Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Spiritual Development

I frequently coach clients on the area of spiritual development. Most have a solid spiritual understanding and want to enhance or embrace it into their lives. Some are curious about spirituality and want to learn more about it. Below is an example of the type of conversations I have with my “spiritually challenged” or “spiritually curious” clients.

“I want to be more spiritual, have more faith, believe in magic”, she said. She explained how she has always been jealous of people who believed in something bigger than themselves, God, whatever. She wished she was like them. When she sees a beautiful sunset, her mind rationalizes the event as a phenomenon that can easily be explained by science. She loses the opportunity to experience the magic in the beauty of the sunset. It is as if those moments of pure beauty and wonder just zoom past her.

During our conversation, she described how her life has been full of challenges and she has had to be realistic. She had to make her life work for her, she didn’t have the luxury of depending on someone else to do it for her or even to help her. Perhaps that is when she lost her faith. Perhaps this is why she can’t afford to get lost in the moment. She feels like she needs to always be on her toes. She can’t be caught off guard.

Ironically, her best friend is a person who considers himself spiritual and full of faith. He prays and believes that the power of prayer and God have been instrumental in getting him out of tough times. He owes everything to his faith. He trusts his intuition, and is in touch with his feelings. He is not afraid to express himself and linger in life’s intangible magical moments. She wishes she were more like him.

As different as they may seem, they have a lot in common. Both individuals are hard working, intelligent, and have been challenged in life with difficult situations. Both are realistically optimistic. Yes, both are realistic. Just because he is more accepting of life’s magic does not make him unrealistic. Unrealistic would be if he expected the magic to take over and tell him what to do. He does what he believes he should do, he just believes that there is extra help and support out there. Perhaps not even out there, but closer to him. He has an intimate connection with an unknowable presence.

She on the other hand, depends only on herself. She knows she has endured many difficulties and that if her life goes that way again, she will muster up the strength to deal with it. She is optimistic. She is a little more stressed than him. She does not feel the support that he does. She depends on her own intelligence, pragmatism, and experience to pull her out of dire situations.

She always feels alone. He never does. Perhaps, that is what she is really jealous of. When caught off guard with a beautiful sunset, she does not feel the presence of something else. She goes to her head, and there is no joy there, just rational explanation. He on the other hand, goes to his heart and feels a presence that is beyond his mental understanding. He is comfortable there. He is full of joy. She is off to the next item on her list.

Spiritual life coaching is a process that will help you find the presence you are missing in your life. if you are interested in a complimentary 30 minute coaching conversation to decide if you’d like to work with me, contact me.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Obstacles To Creativity (Part III)

This is part III of a series of posts on this blog on obstacles to creative expression.

Third obstacle:

•    Expectations and Fears

The “what ifs” can be a huge obstacle on the path to exploring and expressing your creativity. What if you are not well received? What if you are no good? What if everyone laughs at, or pities you? The underlying fear to all these “what ifs” is the fear of failure.

Failure is the one end of success. If you are afraid of failure, you must be hoping for success. This is an expectation. Expectations are to be avoided when seeking the creative path. There is no such thing as success or failure in the traditional way of understanding those terms. Success is creative expression. In other words, if you were courageous enough to try it, then you have succeeded. It does not matter how your art or expression is received. The moment you start worrying about the end product and other people’s reaction to it, you have talked yourself out of doing it.

A healthy dose of humility that may show up in the form of anxiety before a performance or showing is normal. After all, it is scary being out there for all to see. This is the time to remember the joy that your creative expression brought to you during the process. That has always been the goal. If you remember that, you can cruise through the anxiety more easily.

When you remember the fun, excitement, and exhilaration you experienced when you were creating whatever it is you created, you are more likely to do it again and again. Also, when you are doing it without expectation to be accepted or validated, then you can change directions, take a break or try something else. It is quite liberating to create for the sake of creating and not for any accolades.

Another well concealed fear, is the fear of success. Most people are afraid of their greatness! In that case, the “what ifs” are: What if I have to quit my day job? What if I become famous? What if I lose my friends? What if I change? Yes, the greatest of them all, is the fear of change. Every time you express yourself creatively, you are pushing the limits. You are exploring your creativity and having a blast at the same time. This goes against, the expression: “no pain, no gain”. You start hesitating a bit, because it starts to question many of your belief systems.

