Huffington Post recently had a slideshow wherein its editors posted pictures of their most sacred place on earth. These images ranged fromnature to religious imagery, children and even a book! And got me to think about the meaning of the word “sacred”.
Dictionary.com defines Sacred as:
1. devoted or dedicated to a deity or to some religious purpose; consecrated. 2. entitled to veneration or religious respect by association with divinity or divine things; holy. 3. reverently dedicated to some person, purpose, or object: a morning hour sacred to study. 4. regarded with reverence: the sacred memory of a dead hero.
But to me, sacred goes far beyond the boundaries of religion– it’s much more spiritual. It could be a moment, a thought, a feeling, a word…
Like a particularly spectacular sunrise (or sunset), when the sky lights up in multiple hues that can only leave you gasping at the utter brilliance of the Creator…
Or the breathtaking beauty of a flower…
I find the sacred in the time I spend crafting, or when I lose myself in my art or photography
In the corner of the couch when I curl up with my journal
In the lyrics to a song that seems to speak to me
The sacred isn’t merely religious– it’s personal. It’s a feeling of bliss, of connectedness, of peace.
Tons of ideas. Zero motivation. Image by orkboi via Flickr
This is the first post of this year. Almost a month into 2012. Over a month after my previous post.
After spending most of 2010 posting four times a week, week after week, I kinda dried out in 2011. I didn’t run out of ideas. I ran out of steam. Out of motivation.
That was my story for 2011. Not just for my blog – for my life. I slowed down. Despite myself. Notwithstanding all my good intentions. I just didn’t have the will to do anything. But I want to change that.
The world is going to end in 2012, or so the Mayans said. I don’t believe that means the doom and gloom that Hollywood would have us believe. It means the end of a cycle. And the end of a cycle heralds the beginning of a new one. So this year, I intend to start anew. To begin afresh.
Investing in me. Image via Flickr
I’m not in a hurry. I want to do things slow – and get them right. So I’m going to take my time. To analyze the year that was. To examine where I am and determine where I want to be. To plan. To take one step, and then another and another. To start the journey. Because that’s what’s important. The destination will come. Or it won’t.
What’s important is moving forward. Learning. Growing. Challenging yourself. Being fresh.
As I analyze, learn, and grow, I will share some of my insights with you, my wonderful readers. So if you find yourself stuck in a rut, or in need of some motivation, stay tuned. The best way to keep up with posts – through my RSS feed.
If you’ve been stuck in a rut and broken free – do share your advice in the comments. I’m on the lookout for all the help and inspiration I can find!
In The Artist’s Way (which, by the way, I have never managed to finish…discipline has fled the house!) Julia Cameron recommends a week of reading deprivation – she bans books, newspapers, magazines, everything – for at least one whole week. When I first read that, I balked at the very thought of it. And needless to say, didn’t follow through with the rest of the program.
But now, as I think about it, it makes a lot of sense – at least for me. It boggles the mind to think of the amount of time I would have to pursue other activities if I wasn’t compulsively stuck with my nose in a book every free second of every single day. I finish one book, sit back, inhale, and then wander over to my bookshelf to pull out the next book and start reading again.
Image by Josh Russell via Flickr
It’s starting to get freakish, this obsession I have with books. It starts in the morning – I curl up on the sofa with my cup of java to kick me awake and a book in my hand, reading at a feverish pace. I have to keep reminding myself that I need to move my butt and get ready for work. Once I’m back home in the evening, I rush through the chores (of changing and washing my face) and sit down to read. And read until well past bedtime, with mini breaks in between to welcome the husband home, squeeze in some small talk so he doesn’t think I’m insane, and during dinner.
Pathetic. Unhealthy. Irrational.
I’m beginning to see the sense in Julia Cameron’s approach. It’s time to bite the bullet. For someone as addicted it as me, it calls for serious measures. SO…reading deprivation for a month!
Wait! Did I just write that? Think that? What the hell is wrong with me? I’m never going to be able to stick with that! So…a compromise….How about…umm…a week? Every month? Reasonable enough, don’t you think?
But first, I have to finish the book I’m currently reading. And the one I’ve already decided to read after I finish this one. (I told you I was obsessive.) Then, a week of no reading. At all.
Oh, the smell of fresh paper. The feel of the rough page beneath my hand. The sense of possibilities expanding before me, as I gathered together my thoughts, put pen to paper, and wrote.
Gone are those good old days of keeping a hand-written journal. Of carrying around a diary everywhere I went, so I was never stumped if inspiration struck, or if I saw a particularly good quote that I wanted to note down forever, or just wanted to ruminate.
Gone are those days spent flicking through old journals. Looking at ticket stubs from that movie I went for on my first date. Of the restaurant bill from the last time I met up with my gang. The coffee spill that put so much more atmosphere into the story of me that I was writing.
