Tulip (by Cheryl)
The short version of this tool is – check in with your heart, especially when you aren’t sure. OK, go forth! But seriously, this is a practice that I use all day and every day now. It’s so ingrained that I didn’t even think of it as a “tool” when I was coming up with ideas for this series (Simple Tools for Changing Times), but it’s probably my most helpful practice of all. Your heart knows…as they say! And that is true. When you listen to your heart you’re in alignment with your values, and needs, and your true Self. It took some practice when I first began to be able to feel clearly what my heart was saying, and also to remember to actually check in.
Here are a few tips to help you to hear your heart.
Why: This tool helps you to know yourself better. It will assist you in embracing your desires, caring for your needs, and allow you to really enjoy your life! Your body and your heart know what is truly needed and desired. Your mind will get busy, confused, and lost in stories. We all have lots of “rules” and reasons for not doing what’s in our best, most joyful (and healthiest) interest, but your heart only wants you to live a life of love and joy. It’s also a great way to get clear on things that are hard to “figure out”. I love to use it for decisions – the more immediate and important the better information you’ll get.
What: I’m talking about a practice of checking in with yourself regularly and using the sensations around your heart area to let you know when you’re “on track” for you. You simply get quiet, look inside, and be aware of the feelings in your heart area. For example, when something is “right” for me I feel a softness, expansion, warmth, and a glow around my heart area. I may see a glow in my mind’s eye too. I may smile (I often smile if it’s really a good idea!), my shoulders may drop and relax, I straighten up my body, I feel expansive and lighter.
Your sensations could be different than mine, though a sense of expansion is the most common description. A way to check this is to think of something absolutely wonderful about your life now and see how your heart feels about that. This tells you your own language of the heart. Conversely, something that doesn’t feel good to your heart tends to show up as contraction, clenching, tightness, folding in (shoulders bent, etc.), tightness of breath, and even discomfort in your throat and/or stomach areas. If your heart is neutral about something that will feel, well, neutral, in your body too.
When: I use this tool all day long. It’s perfect for having a quick check in to see how you’re really doing right now. I like to make sure I’m on track with my internal wisdom. We often get all bundled up in what’s happening and forget to stop and look inside. There’s wisdom there! And the encouragement to pause and look inward, just for a moment even, makes for a much more delightful day. Plus, it feels really GOOD when your heart is happy! I want more of that!
My favorite way to use this tool is for decisions that I’m confused or distressed about. My head can go ‘round and ‘round a subject and make me crazy! But my heart generally has a good idea about what I truly want and need. I also may ask for assistance with this. You can ask your higher Self, an angel, God, or any guide to help you to understand what you are hearing, and to hear truly. Getting clear on a decision may take some practice and require quiet time and focus. The best way for me is to ask, sense, and then write – as I often get more information that way. As I write, I’ll keep checking in to make sure I’m still listening to my heart.
The responses you get aren’t really yes” or “no” answers, though sometimes you may use them that way. They tell you what is in alignment with your spirit or soul. You can do anything you choose, this is just more information to help you. I prefer to go with my heart and have made a commitment to that, but still there are times that I don’t. And following your heart may just mean finding a new approach, or altering your thinking about something and making it work for you. I may just keep making shifts or trying new ideas until it all feels “right”. This isn’t about rules or “shoulds”, but about honoring yourself and being open to what you desire and need to live a delicious and meaningful life.
Wishing you love, clarity, and lots of pleasure in this season of the heart! Drop me a line with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org (or look here). If you have a question or want more help with this practice you can go here and schedule a free 20 minute session and we’ll work on it together!
My Pleasure Jar
This is a little tool that’s very flexible. It’s a fun, easy way of gathering goodness!! I call it “The Jar” (I know, fancy!). The one I’m using now is a Pleasure Jar because I’m recording and thinking about pleasure in my life (for my Word of the Year – more about that here). It is super simple and quick, and you may have even done this before for a gratitude practice. Here’s how I like to do it:
- Choose a jar you like (or a box works too) and find a good place to set it where you’ll see it. In the past I’ve put mine on the kitchen counter, on an altar, on my bedside table, and on my desk.
