Inspired by ritual – setting an intention that welcomes mystery and wonder

Inspired – Of external quality, as if arising from some external impulse.

Inspired. That’s my word for the year. It came to me on a hike across the top of the Blue Mountains on New Year’s Day.

Selecting a word of intention, of direction, guidance or positivity as a focus was once an annual ritual of mine. I can’t remember when I let the habit slip. Perhaps it was several years ago that I selected a word and it trickled through my fingers like sand and was forgotten. Thanks to my friend Gay, from Create, I was reminded of this lovely New Year ritual and was overjoyed when the word came to me while out in the Australian bush.

With the beating sun upon me, cicadas chirruping above and the open track ahead, I mulled over possible words. Productive came to mind instantly. I pondered, “would I set myself up for more of the same? Could the intention here see me manic and stressed, as I had been in 2017, refusing to rest?” It didn’t feel quite right. Purposeful rose up as a butterfly hovered across my path. That’s a good word. I have always wanted to live a life of purpose and authenticity. Grace, I’d selected before. Ease rated a mention. To glide through life with a sense of ease would be delightful. Words alighted momentarily, like the butterflies, then flittered away. I was not perturbed. I walked on, the intention still in mind.

Then it came to me – inspired. This year my intention is to be inspired. This word is a guiding light, it will help me navigate the way forward even in the heaviest fog. After a hiatus; a time of feeling adrift, bored, directionless. A time of isolation and limited social contact I felt a new energy and desire to move on. Inspired is perfect for me now. After many years of being goal driven and focused the last several years have seen me beached. I’ve found it hard to identify the niggling need inside me, I’ve found it hard to know what direction to take, what action to fill the gaping hole, how to satisfy a tormented mind and itchy fingers. I’ve been on the edges of a terrifying chasm and longed to step back but wasn’t sure how.

The lack of ritual tore the chasm wider. Routine helped a little but too much structure only made me more rigid. Something was missing. There was no mystery or magic. No celebration of belief or faith. Selecting a word for the year is a step away from the edge and a return to myself. It’s also trusting the universe, a higher power.

Establishing this word for the year ritual allows me to drop the resolutions, the need to create lists I won’t refer to and the anxiety from not ticking things off the list. A single word sets a positive intention. It encapsulates how I want to feel and what I want to experience in the year ahead.

There is no one way to choose a word. I let mine float up on it’s own. I will either meditate or go for a walk with the question – ‘what might my word for the year be?’ You might make a list or do a search for positive words or adjectives, find a theme or link among the words and then identify one word that sums up a particular theme. You might spend several days simply noticing what words stand out as you go about your daily tasks. Thoughts about how you want to feel or not feel can help. Sometimes the way we don’t want to feel is a good pointer to identifying our true north. For instance, if you keep feeling bored perhaps your word might be inspired or capable or inventive. Look at the goals you want to achieve. How would you sum them up – aligned, bountiful, complete?

I am keen to see where this year’s word and all it’s connotations take me. I am excited to see where inspiration arises and the form it will take. Do you select a word for the year to live by, to focus on, to lean on? Do you have an alternate ritual that acts as a compass to steer you toward the mystery and magic of life?

 

A year of inspiration. Inspired by Gay Landetta, 

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Harnessing the power of your emotions

… let’s harness the power of emotion to get things done, to lead fulfilling lives of integrity and adventure.  ― Shannyn Steel

“Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow.”

― Helen Keller

I have completed a number of small projects around the house already this year and I feel a great sense of achievement. To actually get in and tick them off my ‘want to do’ list has made me feel, well, good.  I thought the emotion might be pride. I don’t  like the connotations connected to pride. On closer inspection I realise it’s joy I feel.  If the power of joy can help get things done and keep me motivated, I’m choosing joy as my motivator this year.

There is some research behind engaging with your emotions to create change in your life. Dr Tara Brach says we can use the eight main emotions to help us reach our goals.  As rational beings we require the power of emotional engagement to propel us and keep us motivated. For instance, someone might think the local creek needs to be cleaned up (rational thinking) but it may not be until their disgust (emotion) becomes the powerful motivator that they join the ‘clean up Australia day’, or similar, activity to restore it. Another’s anger may be the spark that leads them to campaign for equality. Love is powerful emotion that drives people to do incredible things for others.  Instead of shying away from or hiding our emotions, let’s harness the power of emotion to get things done, to lead fulfilling lives of integrity and adventure.

How might you engage with fear, anger, disgust, shame, sadness, love, joy and surprise to move you to take positive and purposeful action this year?

