Expressing Through Poetry.

Expressing Through Poetry.

The creation of any kind of art can be as much a form of meditation as a vehicle for self-expression. Energetically splashing colors of paint onto a canvas can be like casting the weight of the world off your shoulders, while raising your voice to hit the high notes of a song can inspire you to release your fears so you can reach new heights in your own life. And then there is the act of meditation that can take place when you create poetry.

Sculpting your thoughts into a poem can take you on a journey where your conscious mind is momentarily cast adrift, and you focus the energy of your message in few words that paint a story.

Like other forms of meditation, writing poetry requires that you stay fully present during the process, rather than focusing on any outcome. In doing so, you release any inhibitions or ideas of “what needs to happen,” so that your thoughts can flow freely through you. When you write poetry, you are able to see the reflections of your innermost self imprinted on a page. 

Don’t think about what you are going to say next, and don’t worry about spelling, grammar, or logic. Instead, be as descriptive, visually precise, rhythmic, or lyrical as you want to be. When you feel complete, put the pen down, and read over what you’ve written.

Appreciate this work of art you have created.

You may even find that thoughts and emotions you had repressed before are now making themselves known so you can process and release them. Writing poetry as a form of meditation lets you slow down your mind long enough for you to get out of your own way, so that your soul can freely express its deepest yearnings.

Slowing Down.

Slowing Down.

Life can often feel like it’s zipping by in fast forward. We feel obliged to accelerate our own speed along with it, until our productivity turns into frenzied accomplishment. We find ourselves cramming as much activity as possible into the shortest periods of time. We disregard our natural rhythms because it seems we have to just to keep up. In truth, rushing never gets you anywhere but on to the next activity or goal.  

Slowing down allows you to not only savor your experiences, but also it allows you to fully focus your attention and energy on the task at hand. Moving at a slower place lets you get things done more efficiently, while rushing diminishes the quality of your work and your relationships.
Slowing down also lets you be more mindful, deliberate, and fully present. When we slow down, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves to our natural rhythms. We let go of the “fast forward” stress, and allow our bodies to remain centered and grounded. Slowing down is inherent to fully savoring anything in life. Rushing to take a bath can feel like an uncomfortable dunk in hot water, while taking a slow hot bath can be luxuriant and relaxing. Cooking, eating, reading, and writing can become pleasurable when done slowly. Slowing down lets you become more absorbed in whatever it is you are doing. The food you eat tastes better, and the stories you read become more alive. 
Slowing down allows you to disconnect from the frenzied pace buzzing around you so you can begin moving at your own pace.

The moments we choose to live in fast forward motion then become a conscious choice rather than an involuntary action. 

Learning to slow down in our fast-moving world can take practice, but if you slow down long enough to try it, you may surprise yourself with how natural and organic living at this pace can be.

Text by Madisyn Taylor

My Special Gift.

My Special Gift.

We all have a genius within us and when one of us doesn’t develop or use our special gift, a cosmic void takes place.

Each of us is born with a specific genius that was bestowed upon us so we can do our part to make this world a better place. All of us have a role that we’re uniquely suited for. Imagine our planet without trees, oceans, or clouds. In this same way, when one of us doesn’t develop or use our special gift, a cosmic void takes place.

This unique talent or ability may be hidden from your own sight like a golden treasure buried under shifting sands. Often, we spend so much time dazzled by the talents of others that we can overlook our own gifts. It may even be that our unique ability is something we view negatively. Perhaps we find it difficult concentrating on any one subject for long; meanwhile, others are thrilled by our ability to weave various ideas throughout our conversations. Or, you might think of yourself as “frivolous,” when it’s likely your charming approach to life casts a light of inspiration that others can’t help but follow.

It’s important for all of us to try to find our special gift and discover how we can best express it. Ask others to name what they think is your most overlooked talent or character trait. Their answers may change your life.

