RE-DEFINE CREATIVITY. We have to be honest, we’re biased in favor of people with a creative sensibility, whether they’re artists, designers, photographers, musicians, writers, performers, or simply people who bring the spirit of creativity and spontaneity into their lives. Here’s five reasons why.
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1. To be human is to be creative. Creativity is the essence of human experience. It is change and innovation, experimentation, wonder, curiosity, or the simple desire to do something new. We express it as play, travel, conversation, work, day-dreaming, and lovemaking. Everything is enhanced by the quality of creativity we bring to our life. Repetitive tasks can be transformed by changing your thought or intention behind that task, or by simply changing how you do it. Creativity is what gives you choice; to stretch, to challenge yourself, to play, and to grow. Creativity is not just for children and artists, it’s our life-blood. It’s how we stay alive.
2. Play. Let’s play! Creativity is as simple as a child’s laughter, spontaneous and free. How much can you let yourself feel? What is more important than your ability to wonder and respond, or to see with new eyes, hear with new ears .. another’s face, another’s words, sunset or sunrise, what was called in classical Chinese, “the ten-thousand things” – the whole wide world. Creativity is the pleasure of being present to the world. Why not ask yourself when you wake up in the morning, “How much pleasure can I let myself feel today?” 3. Communication. Creativity is communication. Wherever we happen to live, our language is the roof and walls, the windows and doors of our experience. Even in silence, how we speak to ourselves will define how we experience the world. Our words are constantly changing. No two sentences are alike. How we speak is how we make friends and allies, or how we make enemies. It’s how we tell the world who we are. If actions speak louder than words, then actions are the verification of the internal conversation we have with ourselves.
4. Self-care. Creativity is how we care for ourselves. The impulse for innovation and change, the instinct to adapt, or to celebrate, to pause or to move forward. Whether through unrestrained improvisation or a ritual act, through an artist spending a lifetime on a body of work or a spontaneous instant, the confluence of elements that make for a perfect moment. There’s something about living at the edge of your comfort zone, and dancing with the unpredictable and spontaneous creative. True self-care is also cultivating your limitless imagination.
5. Problem Solving. Everyone has challenges, everyone is faced with change. Creativity is an essential element for problem-solving and fluid adaptation. Sometimes just doing what you have never done before to address an old familiar problem is all you need to do to change everything, including your sense of whatever it is being the problem you thought it was.
Exercise, Re- Define Creativity for your self: Here’s a simple strategy you can use – to start a new project, or inspire you when you’re stuck. Take a book, a large book is always best, and open it at random. Point to a word on the page without looking. Then write the word down. Repeat this two more times. Now you have three words selected at random. Use those words, whatever they may mean or signify to you, to come up with a new approach to your problem or project.
In an earlier blog I mentioned meta-states. In this piece I want to give you some pointers as to HOW you can actually use meta-states as a process. First I want to clear up some confusion. Meta-states have nothing to do with the word ‘Metta’ from the Pali language. The word meta, with one ‘t’, comes from the Greek, and means: above, beyond, the big picture. Metta, with two ‘t’s, refers to the meditative cultivation of unconditional love.
Actually, the Meta-State Process may have more to do with Metta—unconditional love—than is apparent at first; though the two words have no direct connection to each other. But I’ll leave you to decide that for yourself.
The ‘Meta-State’ process I want to tell you about here comes from our NLP training program. It is a way to help you to redirect your focus away from un-resourceful, unresolved emotions, towards positive emotions: and then to combine the two to develop a more fully proactive ongoing positive emotional and energetic resource. It is key for your own, or for your clients’ ongoing journey towards integration and emotional and spiritual wellbeing; if that journey is to be more than a quest for Band-Aids and quick fixes.
The activities involved in thinking and feeling are dynamic and nonlinear. Everyone has multiple ways of doing them. Thinking and feeling are interconnected, not always predictable, and infinitely more complex than we usually realize. The meanings we give to things (thinking), and emotional states (feelings) make up a system .. which you experience as yourself, as ‘I’. In going through this meta-state process I encourage you to create your own categories and distinctions. Use the methods, as you understand them from what I will describe; and then adapt them to suit what you intuit will work best for you. It will enable you to begin loosen up that rigid construct of ‘I’, and give you some more options towards becoming, ultimately, a master of your emotional states.
