It’s been a long winter for some, dampening dispositions along with our usually sunny California skies. Perhaps weathering life lately has been a challenge, and despite the clouds lifting all around, your mood isn’t. You’re not depressed exactly, but certainly not pumped. You’re busy in the daily routine, going through the motions. and not looking forward to anything. Perhaps you’re bored, wondering is this all there is? You sense that something is missing but you don’t know what it is.
The thing that’s missing is you– your sense of self, well-being, meaning, and purpose. It’s an easy trap to fall into. It means you’re not connected. This is living life on the surface, skimming along unaware and missing out on the deeper, richer parts of life. Here are a few tips to shake off the flatlined feeling of disconnection and plug into your life in a way that actually feels alive.
Connect with your Body
Most of us live in our heads, mulling over the do’s and don’ts of the day, planning work and family schedules weeks out, dreaming about vacation, stewing over the past. Did you know that well over 50% of our thoughts are the same ones we think every day? Rarely are we in the present moment, tuned into ourselves and our environment.
Living in your head keeps you out of your body and out of your emotions. Instead, slow down long enough to ask lovingly yourself “how’re you doing?” You might be surprised at what you hear. Do you have any idea why you’re angry, lonely, or feeling down in the dumps? Have you even put a name to how your feeling to it to begin with? With no connection to your body you’re a balloon on a string, floating through life at the whim of the wind, only adding to the belief that life is out of your control.
Throughout the day, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Check in with your body by asking these three simple questions: Am I tired? Am I hungry? Am I thirsty? Respond by giving to yourself in a healthy way. If you need a nap, take it. A 15- minute power nap is far better than slamming down a mocha frappuccino to get you through the rest of the day.
Connect with your Soul
The beat of our hearts directs the rhythm of our bodies, but it’s our heart in the bigger sense orchestrating what has meaning and value to us. What do you love? What tugs at your heartstrings, makes your heart sing? This is the language of your soul – the unique spiritual aspect that makes you purely you.
When you feel like something is missing it’s your soul trying to get your attention. Have you given up your quirkiness to conform? Is your personality reflected in your home, your clothes, or the work you do? Do you cater to your whims, your fancies and your needs? Doing so connects you back up to your original self, and when you do, a life force energy comes with it that feeds your motivation, creativity and contentment.
The ways to connect with your soul are as diverse as humanity– but there are universal things that feed us all, like beauty, quiet, laughter, music, and color.
What’s good for your soul? It could be watching your dog romp in the grass, tracking a hawk sailing across the sky, or pedaling a mountain bike up a steep hill. Or maybe it’s fresh flowers on the table every week, taking in a live performance in the City, or screaming your lungs out at a Warrior game. Whatever it is, make it a priority to do it.
Connect with the World
We all know what it’s like to feel alone in a crowd. When you interact with people daily without genuine connection, life can be lonely and stale.
When did you last spend quality time with someone just talking, laughing, and doing something fun? When you felt heard and seen, and not responsible for taking care of someone’s expectations? Find those people to spend genuine, heartfelt moments with. They are the ones who reflect the best of you, and you them. Consider ways to connect with the people you live and work with in a more meaningful way. When you begin from a present awareness of your genuine self, your experience of others shifts dramatically.
You can seek soulful connection with people intellectually. Attend a lecture , conference or a compelling performance. Listen to an author speak, see a great movie. Connect your mind to like minds in a way that is dynamic, creative, and inquisitive – in a way that sparks possibility in you apart from everyday life.
Being in a group stimulates and satisfies the primal part of your brain wired to belong to a tribe – it means safety and security on a deep, unconscious level. Even the most introverted of us needs to belong among people, even for a while. Where do you feel like you belong? Look for opportunities in church, school or create a tribe of your own grounded in something you love.
The best way to slow down, center yourself, get in touch with your feelings and check out what has really been running your mind is to get in nature. We all know intuitively we feel better in nature, and science backs it up. We are happier in nature because we are nature too. Tapping back into the pulse of the Earth’s electromagnetic field, to the wind around us, the bustle of birds and bugs, the peace of deer grazing on a hill, a show of light and sound as water tumbles over rocks calms the nervous system, reduces stress, and clears the mind. Spending time outdoors repeatedly in positive ways can actually create new neural pathways in the brain– in other words – nature changes how you think and how you feel.
Connecting helps you find what’s missing – your bigger Self – through the language of your Soul, in nature, and interactions with others. Connecting creates the shift that lets you experience life as happening through you, not to you. As you connect with what’s missing, the power to choose more of the life you want becomes clear.
The first white flower popped open on the plum tree outside my kitchen window today. Yesterday, there was nothing but stark gray-brown branches. By days’ end, it will explode with life. There’s no holding back this creative force. It runs deeply in each one of us. It is Nature, and thus our nature, to grow and expand – to let life come through. It is instinct to survive.
