“Always, this energy smolders inside, when it remains unlit, the body fills with dense smoke, as if there is not as much air in the room.” (David Whyte)
It can feel threatening to outgrow our comfort zone, to realize how we are or what we are doing is not working for us and has lost it’s purpose and meaning in our lives. When a sense of “something more” becomes a constant companion, without any vision, color or shape to what is possible, we wonder, “If not this, then what?” This is the call to more, which we all hear many times in our lives, often turning backwards, feeling hindered by histories, beliefs and our relationship with ourselves. It is the unique and beautiful gift that as humans we are capable of change, growth, learning and transforming ourselves throughout our lives.
“We have chosen comfort over challenge, but it is not really comfortable. What appears to be a choice for comfort and safety is actually a managed level of anxiety.” (Anderson, Adams: Leadership Mastery)
“If only I could figure out what my purpose is, what I’m meant to do!” My client had created a self perpetuating cycle of “I’ve got to figure this out” which disabled the parts of her she needed to access new capacities and opportunities for her to serve in her life. Her belief that she could figure it out drained her energy and was not useful at this stage in service of what mattered most to her. Until she caught a glimpse of how this was only effective in creating more circumstances which then lent to the feeling and experience of “I have got to figure this out,” she was unable to see how defaulting to “figuring it out” was yet another strategy to keep her safe rather than moving her to the edge of her comfort zone, where a new way of being in her life was calling.
The intellect is poorly equipped in it’s ability to envision “next.” It is like using 10% of our faculties to figure out the 90%. Neuroscience research has demonstrated that people who have lesions which effect cognitive reasoning can still live their lives, make decisions and more. However, those who have damage to the emotional functions of the brain are severely limited in making decisions or charting a course. Fortunately, we have faculties that expand our capacity; our heart and body, instincts, intuition, emotions and sensing. This is the 90% that enable new actions and possibilities. Utilizing these capacities, the following are “stalking practices” that will enable your ability to tune into what wants to emerge in your life.
“The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps – we must step up the stairs.” (Vance Havner)
STALKING YOUR VISION PRACTICES:
Practice being in a state of curiosity and relish the luxury of not knowing. “What is possible here?” “What interests me about that?” Consider the themes about the people and activities you are drawn to. Pay attention and trust the information you get from wanting to move forward, away from, or are neutral about in your everyday life. Get curious about who, what and how you are utilizing yourself and whether it is in service to what brings meaning or fills your life with smoke.
Dive into your longing. Trust that what you long for is evidence of life longing for itself. Stop treating your longing like a kid with sticky fingers pawing at your clothes. Explore and develop a relationship with your longing. Is there an automatic “NO!” that arises that shuts down that voice? Many people relate to their longing as evidence of lack rather than possibility, reinforcing historical beliefs of ‘can’t have.’ See your longing as evidence of possibility and potential and stalk your longing until it distills into vision.
Surrender the details:
“How am I going to make this work?” is not an awesome question for you right now. This stage is to explore, trust, and allow creativity, instincts, intuition through openness and listening. Your mission is to feel into, envision and allow yourself to experience what matters to you most, and feel what it would be like to be supported by that. Trust that you will be led to urging and actions that bring you closer to this vision and reflect on who you will need to become to actualize it. Expect doubt and fear, following Elizabeth Gilbert’s recommendation (Creativity) to “just make space for it in the car and keep driving.” Focus on the spark behind the fear and what is pulling you forward will begin to become more powerful than what is holding you back.
Feel the pull:
Following the breadcrumbs and paying attention to what is emerging in you in the present is distilling your vision, and you are being pulled into it rather than battling it and going uphill. You are beginning to experience the full power of the creative mind when set on purpose. You continue to step up, allowing your vision of what is possible to challenge the status quo of who you are, how you live and how you lead. This is not a selfish thing, but rather, something that will allow you to contribute in a way that not only matters to you, but will benefit others. Then, move your feet, knowing that your life will take the shape of your practices.
“In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” Albert Camus
We hear the call many times in our life. It’s a good sign, even when initiated by crisis, that our life is coming into vision and offering new possibilities to expand. It’s perhaps human to externalize the reasons for the “smoke” that has filled our systems, bodies and mind. We may initially amplify efforts in one way or another, denying the call to transform and accelerating what we’ve always done. “Hey, maybe this restlessness, depression, anxiety or general feeling of discontent will be relieved by a better company, boss, partner…” When these efforts begin to end with us in the same “basecamp” we can be certain that something more is being required of us, is calling us towards expansion, becoming more alive in this great experience called “our life.”