The Meta-State Process
Not so long ago I visited my elderly father in the nursing home where he now lives. I was feeling such intense grief that for a while I felt like I was drowning in it. I stopped for a moment to check in with myself. Then I made a choice to create a meta-state sequence. First I needed to find a quiet place, and take a little time to engage in some very specific self-observation. I began by looking for more than the experience of the emotion. I checked in with myself—body, thoughts, as well as my emotional states. We often imagine that by giving a word to an emotion that it is just one thing. But when you allow yourself to be completely present to it, you experience it as a system. So I checked in with multiple shades and nuances of the emotions I was feeling, as they revealed themselves to me, through the process of my observation. I could then begin to experience my grief more fully. Gradually I could take it to a higher-level state of joy, gratitude, and love.
Through the presence of an intense feeling of grief, I was able to shift, in a few steps, to a sense of peaceful inner calm. By asking, “What can I learn here? What is this grief telling me? What is the highest purpose for this emotion?” I uncovered compassion, nostalgia, love, and determination. In turn this allowed me to experience an ongoing and active acceptance of the situation, which then brought me back to the joy I used to feel in a more direct way when I was with my father years before. Then I expanded this joy in a specific way in order to create an anchor. The joy now spontaneously erupts whenever that grief is triggered again, creating a new, complex, and a more effectively positive emotion than the joy alone.
This meta-state process is not an analytic process, nor does it rely entirely on moving through a sequence of random emotions. It is not substituting one emotion for another; nor is it covering an emotion, or numbing yourself to it. It is similar to some meditation practices like Vipassana, but it involves more active engagement than is usually taught. It also requires that you trust your intuition. It is much more closely related to Psycho-magic than to either cognitive therapy or meditation. It works best when you have someone to guide you through it—at least initially. But you can certainly use the information here to great effect.
This process is strongly rooted in a deep trust in the human energetic and emotional experience. Imagine that every emotion is there for you as a gift, a healer, and a guide.
Meta-States on Your Own
If you have no-one to guide you, simply sit with the emotional state you want to shift and begin asking, “What can I learn here?” and “What is the higher level purpose of this?” The questions immediately change your relationship to the negative emotion. They move it to a meta-level, so that you can create a meta-relationship between the two states, negative and positive; and then move yourself to a meta-experience that is entirely above and beyond either of those emotional states as you would experience them on their own! The whole is more than the sum of the parts.
The essence of all NLP work is to effect rapid, positive, permanent change. The meta-states process produces new emotional experience that makes it impossible to engage in negative emotions in the old way. Naturally it is better experienced than described. This is one small piece of the work we use to empower our clients to live a creative, impactful, spiritually rich life. It is also part of the curriculum we teach in the Five Changes NLP training and Certification that we now teach.
Down with Rain, Up with Flowers!
Before my father entered life in a nursing home, one of the ways he used to express humor and beauty in his often difficult life was to write poetry and paint. Down With Rain Up With Flowers was a cycle of poems he wrote about the resilience of the creative force. What seems to dampen the spirit can actually regenerate it.
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Meta-States and Negative emotions: When Bad Emotions Turn Good
Cloudy. Chance of Rainbows!
Wouldn’t it be great if negative emotions such as anger, sadness, disappointment, and fear, didn’t drain you, confuse you, overwhelm you, or cloud your thinking? Wouldn’t it be great if you learned to use them to bring you more energy, clarity, resourcefulness, even more happiness? Wouldn’t it be great if they became the very best way for you to solve problems and awaken your creativity?
Emotions occur for a reason. They also occur because of a choice you make; or made in the past. Which means that emotions are often based on long-established patterns and habits.
Anger. Fear. Sadness. Go for it!
Think of negative emotions as signals; information you can use to catalyze change; to regain balance, for example; or to trigger deeper degrees of happiness, confidence, joy, equilibrium, excitement.