- Cut up some little pieces of paper to write on and clip them together. Set them and a pen by the jar.
- Choose a name for your jar. This “name” is the thing you want to gather more of – it could be pleasure, or gratitude, or your Word of the Year (like mentioned before); or it could be love, dreams, humor, lightness, beauty, intuition, support – it can be anything really. The question is what do you want to notice more of in your life? What do you want to encourage? Then name your jar, you can even put the name on your jar if you want.
- Next you decide what you want to record – I like a bit of a formula, but you can do this however you like. My paper slips say: Today I appreciate __________, it gives me pleasure by__________. I like to begin with appreciation and then see how that offers me pleasure (or whatever I’m gathering). On the back I note the date & then slip it into the jar. Today I wrote: Today I appreciate my Instagram friends, they light up my life in so many ways and that gives me pleasure.
- Now, consider when and how you’ll record what you’re gathering. I like to write on a slip of paper everyday and put it in the jar. Then at the end of a week I take all of the slips out and look them over. The longer you do this the more you have to look at! I usually do this for at least a month. My Pleasure Jar will be collecting goodness until the end of the year.
- Finally, think about what you want to do with the slips of goodness you’re collecting. You may just want to look at and enjoy them each week. They’re reminders that life IS good and that things are well. That is a lovely awareness practice all on it’s own. But you can do more! I’ve created small books from them (A Collection of Pleasures). I have used them in my collage art. I’ve pulled one a day as a reminder, or like an oracle card message. This time around I’m reading them each Friday and then posting my pleasures of the week to Instagram.
I love this little practice! It’s a great way to become more aware of the beauty life offers you right now. The more you look for the things you want in life, the more you find you have them now. What a lot of satisfaction this brings! And it’s a powerful place to work from to create MORE of what you desire in your delicious life.
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Image by Cheryl
Life lately has been – well, that is a long and winding road – let’s just say it has been intense. For most of us, I think. For me it has been transformational. When the world is changing, and you are changing, and people around you are changing – it’s hard to know where to go next, or sometimes even how to feel. You can lose track of who you are now, because that is a moving target. You can feel lost, and sad, and miserable. I know I did. As a response to all of this I’ve been on a one woman reinvention trip! I’ve invented, discovered, and revised a bunch of life tools and practices to help myself and my clients deal with the chaos of changing times.
These are simple tools. Some are short, some take longer. Each one alone is helpful, and together they are a recipe for figuring out who you are now, and loving your life more each day as you embrace a revised situation, or a revamped you. I’ll be sharing these tools one at a time over the next few months on my blog. This post is the first in the series Simple Tools for Changing Times. (If you would like to receive these posts via email you can sign up here.)
Insight Boards: A tool for getting clearer about your true self and who you are right now.
So, yes, this is a lot like a vision board only instead of looking for or emphasizing a future vision it focuses on what is true now with deeper insight. That is why I call them Insight Boards. They’re very versatile, but for this series I wanted to share how to make a board that connects with your deeper self to tell you who you are and what is up for you right now.
When I create a board I always begin with a question. Here are some examples for your Insight Board:
- Who am I, or who am I now?
- What do I need now, or over the next month?
- What is changing for me now?
- What is my foundation in life right now? What can I count on?
- What are my values now?
- What are my skills now?
My Skills Insight Board by Cheryl
Above is my most recent Insight Board. For this board my question was “What are my skills now?” I wanted to know more about what I have in my personal skill set that will help me navigate my current life situations and concerns. I wanted to ask my true self more about who I am. The process is like a visual conversation with your “still, small voice” and taps into your intuition.
