A Time to Work…and a Time to Relax

Deric stockton’s amazing demonstration


It’s Friday, will you find some time to relax during the weekend? Check out Deric’s amazing demonstration and reflect on Andrea’s 2014 call for relaxation in her article A time to Work…and a Time to Relax.

By Andrea Chilcote

Once again, my friend and coach Dana Sterling, a therapeutic movement facilitator, offered a simple yet profound lesson that links body, mind and spirit.

Want to feel better? When at rest, rest. When you need to work, expend the energy. Contract your muscles, (mental or physical) deliberately and intentionally.

Go ahead. Because if you don’t, your mind will tell you that a state of relaxation is risky … that it leaves you unprepared, unarmed for what life may bring.

Yet in fact, our ability to relax is as essential to functioning as is our ability to engage.

When you sleep, do you really rest? Or do you wake or rise stiff and unsteady? When you deal with stress (the usual stress of life) does it linger, and extend into the next moment and then the next? Do you confuse a state of readiness, which is found in relaxation, with a state of tension?

I know I do. And Deric Stockton’s amazing demonstration has given me pause. Pause, yes. Relax.

 

 

The Words Will Find You

Andrea Chilcote, Erik's Hope, White Wolf

by Andrea Chilcote

Do you want a simple way to tap into your very soul’s wisdom? Take dictation.

Several years ago, my colleague Karla Boyd shared a practice for accessing one’s personal vision or purpose. It has remained a staple in my toolkit, and I’ve expanded it to situations in which I need to access my intuition or help other tap into theirs. Sometimes I even use it for deciding what to write about in these posts.

Here’s the process. First, write a question that’s on your mind or in your heart. You can imagine you’re asking the question of your own highest and best self, or some other wise person, present on earth or not. Examples would be: “What do I need to be happy in my job?” or “How can I communicate advice to my teenage son?” The best questions are those tough questions that can’t be easily answered using our logical minds.

Then…just write. Write the answer in a stream-of-consciousness format, without stopping to judge the quality or validity of what you’re writing.

Early on, I was amazed at the insights that came – even as I puzzled over where they came from. Then a few years later I attended a life-changing workshop led by renowned writing teacher Natalie Goldberg. Goldberg has revolutionized the practice of writing and she teaches a similar process for accessing the heart and soul. She’s a purest about insisting that her students hand-write their work, and write continuously for 10 minutes without stopping. She says it doesn’t matter if your inner critic tells you what you’re writing is garbage – keep writing!

The results are truly amazing, and in fact I used the technique while writing the passages from Erik’s Hope in which the character “White Wolf” counseled my dog Erik. I wrote as if I was White Wolf himself, and was often astounded by how eloquent and smart he was…so much so that I now consult “him” on a regular basis.

Here’s a recent example. I was struggling with how I would open a meeting in which the stakes were high and asked (wrote), “White Wolf, of what shall I speak?”

Here’s the answer I received:

Andrea, speak from your heart. Speak the truth and that truth will be heard by all who need it. Be present as you teach, and the words you need will find you. Above all be kind. Be in gratitude for what you have now and for what will be. Treasure each moment. Be the light.

Even though I haven’t shared the details of that meeting, I think you’ll agree that White Wolf offered sage advice. He never lets me down. What I needed was not an opening speech, but rather a reminder to adopt the right state of being – truth, presence, kindness, gratitude and light.

If you believe, as I do, that the answers are inside of you, try this method of accessing them. As White Wolf says, the words will find you.


 

This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger. Enjoy it!

Give Your Mind a Vacation

by Andrea Chilcote

The following post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger. This summer, followers of this blog will enjoy bi-weekly archived posts that have appeared on The Spirited Woman but never before on this site. 

“Your body hears everything your mind says,” a Facebook post advised. “Stay positive.”

I would add “stay present,” because the negative messages our minds concoct usually consist of habitual thoughts rooted in the past acting as dire projections onto the future, and they simply don’t exist in the present. Presence is awareness, and awareness can literally determine life or death.

Regular readers know I work very hard at staying present. I got another up-close illustration of just how important it is.

It’s June in Arizona. It’s very hot. Rather than forego daily hikes with my beloved friends and dogs, we hit the trail at 4:45 in the morning, in order to avoid the sun and minimize the likelihood of meeting venomous snakes. The early start affords me a sort of walking meditation before beginning my day. Except yesterday.

I hike attached to my Husky, Kairos, by a skijoring line. While he’s young and still in training, he’s an amazing partner and, most of the time, I feel more steady on my feet because he’s there for balance should I trip. When I’m present (the only safe state of being attached to a powerful dog traversing treacherous desert terrain), I feel as stable as an old oak tree.

Yesterday morning, I was climbing up out of a canyon on a steep, rocky path when Kairos, walking ahead of me, did an about-face and proceeded back down the hill. I was jerked around as he passed me, and was forced into an out-of-control downhill run as his speed increased, screaming as I went.

I looked ahead and saw my friend, Beth, stopped at the bottom of the hill. She had trailed behind to reply to a text. Relieved, I reached to catch her shoulder, slowing my forward momentum just enough to gain control of my footsteps and my dog. We found our brakes and I took a breath.

“My body was stable enough, but my mind was terrified.” These were the first words out of my mouth. The minute I spoke them, I knew the truth. While dangerous, my body had managed the run but in those few seconds, my mind had imagined the worst possible accident, another dire projection into the future. My body knew the truth – one foot in front of the other will save the day. The scenario, from the moment Kairos turned until I gained control, represented the very real danger of being consumed by my thoughts, as well as the miracle of regaining awareness of my surroundings.

You might be wondering why my dog turned and ran uncharacteristically. There was a snake at the top of that hill. Kairos is trained to warn me and avoid them. I’d rather he not do so at Husky speed down a hill (and we will be working on that). While he learns to control his impulses, I’ll be working to model his keen awareness. For now I’m thankful he led me to safety, even though it was a harrowing run.

Back in the neighborhood, I remarked how important and yet how hard it is to stay aware, even in the pre-dawn hours before the stresses of the day pile on. Beth added that so many things we do, like driving cars and crossing busy streets require full awareness. Even so, we split our attention by indulging in thoughts or actions unrelated to the moment at hand. Our guardian angels must be very busy, because most of the time we get away with it.

What are you missing by indulging your mind over your senses? Consider giving your mind a vacation and letting your body guide you.

“When we are present, our bodies are the clearest indicators of our inner wisdom.”

–Sheppard Lake