By kate, November 15th, 2012
If you have a pattern or block you’d like to transform, consider creating a ritual. Distilling the change you want to make into a rite of passage supports shifts in non-linear and almost instantaneous ways.
Years ago I was in a workshop with the great Jean Houston. The culmination of three days was an invitation to cross a threshold between who I had been and who I might become. We could do this by stepping over a line marked out on the floor by a string of tealights — a ritual of conscious and transformative change.
Who knew that such a simple exercise could be so powerful.
As I come up to the line, all my fears and resistance concentrate in my chest and throat. I stand at the “edge”, gathering myself. I have the distinct experience of energy moving, as though whole complexes and patterns are coming to the surface and breaking up in the face of my intention to transform. With time I feel a readiness — a clarity that I can and should step over the line — and a quiet shift within that I know is a quantum increase in self-authority and self-acceptance. I step over, and instantly there is more space, and more vulnerability. I don’t yet have sea legs in this new ocean of possibility. In a short time though, I stabilize. I am excited. I’ve passed over into a new world.
If you are dogged by a pattern you’d love to shift, I recommend creating a ritual of transformative change for yourself.
Here are the basic elements:
- Name what you want to transform and listen for the new that is seeking to emerge.
- Create a container for yourself — pick a time and place that has meaning, and ask people from your inner circle to join you in the process, or to bear witness. Decide the format — what will represent your threshold?
- Prepare yourself. Before a rite of passage there is an energetic need for a “vigil” — a time of reflection and cleansing that supports one to be ready for transformation.
- Humbly honour your truth at the heart of the ritual: do you commit to what is emerging or not? Only cross over your symbolic threshold if you are truly letting go of the old and embracing the new. This is not a mental shift, but one that happens at the level of deep inner knowing.
- If you cross over, celebrate! There is a reason that marriages and funeral always include food. The “nodal” points where we take a different path need to be marked, and celebrating with food is in our DNA.
You can also honour this basic five step architechture any time you do something new or big, since the newness/bigness involves “stepping over a line”.
I recently facilitated a three day board retreat for a large multi-stakeholder group. In the days before, I allowed myself more quiet time, knowing I was deepening and gathering myself as preparation to hold space for a dynamic group process. Afterwards, I celebrated (a part of the cycle too many of us neglect too often!!).
Creating rituals, and seeing more of what we do through the lens of ritual, are two ways to support transformative change.
By kate, March 07th, 2012
If we want to be grounded and calm in a crisis, we need to cultivate this capacity, the way a person wanting to climb Mount Everest needs to build up physical and mental stamina.
For years I have used the simple breathing exercise below as part a daily practice of setting my energy and intentions for the day. I also do the practice whenever I feel out of balance or off-centre. I encourage you to try it.
When you experience the immediate benefits — how your energy centres and settles — you might be inspired to take a few moments for this way of breathing before a big phone call, or meeting, or task.
The more you are able to integrate this centring practice into your daily life, the more it will be available to you in a time of crisis. You will have self soothed with figure of eight breathing (or a similar mindfulness practice) for so many smaller storms that it will be your automatic response to bigger ones.
Let me know how you find it.
Figure of Eight Breathing
- Optional: take off eyeglasses, any heavy jewellery, and footwear made of rubber or plastic.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, eyes closed, and your attention on your breath. Sitting or lying down works too, but standing is the easiest way to start.
- Inhaling slowly, bring your awareness to your heart.
- Exhaling slowly, imagine your breath is traveling down the front of your body and penetrating to the centre of the Earth.
- Inhaling slowly, imagine you are drawing energy up from the centre of the Earth and up the back of your body, and into your heart.
- Exhaling slowly, imagine that your breath is going from your heart up the front of your body as high as it can go – to Ether, the stars, heaven – whatever works for you.
- Inhaling slowly, imagine you are drawing energy down from above, down the back of your body and into your heart.
- Repeat this “figure of eight” as long as feels right – perhaps 5-20 cycles at the beg
inning. When you are familiar with this practice, four or five cycles is enough to feel quite grounded.
To start, I suggest tracing the figure of eight shape with one hand, as a way to help your awareness move.
By kate, December 06th, 2010
Here’s an idea from a recent workshop participant: a way to simplify your world:
Put one issue/task on the desktop at a time. This singular focus helps clarify what is “signal” and what is “noise”, making it easier to pick up on your intuitive knowing, and easier for your life to be graced with helpful synchronicities.
It relates to another “focusing” idea that I heard in the same week (so I’ve taken ‘focusing’ to be a flirt!):
Most of us have long To-Do lists, often debilitatingly long. George Kao suggests that we create a real To-Do list that has a maximum of three items. You can move things on and off this list on different days or at different points in the same day. The idea is to keep at bay anything that is beyond your current 1-3 top priorities.
I love the clarity this brings. Reviewing my long list from the perspective of picking the top three has caused me to knock about half off the list all together. They are what Stephen Covey would classify as “Not Urgent, and Not Important.” An instantly lighter load!
For the items that make the short list, my effort is concentrated and I’m much more productive, allowing me to add the next top priority to the short list.
Let me know how this resonates.
By kate, September 23rd, 2010
A couple of years ago, a new neighbour and I got talking at a block party. We both loved growing food, but I didn’t have much land, and she had her hands full with a new baby. In the magical way that conversations can open up possibilities, Julia and I wondered if others in our neighbourhood might be in the same boat: wanting to grow more food but needing something to get going.
I pay attention when a conversation sparkles. I figure its an outer expression of inner alignment: something with my name on it; something I should be paying attention to.
So in joyous collaboration with my new friend, we nurtured the seed of the Two Block Diet — a group of neighbours from the block where Julia lives, and the block immediately to the North where I live. (You can read how we did it here.)
The inner orientation has been pure “make light work”: Everything we need is already here, and many hands make work fun, effective, and wonderfully fulfilling — just like the barn-raisings and quilting bees of old.
Change doesn’t have to be huge or grandiose to be effective. Ours is more organic and garden like: planting seeds that take root and spread. And spreading it is, thanks especially to a great front page story in today’s Vancouver Sun.
(As a side note, the Vancouver Sun article came about thanks to a referral from a Village Vancouver member. Connecting different circles in our communities is another powerful way to “make light work”.)