Archive for the ‘self discovery’ Tag

Thinking habits

The hardest habit to recognize and then manipulate is your habit of thinking. Not, of course, your habit of using your brain (not so much a habit as a natural instinct) but your habitual way of using your brain.

Certainly we’re all experiencing the challenge of re-building our thought patterns as a result of changing technologies. The codifying of information, for instance, in digital bits is not a way my parents can conceive of things; but it’s the way my generation has come to think.

Feeling stuck, or in a rut, or continually stressed, or oppressed by your job can be the result of thinking habits that no longer serve you well. Can you recognize them? Only through careful observation. Can you modify them? Absolutely, if you’re truly dedicated to the effort.

Here’s one little practice that can help. I am a counter. I count (silently, in my head) everything: if I’m doing anything the slightest bit repetitive, there I’ll be, ticking ’em off one by two by three. At some point, I realized I had this ridiculous habit, though it seemed impossible to shed. It was a habit of thinking that kept me in the quantitative, judgmental, efficiency-obsessed world; and usually made a mockery of me in that context!

So now (and I admit, it’s a continuous effort), instead of counting, I try to remember to use a little mantra, just one word that is about important things, not mere digits. Instead of counting, I repeat this one word with each iteration. It’s not easy after my many decades of the old habit, but it does become more natural with practice. And the result is that I’m not measuring my actions anymore; rather, with each action I am invoking ultimate strength and support.

Not everyone has this strange tic of mental counting, but if you do, maybe you’ll try this modification and let me know how it works.

Allowing First Thoughts

Student in Chris Zydel workshopStudent in Chris Zydel workshopStudent in Chris Zydel workshopStudent in Chris Zydel workshopStudent in Chris Zydel workshopAnother daily creativity practice is that of allowing.  This mostly pertains to allowing your own thoughts and ideas.  Though many may think this is idiotically simple, the fact is that we automatically censor 99% of our impulses.   Why?  Because of learned fears and our desperate need to be accepted. Student in Chris Zydel workshopStudent in Chris Zydel workshop

After decades of what I thought was relatively open-minded living, I encountered a series of classes about ten years ago that revealed to me the heavy chains I regularly applied to my own thoughts.  The secret was in learning a discipline with which I was totally unfamiliar.  In struggling to progress in this new territory, I had to sharpen my awareness, and that meant fostering a new appreciation for ‘first thoughts,” a new willingness to say ‘Yes’ to myself.

There’s more to this, but for the moment I’ll refer the reader to Chris Zydel.  This fabulous woman was recently interviewed at the Creativity Portal, where I was first introduced to her magic.  Chris is an expert in the art of allowing, and has liberated a ton of students who have learned at her workshops how to open the hand of their thought.  This is vitally important work, and I congratulate Chris for her significant contribution to our collective evolution!

Monday morning – Got Rhythm?

Returning again to the theme of the rhythmic nature of life, I’m reminded of a quote from the mother of a cancer patient.  After a series of expert counseling sessions, she said, “I realize that nothing needs to be fixed.”   So much anxiety is produced as we try to fix the world.  There’s certainly a great deal we’d like to fix.  But unless it’s riding on the flow of universal rhythms, our effort is generally in vain.

The development of personal creativity is also most effiicient when it’s done in cooperation with perceived cycles and rhythms.  If approached from the standpoint of discovery, creativity willingly blossoms.  It won’t work to force creative response; you’ll only end up dissatisfied if you try to be creative.  The only approach that really works is to continuously open up, and let your innate creativity perform its magic.

With thorough understanding of this concept, creativity becomes your guide and companion, and is no longer a challenge to be overcome. Your creative progress is one of constant allowing, in great humility. Indeed it is those moments when your control slips, when you’re unsure and confused, when you seem to be a leaf at the wind’s mercy, that set you up for the greatest creative growth.

I hope these words may be of some comfort and encouragement during the challenge of your Monday. Coming out of the weekend, our workaday world can seem overwhelming. If you relax your hold and watch its rhythms with great objectivity, your creative responses will multiply, carrying you with joy and excitement through the week.


Notice this puddle, and you’ll discover its hidden treasure!And so we come back around to the weekend.  Once again, in the natural order, we slow all the motion and take a day or two for stillness.  And stillness is a great place from which to observe our next creativity principle: noticing.

When I suggested yesterday to consider the synthesis of any two objects on your desk, many may have experienced a dead end.  Perhaps no ideas or images came to you when you did this.  That is, unfortunately, a symptom of the blindness that’s the result of being an adult in the industrial age.  But since we’re fast leaving behind those old approaches to work and life, I’m here to assure you that your ideas exist intact and in limitless amount, but you have become desensitized to them.  However, this disability is reversible!

If you’re interested to know what your Self has to teach you, spend some time this weekend noticing.  Choose one physical sense: seeing, or hearing, or touching perhaps.  Apply your focus to experiences through this one sense.  Allow full indulgence and notice all the sensations.  Keep your attention on what you are sensing, regardless of intellectual responses.  In stillness, become a playground of visual delight, auditory accuity or tactile experience.  The universe will supply all the raw material; your job is only to notice, and then notice some more!

In theater training, a favorite exercise is to blindfold a student and lead him through space experiencing life without sight.  While you may not go to this trouble in your noticing practice, try focusing on hearing when you lie in the dark before sleeping; or focus on seeing when your environment is particularly noisy; or on feeling when in a busy store or restaurant.  By subtracting other senses from your experience, the one you’re focusing on becomes much easier to notice.