These 3 easy practices, done together, might even manifest an adventure.
Five years ago, I started an inner journey and stumbled upon three easy yet different processes that I, fortuitously, did at the same time. These three things shook up my life and sent me on an adventure that continues to this day.
It began with a picture I’d cut out of a magazine of a lithe, ballerina-like figure balancing on a tightrope with the aid of a tiny, black parasol. The background was dreamy and verdant. I responded to this picture in a visceral way, but its meaning remained a mystery. I placed it in the center of my poster board and just let intuition run rampant and continued to cut away other visuals and words/phrases that sparked a response. I’ve dubbed this my Mining the Unconscious Board.
At the same time, I dusted off the cover of Julian Cameron’s wonderful book, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, and started writing three, stream of conscious morning pages right after waking up each day.
For the umpteenth time, I also tried meditating, but this time I stuck with it. I took the advice of a friend who recommended the lectures and guided meditations of Dr. Joe Dispenza, a meditation expert and neuroscientist.
Guided by a higher power, I practiced these three things together, and my life hasn’t been the same since. I’ll go into these in depth in a minute, but first, you might relate to what precipitated this discovery.
In 2015 I was living in a state of what I considered “quiet desperation.” Divorced, with an empty nest, and feeling stifled in my teaching career, I longed for change. The thought of my life cementing into a numbing routine terrified me. I wanted to feel alive again. The new year and upcoming birthday would allow me to take my retirement without any penalties, but it would be a risky move financially.
For months I agonized over this decision. Seeking answers, only I could find within, I haphazardly began this practice of three. Then in June, a week before school let out, I literally jumped off that high wire into the unknown and retired. Well, semi-retired.
My friends and family were shocked.
Not one for bucket lists and without a plan for the future, I found myself both exhilarated and petrified. Mostly exhilarated. The only thing I did know was that I would change things up.
In August invisible gale forces gathered me up and suddenly blew me into action. A close friend from Perth and her daughter from the Kimberley of Australia came for a visit. Upon discussing my recent news, they in unison asked the question: What are you waiting for?
A month later things magically fell into place. I had my house rented for a year to the perfect couple, a friend offered me free rent in the interim, and I began plans for a solo trip to New Zealand and Australia for nine months…on a budget. At the same time, I started writing, something I’d wanted to do for years. I left on January 11th 2016, and published 30 blogs. It was a trip that changed my life.
And it didn’t stop there.
After being home again for two and a half years, I started feeling unsatisfied. Then one day I discovered a box of books I’d misplaced, and in the box I found my The Artist’s Way book and a binder of the morning pages I’d written before. I figured it was a sign and started writing them again.
I had never stopped my meditation practice and thought it might be time to create another mining the unconscious board. Pictures of lovely rooms spoke to me and a map of Brooklyn, NY, were posted along with words and phrases about adventure and new beginnings. For years I’d always wanted to move to New York City, but the time was never right.
In July of 2019, things magically fell into place again. It’s hard to explain but it’s like being caught up in a wild surge of electrifying energy. Invisible hands ushered me forward, and in November I found a sublease in exactly the Brooklyn neighborhood I wanted that included a separate room for a studio. In December, I sent a piece I wrote about finding a roommate in the millennial world of Brooklyn, which resulted in an interview and then a half page feature article in The New York Times Renter’s column in March of 2020.
Yes, Covid hit, but I chose to see that as another opportunity to keep up this inner journey and practice. So here’s a look at the three:
1. My Mining the Unconscious Board
Vision boards and dream boards are nothing new. They are powerful visualization tools that allow you to create a tangible representation of dreams, goals, and your ideal life. But they tend to be externally focused on material things you want to manifest in your life. I am more interested in having experiences that will make me feel alive, and by mining my unconscious, I look for pieces to the puzzle that prompt questions such as What is this revealing to me? which in turn, eventually lead to answers.
Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, believed that there is a whole world of fears, desires, and feelings that lay hidden in repressed memories, in repressed memories, in our unconscious, that can have an effect on our current behavior. The analogy of the iceberg is often used to help conceptualize the workings of the mind. “The things that represent our conscious awareness are simply ‘the tip of the iceberg.’ The rest of the information that is outside of conscious awareness lies below the surface. While this information might not be accessible consciously, it still exerts an influence over current behavior.”
Tapping into the unconscious isn’t easy. Freud used dreams and free association. Cutting out pictures and words that you react to in a visceral way is a form of free association, and it’s fun.
So get your magazines together and let your intuition be your guide. Cut out pictures, words, and phrases that speak to you. Once you feel you have enough, begin arranging and rearranging them on the poster board. What picture(s) are especially intriguing? What word, or words put together in a sentence, resonate? Once you’re satisfied, glue them in place. Put your collage where you will regularly see it, perhaps a night stand in the bedroom.Then marvel at the mystery of what it means!
This is also a great creative writing tool. Find a picture, then arrange your cut out words phrases into sentences to create a narrative. Often stories reveal themselves.
2. The Morning Pages
The morning pages are another form of free association, and they are done upon waking when our brain is still in a theta wave, twilight state between sleeping and waking. Right after getting up, I grab my notebook, make my coffee and sit down to do my three pages. It takes about 20–25 minutes. Done in longhand, you simply write stream of consciousness.
This cathartic writing frees you to dump any negative monkey mind thinking. For instance, you can let that inner critic rip, and then he/she is silenced for the rest of day allowing you to be more open and receptive to creativity. Just write whatever comes into your mind. Cameron recommends writing morning pages for three months, which is what I did in the past, but I’ve been doing them daily now for a year, and they’ve become part of a routine of good habits I’m cultivating.
3. Daily Meditation — Start Small But Start
I’ve known about the benefits of meditation for years, and reading Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Nowmotivated me to start. But I just didn’t keep up with it until I was introduced to Dr. Joe Dispenza, who for years has been studying the effects of meditation on the brain. His scientific approach and combined research in neuroscience, quantum physics, epigenetics, and more appealed to me. He has numerous, well articulated videos available on YouTube. His teachings worked for me.
Regardless of where you draw inspiration, the point is to start. Begin with just five minutes each day then gradually work up to ten. It gets easier with practice, and you’ll notice perks right away. I noticed I felt happier more and more and less stressed. No small feat during these crazy times.
Any one of the above three will improve your life, but done together…well… the results can be extraordinary.
So give it a go! What have you got to loose? In any event, you just might experience, as Joseph Campbell put it, “…the rapture of being alive.”