Explore these riches that are yours to express, and you may find yourself helping others discover and develop their own blessings. Acknowledge and appreciate the gifts you see in those around you. Tell your neighbor that loves to garden how much her green thumb enlivens the whole block. Thank your coworker for always greeting your days together with a smile. Tell your close friends that their ability to listen makes your world a better place.

Our unique gifts are like golden rays of expression that can encircle the world with light.
Awakening Spirituality.

Awakening Spirituality.

Remembering who we really are is the first step in awakening to our spiritual path.

Throughout the journey from birth to death, many people choose to question life, strive for improvement, seek out knowledge, and search for the divine. Simply put, this is the essence of spirituality.

One’s spiritual practice can take on many forms, because embracing the spiritual is a very personal pursuit. While many people do relate their spirituality to a God or Goddess, this quest for the divine, or oneness with the universe, always springs from within. It doesn’t matter where you find your spiritual path.
We are all fundamentally spiritual beings and the essence of that lies in knowing one’s true self and finding a peace that comes from within rather than the outside world. It is in remembering this that we awaken to our personal path.  

The spiritual path springs forth from a daily routine that reaffirms our personal connection with a purpose or a way of life. Practicing compassion, gratitude, appreciation, forgiveness, generosity, meditation, and taking care of one’s wellbeing can all be a part of one’s spiritual life. If you are new to exploring your personal spirituality, remember that this is a process. You may want to spend a few moments each day giving yourself a spiritual gift. Try a new form of meditation, visit a sanctuary, or explore a specific deity. 

Accepting the importance of spirituality can be a healthy decision, because a spiritual practice tends to include habits that promote healthy living. Take the time to carefully determine the action, thought, and ritual that most speaks to your soul.

Remember that your most profound spiritual experiences may also come from the simple intricacies that make up your life. See the interconnectedness of all things. 

As you explore your “inner work,” you will be walking your spiritual path and feeling your oneness with the universe. 
Text from Madisyn Taylor.
My True Inner Voice.

My True Inner Voice.

The longer you listen to and believe your true inner voice, the stronger it will become.

Within each of us, there are numerous voices often that compete for our attention. It can be difficult to decide which one to listen to, particularly when their messages are all quite different, sometimes conflicting, and even alluring.

One voice, however, is the speaker of truth. Among all your inner voices, your true inner voice is the one which encourages you, gives you hope, and pushes you to trust and believe in yourself. Conflict within oneself is often caused by dueling voices inside of each one of us. As we move through life, we get mixed messages from the various aspects of ourselves. Some of our voices, such as the naysayer or saboteur, can speak so loudly that they drown out the voice of truth.

Listening to your true inner voice — often the voice of understanding, support, and self-assurance — can help lessen and even resolve internal conflict.  

If you’re looking toward the future but your faith in your ability to succeed in life is wavering, you will benefit from finding and listening to your true inner voice. You can connect with it by remaining relaxed and alert, while listening carefully. If you have trouble distinguishing your true voice from the others, meditation may be helpful.

You may hear many voices as you meditate, but the one you should pay attention to is the one that speaks to you with love, understanding, and compassion. It will bolster your spirits and urge you to go after your dreams. And it will never cause confusion, remind you of past mistakes, or cause you to doubt yourself. 

The more you listen to and believe in what your true inner voice is telling you about your value and your potential, the stronger that voice will become. And the more you disregard the voices that can interfere with your resolve to succeed, the quieter those voices will become. Saying no to the voices that are judgmental and make you feel ashamed will help you stop being critical of your failures and afraid of success.

By finding and strengthening your true inner voice, you will be able to ignore internal conflict and pick out the one that speaks the truth. 
Text by Madisyn Taylor
The Power of Thank You.

The Power of Thank You.

When we sincerely give our thanks—telling others, “We appreciate you”—the message delivered is, “You are loved.”

And it’s a gift that goes both ways. As we express our thanks, we are uplifted—often as much as the person being appreciated. Indeed, true gratitude is one of life’s most precious treasures.

