by Megan Caper | Happiness, intuition, Spirituality
Last week, I went to the World Domination Summit, a weekend conference in Portland for people who want to “live a remarkable life in a conventional world.” I’ve been going to this conference for several years now (with a 2-year hiatus for the pandemic) and the reason I keep going back is that it fills my bucket in a way that no other activity or event can. The power of spending time with people who are open-minded, creative, and compassionate rekindles something in me that often becomes dormant in our work-a-day world.
I don’t quite know the name for this thing that rekindles. Maybe it’s my creative spark? Joy of being alive? Feeling connected and seen by my fellow humans? Whatever it is, I always feel extra motivated and inspired after my WDS weekends.
One of the things that the World Domination Summit does so well is to combine motivation and play. I think we too often forget that the best type of motivation doesn’t come from deadlines or to-do lists, but comes from a sense of play, creativity and passion. If I feel passionate and playful about something, then the creativity flows. If I am excited about something, then I don’t mind doing even the mundane aspects of it because it feels like it’s in service of something big and important.
But how do we connect to this sense of passion and play in our everyday lives? I have a few ideas:
- Check-in regularly with your intuition. I taught a workshop at the conference on how to tune into your intuition and it was a big hit. I’m realizing more and more that this is a lost art. We are so used to using our brains to come up with a logical, well-thought-out plan for things that we forget to check in with what resonates with our soul. Sometimes a “good decision” will also be what’s right for our spiritual path right now, but sometimes we have to listen to that inner knowing and do something that sounds crazy or illogical to feel that sense of joy and awe.
- Find your weirdos. One of the things that help me stay connected to my own unique purpose is to spend time with other people who are weird like me. When I surround myself with folks who are creative, intellectual and kind in the same way I am, it starts to build on itself. I find myself getting increasingly more inspired and when I share my ideas, my weirdo friends riff on them and mirror them back to me in even more creative and interesting ways. Creativity is an emergent property –it’s more than the sum of its parts. So, if you can get a bunch of creative people together, magic will happen.
- Remember this is all a play and we’re supposed to experiment. When I’ve traveled to the place we go between lives via meditation or astral projection, I see that we come here to have an EXPERIENCE. It’s like we’re signing up for an 80-year, round-the-world vacation where we get to feel, taste, see, hear and discover so many unique and amazing things. From our soul’s perspective, there is no danger and no fear, because this is all temporary. The more spiritual work I do, the easier it becomes to remember or lean into that aspect of my awareness and let go of the “small stuff” that usually stresses me out. I ask myself, “What would I do today if I knew this was just a time-limited adventure and my only job here was to have amazing experiences?” I invite you to ask yourself the same question – what would you do today if you knew this was all a grand adventure that would end sooner than you realize? How would you spend your time if really, the point of this “humaning” thing was to have memories and experiences just like you do on vacation?
I’d love to know if these resonate for you, or what your ways are for connecting to that creative spark. Reply and let me know!
by Megan Caper | meditation
Over the past 10 years I have been practicing mindfulness. It has made a world of difference in how I interact with others and how I process all the ups and downs of life. It has helped me to remain balanced and have a perspective that I never knew I could have. Mindfulness has given me a space where I can observe myself, the situation, and my reaction and actually choose how I want to proceed before I get caught up in the whirlwind of automatically reacting with anger, anxiety or fear.
Mindfulness is basically about keeping your thoughts and awareness on what’s going on right now. By right now, I mean at this exact moment. No, wait! That one just passed. Okay, this exact moment. D’oh! That one passed too. Okay, this exact moment.
You get the picture. Mindfulness is about only paying attention and letting your thoughts be about this exact second. Any moment that has passed or any moment in the future should not be occupying your thoughts or feelings. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction said that mindfulness is, “bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis.”
This is harder than it would first appear because we are trying to go against what our mind has been trained to do. Our minds fill our day with all sorts of thoughts. What should I eat for lunch? Did I remember to pay my cell phone bill? I wonder if my friend is annoyed at me? I flaked on her and now I haven’t heard from her in a few days. That guy is cute, I wonder if he’s single?
Mindfulness is about having those thoughts, feelings, stressors come up… and then letting them go as the moment passes. Mindfulness isn’t about not having thoughts. Asking your mind to stop having thoughts would be like asking your heart to stop beating. That’s its job! Your mind will have thoughts, but if you let them go, if you don’t allow them to carry you on a tangent of worry or stress or guilt, then you won’t feel the emotional and physical ramifications of that tangent. You will simply have the thought, and let it go. The thoughts won’t be able to suck you down the rabbit hole of stress, fear and worry.
Mindfulness has been shown to have a number of beneficial physical effects when practiced on a regular basis. It can decrease anxiety and stress, increase focus and memory, increase creativity, and increase both self-compassion and compassion for others. That’s a lot of good stuff, isn’t it?
There are a lot of good resources on the web for starting a mindfulness practice. I want to stress here that the key word is practice. When you first start out, your mind will wander like crazy. Don’t stress out or get annoyed with yourself. Just say, “thank you, mind, for doing such a good job of thinking. However, right now, I’m trying my best to not get caught up in thoughts.” And then, gently and lovingly, bring yourself back to your mindfulness practice.
Here is a simple mindfulness practice you can do while eating. I’ve used raisins here, but you could use the same idea with any food.
Mindfulness Raisin Exercise
People often don’t notice what they are eating or whether they are still hungry. While they are eating, they may be talking on the phone or doing work or playing around on the computer. What if you just ate and did nothing else for a change? Mindful eating involves noticing how and what you eat, from one bite to an entire meal. By taking the time to eat your food, you can begin to learn what foods actually taste like and which ones you like and dislike.
To try eating mindfully, take three raisins. Look at these raisins as something you have never seen before. Set two of the raisins aside and take the third in your hand. Look at what you are about to eat. Think about how it got to you. Think about the seed that was planted to grown the plant. Imagine the roots sprouting from the seed and the leaves pushing up through the soil and to the sun. Think of the sun’s warmth and energy, feeding the grapevine as it grows. Think of the farmers who tended to this plant, watering it, feeding it and pruning it. Think of a grape, growing on this vine, becoming plump and sweet, full of juice. Think of the person who picked this grape and placed it in a basket. Think of the people who laid the grapes out in the sun for days, allowing them to become raisins. Think of the person who drove these raisins to the market, the person who stocked them on the shelves.
Give thanks for what you are about to eat. How do you feel about putting these raisins in your body? How does your body feel, knowing that you are going to eat?
Use your senses to experience this raisin. Notice what it looks like. Roll it around in your hand; what does it feel like? Hold it to your nose; what does it smell like? Place it near your ear; can you hear anything? If you move it between your fingers, can you hear something now?
Place the raisin against your lips, then lick your lips and notice the taste it has left. Put the raisin into your mouth without chewing it. Close your eyes, if you like, and let it roll around on your tongue. Put it between your teeth and feel it there, without biting into it yet. Notice any saliva that is present. Pay attention to the change in the raisin’s texture after it has been in your mouth for a bit.
Bite into the raisin, noticing any tastes you experience. Slowly chew it for as long as you can. Right before you swallow, notice what it feels like to want to swallow this raisin. When you are ready, swallow the raisin. Notice that it is now in your body.
If you notice yourself getting distracted by your thoughts, take a moment and refocus on the raisin. Repeat this process with the remaining two raisins.
You can follow these steps with any food of your choosing, from one bite to an entire meal.
What are some tools that you use to stay balanced? Share your ideas in the comments below so we can all try them out!