Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In the space there is the power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. —Victor Frankl
Beatrice Chestnut opens her book The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge with the above quote. The quote stopped me for a few moments as I thought about all that I have learned up to this point about my response to this life I’ve been given. In many ways our response to people, places and things has been formulated over the years and turned into a template that is rarely questioned. Questioning a response creates a bit of space to begin to gain awareness into why we react in certain ways. It is the beginning of shaping new responses to align more fully with our highest self.
I’m on day four of the Carolyn Resnick’s “21-day chair meditation challenge“. Instructions include “sharing territory” with one’s horse by sitting in a chair in a space with the horse from fifteen minutes to one hour with no agenda, no expectations and no intention for the horse. The instructions offered a choice in the amount of time spent each day. Fifteen minutes a day would deepen my connection with my horse, thirty minutes a day would create “profound self-realization” or one hour a day would be “life changing”. I’m always up for “life changing” experiences. So I have opened up my schedule to spend one hour a day with my horse. “Easy, peasy”, I thought.
I took the picture above last Wednesday on the west coast. It reminds me of how a change in perspective can create a different mood. I woke up this morning with a very different landscape as I live in the Chicago area and winter is in full force. I admit I was in a funk, and did what I do when I feel low. I create my own seat in the Garden by connecting with my favorite people, cuddling with my dog, listening to music, practicing yoga, journaling and eating good food. One of the songs I heard was this beautiful tune by Ásgeir Trausti:
Far up in the north, the nights can be so dark. Biting cold takes its toll on the body. Grýla casts her spell in the depths of the mind, damaging happiness and the joy of life. Hope and faith, don’t you fail me now. Hope and faith, come and warm my heart. Hope and faith, fill me up with strength. Hope and faith, shine down with bright light. Hope and faith, give me back my joy. Hope and faith, in the dark of night.
Learning to accept uncomfortable feelings while practicing new behaviors strengthens our ability to do the hard things necessary to create. Making things or doing something new can sometimes bring up feelings of vulnerability. Engaging in something novel can quietly trigger negative beliefs of scarcity, worth and ability, wreaking havoc in reaching goals. Uncomfortable feelings and negative beliefs often surface when trying something for the first time. It can be helpful to journal about feelings and beliefs that that may come up. Think of a time in your life when you tried something new. What was that like for you?
…stay as light and unburdened as possible… -Elizabeth Gilbert
How does one stay “light and unburdened”? For some of us, this may not be a challenge. I’ve heard that there are some people in this world that wake up smiling. I don’t know of any. Okay, maybe my mom wakes up full of light.
Me? Nope. The moment I reach consciousness, demanding thoughts swirl around in my head space. I have this internal taskmaster that starts to dole out chores and responsibilities before my feet hit the ground, and then I have this part of me that whines about having to do all of those things. I’ve found that there is an art to practicing living a “light and unburdened” life. Key words here are “art” and “practicing”. Here are some of the things I create light and freedom in my life:
“The work wants to be made, and it wants to be made through you”. -Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert writes in her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear about a Creative Force that is imbued in everything and in us. It is the Big Magic behind sunsets, puppies, works of art, folding laundry and making love. It is swirling around and through, inviting us to be noticed and intentional. This Creative Force wants us to be its form and has infinite ways of showing up. What wants to be created through you?