Posts tagged #inspiration

Your deepest gifts aren't unique (and why that's great)

There's probably a finite number of ways that the divine expresses through us human beings.  I can think of maybe a dozen distinct types of gifts of spirit that I've received in my life from hundreds of people. Flavors of Spiritual Gifts I've Received in My Life

  1. Rich recognition and acceptance of my true self, with no judgment.
  2. Absurd, delightful humor that dissolves all self-seriousness and self-righteousness.
  3. A stunning glimpse of the magic underlying the "ordinary" world.
  4. Healing and soothing of unbalanced, unhappy energy or physical injury.
  5. Absorption into narrative or drama that creates a heightened sense of significance.
  6. Playfulness so free and riotous that it breaks through the curmudgeon in me and gets me to play, too.
  7. A deep, compassionate acknowledgement of my past struggles combined with a persuasive optimism for my future.
  8. Relaxing hospitality that makes me feel warmly welcomed and nourished.
  9. Visions of completely bizarre and fantastic other-worlds.
  10. A profound faith in my gifts plus a willingness to support me.
  11. Leadership that guides me to a great destination without ever underestimating or falsifying the challenge of the journey.
  12. A clear-sighted perception of truth blended with an air of being totally non-impressed by my bullshit.

Multiple expressions of fundamental tastes

These spiritual gifts are what people have given to me through their presence and through their art.  Give or take some.

These are the basic flavors of spiritual gifts - like chocolate, mint, coffee, cumin, vanilla, green tea, red bean, strawberry, cinnamon.  There's a finite number of very distinct flavors.

Of course, each flavor has its own unique manifestations.  There's Madagascar vanilla and Mexican vanilla.  Those subtle differences are lovely.  But when you taste either one, you know you're tasting vanilla.

And of course, you can combine flavors.  Mix cinnamon into your coffee and strawberry into your chocolate.  And that's fun.  But it's still the same basic flavors.

The point

I'm making a point of this because sometimes I get really bummed when I notice that someone else is beautifully manifesting a spiritual gift flavor that I like to think of as my spiritual gift.

What the crazy says

This line of crazy goes something like this: "Look at that hussy over there, wantonly accepting and honoring people's true selves and helping them to express their love in the world! How dare she! Who does she think she is?! Doesn't she know that's my gig?"

This line of crazy is exacerbated by folks who like to emphasize the uniqueness of our individual gifts.  If I catch someone else doing what I most delight in doing - then I don't feel so unique and I tend to devalue myself.

Just for today...

Today I'm practicing being cool with the fact that I'm not the only manifestation of cinnamon to walk on this earth.  Er, you know what I mean.  I'm not the only person in the world who radiates the spiritual gift of upliftment and inspiration.  And thank fucking god, because that would be exhausting.

Today I'd like to just focus on being the most delicious bite of cinnamon that I can be, while being totally cool with the cinnamon-power of others.

How about you?

What's the basic flavor of spiritual gift that you tend to radiate?  What do you taste like? How do you feel when you notice other people dishing out a similar tastiness? I'd love for you to tell me in the comments.

 

 

 

Posted on September 20, 2012 and filed under Creativity.

What is Femininity Now? Courtly (Lyric) Love in an Age of Women's Liberation

I had a fascinating conversation with my friend David during the Evolver Convergence.  He mentioned that he noticed that a lot of men in consciousness circles these days experienced a sense of purposelessness: "If a guy isn't super-rich or famous he feels like he doesn't have anything special to offer a woman; I mean, what does a woman need a guy for? Women can do everything just fine on their own."

This really surprised me to hear, but of course it's true. All the women I know can indeed do everything just fine on their own.  Yet the notion that a man could really feel that he was superfluous to women - though I'd heard it expressed previously  ("A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle") - struck me as so sad and so untrue.  When David asked me what I felt I needed men for in my life I immediately gushed: "Everything!"

Which of course is not exactly the case.  Let me emphasize that I'm fully a feminist in the sense that I hold up the radical idea that women are people.  And also let me emphasize that I've lived whole stretches of my life as a single lady who works and supports herself.  I know I don't "need" a man to provide the necessities of my life - and this knowing may be what underlies the crisis of masculine purpose that David is talking about.

