Sunday, March 16, 2014

Real Time

“Slowing down on the outside is a significant step towards slowing down what’s inside; allowing you to observe with a new awareness of what’s happening in the moment—in real-time.”
I departed for Tucson last January, knowing I needed something. There was definitely some kind of hungry desire for peace. I hadn’t fully relaxed in a long time, and knew I needed to do something about that. I had even been in California the previous month, and hadn’t felt relaxed.
Just. Too. Much. Going on.
There was much movement in 2013. And it was time to slow down. Fortunately, as I headed to Tucson I knew I was staying with a good friend that I trusted deeply. I knew I could be myself where I was headed. There was so much static in my body that I felt like an old radio that barely worked, but when it did, all it played was a single old 70s talk show… over and over again… like sounds of old patterns that no longer served me.
I unplugged.
A new pattern started to emerge: silence. And I really mean that. Not just “no sound,” but silence, as in stillness, calm, empty, restorative, soothing and strengthening silence. WHOA.
Even my meditation had fallen prey to static. I can’t embark on productive meditation very long, until I am distracted. Stress had taken a toll in 2013. ! I challenged myself to avoid distractions, and as soon as I felt an urge to ‘do’ anything, I would not feel obligated to do it—after all, it would still be there tomorrow. It was a struggle at first...
But why feel obligated to do anything? Be genuine. Be intentional… Ok, be yourself.
So far, it seemed like I was involved in a very natural process.
I always knew relaxation was a key part of the restorative process, but I soon learned that is might be more than that. Meditation promotes the exploration of being still… which is different than relaxation. But you have to be relaxed first.
I then moved into what I call “idle time.”
“Idle time” is where time stops. You have no sense of time. The key is to allow hours to pass—if that’s what is required—and to be ok with that. If this is the first time you experience this process, you should allow for a long retreat! Until you master this process, it is hard for it to exist in smaller windows. Mastery opens the doors to making it a regular part of your life.
This is an amazing place to be. All of these stages can ultimately exist together—happening almost simultaneously. They ultimately give birth to rejuvenation and various forms of creativity in your life.
Now mind you one important clarification on creativity is needed here. Creativity can be a lot of things. As a “creative” individual, that might mean playing an instrument or drawing a picture, but it can also mean looking at your life with “new eyes,” or coming up with a new idea or way of living your life, or a new way of working with a client or manager.
I’m going to sum it up below in some basic and informal notes. I am starting to call this “finding my inner Einstein,” because creating a space to just ‘be’ is also creating a space for creativity to grow. Einstein believed in processes similar to this, and at our core, it’s what makes us all tick. Yes, creativity and creating are what keep us moving forward with some kind of sense of accomplishment as we grow. Why are we here? To be better at what we do now, and better and what we don’t even know we can do. Here are the basics of a four-step process; I include the input—stress. This process proposes stress as an input, and creativity as an output… but there is huge variability in the inputs…

1.     WORK > Stress/trauma
Thoughts can become “cluttered,” jumbled or even irrational and disconnected, resulting in a tendency to ‘react’ to our surroundings with reflexive responses. Lots of static here, and it’s created by all kinds of experiences that challenge your abilities and/or status quo.
2.     RELAXATION > Downtime
Conversations, thinking and decisions are more thoughtful and responsive (more outward). I often stopped right here, especially when I only had an hour to relax!
3.     IDLING > Stillness/silence > Renewal
Resisting all sense of obligation is critical: do what you want, when you want to do it, and only allow for action when it feels right. Allow “whatever needs to be, to be.”
In an ideal world, having longer breaks is best to reach the “idling” phase. This is where you renew. Thoughts and conversations continue to be responsive, but can also be contemplative and inward. Ultimately, the ideal result of this phase is renewal – rejuvenating and cultivating your soul, something that can be done by relaxing, but the results are often more lasting when you experience the idling.
4.     CREATIVITY > Ideation
Out of the stillness comes insights and glimpses of brilliance. This is the true “soil” of your life, and where you cultivate inner strength. It’s worth visiting this place regularly.
Thoughts and conversations have the greatest potential to be productive and contribute to others and/or the environment around us.
Ultimately, you may not be painting a picture with paintbrushes, but you’re painting your big picture—you’re creating your own life, and not being controlled by life!
For me, I am committed to working with this process is much smaller timeframes, and incorporating it to rejuvenate more regularly. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.
So far, the result has been being able to observe my feelings in real-time, and responding to them more intentionally in the moment, as opposed to being controlled by the moment. I react a lot (less) these days, and make more intentional responses that shape my world, as opposed to living life having my buttons pushed—but I’m far from perfect. I hope some or all of this was helpful. I’ll keep you posted on my progress with living life in real-time.

See ya next time!

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