Inspiration Meets Sandstone

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“Far better to live your own path imperfectly than to live another’s perfectly.” ~ Bhagavad Gita

This is a short, meaningful read.

Ra Paulette is an amazing confluence of passion, creativity, inspiration and living at choice. He is proof that people can follow their chosen path, as unique as it may be.

At 69, Ra demonstrates that even when we play, our efforts and contributions can stir the hearts and imaginations of others. To say the man has a vision might be an understatement.

For 25 years Ra has been axing, sanding, and forming exquisite sandstone caves in Taos County, not far from where I live in the New Mexico High Desert.

Following is a CBS video of Ra and some of his work. Or is it really work? If you enjoy being inspired and awed, sit back and enjoy this 5.5 minute story.

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If you’re looking for the intersection of your passion and how it might inspire others, consider these three actions:

 

  1. Change your story. We all tell ourselves about who we are, what we’re capable of, and what we believe we deserve. If you can dispel your self-limiting stories, you can begin to write new stories grounded in courage and action.
  2. Nurture the nudge. You have inspirations and opportunities coming at you every moment. Start to nurture these inspirations by following through on the insights.
  3. Embrace your natural abilities and use them in new ways to bring excitement into your days. Embrace your strengths by reflecting and acting on them.

Considering the Unconventional

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“It is especially important to encourage unorthodox thinking when the situation is critical: At such moments every new word and fresh thought is more precious than gold. Indeed, people must not be deprived the right to think their own thoughts.” ~ Boris Yeltsin

Last week I attended a diverse professional group meeting. Being my first visit, I was invited to rise and tell a bit about myself to this relatively small (>40) group, some of whom I casually knew. I acknowledged that I am a practitioner of the unconventional; a fan, if you will, of unorthodox… defined by Dictionary.com as “not conforming to rules, traditions, or modes of conduct, as of doctrine, religion, or philosophy.”

I suggested they consider me not a rebel, but as someone who challenges stagnation in people and society by looking at areas in our lives most in need of repair or rejuvenation and then, deliberately, not doing what the conformist majority is doing. I am simply someone who encourages the use of information, imagination, and interpersonal skills to pursue life in creative ways — that defends choice yet, defies the herd.

Then there was silence. Followed by warm, welcoming applause. ūüôā

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It has been said that the more often you do something the same way, the more difficult it is to think about doing it any other way. Roger von Oech says “We can break out of this ‘prison of familiarity’ by disrupting our habitual thought patterns. He suggests writing a love poem in the middle of the night. Eat ice cream for breakfast. Visit a junk yard. Take the slow way home. Such jolts to our routines will lead to new ideas.”

Learning happens in unconventional ways. Some of us prefer more traditional systems and methods, while others are open to exploring unorthodox ways in which to play, interact, learn, and grow. Rarely is there only one right or wrong way to do things — unless one is a staunch conformist.

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If you’re looking for unconventional ways of viewing what you’ve always been doing, simply use your imagination. Or you can consider any of these three ideas as starters:

  1. Work in the dark. If you’re feeling stifled, try working in a dimmer environment. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology has shown that darkness and dim illumination promote creativity. Other experiments discovered that you can gain insight by simply priming yourself with the idea of darkness – even just describing an experience of being in the dark.
  2. Generate provocative statements and then use them to build new ideas. This allows people to explore the nature of perception and how it limits creativity and possibilities. Provocation challenges limitations and can serve as an alternative to judgment. It allows us to develop a provocative idea into something viable and realistic.
  3. Re-educate. Our future can be seen in the quality of our youngest generation yet the current models of building quality people seem to be falling short. New modalities such as green schooling, homeschooling and even un-schooling children offer hope for something different. With access to unlimited educational resources via the Internet, almost anyone can educate themselves in myriad fields, and so the re-education of individuals is an act of considerable non-conformity.