Think of negative emotions as friends. When an apparently debilitating emotion pays you a visit, what they are doing is reminding you that something is off-balance. Invite them in, ask yourself, “What can I learn here?” Imagine that your friend is bringing you a gift. Ask yourself “How will this .. anger, sadness, disappointment, fear .. serve me?”
This is the beginning of learning to become a true artist of your states of mind and emotions.
When you learn to use your self-reflective capacity in a particular way, you create the space around these strong emotions so that they won’t trigger you. Some spiritual practices use an observational approach to meditation. Yet there is a tendency to simply switch from negative to positive, thereby missing the opportunity to use the momentum behind the negative emotion. Certainly, there are times when we need to switch off and experience calm and peace; but if that’s all we do, we miss huge opportunities for genuine and permanent transformation.
Meta-States. The complete and utter transformation of negative emotions
For a few years I had been caretaking my father who is in the middle stages of dementia. He is living in a Catholic facility where all his needs are attended too. Several years ago, when I visited him there, I felt profound sadness. Once my sadness was so strong that I felt it would be dangerous for me to drive. It was as if I was intoxicated with my sadness! So I went back to the small chapel in the building. I just let the feelings be there. Then I began to use my skills to create Meta-States from the sadness. Using Meta-States begins with the question, ”What is the highest intention of this sadness? What is its greatest purpose?”
The answer I got was, “Get back to the joy!” My natural joy was inside, underneath, and behind the sadness. It was a question of simply taking the time to recognize it. In fact, it was a little more than just recognizing that simple fact. Working with Meta-States is a specific way to change deeply ingrained patterns we sometimes use to limit ourselves with emotions we imagine happen to us. They help us learn that we are doing them, and that with skill we can navigate them to effect a complete transformation.
In simplest terms, when you use a Meta-State, you are moving to a resourceful internal experience from the starting point of a self-limiting experience. Of course, there are specific ways to do this. (which we will cover in a later article).
Meta-States is something that comes out of NLP. Despite much confusion, NLP is actually very simple. It is the ongoing investigation and replication of what works best, for the greatest benefit of all concerned.
If the question is, “How do people who remain unshakably happy maintain their happiness, even in the face of setbacks, disappointments, and even tragedy?” Then the answer is, “By applying the specific Meta-States that those people use. In other words, Meta-States is a strategy, a sequence of inner shifts, that you can learn to use in order to bypass old debilitating emotional downward spirals.
Now when I visit my father, my sadness immediately expands out to joy. It happens so quickly that I hardly recognize it as sadness.
There is a Japanese word that actually translates to ‘happy-sad.’ I learned to appreciate what this word meant from my own experience. Not only did I reap the benefits of transforming my sadness, I have learned to hone my skill in developing Meta-States in just about any situation that comes my way.
Of course, there is the added benefit that when you take responsibility to feel good, others feel good around you. Not only is my old Dad happier to see me, but the staff and the nurses noticeably perk up whenever I show up. They’ve even told me as much.
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‘I have a dream that my four little children will one day live where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.’
These were the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his famous speech in August of 1963 from the steps of the Lincoln memorial during the Civil Rights March on Washington D.C. His dream is noble, but what makes your dreams come true? They resonate, and have guided my thoughts, and motivated my actions since the time I heard them as a young child, watching him on television that day.
Growing up as a mixed race person, those early years of my life were marked with my own personal civil rights movement, in which all the races divided inside me, wanted to be unified and at peace, after all I am Japanese and American, and born out of my parents crossing a taboo racial line!
My parents met in Japan during the Korean War. My father was determined to marry my mother, even though there were deliberate attempts from his higher-ups in the military to keep them apart.
Japan was still under American occupation and there was a lot of resistance in my mother’s family to this marriage taking place. The fact that they would be married in a Catholic Church in Kobe with a western-style wedding did not help.
Recently there has been increased awareness of an ever-growing multiracial population. The New York Times recently published a series of nine articles about the ‘Multiracial boom and the impacts it is having globally.’
Now that there is a more ‘visible’ population of multiracial folks, I feel called to be more at home in my own multiracial skin, and lead others to do the same.
Recently I have lead several workshops for people of mixed race and identity. My intention was to begin a process of healing and transformation, but in the spirit of celebration and inspiration.
