As I gazed into the flickering flame of a candle in the quiet hours of this morning, taken by its exquisite simplicity, I felt a shift. Something palpable and altered, finding myself free, liberated in spirit because of a simple moment with the moment. I came to think about this and the hidden beauty and poetry in all the things, so often unnoticed, so frequently overlooked. After a stressful week, things returned to their centre.
In the spirit of new beginnings and living a consciously creative, inspired and joyful life, here are 15 ways to liberate your spirit, wake up your brain, fill your body with happiness, and make your soul sing. However, if things are anything less than wonderful, may you be forever allowed the grace to endure, evolve, and shine because…
You are Miraculous
“There are only two ways to live your life,” as Albert Einstein once said. “One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Life itself is the finest miracle of all and you – presuming that you are reading this with beating heart and pulsing pulse, and not from beyond the grave – are too.
Rediscover your true, authentic state of being. You are worthy, you are capable, inherently creative, and have your own magnificent blend of gifts to offer the world. To paraphrase Joseph Campbell, the privilege of your own life is in being who you are but you must find the you in you, embrace who you are and live the grand miracle of being here at all.
You owe it to yourself to live as fully and as joyfully as you can. Know that you are miraculous. Distil that blend and express your own exclusive miracle. Even if at first it feels like a charade, remember that nothing worth doing is a cinch but a process. Embrace that process and express it too.
Follow Your Own Fascination
Your ongoing enjoyment of life and your own adventure rests upon you being engaged with the world, curious, alive, awake, conscious and cognizant. One means to such things – to always remain curious – is by always being the student. Be the eternal student. Ask questions. Learn, read and then read some more.
Anything that keeps your brain keep humming like a Hermes 3000 electric typewriter and you intellectually vibrant is nourishing. Curiosity is what separates the alive from those who sleepwalk through life. Each one of us must steer our own ships, and write our own stories.
“Curiosità is having an insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning,” says Michael J. Gelb, author of “How To Think Like Leonardo: Seven Steps to Genius,” who determined the seven character traits that made Leonardo da Vinci the genius he was.
“Leonardo’s notebooks demonstrate his curiosità. What made Leonardo da Vinci stand apart wasn’t just his smarts, but his ability to question his daily experience and record them in his journal. When you ask questions you see the world with new eyes!” Follow your own fascination, ask questions, keep a notebook, explore your curiosities and your world.
Embrace Your Vulnerability
Be open, at ease and embrace your own vulnerability, do not hide it. For though it took many years for me to learn it, our shyness, our insecurities and vulnerabilities too are not irksome but endearing, not obstacles but part of existence itself. “Being vulnerable means being open, for wounding, but also for pleasure,” says Taoist healer, teacher, author and speaker, Barefoot Doctor.
“Being open to the wounds of life means also being open to the bounty and beauty. Don’t mask or deny your vulnerability: it is your greatest asset. Be vulnerable: quake and shake in your boots with it. the new goodness that is coming to you, in the form of people, situations, and things can only come to you when you are vulnerable, i.e. open.”
To be human is to be fallible, unsure, even weak at times but the strength is always in dusting off the earth from every fall and rising again. Your jacket may be covered in dirt but your heart is pure and filed with the very essence of you in glorious infallibility.
“What I am really saying is that you don’t need to do anything, because if you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much extraordinary phenomenon of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy,” said Eastern philosopher, theologian, author and one of the finest thinkers of all, Alan Watts. “You are all just like that, and there is nothing wrong with you at all.”
Choose to Respond Wisely
Be capable of consciously choosing how you respond to any given situation, no matter how constricting its circumstance. Neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl said it best when he said that our final freedom is in how we react to any given circumstance.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way,” said Frankl in his incredible book, Man’s Search For Meaning: The classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust. As this is coming from a man whose own experiences include surviving Nazi imprisonment in a concentration camp, it makes it all the more astonishing and inspiring too.
It’s also very Taoist to stop, pause, and reflect before you react. “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom,” said Frankl.
