awareness

Living In Flow

When are you flowing with, versus pushing against, what's coming to you?

My airplane's-eye view enroute from Portland, Oregon to Boise, Idaho this week.

My airplane's-eye view enroute from Portland, Oregon to Boise, Idaho this week.

I should have cancelled my trip to Boise this week because the primary purpose for it was postponed. But I didn't. I had just enough other things scheduled that I thought it might be worth my while.

There was an intuitive whisper that nudged me forward. Toward what? I didn't know the answer. I've been practicing focusing my awareness on times when I'm able to flow with circumstances that don't go as planned, and on times when I get frustrated and push against what's happening. As a result of my not cancelling, several serendipitous, meaningful scenarios played out that I couldn't have orchestrated in advance. I'm so happy that I flowed rather than resisted the changes, and didn't cancel the trip.

The photo above seemed like the perfect metaphor for living in the flow. We can't see the big picture of our life, of how experiences and people influence us and vice versa. However, we know they flow together (when we allow them!) to shape the landscape of our lives.

How might you practice living in flow?

In the quest of knowing ourselves,

Jalene

Helping curious individuals and teams who want to learn more about themselves so they can authentically lead, genuinely connect with others, and live satisfying personal and professional lives.

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Eat, Rest, Move

Think of everything you do to take care of the possessions in your life. Now think of everything you do to take care of your physical body. My friend Ray says, “Sometimes my mind writes checks that my body can’t cash.” In other words, what your body can give you is in direct correlation to what you’ve given your body.

Whenever I’m feeling physically yucky, I examine the basics first. Am I eating well, getting enough rest and exercising? While this sounds perfectly balanced and it would be lovely to live there all the time, let’s face it, being perfectly balanced all the time is impossible. The key is to not stray too far from feeling centered while avoiding a vain search for the exact formula for being perfectly balanced all the time. Assessing my eating, resting and exercising is a check point. It’s a place for me to start figuring out where I’m out of whack so I can help myself feel better. The process of tuning into my body helps me pay attention to signals that I may have missed because I’m too busy being busy.

In order to feel, hear, and know your inner self, you need to distinguish between the vast array of feelings in your body. Caring for and knowing your body is essential. When your physical body is strong and healthy, your inner voice will be clearer. Get curious about the results created from how you’re treating your body. Pretend you’re a scientist. Experiment. Have fun.

Eating: Change one eating habit and notice how it feels in your body. Here are some ideas to get you started thinking of what you may (or may not!) want to change. For example: How does it feel to eat more vegetables, refrain from drinking alcohol, eliminate caffeine, eat enough protein, avoid sugar, eat whole grains, avoid gluten, or drink plenty of water? I’m not suggesting you make all these changes. I’m suggesting you learn more about what makes your body feel great because what you put into your body affects how you feel outside as well as inside.

Resting: If you feel tired, take a nap or go to bed earlier. Try giving yourself rest when your body cries out for it. 

Moving: Exercise to feel good on the inside with looking great on the outside being a delightful byproduct. Try exercising your body in whatever way works for you. How you like to exercise may change over time, so don’t get caught up in trying to find the one perfect routine for the rest of your life. Do what interests you right now. Start slow and do it on a regular basis. 

Explore...

Choose one thing to change. Remember, be curious, play, experiment and notice how you feel as a result.

Write about how it felt to think of making the change, how you felt while you were in the process of making the change, and how you felt after you made the change. Do you want to stick with this change for a while? Do you want to try something else? The choice is yours.

Let Go of What Drains You

To live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.” Mary Oliver

One sure way to silence your inner guidance is to do stuff that drains your energy, that frustrates you, that causes you angst. This takes some focus to hone in on because there are many circumstances and people in our life that influence our energy level. It’s complicated further by the fact that sometimes it’s impossible to completely avoid what (or who!) is draining our energy.

Here’s a metaphor to illustrate the movement of energy in your life. Imagine a wheel with a hub in the center and spokes emanating out from the hub to the wheel. In this metaphor, you are the hub and the spokes represent the energy flowing into you and draining out of you. 

Explore...

Give some thought to the flow of energy in your life by drawing a circle (like the hub) and lines coming out of the circle (like the spokes). When you write something that brings you energy, draw an arrow pointing toward the circle at the end of the line and, conversely, when you write something that drains your energy, draw an arrow pointing away from the circle. 

Here are some prompts to get you started. Think of your time at work, at home, with friends and relatives. Which situations leave you feeling tired and which leave you feeling energized? Which hobbies or tasks excite you and which ones frustrate you?

One time I did this exercise and was surprised when my beloved sailboat ended up on the draining list. Ugh! I decided to sell it to make space for creative endeavors that were calling to me. Afterward, the angst evaporated and I happily dedicated more of my energy to projects my heart was calling me toward. 

Paying attention to your energy is a way of creating unobstructed conduits for your inner self to reach you. The key is to be aware of what energizes you and drains you and to do what you can to increase the energizers and decrease the drainers. There’s no perfect balance. You’re never done. What energizes you for a while, such as sailing did for me, may eventually drain you. That’s okay. Keep noticing, adjusting, changing, fine-tuning, and listening to your inner voice for how to give your precious time and energy.  

Now, focus on increasing one thing that brings you energy and decreasing one thing that drains your energy.

Do More of What You Love

“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world…it’s in being able to remake ourselves.” Mahatma Gandhi

Why wouldn’t we do what we love to do? It makes perfect sense to give your time and energy to what you love doing. Right? But instead, we say “Yes” to an inhuman number of to-do’s. And over the years, what we love to do is overshadowed by what has to get done. The danger is that we totally forget what we love to do. 

I’ve been there. During a time in my life, I was so lost that making a list of what I loved to do left me feeling confused and frustrated. I had become an expert at doing what everyone else in my life wanted me to do and had unconsciously let what I loved slip from my mind. I kept the what-I-love-to-do list that I struggled to create for a long time, and it was the beginning of making big changes in my life that continue to this day.

Denying ourselves the pleasure of doing what we love starves our connection to our inner self and feeds the relentless pull of the outside world. We wither inside. We feel lost. We lose our sense of identity. 

Our inner self needs nourishment, and doing what you love to do is like eating a healthy meal with loads of nutrients to energize you. 

Explore...

Create a quiet space for yourself. Make a list or draw a picture of everything you can imagine that you love to do. If it’s tough to start, give yourself some time to ponder it. Write anything that pops into your head. You don’t have to do any of it, you’re simply capturing what you may possibly be interested in doing. 

Imagine the activities that fuel your soul, that ignite your passion, that you remember loving, that gives you butterflies of excitement in your belly or brings you peace. Include the tiny pleasures as well as the gigantic joys. 

I love sipping a nice hot cup of coffee in one of my favorite artist-made mugs, outside, on a sunny, cool, crisp morning. I love being part of gatherings that are filled with creative, energetic, make-the-world-a-better-place kind of people. (My favorite one lately is called the World Domination Summit held in Portland, Oregon.) I love going to plays and outdoor summertime concerts. I love motorcycling, sailing, hiking and yoga. All of the experiences feed my inner spirit in different ways. 

Give yourself 15 minutes to ponder what you love to do. Post the list somewhere visible to you on a daily basis. Keep adding to it.

What surprised you about your list? How does it feel to imagine doing some of the items on your list? How could you bring more of what you love to do into your life right now?