Here are some thoughts:

·  The gift we never return. We’ve all had this experience: giving someone a gift and waiting for the wrapping paper to be removed and the box opened. Nervous and a little uncertain, and even to hedge our bets, we whisper when no one’s listening, “There’s a gift receipt at the bottom if you want to take it back.” Not so with the gift of pure, unadulterated appreciation. There are no receipts, no strings attached. This is not layaway for some future obligation. It’s all gratitude. People should not need to read the tea leaves in an email or a text—anxiously interpreting the emoji or discerning the meaning of a period after “thank you” instead of an exclamation point. When we are truly thankful, there should be no doubt about it. Others can feel it, in our words and in our actions. This gift never gets returned.

·  Class is always in session. We never really get out of sixth grade. Think about it—we still want to be liked, to be accepted, to get picked for the team, to be appreciated. And there are other lessons from elementary school that continue to make an impact: Just because a child sits down when a teacher tell them to, that doesn’t mean they are sitting down in their minds. It’s the teacher’s job to help them make that choice. It may be the same in the workplace today. And the key to unlocking motivation and discretionary energy is expressing gratitude for what people do. The lesson: leadership truly is a matter of the heart—and we always need to be learning the language of appreciation.

·  Our attitude is always our altitude. When one person says thank you, it can set off a positive chain reaction. The reason lies in emotional intelligence (EI): When we develop and express our EI, we transmit more positive feelings such as gratitude than negative ones. It’s like a spark that ignites as others respond. Moods shift and positivity elevates everyone. Then our attitudes truly become our altitude.

·  The power of one. A quotation from Edward Everett Hale, a 19th century social reformer and minister, reads: I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything; but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. Over the past year, these words have taken on so much meaning about the importance of one. No matter how powerless we may feel, no matter how big the problems in the world, we can still do that “something” that we all can do. We can show genuine caring and gratitude.

Gratitude is a a life-changing attitude/ skill/ intention/ state (whatever you may want to describe it), and also a world-changing force.

Based on text by Gary Burnison

Writing Your Story.

Writing Your Story.

We all have a story to tell, whether we publish it or keep it for just ourselves or family; allow yourself to be heard.

Everyone, at one time or another, has wanted to express his or her story.

Writing a memoir to read privately, share with family or friends, or publish is an emotionally satisfying way to gain perspective on your experiences while sharing your unique voice. We’ve all experienced feelings and events in our lives that we are longing to write down. Giving in to that urge can give you an outlet for purging any frustration, anxiety, or long-dormant feelings.

No one else has to read it. You may even want to write your story without reading it right away. Satisfying the need to tell your story is not predicated upon your writing ability. It does, however take effort to write down the truth in detail. Your memories, captured on paper as descriptive scenes, sights, sounds, and scents, may at first seem disconnected or incomplete. But rest assured that you possess the ability to shape your recollections into stories.

Everyone wants to be heard. Reading your story to others can meet that need. Writing your story can also help you understand your life experiences. And when you finish writing, you may be surprised at what you have accomplished. Your story can encompass as much or as little of your life as you prefer. You may surprise yourself with new insights, or you may find yourself exploring your roots, your identity, and your future through your words. Allow your writing to guide you and write as truthfully as possible. Don’t worry about what others will think of your personal journey, your style of writing, or your words.

As you write, remember to have compassion for yourself, particularly when writing about traumatic events. If you are a young person, you can add to your life story as you grow older. Your writing may help family members know you better, or they may understand themselves more through reading about your experiences.

More importantly, you are expressing yourself in a permanent way, giving a gift to yourself, and letting your voice be heard.

Multiple Meanings.

Multiple Meanings.

The refined impression you glean from your experiences after contemplating their significance, can add a new richness and texture to your life.

Though we humans are self-aware, we nonetheless cannot distance ourselves from the world around us and have a natural tendency to ascribe meaning to all that we experience. The significance we perceive in our experiences is rooted in our observation of patterns as they relate to ourselves.

One situation has the power to teach us about life because it exposes us to something unfamiliar. Another touches our emotions deeply by enabling us to see how fortunate we are. Yet our initial impressions of an experience may not wholly reveal the true significance of that occurrence because our full response to an experience is like an onion with many layers that all have disparate meanings.

