Living your values – what’s most important to you in life?

Hi … hoping everyone managed some R&R and maybe some time for quiet reflection over the holiday season?

The start of a new year is a great time to check in on what’s really important to you in your life, so that you can focus your time and attention on creating and enjoying more of it.  How often does the urgent end up taking priority over the important and days, weeks, months and years can go by this way.

My invitation to you is to take a little time to check in on your most important life values, across key life domains and use this as a guide throughout the year.

Defining values:

So, for each of these life domains, ask yourself “what really matters to me here?” and “what do I really appreciate or value in this life domain”?  Write a few words under each heading to capture this.

Remember that certain life domains will be more relevant than others at different times in your life.

–       family

–       friends and social

–       love partner

–       work/career

–       education and personal development

–       recreation and creativity

–       spirituality

–       community

–       physical health and wellbeing

Living values:

Next have a think about how actively you are living these values in your life at the moment.

For example, in the domain of family you might value being there for each other, having each other’s back.  Now, if you knew your sister was going through a hard time and you didn’t get around to calling, you might rate that category a 4/10 for living your values at the moment.

Under recreation, if you value time outdoors and have recently joined a 4WD club and gone on some camping trips, you might rate that an 8/10.  Where you are actively living your values, notice how that feels.  Is it energizing, calming, nourishing, inspiring?  Check in on how you are making this work.

In the areas where there is a gap between your true values and how life actually is right now, think about a goal you might like to set yourself.  What would it take to shift a “4” to a “6”?  Think about what’s needed in the medium term and also something you could start work on straight away.

If you’d like some help clarifying your values or working out a plan so that they are more active in your life, you might like to book in for a life values counseling session.

Image source: graur codrin  freegitialphotos.net

Mindfulness and pleasure

“Mindfulness” is a way of being that is mindfully aware, observing, accepting of all of our experiences, our thoughts, emotions and physical sensations. It asks us to view these experiences from the position of observer or “curious scientist” and to accept them with an attitude of loving kindness.

I don’t know about you, but there’s plenty goes on in my head and emotions that I would like to shut down or get rid – I’m sure most of you have noticed by now that it’s near impossible to make thoughts not be there (“don’t think about a pink elephant”) and shutting things down usually creates more problems. Mindfulness offers a way to be with difficult experiences, without being overwhelmed and so is often used to assist with managing stress, anxiety and depression.

I’d like to invite you to explore using Mindfulness to enhance your awareness of your moment by moment experience of pleasure. We are wired for survival to pay way more attention to threatening or negative experiences, than positive ones. So it takes conscious attention to balance things out.

Beyond that though, mindfulness of pleasure offers a pathway into the self, a way of experiencing yourself more fully, of really being present in moments. Whereas Hedonism would have us drown in sensations of pleasure, Mindfulness has us moment by moment aware of more and more subtlety.
Think the five senses. Incorporate your breath to enhance your sensory awareness.

Begin with taste – may I suggest a square, just one square of a really good dark chocolate. Feel the texture and temperature of the square as you break it off. Notice what happens in your body in anticipation of putting this in your mouth – do your senses waken? Breathe slowly and deeply and bring the square to your nose, as you take in the aroma, how does your body respond? Do you notice pleasure centres opening, do muscles relax. Slow it down, take three slow deep breaths as you take it in. Notice any part of you that wants to rush, that is resisting the pace, look on this part with kind, loving acceptance while you continue your slow exploration.

Break it in half again, hear the gentle snap. Place a piece on your tongue, tune in to all the notes, like a description on a wine bottle – can you taste salty, sweet, bitter? What is the taste like on different parts of your tongue? Notice the part that wants to devour, choose to savour. What feelings does this experience evoke in you? Allow them to be there, watch them kindly.

Now see if you can bring some of this new, slow, awakened sensibility to your daily experiences and interactions. Does this bring more awareness of your internal experiences, that of others? How does this change the quality of a moment, of a day, of an interaction?

Pleasure – a most valid and valuable pathway.

Unknowing …

Feeling a warm, compassionate smiling-laugh as I reflect on the human condition and the dedication with which we seek to solve our problems and achieve our aims.  This weekend a bit of a joy-ride and slow opening.

Some drama, an apparent crisis, associated with a friend of a friend and creeping into our relating as well.  Words like ‘threat’ and ‘attack’ were in there.  My fight-flight mode was triggered, agile mind jumping about, seeing the situation from each perspective, what’s really happening here, what’s needed.  As I walked along the river at Currumbin in the early morning sunlight, I managed to catch myself hard at work with all this and felt a sense of compassion rise for the urgency and dedication with which I was seeking to understand and manage things.