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A Little Wordplay

“Nothing limits¬†achievement like small thinking; nothing expands possibilities like unleashed imagination.” ~ William Arthur Ward

When elected individuals or trustees convene to vote on matters, a clerk will often tabulate results and report the vote. “The ayes have it,” is a common way of announcing agreement or consensus in a group. Similarly,¬†the “I’s” have it too when it comes to guidance,¬†growth and change.

In this version the “I’s” include: inspiration, illumination, insight, intuition, inquiry, introspection, intention, and imagination. The best qualities of these tools is that you don’t have to learn anything to use them and you don’t have to be worthy to open them. They are always available to you. All you have to do is listen to them.

The “I’s” have it when you have a question, face a decision or are overwhelmed by living. They have it when you desire a change in yourself or a situation. Think about the challenges of your life right now and the ones you anticipate in the future. The “I’s” have everything you need to change something now and in the future.

The “I’s” rarely occur by themselves. They operate in tandem and often inseparably. It doesn’t matter that you know which one or ones are speaking to you, only that you are aware enough to hear them. For example, if someone was faced with a decision to leave a relationship or specific job, these tools could provide guidance. The formula for inviting their guidance is:

Questions + Experiences = Possibilities

Asking questions that include what or how, invite guidance. A why question does just the opposite. Also, when asking questions, you can’t be looking for the answers. The questions are only an invitation. If there is an answer looking for a question, there is no question. The tools of inquiry, intention, and intuition will provide the answers when it is time.

The second part of the formula is to focus on the experience desired. This is getting clear about what is wanted. Look for what is opposite or different from what is felt now, and you can know what you want. Change is most often about feeling different, not about things! The tools of inspiration, insight, illumination, introspection, and intention are all tools available to guide change.

Finally, the questions plus the experiences open up the field of possibilities. With every question and increasing clarity about desired experiences, the field of possibilities expands. From those possibilities will be choices that will answer questions and provide new experience. Which choice to make? The tools will supply the insights, inspiration, and intuition for choosing from the possibilities.

The “I’s” are the most powerful tools available to us. Whatever is before us or even behind us can always be successfully navigated by letting the “I’s” have it.

Pinholes or Caverns?

“At the end of the day the questions we ask ourselves determine the type of people that we will become.” ~ Leo Babauta

In my profession, every time you ask a question you create an opening. In the space of an opening can come inspiration, insight and illumination about what is possible, or an echo of what has already been. How you think and feel about the question determines the size of the opening and what can enter through it.

If the opening comes from doubt, fear, and disappointment the opening is small and little can enter, except what is already there. This is why we have the same thoughts, make the same choices and get the same results over and over again. What has happened or has been felt is not relevant to what is wanted to happen or feel now. The beauty and power of openings is that they are in every moment and how big they are is totally our choice.

To create a bigger opening, you have to ask a bigger question. A question coming from wonder, anticipation, and trusting of the unknown creates the biggest opening. This takes courage and curiosity about what is wanted next. You have to be willing to want what you don’t know or especially don’t know how to get. All that is necessary is to ask the questions of “what” and “how.” These are big questions that invite the full field of possibilities to enter about a current situation or interaction.

Change can’t occur and especially permanent change, without a large opening. The changed behavior, experience of activity has to be thought about, felt, and chosen. To change we have to¬†ask what can be done differently to get¬†a different¬†result and imagine ourselves doing it.

To change we have to be willing to leave behind previous choices and previous ways of doing. Leaving the familiar behind and opening to what is newly possible and choosing it is the only way change can occur because it is the only way to have an opening big enough for the amazing to enter!

In every moment you create openings through your thoughts, feelings, and choices. If you want something different, then you must have a larger opening. In an instant an opening can set the path for something bigger, better, and more fulfilling. You can create the openings. How big are they today?

Why Detach?

