Last night I was asked to take a look at which things in my life are "pretending to be urgent" and therefore getting in the way of what's really most important. And so I was also asked to look at what truly is most important to me!
This came up in Laura Lavigne's online Happiness School, which I highly recommend!
First of all, this concept of recognizing that so much of what we feel is urgent really isn't urgent--well, that's a game changer. I'm already pretty good at saying no and having boundaries, like turning off my phone ringer when out with friends or when focused on a project. But I still find myself tending to prioritize some things that aren't actually as important as what's most important. I still find myself not doing some of the things that I really yearn to do and that I know would be good for me to do more often.
So, what is most important? What are my real priorities?
I believe this can be looked at on a macro level as well as a micro level. It can be looked at in a big picture way, but also in a day-to-day-what's-on-your-to-do-list type of way.
And in last night's class, as well as today while writing this, I am thinking more about the day-to-day, how to manage my priorities and time during the work week. And I have a feeling that the choices I make here will also somehow reflect my bigger priorities and values.
At the end of class, there was a prompt to list three things that are truly important to us.
Want to know what I wrote?
1. Sheng Zhen
The truth is, at first I had "connect with friends" as number 3! But then I realized that although that's very important to me, it comes after these other things. I feel more present and can enjoy social interactions more if I've already done these other three things. And as I type that, I recognize a self-care element to this.
So, this is my foundation. At least for now. Maybe it will change over time. Maybe once I get back into a better habit of including yoga in my day, I can take that off the list and replace it with something else, like connecting with friends, but we shall see...
For now I'm just making a conscious choice to say, "Hey, these three things come first. Even if it's just 5 minutes of yoga, it happens before I start checking email." I need that kind of message for getting back into a yoga practice! Can you relate?
And even though Sheng Zhen is my passion, again, if I start checking emails and going into work mode before I've done some moving or non-moving Sheng Zhen, then I don't always end up doing the practice later in the day--other than the "I am a big body of Love" mantra! Yes, even just taking a moment to feel like a big body of love is a good Sheng Zhen practice. But I want more. I want to hear the contemplations as I practice along with a video or audio track! And for me, personally, it's important to do this in the morning.
And then there's writing! And here is a big part of where the magic of the Happiness School comes into play. I wrote down "writing" as one of the things that's most important for me to do on a regular basis. And voila! For the first time in--how long? certainly over a year--I'm writing a blog post.
Although I've done plenty of editing and also social media post writing, and some newsletters, I haven't done any "real" writing, like blogs or articles or working on books for a very long time.
After I published my book, I think I went through some sort of postpartum depression. I also let other things take on a greater sense of urgency. But now it's time to get back on the saddle! I've been thinking "it's time" on and off for a while now, but I still wasn't taking action. I wasn't prioritizing it.
Until now. And all it took was the combo of calling out false urgency as false and this prompt, this assignment, to list three things that are important to me. :) How cool is that?! Here I am, already making a change that makes me happier, within less that 24 hours of class.
Maybe you want to join this school, too, and experience this kind of magic for yourself? Classes are recorded, so you can see last night's class via video. :) You can click here to learn more.
But I digress. The main point of this blog was not to send you to the school (although I do think you should check it out! ;)). The main point was to get started with prioritizing writing!
I didn't know that I was going to write about this. I thought I was going to write about a conversation I had with some Sheng Zhen students! But this is what came out. So, stay tuned for something about that conversation with my students!
This blog entry marks the beginning of my commitment to write on a regular basis. I may not write every day; I start with aiming for 4 to 6 days a week. And it will not always be a blog post or something I share publicly. But I'll be writing. And spending more time on the yoga mat. And practicing Sheng Zhen every morning. Everything else can wait.
