We've also all had the experience of waking up excited about the day ahead of us, pulled by something we've been looking forward to. How we wake up is probably the primary trigger, the starting-gate indicator for how we approach our day; our life. So I want to focus there. But there are many other times throughout the day when we’re taken off track, out of our flow. These little decisions and habits can have surprisingly huge impact in not only how we feel, but how effectively we live out our values; and more importantly, whether or not we’re able to bring the grand visions we have into the world.
Is there nothing more painful than knowing you have so much to give, and feeling thwarted in your efforts? And even more painfully, the thwarting seems to come from unknown forces or drives within us that have so much momentum, they seem to be coming from the outside.
Many of us also know the experience of forcing structures so severely, so as to maximize or not appear lazy, that they become painful and self-punishing. So how do we cultivate practices and structures in our days, our weeks, our years, that come from inner wisdom, rather than external ideas that end up wearing us thin? Killing us in the end.
It starts with love. As cheesy as that sounds, I know it to be true. Passion, zest, intrigue. Love. And I believe it also must involved community support.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone that was so inspiring that it shifted your energy and propelled you into running toward your goals, when you had just been feeling overwhelmed? How can those kinds of conversations and interactions become regular and intentional? Built into the fabric of our schedules as if our lives depended on it.
In my family growing up, intentional time to get together and share was built in. There are pictures documenting our shared boredom and disdain for the (what seemed like) early morning, endlessly boring forced readings and ‘devotions.’ But there was gratitude. Forced gatherings for adolescents, but virtually unnoticed, a gratitude was being cultivated; developed over time and shared space whethere we wanted to come to the table or not. Turns out, it was actually an invitation.
We can offer ourselves this same invitation. Finding ways specific to our unique qualities and preferences, honoring our most deeply held (and perhaps yet clarified and named) values and ways of being. In working with clients, I often find the things they thought held them back; were weaknesses, are actually their greatest strength. So, there must be some small risks we can to create ‘invitations’ throughout our day from beginning to end, so that our inner music can be heard more clearly, and become an invitation for those around us to tune into theirs. To expand what we think and know is possible.
Here is a small repertoire of ‘invitations’ that are likely to enhance your life immensely:
- Progressive Interval Training: All credit goes to Josh Waitzkin for this in his book, 'Art of Learning.' I find this to be most helpful in the morning, but also often when there seems to be a back up of energy in the late afternoon. Whatever activity you choose, allow your effort to be sub-maximal (85% of your maximal effort- for most adults, this is a heart rate of 170-180 bpm). When you’ve reached your limit, push a little bit past it, then stop and walk (or if you’re on a bike, pedal slowly), until you feel rested (usually heart rate back down below 140 bpm). Run again, rest again. Some people have a set period of time they do, but I like to be a bit more intuitive, just ending when my body feels done. I also like to use a good sountrack- another perk- this helps me know when I’ve gone a little farther than on a previous day.
- Why I have come to love interval training: What we do physically becomes a resource anchor for the rest of our life. We get accustomed to pushing past our limits.
- Another huge perk and learning of this practice is that we learn the importance of rest. This doesn’t necessarily mean taking naps, but it does mean shutting off our brain from whatever we’ve been focusing on, as soon as we notice we’re past our limit (or if you have a job where you must stay focused, you learn to rest within a few relaxed breaths, and at the first moment you can take a true brain break. In our physical interval training, we learn to extend our times of effort and decreased our recovery period in between. The very same principles can carry over into all other tasks of life. Which leads to something else about rests…
- We have to DECIDE when to rest and when to work. So many of us (myself included) feel guilty when we take a break. Maybe we wonder who’s watching us, or if we’re going to fall behind. But we must learn to recognize when we’ve gone just past our limit, decide to rest, and in the time (be it 30 minutes or 2 slow breaths), allow for a true rest. In this way, the rest becomes a re-set
** The beauty is that this helps preserve our creativity, and the rests become fertile ground for the next moment of inspired thinking or increased presence to arise.
- Carrying a journal: When we start building our lives around our strengths and creativity, it becomes a huge asset to have something on hand at all times to write down new inspiration and ideas. Some people prefer to voice record themselves, using apps like Evernote, or Voice Record Pro, but whatever your method, when you're in a fertile growth period (which can be ALL them time), this practice is essential. Jotting down notes and floods of inspiration will enable your creativity flow like a river.
- Finding creative ways to anchor and honor your flow by including other people: This one is my 'bread and butter' as a coach, so I'll leave something to the imagination (and future blog posts) here. Contact me for a free consultation if you'd like to learn more...
- ‘Wherever you are, be ALL THERE.’ This is a favorite quote of mine from a college friend. It was his defense for not having a cell phone (circa 2002, not so feasible these days…), and it has stayed with me all these years. In our technologically inundated world, it is of paramount importance to find ways to protect ourselves from excessive inputs.
- I've found working with clients to find their peak energy periods (more detailed blog post and teachings forthcoming), built around doing what they love to be a gold nugget in my practice and my own life.
- Once we've established when you're flowing, we must guard these 'zones' like our life depends on it. Because, well, it does.
Which of these simple tools might replenish you and fill your life with a new level of inspiration?
What are some goals you're working toward that could really use some community support and encouragement?