So where did that gushing, breathless "Everything!" come from?

It came from my acquaintanceship with the deep joy that wells up when I notice that something about my femininity has inspired a man to action that both helps me and helps him and actually helps our community and our world.

I've come to feel lately that femininity (at least my personal experience of it) is a mode of holding open a space of rich possibility.  In other words, when I'm really in my feminine power I'm not so much doing things - instead I'm creating a spiritual, emotional and creative environment where things can happily and easily get done. This holding of course isn't entirely passive: it requires intention, presence, discipline, faith.

For example, I feel I exerted mostly feminine power in my role in organizing the Convergence.  Yet that business of exuding feminine inspiration certainly wasn't  a matter of lying on the couch and eating bon-bons like Peg Bundy.  It involved showing up consistently among the evolvers in my life and loving them and listening to them. Also, ironically, it entailed a "to do" list that was fairly extensive.  It's tough to explain: when I'm in the feminine emanation thing I'm certainly doing stuff (making soup for potlucks, writing up press releases, offering ideas for art parties) but the nature of the stuff I'm doing is supportive of the happening rather than being the happening itself.  In other words, the deepest part of my service is inviting others to share in the imaginal zeitgeist of the work we're doing and to be inspired by it.

So back to men.  One of the reasons why men (or masculine-essence people) are really delightful is that they're often more responsive to this imaginal emanation stuff than my women friends.  And sometimes they pick up on things that I didn't even know I was emanating - positive, beautiful things.  And then they act on those inspirations.  This, to me, is the essence of courtly love: it's a sacred erotic process of reception and action.  Interestingly, the writer Gaston Paris, in the 1883 essay that coined the term "courtly love" observed that in amour courtois

"The lover (idolizer) accepts the independence of his mistress and tries to make himself worthy of her by acting bravely and honorably (nobly) and by doing whatever deeds she might desire, subjecting himself to a series of tests (ordeals) to prove to her his ardor and commitment. "

This doesn't sound all that different from the present situation of women's liberation or even the prospect of free love, does it? The lover has to humbly accept the absolute independence of his mistress. It sounds downright enlightened, actually.  Of course I would add to this that in our modern version, the mistress has to also accept the absolute independence of her lover.  While it's true that I definitely have days when I'm excited by the prospect of making a gentleman do "whatever deeds" I might desire, most of the time I'm mostly fascinated by the phenomenon of spontaneous inspiration which, as I've just mentioned, I believe is the essence of courtly love (or lyric love, as I like to call it - being as courts no longer really exist but lyrics sure as hell do).

On an organizational scale: so many times during the weekend of the Convergence gentleman friends did super-helpful and laborious things on my behalf in a wondrously gallant fashion, always without me having to ask twice and sometimes without me asking at all: hauling chairs, hooking up sound systems and just generally making magic appear.

On an intimate scale: Matthu made a major positive change in his life recently and he credited me with inspiring him to do it.  This stunned me - while it's a change that I very much like, it's not one that I expected or even hoped for him to make. My mother always said "You can't change a man" - but apparently you can, if you have absolutely no intention or desire to change him! Such is the nature of the feminine work of holding the space of grand possibility.

Something that sometimes irks my ego about this magic amazing feminine power is that it's no way exclusive to me.  I can wield it but I can't own it. As much as I'd love to see myself as the sole emanator of the Eternal Feminine on this plane, it's just not so.  Case in point: there were at least three other stunning Love Goddesses at the Inner Divinity Costume Party.  I used to see this as a bummer: it means that men I love might go around getting tremendously inspired by other women!  How dare they!  But right now I have a bit more of an expansive sense: I would adore for the men I love to go around getting tremendously inspired by other women.  I just want as much inspiration and love to flow forth into the world as humanly possible.  I want to have no control over it whatsoever.  I just want it to happen - heaven knows we need it.

 

 

 

 

 

image: [Denis Bocquet]

image: [Edward Leighton - Godspeed]

Posted on June 6, 2012 and filed under Unconditional Love.