 

 

Sometimes you have to be your own cheerleader

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Make sure your worst enemy is not living between your own two ears.
Laird Hamilton

I found myself alone on a long and steep uphill section of track from Phakdingma, 2610 m above sea level, to Namche Bazaar (3400 m above sea level).  I was alone, hot and battling a tummy bug. Scuttling off the track to allow for yak and donkey trains to pass, I realised I was feeling pretty miserable. I was tired and I didn’t feel like going on. Exhausted, I realised I had to be my own cheerleader. I had to keep going. I had to dig deep and find the internal strength to carry me forward.

I hear you ask querulously, “Surely there was little choice?” That’s true. I had to keep going. There was nothing to be gained in stopping and turning back wasn’t an option.  For me, the biggest battle isn’t the mountain in front of me, the altitude or the physical hurdle to be cleared but the battle in my mind.

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Interestingly, on this day, I noticed little negative self talk. There was, I’ll admit, quite a bit of exclaiming, harrumphing and a few ‘motivational’ “Oh shits”. But on the whole the greatest motivator was my internal cheerleader. That bright and bouncing part of myself that wasn’t covered in dust, struggling for air, needing the bathroom, was congratulating my body for its efforts. The little ra ra girl who shook her pom poms and kept me going up that hill was tireless (sounds like I was also delusional doesn’t it?)

In life there won’t always be people around to give you a boost, to cheer for and encourage you. Often, people won’t understand your goals, your passions, your journey. Sometimes people will try to dissuade you. At other times people will be so focussed on looking after themselves they can’t spare any energy to offer you support. In these situations we all need to find our own inner cheerleader. At these times we need to set our sights on our end game. We have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and motivate and encourage ourselves when the going gets tough,  when we reach key milestones and to simply keep our morale high and our focus narrowed.

An inner cheerleader is pretty handy to foster in good times also. We all need a high-five when things are running smoothly too.

Don’t be afraid of talking to yourself, it’s the only way to be sure someone is listening.                                              

 Franklin P Jones

Go ahead, shake those pom poms!

Five fab reasons to take a mini getaway

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In matter of healing the body or the mind, vacation is a true genius. Mehmet Murat Ildan

I recently I went away for the weekend. Initially, I didn’t want to go as I had ‘so much to do’ and was ‘way too busy’ to ‘waste’ a weekend having fun and relaxing (fun and relaxation? What’s that, right?). The end result of packing up the car and driving just two short hours away to the beach for two days was tremendous.

I’ve come to the realisation that mini getaways are good for the body, mind and soul.  I haven’t interviewed hundreds of people to ascertain my data is true for everyone, the following is simply my anecdotal evidence of the benefits of time away.

Going away for a mini break has had five significant outcomes for me

1. More focused attention
Since arriving home I have found I remain focused on tasks longer without drifting off. I’ve procrastinated less and just got in and ticked off multiple tasks each day with a renewed sense of interest and clarity.

2.  Heightened senses
Something I noticed when I was away was that my senses were heightened. After several hours in the fresh air and walking on the beach. My senses of smell and taste had intensified.  Food tasted better and I could smell the subtleties of the place; the dank earth under the fig trees, the salt spray and the clean air in the pastures.  The early morning sounds of crickets and small unseen insects played melodically in my ears.

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3. A new view of the world
I spent some time talking with different people. People with diverse backgrounds, people with fabulous perspectives on life and learning. An added bonus of my time away is I now have new ideas to ponder, new ways of being to consider and new points of interest to investigate.

4.  More energy
Returning home I feel more energised. I feel like I’ve had a holiday. In some ways I feel more relaxed than I do when returning from several weeks overseas. I guess the lack of jet lag has something to do with it. My mini break was simple. I stayed in a cabin in a caravan park, I walked in the open air, I ate simple food and I slept soundly. It was truly refreshing.

5.  Balance
This mini break has provided the momentum and the energy to see me through the next few weeks, until the Easter break. I was struggling with a monumental workload and the daily grind. I was lethargic, grumpy and fed up. With a lightness in my thoughts I can now continue. It’s like I’ve granted myself a small reward for progress made before I reach the final stage. Balance is restored.

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Without a doubt I’ll be adding some more mini getaways to my routine from now on. These breaks away don’t have to cost a lot of money. Instead of a whole weekend away a few day trips to country markets, a picnic and a hike or breakfast and a swim at the beach.  Lunch at a rural tea shop, a ferry ride to a local island or a day visiting galleries and antique stores will, I am certain, bear the same benefits for body, mind and soul as an extended break.

Where are you heading for your next mini getaway?