Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Balance of Awareness and Action!

I'm a big fan of thinking, of dreaming, of visualizing, of journaling and planning.  But sometimes I notice that I'm doing a whole lot of preparation...and not very much work.  It is easy to get caught up in my head, to keep working through the mental side of things.

It is very tempting to keep getting ready until we feel prepared, but that's a trap!  There will always be some level of fear involved with growth, because you are becoming someone new.  You are transforming who you are and bits of you are being left behind.  It doesn't matter if those bits are pieces you don't even care for, or might actively despise.  What matters is that they are familiar, and the new bits of you that will grow to fill their space are unknown.

The unknown will always scare us.  It has the potential to be exactly what we desire, or it could be worse than we already were.  And we were functioning the way we were, so we may feel like we should just stay where we are, not push through and risk failure.  Or, we may even be afraid that we will succeed, and that might snowball into us noticing other areas that we could improve in...which leads to more change!  We may even be afraid that the people we care about will no longer like us if we change too much.

As powerful as our minds and thoughts are, there are some things that really need physical action to be fully realized.  Taking physical steps helps us feel like things are real.  We can change a whole lot inside, and still not appear to have changed at all. 

Sometimes, working from the inside out is the natural flow of things.  We build up all these changes inside, and we find our external lives changing without effort.  But sometimes, we need to work in the other way.

One thing I struggle with is doing the same inner work over and over.  I will fight with something I want to change, and I will lay out all the reasons why I can't keep doing what I am doing.  I will make plans for how I can change things, and I will visualize all the ways in which I will be better once I've made the change.  But my good intentions are just wisps of thought, and in the moment I don't remember them.  I continue acting as I always have, because my actions have built momentum and become habits.  I don't think about what I am doing, and by the time I realize I have started to do the thing I am trying to change, it is already done.

In these cases, it can be helpful to start with physical stuff and then, once you have the ball rolling, you can go back and do the mental work to support your growth.  If I want to read part of a book every day, I may need to physically put the book on top of something else I would normally do (like on my computer mouse pad!), so that I actually have to pick the book up and move it to do my normal habits.  Once the book is in my hand, it is much easier for me to just go read, than if I had to remember to go find the book and then read.  And, because the book is not normally on my mouse pad, even if I choose to not read at that is a choice, because I still have to physically move the book in order to use my computer!

Ultimately, you need to find the right balance between awareness and action.  Neither truly functions well on it's own.  To create real and lasting change, you need to do the mental and the physical work!  It's the dance between them that carries the magic.

It doesn't have to be an on/off switch either.  Often, you are doing bits of both, throughout the process.  I find this works the best for me.  I will find some small task to do, and find a way to tie thought and action together.  For example, when working with the moon cycle, I will not only do the mental and planning work throughout the cycle, but I will plan small actions to help actualize my work.  This might be something simple, like lighting a candle or writing a banishing and flushing it.  But every day I would think about what part of the moon cycle it was, and what actions I could take to embody that part of the cycle.  Then I would write the chosen actions in my planner, where I would be reminded to actually do them.

Knowing what your preferences are helps you adjust your plan to shore up your weak points.  I know that I lean towards mental work.  For years, most of what I did was visualized.  So, for me, physically getting up, actually lighting that candle, or picking up a tool from my altar...this was powerful stuff!  For someone else, it might be stopping and actually jotting down their thoughts about the rituals they have done.  Or maybe writing down their emotions when they are starting to feel overwhelmed.

Our paths are personal, but don't let yourself be limited by habit!  Take the time to notice where you are spending your time and energy..and where you aren't.  Seek out those things that you wish you were doing...but aren't...and find ways to do them! 

Start small.  You may want to burn more candles, but don't feel like you have time.  Buy some birthday candles, and give yourself that small amount of time to tune into your practice.  If you want to journal, but aren't sure where, grab a notebook and just write down one thing you did that day that you are proud of (even if all you can think of is something like, "I made it through the day.")  If you want to study a new subject, dedicate yourself to learning one new fact about it every day.

These little things will add up.  You will find yourself drawn to doing a bit more, when you have time.  You may light a tea candle while you eat on the weekends, or have a really great day and find you have written a paragraph about it just because you were so excited to write down what happened.  You may find yourself so interested in the subject you are studying that you make notes of related subjects to dive into next.

And remember, balance isn't a static thing!  If you were to stand up on one leg and try to balance, you may find moments of stillness, but most likely you will be constantly making small adjustments to one side or the other.  The balance between awareness and action is exactly the same!  You may find that some days you need more reflection while other days you need to get up and get moving.  Some projects may be very simple to envision but will need more physical work, while others might take a lot of planning and then be relatively simple to actually execute.  Let your instincts guide you, but stay mindful of what is needed on both the mental and physical side of things.

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