4 Steps to Awesomofication - Guest Post by Jen Saunders

Today's guest post comes to us from the lovely and wise Jen Saunders, editor of Wild Sister magazine. I first met Jen in the springtime-- since then I've been enjoying her ever-sunny style and commitment to joy.  Here, she offers us a much needed reminder to slow down and connect.  

4 Steps to Awesomofication

 

 

Hey, you! Yes, YOU!

You know you’re AWESOME, right?

What ever you’re doing right now, whether you are drinking your morning cup of coffee, stressing over your daily to-do-list, or sitting on the couch in your pajamas (10 points to anyone who is doing all three!), ask yourself this:

Am I feeling relaxed? Notice your shoulders, your neck, jaw & anything else that feels tense.

Now do what ever you need to do to relax. Sit back in your chair for a second & just… sit. When was the last time you just sat? Not watching TV, not typing or Googling or stalking people on Facebook, just sitting with your head back & your arms relaxed by your side?

If you’re like me, you probably never do that. So stop whatever you’re doing & just sit, be still. Do it now. I’ll join you :)

…………………….

…………………….

……………………

Welcome back!

Now, take a moment to breathe. Right now.

Not a little, half-arsed breath. Put some effort into it. Stop whatever else you are doing – forget about the to-do-list for just a second – & slowly, take in a big, deep breath.

Breathe in. Hold it.

And let it go. Slowly.

Do it again.

One last time. Breathe in. And out.

Feeling your awesomeness, yet?

If not, try it again. Really pay attention to your breath. Focusing on your breathing is a quick & easy way to bring yourself into the present moment, the only moment that matters – because all we really have is right now. I lost touch of that today, & when I lose touch, I forget my own awesomeness. I was pushing myself too hard, stressing out & trying to accomplish a thousand & one things all at the same time. As always, that lead to me feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, & extremely tense.

Luckily, I know myself pretty well, especially lately, so once I become aware that I’m not feeling as awesome as I’d like to, I immediately begin the process of re-awesomofying myself.

My Four Steps To Re-Awesomofication: 1. Breathe. The deep breathing & centering exercise that I just described is usually my first step. Breathe in…. Aaand out :)

2. Dance. Put on your favourite playlist of songs. Songs that are positive, upbeat & just so fantastic that your awesome levels have no choice but to rise. It’s just like the slime from Ghostbusters 2 that (spoiler alert!) dances & comes alive to the music – only without that creepy Viggo guy from the painting (Random Fact: My number 1 fear? Viggo. *shudder*).

3. Vent. Talk it out. Hearing yourself talk about the things that you’re freaking out about internally will always make you realise that you are okay, that it’s not as bad as you thought it was, & that you can totally handle it. Most of the time I talk to my fiance, Mike, or my Mum or Dad, but if there’s no-one to talk to I’ll write about what’s worrying me, which is just as good.

4. Laugh. Lastly, invest some time in something that will make you laugh. It can be a TV show or a classic funny movie, otherwise there’s always Youtube, or talk to people who always make you laugh – for me it’s Mike or my brother :)

By the end of all this, your awesomeness will be back to a healthy level & you’ll be ready to handle anything that comes your way!

But, of course, I do have a back-up plan for those rare occasions when all this doesn’t get me the results I want; sleep. If these 4 steps to re-awesomofication don’t lead me back to my usual awesome self, then chances are I’m just exhausted & need to get some rest!

What do you do to re-awesomofy yourself & your life?

Do you have any kickass steps that need to be added to this list? I’d love to hear them! :)

Keep Smiling!

Jen ♥

 

Want to guest post on Awesome Your Life?

Awesome Your Life gets 1,500 new readers a month.  Readers who could be delightedly taking in your guest post.  How could this come to be? Click here to find out.

Why Living with Your Parents Doesn't Make You a Loser

I'm the Early BirdCreative Commons License photo credit: itslegitx  What a lovely tree house. Can I live there?

 

There's an idea in the general cultural atmosphere which I'm sick of. It goes something like this: if you live with your folks after your early 20s, if you're broke, if you're struggling to find meaningful and / or decently paying work, then there's something wrong with you.

This is a poisonous notion perpetuated by a society that's too cowardly to own up to the ways in which it has failed. I am someone who's deeply invested in the ideal of taking personal responsibility-- but this lie seeks to place responsibility on individuals where it absolutely does not belong.