That slowed it all down as I felt my heart open and a gentle, watchful curiousity take it’s place.  I didn’t know what the answer was and didn’t need to.  I decided to gently ‘watch this space’ instead.  This allowed me to come to a more compassionate heart-space for others involved and later take a gentle step from this place.

The weekend was a gradual slowing down and unfolding, reminding me to honour this process, this gentle, watchful curiousity.

By Sunday afternoon, after a swim, I gave myself the gift of sitting on the beach with a coffee and just being, without needing to make the space ‘useful’.

Questions and reflections came bubbling up as I again watched my mind jump about, exploring some issues around trust and safety.  Did trust mean trusting my ability to hold myself through whatever happens?  What about trusting that what I most want will evolve?  In opening into the unknowing between these two places, a wonderful energy moved up and filled my being and my body, not my eyes, began to cry in recognition and relief.  The answer was in the space between, felt as truth and would disappear in the face of labels and explanations.

Do you ever consciously allow yourself to be in a place of unknowing, even about the really important stuff?  Have you felt the raw power and beauty of this?  What happens to your fear when you choose this?

 

Time expanding, opening into a new reality

Sunday.  Organised paperwork.  Big yay, well done me.  Wrote angry letter to complaints department of internet provider.  Momentary fantasy of being heard and experiencing some customer service.  Three loads washing on line in hot sunlight, dry in minutes.  Crunchy, warm from sun.  Nice.

Trip to shops to return an item, order some prints, got lost a little while trying on new bathers running more fantasies of my body in them with boobs up and tummy flat.

Big big noise on roof … air-con? … no … cyclonic Queensland rain.  That means no time for my lap swimming.  Had it all timed out perfectly, with lap swimming as the cool reward for hard work on hot day, now pool was closed.  Cranky.

Drove to the river instead, the water was calling.  Cold, shivery now.  Barefeet across wet sand, toes in water, feet in water, ankles in water .. actually it’s really nice in the water.  Clothes off, jumped in, got exercise swimming against the current, got dizzy turning round and round and round again in the water coz it felt like fun.  Ran sprint style from river to car, yet more fantasies of athleticism.   Got into car, breathing fast, rain on the water where the river meets the ocean, me all cosy inside now, warm clothes back on.

What do you know?

Time slowed down.  And opened up.  And linked me into similar moments across my whole life, being cosy with the rain outside, by the water, being cosy in the car with my Dad eating fish and chips while he drove me home from piano lessons, listening to serious type things on the radio.  A wonderful moment of time expanded and peace in my heart.

Who has a similar story of time expanding?

What happens when you let go of the order of events your logic-mind creates and find an access point into a different reality?  What opens things up for you – nature, water, a cup of tea, noticing the mind antics and then moving in the direction of play, spontaneity, listening to where your body wants to go and what it wants to do?

Would love to hear …

Art in motion

“Women walking are like art in motion,” said my friend Scottie last night and I really got it, as I watched his head turn to follow the trajectory of several women while we were having dinner.

I saw him sit in open admiration and make a comment about the uniqueness of each woman – one in a curvy body, a colourful silky dress and completely at ease, breathing freely in her body and surrounds, one a concentrated light source, mesmerizing like the moon, another all perky tossing of the pony-tail and yet a real strength underneath the show.

At one point I found myself drifting from the conversation to follow a path of light one woman was creating as she left The Palmy Café, quietly radiant.  Looking to her partner I saw he was an attractive man and yet something about the radiance of this woman demanded a second look before I laughed at myself and brought my attention back to our conversation.

“So that’s how it is for men” I thought.  Art in motion.  What a beautiful way to see the world and the women in it.

I have been noticing the last little while a seriousness creeping into my life, a tunnel-like quality of thinking as I focus on some business goals and extend myself to achieve them.  All got a little too serious I noted and it had been a little while since I gave myself permission to feel and be and breathe and move as art in motion.

So this morning I woke up and took a breath.  A long, slow breath and felt it move languidly through my body, opening cells, relaxing the habit of tightness, allowing time to open up and spaciousness to move gently through and all around.  And my mind kicked in with a to do list and I politely asked it to bugger off.  And in this a little creative spark got lit, less an idea and more a movement to create.  A welcome return of a state of being that nourishes me and guides me into greater joy and connection and truth.

So women – what’s it like for you to experience yourself as art in motion?  How do you move and stretch and walk or dance, what qualities would my friend Scottie notice as you wandered through his field?

And for all of us – permission here to allow ourselves the joy and wonder of noticing a woman, shining from within, walking past in all her glory.