Trusting the Heart-Centered Voice Within

“…while I pondered, weak and weary…” –from The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe

When taking an unmarked path in life, sometimes it’s hard to know which way to go.  But remember, you always have an internal compass: your inner voice.  You might have to pause and listen quietly to hear it, but it’s always there, waiting.

I read something recently that suggested your inner voice is your career partner and manager.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of looking elsewhere for advice and forgetting to trust yourself, your resourcefulness, and your intuition.

The best way to find your inner voice is by meditating.  But I think there are other ways.  Any time you are doing something you love, you are connecting to self.

Lynn Newman wrote a post on Tiny Buddha where she talks about finding the greatest happiness and freedom while at meditation retreats. She talks about letting go and “juicing up [her] heart.”

She then lists 10 Simple Tips to Live Happy, Wild, and Free.  Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Write a list of simple things that bring you joy such as eating a juicy piece of fruit, watching the sun set or rise, taking a bubble bath, or drinking a cup of tea while reading a good book.  Make sure to engage in these activities several times a week.  Remember, it only takes a moment to experience a blissful state of mind!
  • Take a cold shower (especially rejuvenating in the summer)
  • Talk less and practice heart-centered listening
  • Enjoy nature and appreciate its timing.  This will help remind you that your path will lead you to the right place at the right time.  (Remember you are growing at this very moment!)
  • Affirm your authentic self (ex. I am enough, I am worthy, I am a success)

As we chug along in life, it’s easy to feel caught up in the day-to-day struggle to get ahead.  But when we stop struggling, we realize we can float.  Taking time to relax and let go helps us rejuvenate and reconnect with our inner core of strength.  And in that moment, when our inner voice speaks to us of our deepest desires, we know exactly what to do.

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.”– Carl Jung

 

 

 

 

 

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Practicing Patience: Favorite Inch by Favorite Inch

watercolor collage painting

Let’s start with an exercise, shall we?  “Breathe in trust.  Breathe out fear.  Breathe in trust.  Breathe out fear.”

What does this teach us?  To calm down.  To be in the moment.  To practice PATIENCE.  But why?

Making art is a lengthy process.  I should know.  This particular piece took 10+ hours and several class periods to complete.  At times, it looked so abstract that I feared nothing would come of it.  But as fellow artists know, once you’re in the middle of a project, you only have two choices.  Quit to avoid failing (which actually translates to an automatic failure) or continue on the path and see how it turns out.  I chose the second option because I’m just stubborn like that 😉

The process of watercolor collage painting involves dyeing handmade paper using liquid watercolor paint.  Then you have to let each piece dry.  Meanwhile you sketch your scene.  Then you painstakingly glue each colored piece to your paper using matte gel medium.  You can’t be sure if you’ve colored enough pieces for each section.  Also be aware that your hands will become dyed and glued very easily!  All you can do is trust the process.

What can I say?  The end result was satisfying.  But is that always the case?  Sometimes you reach your destination after a lot of hard work to find a breathtaking sight.  Other times, you feel discouraged by your work.  You may also feel like it goes unappreciated.  But patience and perseverance are always the keys.

“Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.” — Hal Borland

If you don’t feel up to it, try this exercise:  “Find your favorite inch.”  I learned about this at a recent workshop at the Mazza Museum for children’s illustration in Findlay, OH.  One of the speakers mentioned that when you’re feeling down about your art, search for your favorite part inside a piece of art.  You can also use this exercise when viewing art at a museum or gallery as a learning tool.  There must be one part you’re satisfied with in your work.  It could be an interesting line or angle, a character’s expression, a unique color.  Something is always working in a painting.  It is your job to find it, which can be extremely difficult when self evaluating.  Once you identify your sweet spot, work from that.  Think of it as a stepping stone.  Achievement always begins with a single step.  In this case, a single brush stroke.

Let’s review:  Breathe in Trust; breathe out fear.  Practice patience.  Find your favorite inch.

And when all hope is lost, just remember:

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” — Harriet Tubman

As the new year approaches, keep reaching!

 

“Trust the Path”

The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler

One of my writing critique partners recommended this book to me, which I received as a Christmas present.  Somehow I decided to read the last chapter first, and boy am I glad I did.  The author relates a personal story about getting lost at Big Sur while on a journey to find himself.  The story suggests that we need to stop looking for the “right path” and instead trust the path that we are on.  I was just discussing this in my guest post on my friend’s photography blog.

Taking a look at the cover image, a labyrinth, makes me see the idea of the path in a whole new way.  We’re always worried about ending up on the wrong path.  But perhaps there is only one.  If all paths are connected and intertwine, then we don’t have to be concerned with being stuck somewhere we don’t want to be.  We can simply go in a new direction.  Or better yet, we can trust that by moving forward, taking action, and staying in the present moment, that we’ll end up where we need to be regardless of the path we take.

I’m reminded of the fantasy movie “The Labyrinth” with David Bowie.  The main character feels like the path she is on continues forever without leading her anywhere.  She gets a little help from a tiny worm who suggests that things aren’t always what they seem.  Why not walk through walls?  Maybe there’s an opening.  But even when she does, she still has a choice to make: left or right.  The tiny worm sends her in the opposite direction, which, unbeknownst to her, actually leads her away from the castle.  Is she on the wrong path?  OR does she need to make this journey.  The best part for viewers is watching her overcome obstacles while discovering herself.  Making it to the castle is just a reflection of all her hard work and how far she’s come.

So I encourage each of you to TRUST YOUR OWN PATH.  And who knows, perhaps we will see each other along the way.

Walking the labyrinth in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, CA