Dropping her handbag and jacket onto the floor, Ginger slumped wearily into my office's comfy chair. "I know we are officially in autumn, now, and colder weather. I know Washington is up to its political craziness. But this is not what's getting to me," she sighed. "Actually, I love the crisper air, and the leaves turning from green to gold. I am not sure exactly what is getting to me. But when Oprah said she recently felt overwhelmed and numb, and could not take in one more thing with her senses, I know precisely what she means."
Me, too. I've been there. How about you? Take a gander at what steals too much of your energy. The result will be more beneficial than what is offered in traditional health care as treatment. For folks like Ginger, the health care system adds to the burden by failing to make a distinction between depression and spiritual crisis. Assembly-line medicine would suggest the "fix" is to pop one more pill. But, for those like Ginger, who are willing to look deeper, what seems like depression may actually be a condition of spiritual crisis, the prelude to opening doors into more ease, joy, and freedom. The fact is that just as your gastrointestinal system can get clogged, we can enter a state of spiritual constipation, which blocks awakening our own Best Self. Ginger longs to live her own best life, and her condition is attempting to steer her in this direction, and away from what is taxing her life force. As Elia Wise puts it: "Your embrace of life, your expression of love and your aspiration to self-realization are essential to the circulatory system of All That Is. This is life feeding itself." We can block this flow, or we can choose to facilitate living in the Flow.
One source of feeling overwhelmed is not permitting ourselves the opportunity to get clear on what is really most important in terms of bringing not only relief, but also regeneration and refreshment. When a great deal is going on in your life, much of you end up in the brambles wondering what happened. At these moments, getting clear on your intention to create what brings you back home to your best life is essential. As Michael Clouse has said: "Keep the main thing the main thing."
But, just what is the "main thing," and how do you identify it when life is moving so fast, and you've temporarily lost control of the steering wheel? Let's examine eight pointers that can help you regain latitude and longitude, get back into the driver's seat, and do it with relish and flair.
1. Look in the right place. This means, climb out of the box of your cultural conditioning. Western culture places more value on the head than the heart. Hence, we all know models like the "t-columns" where you list the pros and cons of the decision you need to make. Ever listed the pluses and minuses of a particular choice you are deliberating, and yet, when you finish your list you do not feel resolved? There is a reason for this, which brings us to pointer #2.
2. You are not here to be a carbon copy of somebody else's plan or life for yours. You are here to be a unique creative expression of the fullest "you" that you can, not to only live in your head. You are bigger than this, wiser than this! Your solutions are as unique as one snowflake to another. If you relate to Ginger's situation, this pointer is key. Turn in the direction of what your heart loves, not what your head thinks you should love, and rekindle the flame. Dr. Carl Jung once said: "The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by the play of instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves." More on this to come this year.
3. Consider play. No joke. "Mess around" more with what tickles your funny bone, with what reignites the flame of your creative play. Begin dreaming again. In my recent book, The Love Project: Coming Home, I describe the power of placing your order by how you use language. For two years, my husband and I overheard ourselves saying aloud that where we lived was perfect, only lacking a great view of the water. The prospect of that to our conscious mind seemed impossible. But, the wisdom of the unconscious mind knows much better than our ego. More on that story down the line.
4. Be honest with yourself. Notice when you feel especially out of sorts. By way of example, for me, I began taking "notes to Self" over the past few years when I'd catch myself fuming at the insurance companies ways of slithering out of reimbursement, and failing patients on many levels. With this at play, along with the revision of DSM-5 codes, (the official bible of mental health care professionals), through taking lots of time for personal honesty with myself this past spring, it became abundantly clear to me that my reaction to this mental dragon was costing me time and energy to fight it. And, so, I told myself the truth: I am out of that game, period.
5. Be willing to pay the price, and sometimes the price does not need to be paid. Well aware of what could have been catastrophic to my practice, the truth is that every single client understood, and decided to stay. If we move away from what drains and depletes us, and towards what renews us, and uplifts the creative imagination for what is possible, new aliveness can come forward in ways that blow the mind!
6. Synchronicity befriends those who ware willing to take creative leaps of faith. Embracing the truth that I needed a break from the way health care was being practiced, the creative fire was fanned. Before we knew what had happened, I found a perfect place for my practice and group studio, to teach what I adore, that I call "The Process." No more bridge traffic for me! Simultaneously, buyers came to purchase our home (which was not on the market and the furthest thing from our minds), which enabled us to make a long-standing dream come true: a home overlooking Lake Washington three blocks from our all-time favorite neighbors. Turns out that now, that new place for my practice is even closer to where I live: a full five-minute commute. I am in heaven. Although we could not have figured out how to manifest this shift, the unconscious knows what it is doing when we follow its guidance, and give it sufficient time to arise in stillness.
7. Trust your creative process. Move in the direction of what you love. What you love has wisdom in it. It is a connecting thread to your aliveness and flowering. If you want to bring in the harvest to your Good, you must give yourself permission to love what you love and nourish those tender roots as long as it takes. In my case, that seven-week sabbatical last spring brought clarity about the creative imperative for me of more time in nature, which heals my soul, and creative activity, which is at the heart of my gift. I had been spreading myself too thin doing the things I love, but was not leaving enough time and space for what feeds me. You can't offer to others what nourishes if your plate is empty. When I realized that this would mean cutting down my HuffPost blogs from weekly posts to monthly, I grew sad, frightened that this "would not be enough" for my reader friends over this launch into blogging for five years on HuffPost. I love connecting with you and your friends here, more than I can say. Writing to you here uplifts my Spirit enriches my life. And, yet, my own flowering creative process has many aspects to it, and it requires that I practice what I preach, meaning that I take the time that is needed to love in a myriad of creative ways, which includes more time for teaching this process, for walks in nature, for expressing my experience in new and expansive ways, and for Love Projects (see carabarker.com) as they arise.
8. Get out of the box! Forget what you think can't happen, the "too good to be true," and know that you are a beautiful Being, here to bless life, to bless others with who you are, and to receive life's bounty. Adapting Hafiz's words from his poem, "In a Tree House," let me share the following:
Will Someday split you open
Even if your life is now a cage...
For a divine seed, the crown of destiny
Is hidden and sown on an ancient, fertile plain
You hold the title to.
Creativity will surely burst you wide open
Into an unfettered, blooming new galaxy...
Even if your mind is now
A spoiled mule.
Your turn: What do you love? How has moving in the direction of what you love helped you when overwhelmed or stuck? I'm listening! Thanks for forwarding this to all you know.
Special notice: The fourth printing of The Love Project: Coming Home is sold out. So, too, is "The Process" weekend for 2013. If you wish to be to be on the waiting list for the fifth printing, or retreat, contact me below. The next available "Process" weekend will be 1/18-20/2014.
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For more by Dr. Cara Barker, click here.
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