We're in the middle of an economic collapse because the whole goal of our capitalist system-- infinite growth-- is actually impossible. Our economy is set up to stagnate and fail if it isn't constantly expanding. But we don't really need our economy to grow, we need it to function sustainably. And we don't really need more jobs. We need a way of distributing wealth which doesn't rely on a dysfunctional market.

In other words, we're losers all right-- in a game which was poorly designed to begin with.

I've seen the best minds of my generation shamed, depressed, demeaned-- blaming themselves for being unable to get ahead in this broken game. Growing up we were told that if we just worked hard, got good grades and went to college we'd be able to get a good job and be just fine.

Well, that turned out to be a giant lie-- now many of us-- even those of us who "played by the rules" and majored in theoretically sensible things like business administration and psychology are now saddled with loads of debt and no non-hellish job prospects.

This is not our fault. This is not because we failed. We are not failing. Our institutions, our systems, our whole mode of societal organization is failing. The kind of jobs that we're supposed to hustle for-- corporate gigs, office gigs, aren't exactly conducive to deep human fulfillment, so it's unsurprising that the wind would get knocked out of our hustling sails.

We need to shift our sense of self-worth so that it's not at all based on how we fare in this economy. We need to celebrate one another relentlessly, just as we are, with all our magic that doesn't fit into the boxes of hiring managers. We need to meet up in gift circles and potlucks and be a village.

We don't get to be yuppies any more; whether we like it or not, we get to be villagers: we can't afford fancy dinners and travel and shows all the time-- we have only ourselves for our entertainment and warmth. I love the motto of the Evolver Social Movement, of which I'm a part: "Find the others." Find the other people who are talented and stunning in ways our culture can hardly handle-- find the others who are struggling bravely-- see their gorgeousness which so vastly excels the hardship of their suffering. See their self-doubt, which is your own. Love and cherish them and in so doing love and cherish yourself.

We need to reorganize our whole society into a gift economy.

But that'll take awhile. In the meantime... how to make some cash?

Well, lately I'm a big proponent of digital entrepreneurship, i.e., selling downloadable products online. It's what I'm going to be doing in a few months with my eCourse. It's what I think a lot of us suffering and penniless geniuses should be focusing our efforts towards. I've been harassing all my friends about it. "You should be internet famous," I keep saying to the adorable, insanely smart people in my circumference. And why? Because it's true.

Jobs aren't a reliable source of income anymore. We need to dig deep, find what we have to offer, and offer it. Why sell yourself to an employer for an hourly wage? Why not create something out of your own vision which you can then sell-- and gradually free yourself from having your income tied to your time? Why grovel to match some boss' expectations of you when you could very loudly be yourself on the world wide web and attract supporters for it?

These are questions I'm asking myself. I'll probably go on more about this topic in the days and weeks to come. In the meantime, if you're interested in digital entrepreneurship as a means of getting on in this world, here are some resources to check out, some inspirational and some informational:

The Middle Finger Project - Ash Ambirge is a fine, sassy lady who offers a great free course in business when you sign up for her mailing list.

The Bootstrapper's Bible -- Seth Godin offers his thoughts about what it takes to do the whole entrepreneur-out-of-thin-air thing-- I still haven't quite forgiven him for the rather odd interpretation of gift economy he offered in Linchpin, but I'm working on it because he's generally useful.

Why You Should Never Get a Job - Steve Pavlina spells it out. I read this article a few years ago and it totally flipped my perspective on the matter.

 

Love! Carolyn

An Open Love Letter to Creative and Brilliant Men

Dear Creative and Brilliant Men, I'm lucky to hang out with you all the time-- at parties, at meetings, at home (that's you, my wondrous partner).  I see you doing your thing out in the world-- researching, performing, building, teaching-- and I notice the skepticism and shaming you endure from society in general, from family, and from the women in your life (sometimes even me).

We tell you to stop playing around, do something serious, bring in the cold hard cash. ("Why don't you do right, like some other men do?")

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2f40eQcYXk

("Why don't you get outta here and bring me some money too?")