Neglecting our “selves” cuts off this life force, and when we do, it can turn on us and morph into something unrecognizable – anger, depression, disconnection. What was once the high energy of creative consciousness pools and stagnates, lowering the vibration of our feelings and experience, and eventually, our bodies. Our health suffers. We suffer.
As you wake from the slumber of Winter, ask yourself: “What part of me is longing to express itself?”
Do you have an “art” you let go of, or always wanted to try? Whether you color with your children or rebuild an engine, bake a cake or mud pies, paint a mural or paint your fingernails – creativity wants to move through everyone. How did you love to play as a kid? What you’ve neglected is still there. Think back. Let yourself day dream – don’t edit yourself, allow.
As a child, I loved to dance. I begged my mom to put records on the stereo, and then shimmied and shook my way across the living room in wild abandon. It occurred to me recently how rarely I even listen to music when alone. I’ve become too content with silence. As Spring unfolds, I’ll make time for my Dancer self. I’ll dance with my daughters in my grown-up living room, or bravely go to that conscious movement class I just heard about.
How can you let your neglected expression appear? Start with your body – slow down, turn your attention inward. Breathe. Ask what wants to come through. The more you tune into your body, the more your creative instincts will rise up. Pay attention, be spontaneous.
The more you allow creative life force to express through you, the more your intuition – that direct knowing without knowing how you know – pours through to solve problems, inspire, and reveal who you are and “what matters” to you. There are answers to things the logical mind can’t resolve that flow easily through creativity.
As the season shifts with the Spring Equinox, make a date with your Self to create with abandon. It just takes one small step toward opening – one bloom, and a bit of sunlight – and suddenly the whole tree is alive with color.
The next two weeks are a powerful time to tap into universal energies now in play that can connect you to your Soul’s intuitive voice. Are you ready for clarity to live your best life, whatever it may be? The close of 2016 marks the end of a larger energetic 9-year cycle. Life on many levels is completing and new possibilities are opening up for the next nine years. Mercury goes Retrograde on the 19th, demanding that we slow down, and the Solstice on Dec. 21 brings the longest night and a new season. Why fight the Universe? Here are three suggestions for going with the flow and making the most of the rest of your year:
1. Finish up old emotional business – let go of feelings you know are keeping you stuck by admitting them to yourself or another out loud or in writing. Release and resolve it in a healthy way.
2. Give yourself credit for all the positive things you learned or changed this year. Take them forward to build on in the new year.
3. Spend time alone reflecting, remembering, and renewing. Just be quiet and breathe. What is beginning in you?
There’s a great line from the movie The Shawshank Redemption when the character Red, after being released after decades in prison to live alone and afraid in a dumpy apartment, declares he “better get busy livin’ or get busy dyin.’” Even having freedom didn’t mean he was really free.
I’ve been thinking a lot about living and dying this week as I honor my sister Terri’s death 10 years ago today.
She had a choice to fight her cancer again or die, and she chose death. And it wasn’t until she made that choice that she really started to live.
On a visit not long after her prognosis, I found her on hands and knees in the doorway of what was once her oldest son’s room. She’d been chopping out the ugly shag carpet by hand with a scissors, cutting five inch squares until her hand blistered and bled.
“What are doing sis?” I said trying to not sound like a smart ass.
“I always hated this crap,” she said. She looked at the floor without another word.
She’d revealed enough to see that underneath the crap was beautiful hardwood. She decided, with a little prompting, that she would redecorate and make it a place just for her. With a little help she started emptying the room bit by bit.
Once she let go of what she hated, she had some room for what she liked. It was overwhelming to her. How did she make something just for her from scratch?
Start with a picture, I suggested. Since she didn’t have one in her mind, it came from artwork we found in Target during another visit. It was a painting of a narrow street through what looked like a Mediterranean village. It was warm and bright with ochre, reds and greens. It looked like a place she’d like to visit, she said.
That was the start. From there it was the wall color – Bakelite Gold. Then a brass headboard and nightstand from her hubby. A trunk at the foot of the bed. New curtains.
We shopped for new things as she got sicker, her lungs closing with tumors from the breast cancer that never really went away. By fall her room was complete – beautiful, cozy and warm. It was all her, and just for her, but she never spent any time there.
“Why don’t you use it,” I asked.
“I don’t want to mess it up,” she said.
She made the trip late that year to take me back to the Wichita airport with our sister, and we stopped as always at the Hobby Lobby on Ridge Road. Instead of buying things for her room we now shopped for her funeral. She wanted it to be nice, though she didn’t think anyone would show up. But at least it would be the way she wanted it to be.
We stood in the candle aisle picking out what would go at the front of the funeral home chapel with the flower arrangements. She was drawn to the burgundy, deep green, and gold ones – the same colors that filled her special room. She picked them up, set them down.
