Tag Archives: creativity

The Funny Thing About Time…

Around 10 am this morning I was sitting on my couch, enjoying an iced coffee, and feeling very grateful for a relaxing Sunday morning. As I reflected on the morning I thought about all I had accomplished, yet felt very calm and content throughout the whole morning.

hourglassBy this time I had meditated, cuddled with my daughter for a bit, fed my daughter breakfast and two snacks, ate breakfast, got my daughter and myself dressed and ready for the day, went on a hike and took photos, did a few sun salutations and yoga poses, read 2 chapters in Life and Teaching of the Masters of the Far East, changed a few diapers, drove through a car wash, vacuumed and cleaned the inside of my car, went grocery shopping, fed the dogs, completed some households tasks (washing and putting away dishes, washed a load of laundry, picked up toys, etc.), and sat and read to my daughter.

Considering that I can easily remember a time when I wasn’t even out of bed by this time, I would count this as a very productive morning. I also can remember many mornings when I did much less and felt stressed, rushed and frustrated. So what was the difference with this morning, when I did quite a bit, but felt relaxed and calm?

My state of mind.

Time is a tricky thing. Often we feel it is limited and probably use it as one reason we can’t get to things we want to do. When we look at our long to-do list, and focus too much on the past or future, time seems to shrink. It moves quickly, keeping us hurried and scattered, trying desperately to get as much crammed in as possible.

In today’s world we often feel hurried and overwhelmed by all that we “have to do”. This perspective leaves us moving through minutes, hours, days, month and years at a rapid pace. The tragedy in this is that we miss truly experiencing so much and never seem to do what we want to do.

However, we can make time expand by changing the way we think. When we focus on this current moment and simply glide from one activity to the next without looking too far ahead or letting our mind get too focused on the past, time seems to move much slower. We can accomplish more than we ever thought we could and truly enjoy it.

Time also feels different when we prioritize the things we want to do. While we may have to clean the house, we can take a moment to do something we find enjoyable like reading, creating or sitting with those we love. Many hobbies or activities we truly enjoy can be done around the things that are our responsibility but not our favorites. Even if it is just a few moments, sprinkling in the activities that inspire us can truly pull us back into the moment and make time move a little slower.

The way we perceive and approach time makes a difference in how it feels to us. Using a practice of present moment awareness can create a feeling of endlessness to the moment we are in. This will ultimately lead to being more productive and can give room to add in the things we love.

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6 Spiritual Lessons from Our Children

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Throughout the years I have dedicated a significant amount of time on my personal spiritual growth.  I have spent countless hours poring over development books, researched various religions and spoke with many spiritual leaders.  I have attended trainings and workshops on a wide range of topics and approaches in cultivating inner peace.  Throughout this process I have learned a lot, especially regarding those practices that tend to be common themes and “secrets” for achieving sustainable joy in life.  It is a constant growth process since all of these things require continued practice and while I have understood much of it logically, some areas have been difficult for me to feel.

As I have expanded my concept of “spiritual teachers” to include everyone in my life, knowing that each and every person has something to offer, I have found the clearest teachers to be children.  There is so much I have learned from seeing how we come into this world, what our natural state truly is and how we get pulled off track as we grow and develop. We so often look at our relationship with our children as one where we have to bare the burden of teaching them everything however if we shift our perception to a spiritual partnership, one where we teach each other, then the spiritual growth they can help facilitate for us is limitless. We can teach them how to interact per this world’s “rules” but they can teach us about our true nature and how to live it. They have truly helped me see how to apply some of the themes that were harder for me to grasp and serve as a constant reminder on practicing.

Fearlessness – Anyone that has seen a baby clumsily wobble around can see that fear is not something we are born with. It is something we learn. Children lead with their heart, diving into whatever action their heart guides them to without fear of pain, judgment or failure. All of these concepts are foreign to them and we can learn much from the “just go for it” attitude that children of many ages have. Letting our heart lead, and taking action without fear allows us to boldly live and revel in the rewards of new experiences.

Joy – Joy on the other hand isn’t something we learn, it is our natural state. A child’s general disposition is pure happiness. Eager to play, laugh and truly have fun, children embrace happiness and never question if they deserve it or wonder if it will last. As I have grown there are many times I have lost sight of the beauty in doing something just for the pure joy of it. Like many people I know, the to do lists can take over and keep me from fully living in the moment, especially when it is something as “frivolous” as having fun. What I have learned from children is that fun is never frivolous; it is something our soul needs.