Please don't listen.  Please be you.  Please make and do insane stuff that dazzles me.

I look around and I notice that a lot of the creative recovery material out there is geared toward women and focussed on fostering the divine feminine.  Of course that's incredibly important-- but I just want to say that my divine femininity needs your divine masculinity in its full force-- whether you're my friend, my lover, or just some guy whose show I go see.

I need you to be out there and in here with me relentlessly playing, pushing the edges, stalking strange prey.  I need you to be cheeky, cocky, and totally out of my control.

Whenever you do this-- whenever you inhabit the glory of your playful masculine nature with no apologies and no shame (something that's very hard to do in an age where masculinity is constantly caricatured as base violence and lust) you invite me into a dance and give me freedom to deeply embody my femininity. I can relax. I can surrender.  I don't have to be managing everything.  Your strength and verve can make me forget myself-- and in doing this, put me in touch with the well of pleasure at the core of my being.

But this isn't always clear in the moment. Sometimes I resist. I might give you a tight-lipped smile and shake my head in disapproval.  I might nag you about making more money. I might not look like I'm totally thrilled when you spend the weekend on an esoteric research project instead of taking me out.  I could act like I don't care that you've got mad skills when it comes to painting, rapping, laying labyrinths or making robots.  Like I'm not impressed. Like I'm not delighted.

But the thing is-- I am, totally.  And whenever I don't show it it's only because I'm stuck in my own nonsense fear and grumpy neuter adultness.  Be patient; keep burning; keep flashing.  Your strength and commitment to your purpose is irresistible, intoxicating, liberating.  It opens me, melts me, kills the dead parts of me.  And leaves me so glad that you're my friend, my lover, or the dude who's show I'm seeing. Because fuck knows I need to be opened, melted, killed-- again and again. (The ladies of Heart know what I'm talkin' about).

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXOO7QVHgXs

("He's a magic man, mama!")

So if you're feeling tired or discouraged or bedraggled today please don't give up. Don't give in to the pressure to be normal. Don't stop. Keep on. Please push harder and venture more wildly-- for my sake and for that of all the women you love, dear magic man.

Love,

Carolyn

 

What, you want more? -- Well, sweet friend-- you should sign up for my mailing list by clicking right here.

You'll get a free ebook on plumping your creativity by caring for your morphic field and updates and offers from yours truly.

 

 

 

 

Genius Interview #1: DJ Nice Nate

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkZQs4CR4Fk  

Nice Nate is my favorite DJ / electronic musician and also a really rad guy.

 

In this interview Nate relates a death experience he had which gave him first-hand penetrating insights on the nature of the soul and the importance of doing your art, even if it kills you.

 

Check out a few of his transporting tracks:

Tremors

Asura

Samsara

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on September 5, 2011 and filed under Creativity.

Technicolor Galaxies and Burst Stars- Inspirational Crack

I just spoke to the sweet folks at NASA this morning, working on getting their permission to use images from their Chandra X-ray Observatory for my book.

I want to encourage my brilliant readers to take some time to look through the whole big collection of these images on flickr. They're the most astounding images of outer-space I've ever seen.

 

 

I bring these to your attention because I think they're first-class high-grade inspirational crack.  What do I mean by that? Well, looking at these images is addictive and hypnotic in that good way. I can't stop looking at them.

 

When I'm viewing these jaw-droppers, I think about how there are forces out their in the universe (I like to think of them as the Divine Wow but maybe you want to say "physics") that made them-- which is the same energy that creates you and me and everything.

 

I'd offer that these images are some fresh evidence of the universe's genius at work-- a genius that we're free to tune into and partake of by practicing spiritual principles.  Doesn't knowing that get you a little high with wonder?

 

 

 

The Gift World vs. the Mad World

Dear Reader, As I began discussing in my last post, the gift world is a subjective experience of life in which your genius is fully supported and welcomed in its expression, and in which your needs and authentic preferences are joyously met by a provident universe.

I might elaborate on that by saying it's also a condition in which you don't need to control or manipulate anything, nor are you subject to any control or manipulation.  It's a state wherein you offer yourself fully as a gift and experience yourself likewise fully supplied with everything-- also as a gift.  The gifts which supply you come to you through a variety of people and circumstances, but they simply come.  There's no struggling and striving involved, no need to force yourself to do work you don't want to do, no sense of barrier or disconnection between you and other people.  In other words, the gift world is a lot different than the mad world we currently live in.

