“Something feels missing from my life but I can’t quite put my finger on it.”
I can’t tell you how many times I hear some variation of that every week. (It’s a lot.)
I hear it from tech entrepreneurs who are on the verge of burn out, writers who are experiencing a temporary block, photographers who are making a ton of money working with big brands, and designers who have a full plate of client work. I hear it from friends at Facebook, at Google, and at Apple.
After listening to unique story after story, and each person attempting to describe what is happening in their life, it dawned on me that what was missing from every single story was very simple.
“You are missing from your own story,” I said aloud to my friend the other day. “You’ve lost touch with yourself, and that’s what feels missing.”
He paused mid-sentence and thought about my observation.
“I have stopped writing,” he said. “I used to write all the time. I’m also not working out as much. Actually, I’m not working out at all. I’m so focused on my company’s goals and vision that I’ve lost touch with everything else.”
“How much time do you spend with yourself?” I asked.
“Close to none,” he said.
“You are disconnected from yourself,” I said. “THAT is what’s missing.”
We live in a world that continually pulls us outside of ourselves. Between our work, achievement ethic, technology, relationships, and life responsibilities, our attention tends to be turned outward.
The more we turn inward, and deepen the relationship with ourselves, the more connected we become with our inner wisdom. When connected, we act on this wisdom more often. We make sure that our life is a representation of our values, needs and core desires, which creates a sense of meaning and purpose.
If you’ve felt out of touch, here are a three practices for getting re-connected:
1) Morning pages. Create an ongoing dialogue with yourself through journaling. I do this in the way of 3 “Morning Pages” of stream-of-consciousness writing by hand every morning. Learned from Julie Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way,” it creates clarity, comfort and coincidence.
“What will I write about for three pages?” you may be asking. While I think you may be surprised at how much is stirring inside of you waiting to be expressed, here are the prompts I use when I get stuck:
This morning I feel…
My soul longs to…
I keep feeling pulled to…
I’m most afraid of…
I’m most grateful for…
And then I let the writing go where it needs to go. No judgement.
2) 2-minutes to Mindfulness. Speaking of no judgement, mindfulness is “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally,” as defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
I learned two mindfulness practices for regulating attention and getting in touch from Chade-Meng Tan’s “Search Inside Yourself.”
When feeling overwhelmed or out of touch, take two minutes and do one, or a combination of, the following:
Way One: Bring gentle and consistent attention to your breath for two minutes. That’s it. Start by becoming aware that you are breathing, and then pay attention to the process of breathing. Every time your attention wanders, just bring it back very gently.
Way Two: Sit without an agenda for two minutes. Life really cannot get much simpler than that. The idea here is to shift from “doing” to “being,” whatever that means to you, for just two minutes. Just be.
3) Personal Rituals. Get clear on energizing rituals that turn you inward. A few of my favorites include: morning visualization of how I want the day to feel and what is dying to be born, intention-setting jogs in the park, morning pages, savoring a cup of hot water + lemon, 2-hour blocks of creative time, and yoga.
What practices keeps you connected?