belief that underlies this kind of behavior: "I am not enough."
To turn this behavior around, I first choose a new thought to believe: "I am complete, as I am, in this moment."
At first, I repeat it as a mantra that sounds ridiculous because my brain has never practiced focusing attention on all the ways that I am, in fact, complete, as I am, in this moment. I have trained my brain, for many years and quite intensively, to find all the ways that "I am not enough" - all the ways that I "should be" doing more than what I am doing right now.
But since I have made the choice to be and do in a different way, to connect with a different energy as the source of my actions, I keep repeating that mantra. I allow myself some stillness and some time to find one example of how I am really complete, as I am, in this moment. I find some gentleness toward myself as I learn a new way. I remember that I am like a toddler, about to take my first steps, and joyfully falling and getting up more times than I will be able to count.
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I choose something to do, in this moment, which gives me the feeling in my body of being complete as I am. These days, it is a hike. I get to move my body, deepen my breath, and bring my senses in contact with nature - the sky, the cool air, the silence.
Yesterday I happened to shoot two videos - one before my hike, and one after. I think you'll see a visible difference in my face, or at least sense a different energy from me, in the two videos. Plus, in the second video I leave you with two questions to ask yourself about your own restorative practices.
Did you plan a vacation months in advance, spending money you didn't have, going to a place you thought would be fun, only to come back needing to take MORE time off?
Why do we WAIT until the breaking point before we take the time that we need for ourselves?
Try this: pick a day, any day. Preferably right in the middle of the week, exactly when you think you "can't" take any time away from whatever "important" project you're working on. And just take the day off. Make up an excuse to tell your boss if you have to, but know in your heart that you are doing it for the most important person in just this moment - YOU.
Choose something you love to do, a place you love to be, and do it. You might even find that SLEEP is what you need the most.
Before you say, "NO! I can't possibly do that!", I want you to try it. And see how that small gift to yourself affects your energy, your attitude toward yourself, and the way you treat your coworkers, family, and friends.
When we can finally treat ourselves with genuine kindness and gentleness, maybe we can begin to act with true compassion toward others.
Waiting to act, waiting for the right time, waiting for the perfect conditions, waiting for a reason, waiting for more money, waiting for someone else to finish, before you begin?
The difference between creativity and productivity is the energybehind our actions. Our society has conditioned us to be driven by measures of productivity. This means we have been conditioned to run our lives based on what to do next. We wrack our brains making "to do" lists, we pack our schedules full of "things to do", we commute, we rush, we move constantly in our effort to achieve more productivity.
What we have not been taught - and what is not valued as publicly - is how to act from the energy of creativity. I have learned from my own deep practice that the energy of creativity is openness, space, and peace. The act of creativity is allowing.
All of that may sound way too passive to you, if you, like me, are a product of this culture we live in.
But if you are willing to explore your true nature, the source of the energy behind your actions, and to take the time to become familiar with peace, with openness, with space, then you are going to come face to face with your own creativity. And it might feel foreign to you. (Meaning, easy!) It might feel impossibly difficult to allow yourself to calm down, slow down, and even stop doing some of the things that have become so familiar to you.
It requires a certain trust in order to allow.
So many of us have been systematically reminded not to trust our core of peace, but to look outwards for evidence - a "reason" to trust. We want to know what it is that we need to do in order to be able to trust. The reality is that we must first trust in our completeness as we are, and learn to rest in that emptiness - that feeling of space and freedom that we may have been taught to fear, and to try to fill up immediately. We must practice the trust of watching the emptiness, and feeling the spontaneous positive qualities of joy, peace, enthusiasm, love, and compassion arise within us. From that energy of spontaneous positive feelings come our greatest acts of creativity.
So yes, creativity involves actions. However, the energy behind these actions is the focus of the effort and attention. We dedicate ourselves to a practice of cultivating peace, openness, space, and allowing. We don't think first, "What should I do?" We simply learn to recognize and rest in an energy of completeness, as we are, in this moment. And the actions of creativity spontaneously arise, without the kind of effort and struggle that we had been taught to believe was necessary.
This kind of learning cannot be given to a person. It has to be practiced. It has to be experienced and explored in one's own life.
And it is what each of us already has the ability to do, if we are willing to trust.
I've been teaching and deepening my learning each time I teach. This time it's the lessons of Tibetan Sound Healing, as transmitted by the lama Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. So simple are the sounds of the warrior seed syllables (just 5 single syllable sounds, chanted repeatedly), and yet so deep the lessons, when practiced.
The concept that really stuck with me from Tuesday was resting in the recognition that "I am complete, as I am, in this moment." Without reason. Without condition. Without any explanation.
I breathed it in and felt the power of resting in that energy of peace, joy, and freedom. What power could I manifest if I just rested in that recognition?
Today I practiced again, right after a particularly poignant moment of recognition for me.
Take the time to say this to yourself: "I am complete, as I am, in this moment." Say the sound "Ah" and breathe into the feeling of space opened by the vibration in your body. Repeat and rest.