Friday, January 21, 2011

Resolutions & Intentions: Why 'The Secret' Isn’t Enough

In general, people seem to be happy about the New Year. What’s not to like about a fresh start? Before talking about our goals for the days, weeks and months to come, however, my husband and I took some time to reflect on what we’d accomplished in 2010. To our surprise, much of what we’d hoped to create, inspire or experience actually manifested (or the momentum was at least ignited).

Having an idea of what we want our lives to be like is essential for helping to steer them in the right direction. Being mindful of our goals and setting intentions are key ingredients for the laws of attraction. But we can’t stop there. We can’t put our wishes out there and then sit idly waiting for our dreams to come to us. But then, neither should we push so aggressively that we don’t allow life to unfold naturally. Life, in general, has to go on in order for our desires to become infused with energy.

At Middle Way Health we strive to create some structure for our goals, meanwhile also being open, flexible and balanced. The structure is the framework from which our goals can manifest, but our dreams need more than nails and 2-by-4s. We need to leave some open, undesignated space in which the unknowns or unexpected can unfold. The balance is created by accepting the limbo we’re in and seeing it as potential in motion.

Last weekend, Stephen led a ‘Four Wheels of the Chariot’ meditation retreat, based on ‘The Four Chariots of Spiritual Practice’. The four wheels represent mindfulness, relaxation, friendliness, and spaciousness.

• Mindfulness is making the decision to pay attention to something (Intention)
• Relaxation requires easing into the blending of our intention and current life circumstances, as well as easing into our body
• Friendliness is having non-judgment about what occurs (not always so easy to do), along with a sense of warmth
• And Spaciousness is leaving room for possibilities (sometimes different or even greater than we had envisioned)

Most of us are familiar with the book and movie ‘The Secret’. But it’s not the only “secret” we need to know. Being mindfully present and stopping at intention is not enough. We can formulate our goals in our head and “put them out there,” so to speak, but we can’t stop there. We also need relaxation of body, not just mind. In a sense, we have to trust that things will work out (even if it’s different than we’d hoped) and actually embody this faith in the processes of life. Otherwise, intention alone can become like a demand – and nobody likes to be commanded.

If you say, for instance, that you’re going to lose 20 lbs, but you don’t embody it – actually see the results and begin to feel the desire with your physical body – you are ignoring the importance of your full role in the process. Mindfulness alone is like a unicycle – only one person/thing can get on it. With a chariot, however, we can transport several people or entities at once, and our experience becomes multi-faceted rather than singularly-focused.

Typically, nothing much happens if we just sit and wait. We have to at least stay in the stream of life and go with the flow when it feels right. Like floating on an air mattress in a pool, we should relax into it and enjoy the subtle movements, but if we stop moving our arms and legs completely or for too long, we’ll end up stagnant in a corner with the gathering leaves.

Mindfulness is more than being present. It is remembering what we’re doing. And remembering – although cognitive - implies action. Action in the sense that we have purpose and a drive to engage in our lives no matter what the current circumstances.

Happy 2011!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Magical Words and Evolutionary Leaps

Sometimes we have to play with words in order to get where we want to go but have yet to fully define. This includes opening the mind and letting it “play” in the realm of possibility (aka, brainstorming). Words are important, but sometimes we (ok, I) get lazy and let the same overused words define us. But since we’re always evolving, so should our language evolve to represent where we are and where we want to go. Using the same old words to describe ourselves and our lives can keep us stuck in the past. Therefore, words have great power and that power can be harnessed.

In thinking about the new programs at Middle Way Health, Stephen and I took some time to figure out how best to convey our message genuinely and in entirety. Sometimes a word works just fine, but doesn’t feel fully encompassing. For instance, while we’re “expanding” our services, there’s really more to it than that. The expansion of services is a symbol for how Middle Way Health and its practitioners are evolving. The word ‘expanding’ for me conjures images of waist sizes around the holidays - and while it’s an adequate word - when we’re designing our future, I don’t think we should stop at “adequate”.

When we think of the changes at Middle Way Health, we see movement in all directions, so “growth” and “radiating” feel like fuller, better-rounded words to describe the progress under way. And since they evoke more holistic images in my head, that means more potential too.

Yet new services offered aren’t the only changes at Middle Way Health. There’s also our relationship with our clients, colleagues and prospective clients. Just as any kind of therapy requires some effort on both the practitioner and patient’s part, Middle Way Health is a place of interaction. We want people to get involved, participate, connect and perhaps link with others. This kind of holistic environment is created within sacred space - that atmosphere in which we can all let down our guards and be our authentic selves – and it creates more of the same. From this freedom come transformation and a blossoming of who we are, both individually and collectively.

A strong sense of who we are (or want to be) and how to best interact with the world then allows us to generate both confidence and compassion, and exude both vulnerability and empowerment. This personal branching out encourages others to show their true colors and figure out what it will take for them to blossom as well. We’re all role models for one another.

The core values of Middle Way Health have not changed; they are now simply more encompassing. Fostering awareness, empowerment, healing, creative expression, transformation and connection, Middle Way Health is a place where all of these things can converge. As a center for healing, creativity and growth, we all aim to thrive, not just survive.