All of that has been replaced with my iPhone. True, it’s much smaller and lighter than my diary. It’s with me everywhere I go. The chances of my forgetting it anywhere are slim. But it’s just not the same as my dear diary.
There are no pages to rifle through. No coffee spills to highlight passages of my life. No drunken scrawls that I cannot decipher the morning after. It’s too neat. Too structured. Too…cold.
Maybe its time for me to go and buy myself a new diary. A leather-bound one this time, maybe. To doodle. To write. To keep for posterity. So that years later, when I am dust scattered over the earth, someone can come across it and say “Oh, so that’s what writing looked like in those ancient days!”
What do you think? Do you miss your hand-written diary? Or are you happy recording your thoughts digitally?
Maya Angelou is probably one of the most influential poet alive. She certainly is one of my favorite. I remember watching an episode on Oprah where she interviewed Maya Angelou, and one of the things she said that day, that stayed with me throughout the years, was that she never allowed people to talk negatively in her house. She said it created disharmonious vibrations that disturbed the peace and tranquility of her living space.
Today, I share with you a short clip, where Oprah talks to Maya Angelou, recounting the most important life lessons she heard from her.
Set boldly forth, conquering your fears, overcoming them, to achieve your goals, to live your life fully. Take heart in these words from Osho:
To accept the challenge of the unknown in spite of all fears, is courage. The fears are there, but if you go on accepting the challenge again and again, slowly slowly those fears disappear. The experience of the joy that the unknown brings, the great ecstasy that starts happening with the unknown, makes you strong enough, gives you a certain integrity, makes your intelligence sharp. For the first time you start feeling that life is not just a boredom but an adventure. Then slowly slowly fears disappear; then you are always seeking and searching for some adventure. Courage is risking the known for the unknown, the familiar for the unfamiliar some unknown destination. One never knows whether one will be able to make it or not. It is gambling, but only the gamblers know what life is. – Osho
Here’s a formula to start your week on a good note:
Make peace with your past. If there is anything you’re holding on to from the past week (or even the past year or earlier), release it. Put the baggage down. Lighten your load. Allow yourself to move forward. Forgive others who you think may have slighted you. Forgive yourself too. Breathe in light, love and peace. Breathe out stress, hurt and pain. Give thanks for each moment. Welcome new experiences and joys into your life. Take a few moments and visualize your perfect week. If that’s too far ahead for you, image your perfect day. Smile.
It turns out that our capacity for self-control is surprisingly like a muscle — like a bicep or tricep. And like any muscle, self-control can vary in its strength, not only from person to person, but from moment to moment. Spend all day dealing with distractions, hassles and stressors at work, and it’s awfully hard to summon up the willpower to resist the allure of the cocktail, the cigarette or the fully-loaded nacho platter. – The Relationship Between Exercise And Self Control by Heidi Grant Halvorson
That simple paragraph was a Eureka moment for me. I’m finally in a job where I get to reach home around 6:00 pm, giving me ample time to pursue other interests. I’ve been wanting to get back to exercising, learn Italian and the tarot – and now I have more than enough time to do all of these things.
But I’ve lacked the motivation. I’ve been unable to exert any kind of willpower or self-control over my slothful ways.
I reach home and I feel exhausted, I don’t want to do anything or go anywhere – unless it’s out for dinner or drinks with friends.
Everyday I’ve been telling myself that I’m over-thinking things…that before even sitting down or doing anything else once I’m home, I should change into tracks and go for a walk. It. Does. Not. Work.
Then I figured it’s probably best that I finish my workout before I get home – which means join a gym and get in a workout on my way back from work. It took me an incalculably long time to get around to going and finding out about the membership, taking a trial session, and finally joining.
Italian and the tarot – I look at the books and download podcasts, but don’t read or listen.
So that little paragraph up there just hit me. Hard. It was the exhaustion on some days and sheer boredom on others that was translating into this total lack of will power on my part.
The great news is that if you want more self-control in general, you can get more. And you get more self-control the same way you get bigger muscles: you’ve got to give it regular workouts.
So how do you do this? By making yourself do something you don’t much like doing, each and every day. Within a few weeks, not only would you have built up your will power, you’ll be much better at other tasks where you need to exert some self-control.
There’s actual science behind this.
In a study, psychologists Megan Oaten and Ken Cheng gave participants a free gym membership and individually-tailored exercise programs that included aerobics, free-weights and resistance training. After exercising regularly over the course of two months, the participants had not only increased their ability to do a variety of laboratory self-control tasks, but also reported that almost every aspect of their lives that involved using some self-control seemed to have improved dramatically.
Cool, isn’t it?
So, what are you going to work on to improve your self-control muscle?
If you’ve ever tried to learn something new, achieve a goal, set a resolution, you’ve been met with failure somewhere along the way. Hopefully it isn’t too often. Hopefully you’ve managed to pull yourself up, dust yourself off, and go on to achieve greater heights, like these individuals, who never said never.