“When you become detached mentally from yourself and concentrate on helping other people with their difficulties, you will be able to cope with your own more effectively. Somehow, the act of self-giving is a personal power-releasing factor.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

I’m an aisle seat guy when I fly. It’s a necessity with my long legs. On those rare occasions when¬†other passengers aren’t crammed into the same row,¬†I frequently change seats¬†to peer out the window. It offers a unique perspective. From high among the clouds, homes and highways appear toy-like. And our crowded and important cities seem like just a small part of a busy universe.

We can also see our private lives from a different vantage point by practicing detachment. By purposefully letting go of the end result of our actions and learning to watch our own thoughts and behavior impartially, we gain new insight into the diverse choices available to us. The goal of detachment is to be able to interact with the world while also watching ourselves, to be both actor and witness at the same time.

Being overly focused on the outcome of an action actually ties one down, while being detached enough to view the relativity of the situation sets one free and can yield tranquility. Being detached doesn’t mean that one can’t enjoy anything or anyone. It just refers to the fact that clinging very strongly to a person, a thought, a pattern or an emotional habit makes it more challenging¬†to cope with life. We all know the affect¬†of clingy people, right?

How often have you thought: if I don’t get a specific job or have that certain relationship, I’m going to be miserable? Being detached means that if we achieve a certain goal, we will be fine and if for some reason we don’t, we will still be fine. I like a¬†Buddhist saying that describes detachment as, “Not flattered by praise, not hurt by blame.”

Once we detach ourselves from difficulty, we gain a broad perspective and possibilities become even more apparent. Many solutions that we would not have considered when we were emotionally drowning in a problem now appear.

When you are faced with a trying personal problem, consider taking some time to consciously detach yourself. Listening to calming music and taking a long walk are possible detachment rituals. Traveling to another location actually or through a good book or movie are also ways to find a new perspective.

When you let go of your limited view and gain greater objectivity, you open the door to greater intuition and increased serenity. Detaching can be liberating, like the free-flowing clouds just out of reach from 26A.

Are You Wise?

“We are not provided with wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can take for us, and effort which no one can spare us.” ~ Marcel Proust

As with art, pornography or¬†unforgettable destinations, people¬†generally recognize “it” when they encounter it. Unique experiences¬†are filtered through personal bias,¬†taste and interpretation. The same might be said of power.

The usual definition of power is to control or force something or someone. When it comes to our lives this definition is troublesome and even dangerous. Our true power is not what we can do outside or even what can be done to us from the outside. Our greatest power is within us. It is the power of our own thoughts and our wisdom.

It is generally accepted that our thoughts create our experiences through our perception, expectations, assessment situations, other people, and happenings. Reality is the one we create and we are quite good at doing this. We give a lot of power to what we think is happening or could happen. We then use our power to make choices, think, and feel to continue the reality we have created. For example, the more afraid someone is of what they believe is happening or could happen, the more they react to protect themselves or act to find safety and security. All this because of what they feared, which was nothing more than a thought in anticipation of an event.

Wow. Long paragraph.

Wisdom comes from what our experiences reveal about our possibilities and our self-imposed limitations. Experiences are our teachers, not our jailers with the value in what is learned.

While wisdom is practical, useful and abundantly available, wisdom is measurably about what matters and what we do about it.

The most powerful aspect of our wisdom is our access to universal wisdom. This wisdom is available to everyone at anytime. It’s not dependent on our being good or worthy. It has no limitation or restriction. To access this wise guidance we need only open our hearts and minds to hear its whispers. It speaks to us as an insight, intuition, or an answer to a question. It also quietly nudges us with an inspiration or the illumination of a situation’s possibility for resolution.

We are powerful and how we use our power determines the quality of our experiences and our lives. We can rely on the power of our limiting thoughts and especially fears to guide our choices. Or, we can rely on our personal wisdom to show us what is best in us, others, and our possibilities.

The greatest power we have is the power to choose.

Choose between the illusion of outside power or the truth of the power within.

I am relatively smart. I possess a decent intellect. But I often wonder… Am I wise? Do I always use the power of my own truth? And allow it to prevail?

What about you?