What's the mad world? It's the state in which we apparently need to strive and do drudge work in order to support ourselves, or, conversely, we need to manipulate, lie to, and exploit others in order to spare ourselves from drudgery (i.e., do business).  It's a world in which we must exert control and force over ourselves (how else do you get yourself to go to work in an ugly office other than through forcing?), where we feel painfully alone and disconnected from our own vital souls and from the other people that surround us.  It's something wrought upon us from the time we're very young and made to go to school in a thoroughly corrupt and increasingly pointless educational system. I think Gary Jules' cover of Tears for Fears' "Mad World" in Donnie Darko sums it up pretty well. But then again, the original Tears for Fears version is way easier to dance to:

 

The mad world is a condition in which we're desperately trying to control ourselves, other people, and all the factors which surround us out of an intense survival anxiety.  Charles Eisenstein sums it up very well, blow by blow, in his book The Ascent of Humanity (which is available online in its entirety-- as a gift, because Mr. Eisenstein knows what's up). The mad world is a world in which technology and science, surveillance and laws, discipline and punishment are used to maximum effect in order to produce a very tenuous and unsustainable version of security in which we're not only not actually safe, but we're also now bored and depressed.

In the gift world, since you have no need to control, there's no fear.  As the teacher Adyashanti has observed, fear is just a by-product of frustrated control. In the gift world, you do things, but nothing you do is "work" in the sense that we've come to think of it, because your security and your identity don't come from what you accumulate as a result of your effort.  Instead, you give your efforts freely, accruing no obvious security or bolstering to your seperate ego-self.  As you give in this manner, your wants and needs are subsequently mysteriously met in delightful and miraculous ways by the universe.

This miraculous movement happens because, as Lewis Hyde observed in his seminal work The Gift, when gifts received are consumed or passed on, the spiritual power at work in the gift grows-- more is drawn forth, more gifts flow to you. When gifts received are hoarded, stored up, or used only to accrue individual gain, the spiritual power at work in the gift departs-- it dries up, and no more gifts come to you. The gift spirit as it moves creates connection and joy, satisfaction and fulfillment among a circle of givers and receivers.  The gift as it is hoarded creates disconnection and ennui, alienation and discontent.

Our genius (talent, intelligence, creativity, soul-- whatever you want to call it) is clearly a gift given to us by the source.  We didn't manufacture our genius deliberately, of our own clever device.  We didn't make it out of duct-tape and cardboard. It came to us freely, from outside our own will and effort. When we use our gift of genius only promote ourselves, only to make ourselves as individual egos more secure and safe in a seemingly threatening universe-- we then betray the spirit of the gift. We become hoarders. The genius then stops giving us ideas and inspirations and means to carry those out because we've proven ourselves ungrateful.  When we wrongly use gifts graciously bestowed upon us as possessions to which we are entitled,  the spirit of the gift dies.

It was a revelation to me when I learned from Lewis Hyde about the need of the gift to move.  While it made deep sense to me on one level, on another it contradicted the perverse notions of gift reception that I'd learned in childhood: gifts are given to me on my birthday and at Christmas and they are MINE all MINE.  I was taught that to give away a gift that I received as a birthday or a Christmas present was rude. Not only this, but I was prevented from actually formally reciprocating the gifts given to me. When I was invited as a guest to the birthday parties of other children,  the birthday gifts bestowed on my friends by "me"  were toys bought by my mother. I was not allowed to give the pine cones and twigs, the flowers and quartz pebbles I really wanted to give.  The toys my mother presented did not come from me-- they had nothing to do with me. I was deluged with gifts and yet kept out of the circle of giving-- and perhaps unsurprisingly, the gifts I was given in this fashion meant nothing to me on a deep level. They represented nothing to me but a hoard of "my" toys.  The ethos of giving and receiving taught to me thus denied the  actual spirit of the gift.