Yesterday I sent the following email to the members of my Living Turned On! Meetup Group:
Hello, Turned On & Alive Beings! I'm so excited that in less than 2 weeks Marcia Baczynski will be back in Seattle offering 3 amazing events! Sexy Games on Friday the 13th, Asking for What you Want on Saturday the 14th, and Deep Desire on Sunday the 15th. Last time Marcia was in town, I attended Asking for What You Want, and I highly recommend it. This time around, I'm looking forward to seeing what Sexy Games and Deep Desire are all about. ;) If you're interested in any of these, or all of these, be sure to sign up via the registration links; RSVP'ing on Meetup will not secure your spot! And check out this video about Deep Desire; it's gonna be good! http://vimeo.com/askingforwhatyouwant/dd
Now, why am I sharing this with you?
First of all, because if you're in Seattle, I encourage you to check out these events.
Second, and actually the primary inspiration, because of the questions I posed in the subject line: What do you desire? Do you even know?? Big questions, right? Right. And they make me want to ask you another question: Did you have a clear and immediate answer? And another question: Did you tense up and/or stop breathing, or did your heart skip a beat or thump extra loud, when you read those words: What do you desire?? And do you even know??
If these questions excite and delight you, awesome! If they freak you out a little or stump you, be gentle with yourself. Take a deep breath. For some people, the answers aren't clear and/or the word "desire" is triggering, and that's ok. Just be aware of it. And know that there's nothing wrong with not knowing or being out of touch with your desires. And there's nothing wrong with desire itself; it's attachment to the outcome that is problematic. Desire though, getting clear on what it is you deeply desire, and stating it in writing and/or out loud-- that's where the magic happens.
So, what do you desire? It's important to consider this, to clarify it for yourself: take some time right now, or schedule it in to your calendar. At least 10 minutes. A quiet place. A private space. Drop into your body. Listen to your body; listen to your Heart. Explore your desires. And write them into being.
And if you want help clarifying your desires and/or support in coming up with, and sticking to, action plans to move in the direction of your dreams, I am here for you. All you need to do is ask.
Happy February! Or is it?
Here in Seattle, February may not feel so happy. This month, from my perspective, can be a bit challenging emotionally and energetically. It's grey and cold and wet and blah. Plus, sometimes by now the momentum of January-- the "it's a new year, and I'm gonna kick ass doing all the things I said I'd do this year"-- has reached a temporary pause or plateau. And this particular February, with Mercury retrograde in full effect, some of what we were giving our attention to in January is now up for reconsideration and revaluation. Am I right? Have you been feeling any of that?
Now if you're feelin' great and still chugging along just fine, congrats! But if you're feeling a bit down or discouraged, frustrated, or like things are sort of on hold or up in the air or not falling into place, not clear, here are a few tips:
1) First of all, feel your feelings. All of them. Do not get sucked down into the abyss, but don’t spiritual bypass here either. I used to be a big fan of spiritual bypassing, such as by "choosing joy" and trying to only focus on the silver linings. Now I know that it's essential to honor and feel the pain and the hurt as well. It’s essential to feel into the depths of your sadness, anger, frustration, fear, and shame, to cry your tears, to yell and scream (not at others, but in a private and safe space), and to let yourself simply feel like crap for a bit if that's how you feel. Allow, allow, allow, and feel. To heal. And trust in the process as it unfolds. Be present with the process, with the ebbs and flows, the highs and lows. Know everything is going to be ok, already is ok, and about to get even better, one way or the other. Feel your feelings, and keep on breathing.
2) Commit to starting your day off right. Did you know that spending 10 minutes, or even just a few minutes, in the morning to think about who and what you love, to envision your goals, to think about what's good, what you're grateful for, can set you up for an awesome day? Trust me. This works. When you first wake up, before getting out of bed, give yourself several minutes for focusing only on all the yummy, juicy, goodness in your life. And as long as you’re also allowing yourself to feel your feelings as they come and go throughout the day, this doesn’t qualify as spiritual bypassing. Since the human brain has a tendency to focus more on the negative, we must retrain it with techniques such as this, to redirect your attention and mindset to focus more on what’s good, to remember what’s good. So go ahead and try it!