To be conscious is to be aware of one’s environment and own existence, sensations and thoughts, and choose right action, clear thought. You may enjoy listening to Frankl in this rare clip from 1972, where he speaks about finding meaning and why to believe in others (it’s good).
Embrace change [with non-attachment]
No end is ever complete without a new beginning stirring inside it. Though we divide life into categories in order to understand it label, it, put it into boxes, experience itself is seamless, ever evolving, ever staying the same. Surrendering to this force of change instead of fighting and therefore resisting it, delivers you to a place of acceptance, leaving you free to enjoy whatever comes your way.
“If you live in a past dream, you don’t enjoy what is happening right now because you will always wish it to be different than it is. “There is no time to miss anyone or anything because you are alive. Not enjoying what is happening right now is living in the past and being only half alive. This leads to self pity, suffering and tears,” says Miguel Ruiz, Toltec shaman, teacher and author of The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom.
“Whatever life takes away from you, let it go. When you surrender and let go of the past, you allow yourself to be fully alive in the moment. Letting go of the past means you can enjoy the dream that is happening right now.” Rather than straining to keep things unchanged, use that energy to instead allow yourself the grace and the wisdom to step back from the drama and see both life and current circumstance with a more panoramic perspective.
Change may be a constant in our lives but the trick is to always maintain an unchanging core of meaning. Like the sage sitting in meditation with the world in a flurry of activity all around, inside is still. Be the stillness, the sage on a chair in the centre of the universe, where you sit, unaffected by our busy world.
Nurture Your Spirit, Nourish Your Soul
Take time every day to nurture your spirit and nourish your soul. Anything that makes you feel connected to life is nourishing, whether it’s writing and making your art, reading, meditating, being in nature and solitude or giggling with friends. When your soul is nourished, you have energy for what’s important and will attract like-minded souls and opportunities to support your vision.
Nurture your mind with beautiful novels, thought-provoking books and exquisite poetry, your body with good food and mindful movement, your spirit through meditation, yoga, t’ai chi, or whichever practice you are drawn to that nourishes your soul; and your entire being through your creativity and expression, spending time in nature and being connected with like-minded souls who share your love of life.
Turn the Challenges into Opportunities
Life may not be easy but it’s always far finer to embrace each ebb and each flow than to dwell, dismiss or reminisce for the only moment that ever exists is this one. However hard your life has been this far, vow to love [and live] it anyway. Vow to keep going, keep creating, keep loving, no matter what.
“The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are,” said essayist John Burroughs. Keep trying, keep getting up from life’s knocks. Much like the Chinese character for disaster which also means opportunity, turning challenges into just that and accepting that even the darkest clouds have silver linings, however slight, is liberating. As Matt Kahn said: “Whatever happens, love that.”
Let Go of Limiting Beliefs
Our minds are constantly assessing everything as good or bad, which can make it hard to stay present. When we’re not present but distracted by doubts about our lives and creative work, it’s easy to be seduced by the internal chatter of our minds. Yet so frequently these stories we tell ourselves are just that, stories, and that we do have a choice on what we choose to listen to.
Though it can feel to the contrary, it’s in allowing your inner landscape to be marred by negativity, insecurity or doubt and by engaging with that thinking that thwarts your life and creativity, often before you’ve even begun. Instead of responding with self-criticism and negative self-talk, talk to yourself kindly and be supportive of your goals and dreams.
No matter how convincing, you decide which beliefs support you and which ones stay. If your current beliefs about yourself do not serve you, there’s nothing to stop you from re-framing your thoughts. Accepting that sometimes we fail, feel inadequate or insecure can be liberating.
The things we tell ourselves can be so embedded into our being that it can be a process evolving from harsh self-talk to compassionate inner kindness. Yet to remember that not only is it a process – and one worth doing too – as well as key in enjoying life, it becomes far more than self-compassion but a way of being with both ourselves and our world.
“As long as we’re preoccupied with our former traumas and triumphs, or our fears and dreams about what might happen down the road, or who said what to whom, it’s very difficult to appreciate and cherish the intrinsically joyful gift of life right here and now,” says Lama Surya Das, teacher and author of Buddha Is as Buddha Does: The Ten Original Practices for Enlightened Living.