Could you have fun creating something, be good at it, and perhaps even get paid for it? That is scary for many. If you are somewhere on this path and are having doubts, fears or hesitations, you may want to consider working with a spiritual life coach. Spiritual life coaching is about accepting and honoring your creativity so you can keep on creating without any guilt or expectation. Contact me for a complimentary 30 minute coaching conversation to determine if this is something you’d like to pursue.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Obstacles To Creativity (Part II)

This is part II of a series of posts on this blog on obstacles to creative expression.
Second obstacle:
The need for knowledge, expertise, recognition, acceptance, …

The more we do something, the better we get at it. Soon we can become an expert in whatever it is that we have been practicing or doing regularly. This is how we think we become successful. Most high achieving professionals think that success is a result of being known for doing something that you are an expert in. Steve Jobs in his commencement address at Stanford University in 2005 said: “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”

One of my clients who enjoys singing was explaining to me: “Every time I sing, it forces me to get out of my head. I have to be in the moment, I never know what will come out. No matter how much I have rehearsed, that moment with the audience listening, is all that counts. I have to be present and willing to take a chance. It sounds scary, but I love every bit of it.” She takes voice lessons and rehearses regularly and yet she is a beginner every time she sings. She even confessed that she does not care if she does not sound good during a performance, it is not about the end result, there is no end result. She sings because when she sings, she feels connected to something greater than she can explain in words. And I suppose an end result for her is the joy she feels and radiates as she sings.

This same client had to face her own obstacles to get to this place. She had to recognize what it was about singing and how it showed up in her experience of it that made it possible to face and remove her own internal obstacles.

There is no room for knowledge in the creative process. It is all a risk, one that can bring absolute pleasure and joy beyond imagination. In order for that joy to become a part of your life, you have to be willing to let go of knowledge or knowing how to do something. In other words, you have to be willing to be a beginner over and over again.

If you are interested in removing some of your own obstacles and feeling creative again, you may want to work with a spiritual life coach. Contact me for a complimentary 30 minute coaching conversation to determine if I can help you in your creative process.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Obstacles To Creativity (Part I)

This is part I of a series of posts on this blog on obstacles to creative expression.

Coaching professionals in the corporate world who want to express their creativity is a challenge I love to face every time! I love it because, they know what is missing, so that part of the work is done. Now, it is all about removing the obstacles that hinder their path to self-expression. It is a challenge because, the obstacles don’t seem like obstacles to them. They have worked hard to create the obstacles that I am asking them to remove!

What are these obstacles?

1. The notion of discipline

Wassily Kandinsky said: “There is no must in art because art is free”. The moment a coaching client says, “I have to …” is the moment the obstacle has been identified. The moment you take your corporate mind set, your disciplinarian identity, your controlling aspect, whatever you want to call it, is the moment creativity ran out the door.

Creativity is an energy or consciousness that cannot be boxed in. It cannot show up at 8:30 every morning and be done by 5 every evening. It may or may not fit into your schedule. It is not an exercise routine, or an appointment. If you dare to express yourself, you have to be open to when and how it shows up.

Creativity does not repeat itself. In other words, if you created something one day after you went for a walk and it was sunny and beautiful, you felt rejuvenated, etc. and now you have created the same background and hope to create something just as masterful as you did then, it won’t work. We as humans want so badly to find patterns, and structures. It is how we understand things. You cannot understand creativity. It has an elusive and mysterious quality about it.

So, then why bother you may ask. This seems impossible. It is, if you think of it as a chore. It may feel like a chore if you are tired after a long day’s work, coming home to family and personal demands and now you have some time left for creativity. Sometimes, it is necessary to take some time out. Take a personal day or two or a week off by yourself to find your connection. Yes, it comes at a price, the price is time away from structures, routines, and all the musts in your life.

Creativity is not something you can squeeze into your busy day at the moment you require it to show up. If you are not feeling playful, inspired, enthusiastic, and connected to something greater than the physical world you perceive around you, you cannot feel creative. If you do not feel creative, you cannot truly create. Yes, you can be skilled at putting things together in a beautiful way, play music, or make a meal from scraps in your pantry, but that is your talent and not your creativity!

Creativity is a source of boundless energy that is calling the artists in all of us to have a sip or dive in as we wish. All she asks is for our willingness to abandon old structures, patterns, musts, and any kind of discipline to discover a brand new version of ourselves. Yes, indeed this is a challenge for all my disciplined, productive, structured friends who are successful in part, because of these qualities that they have developed within themselves. Letting go is not how we accomplish any kind of logical endeavor. Letting go however, is the first essential step in self expression.

Next week, I will write about a second obstacle to creative expression. If you are a professional in a logical, rational business of any kind and would like to flex your creative muscles, you may want to work with a spiritual life coach. Spiritual life coaching is about discovering the artist within and creating the required space for it to show up in your life. If interested, contact me for a complimentary 30 minute consultation.