3) Morning pages. First thing in the morning, WRITE. By hand. In a notebook. 3 pages. Non-stop. Write before you are awake enough to really think or censor yourself. Just let it flow. Write honestly about how you feel, what your stories are, what your fears are, what your truths are, what your questions are. Be open to the answers coming through. Ask for them to come through. Then listen as you continue to write. Not only will this be like a detox, getting it out of your system, but clarity and peace and healing can come through this process. You just might write yourself out of that rut or bad mood!
4) Move it or lose it. Exercise. Dance. Run. Hike. Whatever gets your heart rate up. I could write much more on this, on why cardio is so helpful for stress and especially for anxiety, so stay tuned for more. But for now, just get moving. Break up the stagnation. If you're feeling physically depressed, it might be hard to get started, but as soon as you do start moving and breathing and sweating, you're going to feel better. Even if only in the moment.
5) Be in the moment. Speaking of the moment, yes, be in it. Be in the present moment. Distract yourself from any nagging or tape loop thoughts about the past or the future by being fully present with what's happening in this moment, with what's right in front of you. I mean that; look at what's right in front of you. Look at an object in front of you. Focus on it, and if possible, pick it up. Look at it closely. Allow yourself to be mesmerized by it. Take in every detail. If you're touching it, feel how it feels. Be here now. And delight in the simplicity. Relax into the peace of presence.
Alright, folks. That's all for now. So give these a try, and comment below on how it goes. I'd also love to see if you have any other tips. What works for you? What doesn't? If you're willing to share, please comment below.
 Spiritual bypassing, a term first coined by psychologist John Welwood, is the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with our painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs.
 Morning pages is a practice from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.
People often see me as a bubble of joy, and often times I am! But I wasn't always like this. As a child, before kindergarten, yes. But after that? No. So below is a letter I wrote a few years ago, my partial Sheng Zhen story; it's just the beginning....
I must tell you that this qigong and meditation, these Sheng Zhen practices, changed my life.
I know that is a strong statement to make, but it’s true. Before attending my first workshop with Master Li Junfeng in 2006, I had sort of a dark cloud hanging over me. Maybe because of my car accident as a teenager. Maybe because of a divorce. Or being picked on in grade school for being overweight and having speech impediments and frizzy hair. Most likely a combination of those and other factors contributed to those dark clouds, leaving me feeling down and low energy a lot of the time. I was also self-conscious. A bit shy. Not one of those bubbly, glowing, happy people.
And I didn’t know much about qigong, certainly nothing about Sheng Zhen. In fact, I thought I probably wouldn’t like it, that it would be too serious and uncomfortable. But at that first workshop, I was pleasantly surprised.
The movements were graceful and fluid, and accompanied by inspirational, poetic contemplations. It felt like a meditation in motion. And I loved that we were not only being encouraged to smile and even laugh, but also encouraged to play and have fun with the movements! I felt something shift in me, a letting go, and an opening. A Heart-opening.
I knew from that day on that I wanted to continue this practice and also share it with others. I started practicing regularly along with a DVD, and within just a few weeks, I was one of those happy, glowing, bubbly people. I couldn’t believe it! But it was true. I also noticed that I was more grounded and calm AND that I wanted to dance, be more social, really LIVE and share with others more. My relationships improved. I worried less, and I enjoyed life more. I had more confidence and felt better in my body than I had in years. All of this thanks to cultivating a compassionate and open Heart through Sheng Zhen.
So I got on the fast track to becoming teacher, and it’s been such a pleasure to share these practices with others and to hear their stories, whether of just simply enjoying it or having some big transformational experience with it. Sheng Zhen certainly has touched the lives of many. And through my own personal practice, teaching others, and working so closely with Master Li, Sheng Zhen continues to be a blessing and a joy in my life, as well as a touchstone.
That’s all for now.
Rebecca Clio Gould is a Certified Sheng Zhen Teacher and Holistic Wellness Coach. Her specialties include self-love, embodied joy, women's sexuality, spirituality, surgery preparation, and trauma recovery. She is also a Supreme Science Qigong Instructor, Essence vs Form Coach, and Award-winning Author of "The Multi-Orgasmic Diet: Embrace Your Sexual Energy and Awaken Your Senses for a Healthier, Happier, Sexier You."