So, that’s the first step – choose a question. Make it about now. What do you want to know more about? What feels confusing to you? What area of life or self could use some more clarity? Consider this and write yourself a question. And to make this really relevant to you – find a photo of you and copy it (or print it out if needed). This will go right in the center of your board. Go ahead, put it there now!
Next gather some supplies to make your Insight Board collage:
- Surface – I use 12×12 card stock. This makes a smaller board, but I can always use 2 or more pieces as needed. However, you can use anything that has a bit of stiffness to it and can hold the paper, and tape or glue.
- Magazines/catalogs/printed internet images – Use what you have, or pick up a few magazines to read and then use them for collaging. Pinterest can be a fun way to gather images, but I recommend good old paper and scissors. It’s fun to play with scissors, and paper, and glue – plus it’s a pleasing activity that you may have set aside in this computer-focused world.
- Scissors and adhesive – I use double sided tape, but glue sticks work well too.
And that’s it – simple! Next you’ll choose your images and words. My board ended up with a lot of words on it – and that’s just fine. That’s what spoke to me as I looked through my supplies. Here is how I do the process of searching:
- Find a comfy spot and grab a delicious beverage. You are here to relax and enjoy yourself! Place your magazines beside you and pick up the first one.
- Before you choose anything remind yourself of your question for the board. Now, follow your heart – this isn’t a job for thinking, or using your head – it’s for your intuition.
- Then choose words and images that resonate with your question. Don’t overthink things, or worry about having too many, or too few, or too large, or too small, etc. – choose what you feel may be an answer to your question. Or just choose what you’re drawn to, you may not know why until later. When you feel done – you’re done!
Next, let’s look through what you’ve chosen. Go through your pile of selections and start to temporarily place images on your board as you go. Trim around the images and/or words. During this second time through your images you’ll be able to tell if each piece is right, or not. I check in with my heart and if it feels right I set it on the board. Other images and words you’ll set aside. (These I save and perhaps use on another board later). Keep going through and moving the images around on the board (or boards) until you feel done and it looks pleasing to you. If I have too many images to fit on one board, then I just add another piece of card stock. Now stick everything down! You have an Insight Board!!
The next step is the “insight” part. I like to wait a day, or at least take a break, before I do this part. When you’re ready grab some paper and a pen. Sit down with your board nearby. I start in the upper left hand corner and pay attention to each item in turn. I think to myself – “Hmmm, that picture of a book, what does that tell me about my skills? Am I a writer, reader, teacher, self-help junky, good with words, etc.?” If I’m not sure what it means or is telling me I may ask it – “Hey, what do you want me to know? What message do you have for me?” These are symbols that you’ve chosen for their meaning to you – so, it is a conversation! Go through each image and word and see what you can learn from it. Write it down. Sometimes it’s the juxtaposition of images on the board that speaks to you. Just let it tell you its message. Now hang that lovely board up where you can see it and enjoy it!
The information you gain is something you can sit with, see what it suggests to you. No action may be desired, just understanding. Other times you might want to take steps based on what you’ve learned. From my skills board I was inspired to create a sanctuary for myself on my back patio, and to look more at what I am writing and reading. I was reminded that I love seasonally decorating my home but had gotten away from that lately. But the main thing the board reminded me of was the skills I have and have been told I have by others. This was something I really needed as I was feeling pretty lost, and even worthless. I actually almost didn’t choose that question because I thought to myself – I have no skills. Really? That made me laugh because, of course, we all have many skills. This practice was a great way to get in touch with myself and care for myself too.
I hope you create an Insight Board! Take time for yourself, connect with yourself, enjoy the process of making something, of looking at words and images, of losing yourself in your intuitive mind. If you have any questions about this tool, or anything, let me know at email@example.com. I’d love to hear from you!
PS – I’m currently working on a free guide to making boards and the types of boards that I use for myself. Making vision, dream, or insight boards is one of my favorite tools!