emotional health

Your Soul Matters: Life Reconciliation 101

How often do you think about your soul desires? How often do you actively listen to the information your conscious mind, body, and soul are sending you?  Our social conditioning tells us this information is an unreliable way of making life decisions, and we should instead put our trust and faith more in the opinions of the people around us, what society tells us is the right path, and our subconscious response to the situation. And yet these are the most unreliable, fleeting and flippant information gathering systems we could base life decisions off. Doing so is unsustainable and will inevitably cause a large amount of pain and suffering.

I’ve battled with this my whole life. I listened to the opinions of other people, society and my often bizarre subconscious responses and tried to fit myself into the box the world wanted me to fit in. I took on jobs, relationships and allowed situations into my life, in the firm belief I was doing what was best for me, because that’s what all everyone and thing I was basing my life decisions off told me to do. But deep inside me there was a voice whispering ‘Are you sure about this Rachel’, and a quite but clear feeling that felt like a massive question mark throughout my body.

And what happened, was that I began to operate completely out of alignment. Human beings seem to be incredibly good at adapting to this way of living. We go months, years, decades being out of alignment with ourselves and barely notice. But eventually, that whispering voice becomes a blood curdling, arm-hair raising scream; and the quiet but clear question mark because a massive fucking exclamation mark, both which we can no longer ignore.  Not only can we no longer ignore them, but we also can’t bear to hold the weight of what’s now abundantly clear to us – that we actually chose this for ourselves – and this is where the pain and suffering come in. What tends to ensure – at least in my experience – is a monumental fucking train wreck.

This is an individual learning experience for everyone, and something you’ll undoubtedly have to go through yourself in order to learn. But if you want to avoid that as much as possible, I’m going to share with you a set of questions I’ve started to routinely ask myself. This process simply creates space for me to actually listen to the information my conscious mind, body and soul are giving. Not only do I want to make sure I’m in alignment, but I want to make sure my life is saturated by the fire in my soul, and I want to make sure I can keep the promises I’ve made to those I love most. To do both those things, I must listen to the information my conscious mind, body and soul provide, and prioritise it above all else.

Questions to ask your soul on a routine basis:

1) Is this job/person/situation good for my soul or calling?

2) Is this job/person/situation creating lightness or heaviness in my heart or body?

3) Is this job/person/situation expanding or contracting my life?

Where the answer is both, which is often the case because life is complex and messy, it’s important to dig deeper. For further clarification ask these questions:

1) What am I giving up to sustain this situation? If you are giving up your creativity, your innocence, your fire or your light, and it’s considered permanent and/or is being taken for granted by the job/person/situation, then I’d suggest you consider taking action to change the situation.

2) Is the situation creating qualities in me that make me a better or worse person? Sometimes, shit happens. Our parents are assholes, our job sucks, things didn’t turn out the way we thought they would etc. Often these situations are catalysts for deep growth in our lives and that’s why we find ourselves there. So ask yourself what qualities this is creating in you. Is it patience, perseverance, inner strength, or is it fear, insecurity, sadness or loneliness? If it’s the latter, do something about it.

3) Do you have healthy support networks in place to help you cope through this tough time? Who are you talking through the situation with? What self-care strategies do you have in place? If you don’t have any, it’s important to get some. In complex life situations where you’re struggling to cope, negative behaviours are born. Without adequate support networks, you could be creating unhealthy coping mechanisms and added trauma which is only going to extend your healing time.

This process is based on the idea that no one is a better teacher for your soul than you. And it’s true. You know yourself better than anyone, and we must start learning to trust ourselves and our life knowledge more. Your thriving soul is a crucially important part of living, and yet we often unintentionally sacrifice it for jobs/people and situations. Start putting your conscious mind, body and soul first, because really, what can you trust more in this life?

Advertisements

Date Yourself Day: Creating Intentional Solitude

It’s difficult sometimes to make time for myself. My environment constantly needs things from me. Relationships take a lot of energy, they require constant cultivation. I have family and friends in another country, a boyfriend and friends in Seattle, I have a dog that could always use more exercise, a full time job with an hour and a half commute every day, and a supposed-to-be daily yoga practice. Every day is overwhelming full, with people and events pulling me in twenty different directions. And I don’t even have kids.

