Right now I am sipping a cup of goji berry green tea and Stanley the dog is warming my feet by talking a nap on them. My friend Kristen is sitting on the adjacent couch eating apple slices with peanut butter and typing away on her laptop. I can breathe easily, clearly. My diaphragm is relaxed, my throat is open, my shoulders are unusually soft and lowered.
This is certainly a form of bliss. These Monday writing groups with Kristen energize me. They give me a three-hour period to write, to read, and to just be. I began today’s writing session by reading a chapter called “Discovering the Essence” in Susan Zimmerman’s Writing to Heal the Soul, and I found myself exploring what enlivens me and what drags me down.
Zimmerman writes, “What fills our cups? What soothes our anxiety? What helps us confront and accept the most difficult challenges in our lives? What gives us distance and perspective on our lives? What leaves us feeling drained and saddened? We owe it to ourselves to answer these questions, to name, and by naming to know, what feeds our hearts and minds and what starves them.”
I love how Zimmerman writes that we owe it to ourselves to explore these questions. It’s so easy to follow along the current of life without stopping to examine what really charges you and what makes you feel flat or chewed up or lackluster. There are unpleasant or draining tasks we must do as part of life, but we owe it to ourselves to notice when we are out of balance–when the gremlins come out of the shadows and zap the fairy light out of us.
Try this meditation:
Sit or lie down comfortably, breathing fully and deeply into your chest and belly. Imagine you are walking through the forest of your life. What does this forest look like? Is it lush and green with ferns or perhaps there are lots of conifer trees and a stream running through. Take a few moments to explore the environment around you. Now allow aspects of your life to surface. Perhaps people emerge in your forest–or objects or sounds. Think of a typical day in your life: what do you encounter on a daily basis? Allow these things to enter this forest.
Notice what things feel light and nourishing to you and what feels draining and depleting. Now imagine the times when little forest fairies bring you energy that nourishes you. These fairies know that you feel revitalized by a certain activity or encounter, so they put these things in your path, almost like rays of sunshine to light your way. In contrast, there are energy gremlins who pop out from the shadows once in a while. These gremlins gobble your energy up; they know what depletes you so they chomp away your sense of well being. Experience these two different energies in your body before slowly bringing yourself back to the room.
After this meditation, write about what you discovered. Feel free to free-write about your insights if you want a more free-form experience. For a more structured experience, divide a piece of paper in half and on one side write “Energy Fairies” and on the other write “Energy Gremlins.” Start listing those things that give you bliss and those things that give you dread. When you are finished, notice if your “gremlin” list is longer than your “fairy” list. If so, how could you create more balance? And feel free to return to these lists when you feel like you are dragging a bit. Peek at that “fairy” list and chose something to do that will enliven you and lift your spirits.