As I practice the path of virtualizing a great universe and surrendering into my innocence, I can more and more clearly perceive that what I'm virtualizing is the gift world-- and as the gift world is more and more  coming to be my reality,I'm growing increasingly excited.  In the coming days, I'll be sharing more regarding what it takes to move from the mad world to the gift world.

 

Love, Carolyn

Image Attribution: Photo "Presents under the tree" by VancityAllie, borrowed from Flickr under Creative Commons licensing.

5 Minutes Toward Beauty

Dear Reader, 5 Minutes Toward Beauty is one of the 4 Tools to Awesome Your Life which we haven't yet discussed much. Today I want to talk about these 5 Minutes and their power.

What Is It?

With the 5 Minutes Towards Beauty tool, we just decide to take 5 minutes of our life each day and devote them towards creating something that's not practical or expedient.  What we create doesn't have to be "beautiful" in the classic sense of "wow, that's lovely" but it does have to be beautiful in the sense that it exists for no other reason than to give delight.

In this sense, anything we create that's just fun or extravagant counts for the 5 Minutes Towards Beauty.  In other words, you don't have to paint the Mona Lisa.  It works just as well to make up a song about your socks as you get dressed in the morning.

Why Do It?

Devoting 5 Minutes Toward Beauty each day has the effect of aligning you with a central operating principle of the universe-- extravagant creativity.  I don't know if you've noticed, but whatever forces there are whipping up this world, they are not stingy with creating things that are gorgeous, fun, and weird.

When we decide to be very grown up and just limit ourselves to creating things that serve our little grown up identities and our purely practical concerns, we cut ourselves off from this central operating principle. And we suffer for it-- we feel bored, dead, lifeless, depressed.  We might develop neuroses-- being overly concerned about what other people think about us, feeling like our only value lies in how much money we have or how dazzling our career looks.

Those troubles are all symptoms of creative deficiency.  They come from not being aligned with a central principle of the universe.  Alignment with the spiritual principles that the world turns upon is necessary for us as human beings, because it connects us with positive forces much larger than ourselves that can awesome our lives far beyond our most daring hope.

How to Do It?

Aligning with spiritual principles is a matter of adjusting both attitude and action. Both of these adjustments happen through making small daily decisions.  In order to align with creativity, we need to adjust our attitudes by deciding to see ourselves as divine collaborators in the service of the greatest piece of installation art ever--  planet earth -- not just as self-interested agents out to stay afloat.  Similarly, we need to adjust our actions by deciding to make a small gesture each day that's in line with the spirit of our new decision about ourselves: 5 Minutes Toward Beauty.

Yeah, But What Can I Really Do In 5 Minutes?

More than you think! Here's a list of things that have worked for me and my associates:

1. Make up new song lyrics to your favorite tunes.

Lately I've been working up on coming up with new chants to chant to the Hare Krishna melodies I most enjoy.

2. Propagate tall tales about the unlikely and fantastic adventures of you heroic friends.

"Did you guys hear about the time Connor uncovered a lost treasure of Aztec coins at the bottom of the Highland Park Reservoir and distributed them to orphans in Lawrenceville after presenting his find at the London Archaelogical Society?"

3. Make up nick names for your friends. Keep going till you get one that sticks.

My friend Jon has  surprisingly blond hair which he vigorously denies he has ever dyed. Therefore, it makes perfect sense for me and all others to call him Peroxide Jonny.

My friend Terry has a natural gift for leadership and a penchant for pants which are so close-fitting they remind me of super-hero tights.  Therefore: Boy Wonder.

4. Dream up a rad party to throw. I'm excited about the upcoming Genius Gathering and the Lavender Picnic Tea-Time Fantasia.

5. Draw a stick-figure comic strip about you, your pals and your latest adventure.

6. Open an inspiring cookbook, choose a recipe and decide on your own special twist to add to it.

From recent experience, I suggest Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

7. Invent a new kind of yoga.

The glorious Jane Bullard and I are working on something called Bhakti Flow-- stay tuned for more details!  But there's a whole world out there of innovation for you to still innovate. Like, who's gonna teach me Gardening Yoga? Or Big Fat Doggy Power Style? Perhaps you?

8. Start a blog and write a post.

Then make sure you tell me about it so I can read it, link to it, and love it.

