Yesterday's blog post was about the fine art of being who you are. I didn't really mean to write a follow-up post, but as is sometimes the case, yesterday's post caused a lot of comment and got a lot of traffic. Which always makes me realize I've hit a nerve. And makes me ponder more about what I wrote. Which often leads to me writing more. This is why I'm a novelist, because I'm incapable of writing short. My short stories are always 25 pages, and I've never, ever written one without thinking, maybe I should turn this into a novel.
But back to the subject at hand.
I wrote about how the most successful writers and entrepreneurs and creative professionals are those who are most gloriously themselves because we are drawn to them. I don't know about you, but I love it when somebody is not only passionate about some strange interest but confident enough to talk about it. Give me somebody blabbing on about his rubber band collection and the true meaning of rubber and I'll listen for hours.
I also wrote a little yesterday about how connecting with something bigger than yourself is the key to gaining this confidence in who you are and the ability to be yourself. And I want to delve into that a bit deeper today.
What, you say, does being yourself have to do with connecting? Everything. Because it is through connecting with a higher power that we gain access to our higher selves. And it is through our higher selves that we are able to express the true essence of our beings to the world.
Connecting entails regularly getting in touch with something greater than yourself, whether you consider that something God, the goddess, Allah, the universe, the divine, Source, or your ancestors. But what if you don't have an established religious or spiritual tradition within which to work and you're a bit nervous–perhaps even put off–by all this talk of connection?
I like to think that I get all my great ideas and inspiration from my higher self, the part of me that is not worried about judging others and comparing myself with them; the part of me that is not concerned with paying bills and worrying about whether to put bleach in with the next load of laundry. In other words, the higher self is that part of me that is not my ego. And I also consider my higher self to be one and the same as that bigger something that I desire to connect with, whether I call it source or universe or the divine.
The good news is that your higher self is easy to connect with. Here's some ideas to try.
1. Relaxation. Get yourself a meditation or self-hypnosis CD and listen to it regularly. Hypnosis CDs first get you to focus on your breath and deeply relax, and this is the heart of meditation. So doing hypnosis can be a way to back into a mediation practice if the thought of it freaks you out.
2. Meditate. Start short, with 5-minute spurts. Slowly lengthen the amount of time you sit. As mentioned above, all you have to do is focus on your breath to meditate. When thoughts disrupt your concentration, as they will, simply acknowledge them and let them float away. My good friend Rabbi Rami recommends concentrating on a one-word mantra with your out breath. Words like love, Lord, home, peace, heart will all work. Having a mantra can give your ego something to do and help keep you focused, but it is not a necessity. Experiment and do what works best for you.
3. Pray. One of my favorite saying ever (and the theme of my novel) is, If it's love, the Lord won't mind. I think the same is true of prayer–if it is sincere and done with love, the Lord will not mind how you do it. Don't worry about form or format, just start praying. And if you don't believe in God, pray to your higher self or the great, gaping, huge and beautiful universe.
4. Move. Many people find peace and connection in movement. Walk slowly and purposely or just walk. Dance. Try belly dancing or ecstatic dance. Or try Qi Gong or yoga. Moving your body can open up mental space and allow intuition and ideas to come through.
5. Play with Paints. Or crayons, or drawing pencils, or charcoals–whatever captures your attention. Messing around with art supplies activates the right brain and turns off the left. And that in turn relaxes the brain and allows space to open up to guidance.
It is best to make a regular practice of one or more of these techniques, but even if you only do them once in awhile you will benefit. So, tell me–what are your favorite ways to connect? How do they impact your writing and life?