So, when I do decide to take time for myself, it’s hard not to feel guilty about it. I haven’t spoken to my mum in months, I should organise a Skype with her. Sunny hasn’t been outside today, I should take him to the dog park, or I haven’t seen the girls in a week, I should really see what everyone is doing today.  But the truth is, although that guilt is very real, my mum doesn’t care, Sunny can wait, and the girls are all completely fine without me. And even if that wasn’t the case, it’s just as important for me to take for myself, as it is to please everyone around me. But that’s not the issue, the issue is although I love solitude, sometimes there’s something inside me that resists it.

The world of solitude can sometimes feel like solitary confinement. Sometimes it feels forced and uncomfortable and painful. Sometimes there’s an anxious energy I can’t seem to shake, so I reach for my phone to check Facebook; or sometimes I get bored quickly and my mind starts to go crazy; sometimes I miss my boyfriend and I wonder why I’d choose to spend time without him when we have enough time a part as it is. The different emotional states that arise when I’m alone and undistracted, are the same emotional states that manifest in day-to-day life, but are quickly repressed because of a need to ‘get on with it.’  Spending time without distractions simply allows these things to come up.

Sometimes what comes up for me is an overwhelming amount of creative energy, so I’ll write or paint or draw. Sometimes it’s sadness, and I’ll cry. Sometimes it’s a deep, mellow, insightful state when I just want to think, think, think, and try and figure out the world. Sometimes I’ll spend an hour with my head in the clouds, day dreaming.

Intentional solitude is about creating a relationship with yourself, it’s about learning what’s going on in your inner world.  A full day of intentional solitude can be overwhelming, so to ease myself into it, I started doing “Date Yourself Day.” Date Yourself Day is a mix of intentional solitude and mindful activities that promote a relationship with, and love for yourself.  My Date Yourself Day goes a little like this:

Yoga Practice – For mindful exercise
Coffee/Tea – Create space for day dreaming
Journaling – I ask myself a series of questions about what’s going on in my inner world
Reading – Something which looks beyond binary logic, like poetry or a spiritual/philosophical text
Spa/Sauna session – Massage and heat are always healing and relaxing for me
Shopping – This can sometimes be a meditation, though very easily can be a distraction!

I leave my phone at home, and I’m going to experiment with both planning my day, and going off how I feel in each moment.  The purpose is to get to know what’s going on in my inner world, so feeling is key. Notice when you start to feel bored or anxious and have a list of things you can do next, but sit with whatever comes up, don’t repress it. The point is to use the day to get that negative stuff out, so expect to feel shitty at some point.

I’m going to make this a monthly practice and spoil myself. If you have any ideas for other activities you think would be perfect for a Date Yourself Day, please let me know in the comments, because I have eleven more days this year to fill!

Inspiration Friday:: 3 Ways To Find Yourself

I’ve been feeling a little disconnected from myself lately. I’m old enough now to sense when this is starting to happen, and smart enough to know I need to do something about it immediately, or it won’t be long before it results in a full blown meltdown. That’s one of the upsides about being so vulnerable – life is so raw which means you notice changes quickly, and as a result you can never stray too far from your deepest self.  When I feel things starting to unravel, here are three things I commit to doing to cultivate that connection:

1. Create Space

The number one reason why I start to lose myself is I begin giving into all the distractions around me, and stop creating intentional space for myself. Sometimes this comes from laziness, or a big life change will throw me off and I’ll lose myself in the process of trying to acclimatise. Giving into distractions is not about being ‘too busy’, we all experience being busy. You can be busy and still create intentional space for yourself. My intentional space for the last few months has been waking up at 5:30am and getting to a cafe at 6am, every day, to allow myself time to think, create, get inspired, day-dream, before I get to work. Create space, take it and notice when you’re not making it a priority.

2. Desire Intimacy

Intimacy is unbelievably convoluted, and a totally subjective experience for everyone. For me, my desire for intimacy represents how in touch I am with my deepest self. I know nowadays that losing my desire for intimacy usually means I have more basic needs that aren’t being met (security, stability etc) but it can be an insightful way to figure out what’s out of balance, and an insightful way to start exploring once I figure that out.  For me, intimacy is a perfect door into the wild, instinctual self and while there are sometimes more important things than being wild, noticing how I feel about intimacy can be helpful in figuring out how deep my connection is to life.

3. Travel, Anywhere

Travel, movement, change are fast ways to release stagnation and bring me back to myself. Travel itself creates space, and the change of environment often gives me a fresh perspective. It doesn’t have to be crazy travel – go on a road trip, go stay in a local hotel, or go interstate – do whatever’s possible in the moment. When my outer world is shaken up, my inner world becomes more clear and I’m able to work on deepening that connection.  Ironically, once my inner world becomes clear, my outer world begins to align and life starts to work itself out.