The workshops were so moving and empowering that I felt moved to write something here. They are the expression a a life-long dream, and from them I can now embody a clear sense, more than ever before, that now:
I am not just the sum of the parts of a mixture of races divided inside me,
I am not without a homeland , because I claim a deeper residency, as a citizen of many places
I am the wholeness of my self-acclaimed integration, in an expression of life that celebrates diversity as part of its core essence .. and my home is planet earth.
However, this was not always so.. I was born into and inherited a pseudo revolution. If you are a person of mixed-race your parents, or parents before them, crossed a clearly defined, or implied, racial line. This quiet revolution plays out throughout your family life, and is mirrored by the outside world in ways that may have confused, frustrated, enraged, perhaps revolutionized you, or perhaps sent you into a turmoil of denial and negation.
I became a chameleon, a shape shifter. I learned to assimilate the environment, other people’s behavior, and their communication styles, as a way to survive, as a way to fit in.
Then I began to identify myself as exotic, special, the odd one out; but never knowing where or how to I fit in. At school I was sometimes adored, sometimes hated, or sometimes just plain invisible. Sometimes I was forced to choose loyalties or be disowned by all. Many of my personal dreams were lost or forgotten in this maze of complexity, this dizzying dance on the hot coals of identity-politics.
The good thing about this journey is that I became resilient, sensitive in ways that many people weren’t, to what was going on. I developed a wisdom and understanding beyond my years. I learned to see complex things clearly. I was a bridge, a natural mediator. I learned to see from a multitude of perspectives and cut through polarized ways of thinking and being. I learned that there were definite advantages to having a multi-colorful heart.
Of course, the journey towards being an integrated, congruent person, is not unique to multiracial folks; there is a universal call, an ache in all of us to find our place, to be at home in our skin, to live an embodied life – full, and with purpose.
I remember a time early in my career as a spiritual teacher, both meditation and martial arts. I was invited by some of my students to a performance of a well-known spiritual-psychic dancer.
The audience was asked to put their names into a large bowl as they entered the auditorium.
The performer would pick some names from the bowl to announce the winners. She would then perform an intuitive dance-portrait of the people she picked.
The auditorium was packed with hundreds of people, and my name was the first to be drawn that evening.
What a magical moment! She began dancing. Her dance was strange, exotic. Her movements were deliberate, trance like, and mysterious. It felt like an ancient dance, a ritual from long ago..
There was also live music accompaniment which illuminated her movements. Her dance sent chills up my spine.
And then all of a sudden she stopped, abruptly. Then the music stopped, and she hid behind one of the curtains!
She then came from behind the curtain, called me out by name again, and said that the reason the dance was stopped, the reason she hid behind the curtain, was that there was something I was doing that was in discord with my soul…
Well, I wasn’t going to have it! I thought … such presumption on her part!
I stayed for the rest of her performance-portraits, feeling uneasy, feeling that she had let me down. But what was I expecting? That she would finish ‘my dance’?
That night, I decided to take things in my own hands, and finish my own dance.
We picked up some food and went to one of my students house. She had an antique sword that had been in her family for generations, with a wooden scabbard and live blade inside. It was perfect; I took the sword and I finished ‘the dance of me,’ as only I could do it!
I learned that all of our experiences and the world itself and everything in it calls us forth into action, to find our place under the sun, to be at home, to be magnificently human from our own unique perspective, and to share that with others. Why not, what else will you do with your dreams, but live them?
Why not transform your history into the fuel for your life. Why not be at home in yourself, in this world, and in your skin, and let your experiences good bad or indifferent, illuminate your path, wherever you are, and open you up to your vision, your purpose, your dreams lived.
Here are the words of Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
My work is helping others to live their dreams, to dream bigger ones, To hear their universal call and to step into them.
Your own work can be of huge benefit to others when you start living into your true power, whatever it is you do. You benefit others just by being fully yourself, being integrated and congruent within, living joyfully in the world, connected, loved and loving, whole, and living on purpose, with purpose. If you are so inspired to have a conversation about this please call me.
To schedule a complimentary strategy-focus diagnosis contact Michele directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
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