Love freely – The heartache we feel in life can sometimes cause us to be guarded. Keeping love out completely or limited to those that seem “safe”, we lose the incredible gift that comes with a wide-open heart. Children don’t hold back love. If they want to give a hug, they give a hug. If a little baby wants to stare in your eyes and give you a smile for no reason, they do. There aren’t expectations of this love being returned, they just give it without condition. Each baby that comes into this world is the perfect love that we all hold in us and they show it however they feel guided to. We can begin to learn that this is our natural state from watching children of all ages embrace this emotion. It is who we are and the pain we learn is truly from expecting love back, not necessarily giving it.

Authenticity – Children learn the concept of “fitting in” from parents, friends and people in their life, they don’t arrive into the world with it. They are who they are. Many of us have seen a child want to wear outrageously bright, mismatched clothes simply because they like it and it represents who they are, never putting a thought into what others will think. Without the interference of judgment, children live completely authentically. This is something many of us spend years trying to get back to once we learn that what others think of us isn’t nearly as important as our own happiness. Children can show us that it is perfectly natural for us to be guided by our hearts and inner guidance, as it is how they live.

Curiosity – Nothing is more thrilling than seeing a baby look around, taking the world in and clearly demonstrating a complete sense of awe. They absorb everything around them without judgment so they can learn. They smile at every small accomplishment and are hungry to keep exploring. This is our natural state, a place of curiosity, bewilderment and awe. The world offers us as many unique things to learn and look at but often we become comfortable and lose the sense of wonder that we come into the world with. Children show us the incredible joy that comes from not being the expert but rather being a perpetual student.

Creativity – As adults we tend to lump ourselves into groups – left brain versus right brain, creative versus logical, structured versus spontaneous, etc. While all of these may be us having a tendency to being more comfortable leaning towards one direction or another, none of us are born into this world lacking any of these characteristics. All children enjoy coloring, making art projects, dancing to music or playing an instrument. They love bringing something beautiful into the world, and that doesn’t change just because they grow up. They play make believe games and daydream about the future. They demonstrate to us that a basic desire is to be in a creative space. Whether it is art, music, writing, inventions, machines or even new businesses all of us can benefit from allowing ourselves to be creative. As we grow, they way we express our creativity changes but they key is to never shut it out completely.

If we watch closely, children can show us how to get back to our original nature. Allowing ourselves to be our inner child, even if just for a moment, will give us an amazing gift of pure happiness.

With immense love and gratitude for all the children in the world – April

Give Love.

As Thanksgiving passes here in the United States we quickly transition into the season of gift buying and giving.  I was amazed how many people this year expressed they love Thanksgiving as it is a “pressure” free holiday, filled with gratitude and spending time with family versus the upcoming expectations that come from holidays that require gift giving.  While many have reflected on the paradox of holidays such as Christmas, a spiritual day that becomes wrapped up in feelings of anxiety and stress, we have yet to create a solution that makes these days more about their purpose versus the pressures of our society.  We contemplate how to make sure we get the “perfect” gift for someone, filled with fear of judgment if we get it wrong when in fact they are probably having the same fears and thoughts.  We lose the feeling of joy that comes from giving a gift, we spend more than we can afford and we lose sight of taking care of ourselves as the holiday comes closer.

The solution is fairly simple and can be described in two little words, give love.  While Givethis idea of giving love can manifest itself as a simple and thoughtful gift, spending time with each other or ensuring you demonstrate how much appreciation you have for another, if the intent is purely to give love then the fear of judgment can melt away.  Those in our lives who are as grateful for us as we are for them will appreciate any genuine attempt to give love over a “perfect” gift.  Trusting that our intent can be seen and felt, we can release the stress and enjoy the bliss that comes from expressing what we feel in our hearts.

As you determine what you will give to others this year instead of asking questions such as “What do they want?” or “How much will they spend on me?” or “How do I match what I got them last year?”, etc. simply ask yourself one question, “How do I show them how much I love and appreciate them?”.  Take note of anything that comes up, not judging it based on its material worth or how different it is from what you usually do.  As you do this, the gratitude and love you have for others will easily rise up and guide you towards new and creative ideas.  This simple shift in perspective will allow the experience to be much more enjoyable and fulfilling for you, as well as those you are giving to.