“Will they look too fall-ish?” she worried.
“Do you like them?” our sister asked. Terri nodded slightly, still staring at the candles.
“I wish I’d known,” she whispered.
She wished she’d known who she was. She wished she’d known what she liked or loved and how to choose it. She wished she’d known that she could ask for what she wanted, that she could demand it even, and actually get it for herself or be open to the generosity of others. She wished she’d known that she mattered. She wished she didn’t have to be so close to death to figure it out who she was.
She taught me more than I realized about living and dying and how it is just as easy to fear one as the other. In fact, I think now they go hand in hand. How easy it was to avoid all the little kinds of deaths from failure and disappointment. How often had I been afraid to live?
So I decided to honor her and my own grief in a place that makes me feel more alive. I’m leaving early this morning for Wilbur Hot Springs to bathe in healing waters and memories, to shed tears and even my clothes if I wish – and connect to Nature that I love. When I do, I connect to all the other things that I love in me and my life.
I’m meeting a friend for deep conversation. I giving myself solitude and freedom from the constant pull of motherhood and work. And, I agreed to plans with a new friend when I get back to learn how to paddle board. I’m afraid of making a fool of myself, of not being strong enough, agile enough – hell, even willing enough to do it. But I must. What my soul calls for is water. I’ve dreamed for years of gliding effortlessly over the surface of water – to canoe, kayak, to sail. I must do it, because I know I love it, I know I need it and it will make me feel alive.
Like it or not we are dying every day. It is the way of nature. We have no choice. But we do have a choice to live more fully, even if it is simply appreciating each breath we take.
There, I’ve said it.
Excuse me now as I get busy living.
Are you ready to come unglued? Go ahead – I give you permission.
Coming unglued. It’s an old phrase to describe falling apart, losing your mind, going crazy – but maybe the glue is the real problem. What if some of the things you do to control your emotions, your kids, your reputation – whatever – and keep yourself together, are really keeping you stuck. If you’re finding it hard to “keep it together,” is “it” really worth keeping in this way?
What does stuck look like? You feel uninspired, disconnected, worthless, restless and “don’t want to be here.” You feel afraid, incompetent – unable to support yourself. Life is boring, repetitive and meaningless. You’re lonely and want to be seen for who you really are. You feel crappy physically and can’t seem to heal. You’re grieving and can’t imagine an end to pain. You long for something, but mask the feeling by filling up with unimportant or unhealthy things.
I give you permission to come unglued because it’s my job as a psychic to bridge the way between madness and miracles. In my sessions, I see and help you heal what doesn’t serve you, and shine a light on the magnificence and wisdom of your True Self to get you un-stuck.
When you’re un-stuck, you’re free to move – to see from a new perspective that reveals more about who you are, how you want to live your life, and with whom.
The key is tapping your own intuition to keep you from the sticky places so you can enjoy the life you have while you create a life you love.
Intuition, the voice of your True Self, is the wind that carries you through life so that where you choose to land makes you feel at home in your Self, in your home, and ultimately, at home in the world.
“Illusion of Control” by Brian Andreas www.storypeople.com
This place teemed with life like no place I’ve been. Every step put me in danger of hurting something – black and golden grasshoppers by the dozens leapt out of the way, half inch red ants commuted in waves across the dirt trail, butterflies flitted, birds swooped, caterpillars wriggled over branches and up tall grass, salamanders darted underfoot, startling me as I walked. Birdsong rang out from every direction from one of hundreds of species that migrate through here for the winter. Soon the Sacaton grass was over my head and I lost the trail, overgrown in a few weeks from the heavy rains of late. I stood still and afraid for a moment because I could not see my way. But there is a path if you’re willing to dive in and move forward; there are guideposts if you look closely. I felt small in this resplendent place, unimportant. What is important came into focus. With every bug bite, scratch, and stab of burrs clinging to my pants, I laughed. It felt good to be alive.
To boost your intuition get out in nature. Pay attention to what shows up. It’s the first step in remembering more about who you are, and connecting to the energy that permeates all life. Our lifestyle isolates us from our intuitive understanding of the world, and ourselves. Closed off in our homes and office buildings, our physical prowess and connection to the rhythms of nature have all but disappeared. We let a stranger on TV tell us what is coming from the skies above, rather than watching for ourselves. Too often this is true for the weather of our lives as well.
There is power in connecting to the natural world and the cycles that rule it. As the season shifts with the recent Summer Solstice, energy expands and nature sheds what is no longer useful – like the snake that sheds it skin to reveal something new. What patterns or habits do you need to shed now? What in your life no longer serves you? Let it go. Then plant new thoughts, ideas, and intentions in the energy of today’s New Moon. Stand outside in the dark night and think about what you really want. Let the seeds of your dreams take root and consciously move toward wholeness with the moon over the next two weeks.