Image Credit: Pink Flowering Gum by Tatters, found on Flickr, used under Creative Commons license.

4 Ways to Turn Searching Into Finding

Dear Reader, Navigating the search for fulfillment and joy in this life can be tough. It often feels like groping in treacherous darkness. I want to offer some simple suggestions for summoning more synchronicity to help you on your journey.

1) Each day, spend time focusing on what your ideal relationship with the world would feel like.

We tend to think that we want specific things-- for example, let's say that you think you want a house in the country with cathedral ceilings, a lush garden, and a teacup poodle. I would argue it's not really these things that you want.  It's the ideal relationship with the world that those things represent to you that you want. You want a relationship with the world that's rich with beauty and opportunities to nurture. A relationship that's expansive (cathedral ceilings), alive (lush garden), adorable and adoring (teacup poodle).

Many teachers of the law of attraction will suggest that you focus on imagining having the specific things that you want-- I suggest this, too, but only as an aid to imagining and vividly experiencing the feeling of what it would be like for you to be in your ideal relationship with the world.

Because let's face it-- the things without the relationship would be meaningless.  There's lots of people who have fab houses and gardens and poodles who are out-and-out rotting with misery. Being surrounded by wondrous things and creatures only feels good when those things occur in the context of a rich relationship with life.

What would it feel like if every person you encountered knew you as you wish to be known, honored you as you wish to be honored, helped you as you wished to be helped? And what would it feel like if all the unseen forces of the universe were continually showering you with gifts? Focus on this feeling every day-- discover it and nurture it.

2) Notice what beliefs or self-images you hold that seem to argue against the possibility of this ideal relationship and work to release them.

The very act of imagining yourself within your ideal relationship with the world has the effect of turning on the bright lights within your spirit, so you can see the shadows more starkly.

As soon as you begin to focus on the feeling of that relationship, you'll notice parts of yourself objecting-- "that's impossible" -- "that's not how life works" -- "that could never happen for me."  Those objections come from the conditioned beliefs and self-images which we hold about ourselves.

The process of releasing long-held limiting beliefs and self-images is on-going and multi-layered. Great progress can be made immediately on some important layers, and some layers take years to effectively budge. It's important, though, to accomplish this work because doing so clears our perception so that we can find our way towards our best world relationship.

In my experience, the most effective way to work with these doubts and false limitations is through meditative inquiry, which can be done alone or with a tutor.

3) Discover what it is in your life that conflicts with or argues against you enjoying your ideal relationship with the world and make changes accordingly.

Imagining what your best possible relationship with the world would feel like not only brings into stark view our inner doubts and limiting beliefs, it also can have the effect of showing us what elements in our current life are out of tune with the harmony we envision.

Once you begin focusing on your ideal world relationship, you may clearly realize that your critical friend or your demanding career don't fit in with your best vision.  This can be very painful to realize, since we like to hold to the familiar and can easily make the mistake of putting loyalty to others above loyalty to our own genius hearts.

Nonetheless, our dream relationship with the world won't be able to come true until we consciously let go of that which is presently in our lives that doesn't resonate with it.

4) Follow the path that sings.

As you focus on your ideal world relationship and let go of fearful doubts and people, places, and things which don't resonate with your vision, you'll come upon a path that sings to you.

When you come upon the entrance to a path that sings, you'll find yourself surrounded by people who know you as you want to be known, in an environment rich with beauty and love.  There will be spiritual resources and opportunities present for you in this place, and you'll be able to recognize it because the feeling that you get when you're there will feel like the wondrous world relationship you've been virtualizing in your daily practice.

As it happens, my path includes bhakti yoga, which-- quite literally-- sings. In bhakti yoga practice, we sing the names of the divine, offering ourselves to it in unconditional devotional service.  The first time I came to a kirtan (a session of music and chanting meditation) I immediately knew I was in the right place for me because the people and the environment there so fully resonated with my heart, which I had carefully tuned using the above-outlined steps.

Once you find your path, don't stop dreaming of that ideal world relationship and releasing that which doesn't align with it.  Keep dreaming and dropping until your life is a radiant pulsing jewel of love.

Love,

Carolyn