If you feel this will be an incredible shift for you and those around you, here are ways you can make it a little easier:

  • Start the trend – Tell your friends and family that you would prefer them to not buy you gifts or to give money to your favorite charity instead of buying you something.  This will help in releasing any of the pressure of what they will give you and leave you free to be as simple or extravagant as you want.  They may still chose to give but this will release expectations.
  • Set a limit – Setting a dollar limit with those closest to you can be an easy way to eliminate the stress.  The lower you go it becomes a fun game in how to be creative with little money.  For years my husband and I have set a limit of $20 or $25 and simply require that we get creative and make it meaningful.  It is my favorite gift to buy/make every year.  I also know families where everyone, including the children, only make gifts for each other and have the simple rule of not spending any money.
  • Write a letter – When you give your “gift” whether it be something you purchased, something you made, time you spend with them, or whatever comes to mind for you; give them a letter or card expressing your intent of the “gift” and your love and appreciate for them.  Most people would take a heartfelt letter as a very touching gesture and will make any discomfort you have fade away.
  • Share this post with others – Send this to your friends and family, letting them know this is how you are approaching it this year and to expect something different.  The idea that you will be spending time truly reflecting on how to give love to them may inspire them to do the same.  This will also help you not have guilt if they give you something that may have more material worth as they knew in advance that you might not be spending much money (or any money) on them.

To get your creativity flowing here are some ideas on great ways to give love:

  • A photo collage in a beautiful frame
  • A first edition of their favorite book
  • Cooking their favorite meal or giving their favorite dessert
  • For family not close buying a ticket or airline gift card to go see them or them come see you
  • A heartfelt letter or a beautiful quote expressing your love for them in a beautiful frame
  • A day filled with activities or going places that they love
  • A beautiful box filled with little cards or pieces of paper stating what you love or appreciate about them.  They can read one-a-day all year long
  • Buying them that one thing they have always wanted but would never buy for themselves
  • A basket full of items symbolizing a special day spent together or favorite things from their childhood
  • For kids buy them your favorite toy or book from childhood and share some wonderful stories with them

This year make a point to experience the beauty of giving without the stress or pressure.  Make this season a time of love and gratitude for those in your life.  Just remember; simply give love.

Allowing Creativity

This is the perfect time of year to stretch your creativity and fulfill a long dormant part of yourself.  Whether it is decorating for the holidays or making a personal gift for someone special now is the time to find your inner artist.

Why is this important?  Creating things is a great way to express our spirit and get back in touch with ourselves.  In today’s world we tend to get disconnected so easily with technology, the business of day to day life and the demands being put on us to be everywhere at once.  Giving yourself some time to reconnect is so important; and what better way the a little bit of decoration or crafts.  The more cynical side of you is saying that you aren’t an artist.  That you maybe don’t have a creative bone in your body.  Well, I don’t agree.  Every child loves to color, paint, glue and mold.  This is instinctual and something that brings great joy.  Think back to those days before you felt judged or criticized…you were creative and that talent is still inside you.  Acknowledge that child inside that wants to come out and be expressive.  Let go of the fears and allow the creative energy flow!

What now?  Well- here are some ideas to get you moving…

Decorate- If it isn’t for the holidays; you can still leverage the inspiration of the season and pick a part of your home you have been meaning to rearrange or paint.  Take advantage of the sales out there and get something that you see as pure beauty and make room in your home for it.

Write- You can send someone a letter; write your child a silly poem; leave notes in hidden places expressing your love to your spouse; journal about your favorite art project when you were a child

Crafts- There are many great holiday decorations you can make and to get inspired all you need is to type into your browser.  On many sites online you can find easy directions for home made masterpieces you can do solo, with friends or with your kids.

Make a gift- In a time when we are standing in line for days to get Black Friday deals it would be great nourishment to your spirit to give a gift with love.  You can make a photo collage; decorate a frame with a heartfelt quote in it; decorate a beautiful box you can fill with pieces of papers titled “100 reasons why I love you”; etc.!  The possibilities are endless!

Feeling inspired yet? Start jotting down ideas and let it the brainstorming take over.  If you still aren’t sure solicit help from close friends, go walk around a craft store or poke around online.  Something brilliant will come and your spirit will do the rest! 🙂