Embrace Your Shake

How many of us are unhappy about some sort of limitation we have and see them as keeping us from the life we ‘could have had’?  I know that this has been an issue for me in the past.  Being shy, being on the ADD spectrum and not having a business mind have all felt like the things that have held me back.  But what if I were to embrace them?  What if I were to think of them as things that could move me forward in life versus hold me back?

Phil Hansen was an art student who developed a tremor in his hand.  Imagine how that would make an artist feel.  But then a neurologist said a simple thing that pushed him forward: embrace the shake.  He took this on and not only used his shake to create amazing art, but also thought of it as a metaphor; how can one grow by embracing what seems to be holding you back?  Or in his words, “I wondered, could you become more creative, then, by looking for limitations?

In his TED talk which can be found here, I loved some of his final words. “Now, when I run into a barrier or I find myself creatively stumped, I sometimes still struggle, but I continue to show up for the process and try to remind myself of the possibilities…I was learning to let go, let go of outcomes, let go of failures, and let go of imperfections.

How powerful!  By letting go, he was actually growing.  By embracing the limitations, he was soaring.

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Meditation

The past few months have been a bit hectic for me (hence the lack of tweeting and blog posting). I was finishing up my course at Oxford which included writing a case study, doing my last few weeks of course study, turning in a rated recording of a session and then finally writing my dissertation. In addition, we had to plan and go on a holiday back to the States to visit my family, which was lovely, but which also does include some stress (especially as we missed one flight due to major storms in Atlanta). Happily, it’s all finished! I’ll talk a bit more about my dissertation at another time, but I thought I’d share the meditation that I used throughout to remain calm and which helped remind me to live in the moment and let the little stuff just ‘float on by’.

 

The leaves on the stream meditation is one that I teach many of my clients and which I’ve posted about before, but I think it’s worth sharing again:

(1) Sit in a comfortable position and either close your eyes or rest them gently on a fixed spot in the room.

(2) Visualize yourself sitting beside a gently flowing stream with leaves floating along the surface of the water. Pause 10 seconds.

(3) For the next few minutes, take each thought that enters your mind and place it on a leaf… let it float by. Do this with each thought – pleasurable, painful, or neutral. Even if you have joyous or enthusiastic thoughts, place them on a leaf and let them float by.

(4) If your thoughts momentarily stop, continue to watch the stream. Sooner or later, your thoughts will start up again. Pause 20 seconds.

(5) Allow the stream to flow at its own pace. Don’t try to speed it up and rush your thoughts along. You’re not trying to rush the leaves along or “get rid” of your thoughts. You are allowing them to come and go at their own pace.

(6) If your mind says “This is dumb,” “I’m bored,” or “I’m not doing this right” place those thoughts on leaves, too, and let them pass. Pause 20 seconds.

(7) If a leaf gets stuck, allow it to hang around until it’s ready to float by. If the thought comes up again, watch it float by another time. Pause 20 seconds.

(8) If a difficult or painful feeling arises, simply acknowledge it. Say to yourself, “I notice myself having a feeling of boredom/impatience/frustration.” Place those thoughts on leaves and allow them float along.

(9) From time to time, your thoughts may hook you and distract you from being fully present in this exercise. This is normal. As soon as you realize that you have become side-tracked, gently bring your attention back to the visualization exercise.

Taken from: Harris, R. (2009). ACT made simple. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.