Consider that a sunrise may stun us visually while simultaneously evoking memories of childhood and reminding us that each new day is a rebirth.

If you take the time to examine your experiences closely, you will discover that your original impressions may only be a part of a larger story of significance. Peeling away the layers of an event or incident can be a fun and interesting process if you allow it.

Your interpretation of any situation is based not only on facts but also on feelings, beliefs, and your values. As you ruminate upon your experience, spend a few moments contemplating how you felt when it began and how your feelings had changed by its end. Ask yourself what abstractions, if any, it awakened in your mind.

The significance of an experience may remain hidden to you for some time. The meaning of an event can change when viewed from another context or may only become apparent after intense meditation. An incident that seemed superficial may unexpectedly touch us deeply later in our lives.

If you take a truly open-minded approach to your examination of each new level and do not shy away from revelations that could prove painful, you will learn much about your relationship to the world around you.

And the refined impression you glean from your experiences after contemplating their significance can add a new richness and texture to your life.

Based on texts by Madisyn Taylor
Be Open.

Be Open.

As we live, we will go through the processes of opening to new information, integrating it, and stabilizing our worldview.

Living in an information age, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the constant influx of scientific studies, breaking news, and even spiritual revelations that fill our bookshelves, radio waves, and in-boxes. No sooner have we decided what to eat or how to think about the universe than a new study or book comes out confounding our well-researched opinion. After a while, we may be tempted to dismiss or ignore new information in the interest of stabilizing our point of view, and this is understandable. Rather than closing down, we might try instead to remain open by allowing our intuition to guide us.

For example, contradictory studies concerning foods that are good for you and foods that are bad for you are plentiful. At a certain point, though, we can feel for ourselves whether coffee or tomatoes are good for us or not.
The answer is different for each individual, and this is something that a scientific study can’t quite account for.
All we can do is take in the information and process it through our own systems of understanding. In the end, only we can decide what information, ideas, and concepts we will integrate. Remaining open allows us to continually change and shift by checking in with ourselves as we learn new information. It keeps us flexible and alert, and while it can feel a bit like being thrown off balance all the time, this openness is essential to the process of growth and expansion.

Perhaps the key is realizing that we are not going to finally get to some stable place of having it all figured out. Throughout our lives we will go through the processes of opening to new information, integrating it, and stabilizing our worldview. No sooner will we have reached some kind of stability than it will be time to open again to new information, which is inherently destabilizing.

If we see ourselves as surfers riding the incoming waves of information and inspiration, always open and willing to attune ourselves to the next shift, we will see how blessed we are to have this opportunity to play on the waves and, most of all, to enjoy the ride.
Beyond “how are you?”

Beyond “how are you?”

The question “How are you?” has long been a go-to greeting, a way to spark a bit of small talk. But this year, as our lives have been impacted by a myriad of challenges  — the coronavirus pandemic, social unrest, political stress, and more — we have an opportunity (and need) to deepen our connections with others. And asking more meaningful questions can help spark those productive, compassionate conversations.

We asked our Thrive community to share with us thequestions they’re asking others right now that are strengthening their connections. Which of these will you start asking others?

What’s something you’re excited about?

“Asking someone what they’re passionate about at the moment can be a great conversation starter. Even before the pandemic, my favorite conversation opener was, ‘What’s something you’re excited about right now?’ It’s open-ended enough for someone to talk about their work, their favorite TV show, or anything else that they’re loving at the moment. I love watching someone’s face light up when they get to talk about something that excites them.” 

—Craig Inzana, content creator, Omaha, NE

What’s been keeping you busy?

“I’ve recently found that asking people more specific, but not intrusive, questions leads to a more authentic exchange. Some of my go-to questions are asking people what’s been keeping them busy lately, how they’ve been spending their time, or even asking about movies or books they’ve come across lately. Since there is so much stress and uncertainty in many people’s lives, striking the balance between curious and compassionate is key.”

—Marta Chavent, change and management consultant, France

What have you learned about yourself lately?

“I have enjoyed asking people, ‘What is the biggest thing you learned about yourself this year?’ Not only have I realized that they usually open up and are willing to share personal stories, but they also get excited about sharing something positive related to personal growth. I find that asking this question always leads to very vulnerable conversations.”

—Isabelle Bart, marketing director, Orange County, CA

How are you feeling?

“One thing I try to always ask my family and friends is how they are feeling emotionally and mentally. As someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety, I know that when you are in the depths of the fog, it’s easy to just say, ‘Yeah, I am good’ when someone asks how you are. But taking things a bit further and asking how someone is feeling shows that you understand that feelings are more complex than just being ‘fine.’ It also helps the other person know that they can confide in you if they need.”

—Melinda Jackson, Raleigh, NC 

How are your spirits today?

“The number one question I am asking everyone in my life, from family, friends, clients, and strangers, is  ‘How’s your spirit today?’ At first, people are surprised, because it’s usually the first time they’ve been asked that question. But once they take a moment to reflect, they openly share, and always thank me for asking. They often say that it’s the first time they’ve stopped to reflect on their spirit in a long time. It’s a question that grounds us in the present moment.”

—Nory Pouncil, self-awareness coach, Fort Lauderdale, FL

What are you doing to care for yourself right now?

“Since I’m working with clients consistently on often long-term projects, I like to check in first by asking others what they are doing to care for themselves right now. It’s a good conversation starter to get people thinking about how they are tending to their own self-care and well-being, even as they work on external goals and projects.”

—Henna Garrison, life coach and educator, Sicily, Italy 

How can I help support you?

“I am finding power in the leadership question, ‘How can I help support you?’ This simple question cuts through organizational hierarchies and helps us meet the person where they are at that moment in time. Most often, people don’t have an immediate answer because we aren’t terribly good at asking for help.  But if you ask the question, and then sit in the silence for a few seconds, people realize you’re there for them now and later when needed.”

—-Donna Peters, career coach, podcast host, lecturer, Atlanta, GA

What have you been cooking?

“‘How are you?’ is typically the first question we think of, but a more meaningful one I ask, especially to my 79-year-old mom is, ‘What are you cooking today?’ Talking mutually about what we cook that day or week is always heartwarming, and it’s a great conversation starter. Exchanging recipes and sharing ideas on dishes based on seasonal ingredients gives us a sense of safety and closeness as we share those small but essential everyday things, putting the stressors of the pandemic aside for a moment.

—Esin Sungur, Brand Consultant, İstanbul-Turkey

What are you grateful for right now?

“One question that I’ve been asking lately is, ‘What is something that you are grateful for during this time?’ How we frame things can often elicit certain feelings because it asks for the person to focus on something in particular. In this case, that would be things that bring joy, gratitude, and connection. When we face challenging times, I always find it helpful to remind ourselves what we should be centering on, and that starts with gratitude.”

—Simon Tam, author and musician, Cincinnati, OH

What are you looking forward to?

“I prefer asking this question these days instead of ‘How are you.’ I find that itgives whomever I’m speaking with space to assess their answer and reflect. Rather than a thoughtless ‘fine’ or ‘meh,’ their answer is typically more thoughtful and it helps them stay optimistic during this time. This question creates opportunities for engagement that move static conversations into more meaningful directions.”

—Ampy Basa, community director and HerSpace, Oslo, Norway

What’s been the highlight of your day?

“The questions we ask one another can spark a sense of validation and connectivity. I’ve been asking people, ‘What has been the highlight of your day?’ This question shifts the focus away from the expected ‘how are you?’ and ‘I am fine’ interchange, and instead makes the receiver of this question really think about what has brought them a sense of meaning and fulfillment that day. It’s a great conversation starter and an energy-booster. I find that it’s also a great opportunity to focus on our small wins.”

—Randi Levin, transitional life strategist, NJ/ NY

What question is helping you connect with others right now?