Discover Your Authentic Self: Be You, Be Free, Be Happy - Sherrie Dillard (2016)

Chapter 8. EMBRACE YOUR PASSION

Creativity unlocks the door for authentic expression. You do not have to be an artist or even artistically inclined to be creative. This chapter provides you with activities, exercises, and suggestions that will bring your inner self to light.

105. Let Your Passion Lead You

One of the biggest yet underrated and hidden challenges that you will confront on the journey of authentic living is expressing your passion. Depending on your perspective, passion can either empower you to feel truly alive or be a blinding force that dulls your awareness of your true self. In some spiritual traditions, passion is viewed as excessive and willful and it is to be quieted and tamed. In our Western culture, passion is associated more with romance and unrestrained desires and feelings.

The kind of passion needed for the emergence of your authentic self transports you from the known into the unknown. This is authentic passion. It is an energy force that moves through your mind, body, and spirit and rearranges and reveals aspects of who you are that you may not have been aware of. It empowers you to perceive your soul connections in the outer world.

When my friend Keli was going through a difficult divorce, it was all she could do to get out of bed, go to work, and take care of all of the grueling details of responding to her divorce agreement. For months she lacked energy and looked listless. One day while on the train to work, she noticed an advertisement for a painting class. She recognized the teacher as an artist who did instructional painting videos on YouTube. The class was not far from her work, and given how much she enjoyed watching the teacher’s videos, she signed up. Keli loved the class and discovered within her a talent and passion for painting. Not only did she enjoy the tactical and sensual act of working with paint and canvas, but while immersed in the process she forgot about her problems and stress. The passion that she felt while painting became a doorway through which new life and possibilities began to emerge. It wasn’t just distant mountains and ocean scenes that she was painting. It was the open landscape of her life and the hope of new beginnings that she saw materialize on the canvas.

Whatever your authentic passion may be, listen, follow, and allow it to take you into a new understanding and awareness of who you are. You may not feel led to paint or participate in the arts. Instead, nature, outdoor activities, cooking, yoga, a spiritual practice, books, gardening, writing, collecting antiques, going to flea markets, dancing, volunteer work, traveling, history, learning about different cultures, or a vast array of other interests may be calling to you.

Take a risk, give of yourself, and become comfortable with your authentic passion. Allow it to be a cleansing force that sweeps you clean and leads you into new discoveries and possibilities. On this journey to authentic living, your passion can be a trustworthy guide—not as a distraction that veers you away from self, but as a force that propels you into the places within that you have not dared to acknowledge.

I allow passion to lead me.

106. Do It Now

Do something today that is perfectly you. Sing your favorite song aloud. Wear your most comfortable clothes. Start a creative project that you have been wanting to do or visit an art gallery. Go to your favorite restaurant and try something new. Take a walk in nature, or go to a lake or the seashore. Lie on the couch and read your favorite book. Listen to your heart, feel the boundless love within you, and share it with others. We often lose touch with the small joys.

Give yourself permission to claim what you want and then be willing to receive it. Don’t wait any longer. You do not have to do better to receive more. No one has to validate you or give you the stamp of approval. There is nothing that you need to achieve or succeed at in order to be happy. If you have been putting off doing something that you know will lift your spirit, now is the time to do it.

We often feel that we need to wait for good things to come our way, and we put ourselves at the end of the receiving line. There are times in life when we need to be patient and self-disciplined and take into consideration what others need and how we can best help them. But all too often we forget to let out the free spirit within that wants and needs to go a little wild and experience renewal.

Wonderful ideas are born and good things come to us when we take the pressure off of ourselves and stop planning and overthinking. Our creative juices get flowing and we feel reenergized and refreshed. Allowing more freedom and spontaneity into your world reduces stress and allows joy to make its way into your life.

I enjoy my freedom to be me.

107. The Creative Approach

Years ago I started an art therapy program in a treatment center for violent teenagers. I went to the school three days a week armed with all kinds of creative materials, most of which sat untouched. For several months there was little interest in the program. In this austere and cold environment, the teenagers were watched over by adult guards and not encouraged to speak or interact in any way. Creating art presented a bit of a challenge to students and the administration, and I experienced resistance from both groups. Yet slowly this began to change. By my second year in the center, I had full participation and my program was expanded to five days a week and two hours a day. Because art therapy allowed the residents a safe place to express themselves without judgment or expectation, they began to open up and enjoy it. The quality of the art did not matter. Instead, creating was an avenue through which feelings, ideas, and individuality were expressed. It allowed the students to take charge of a part of their lives.

Creativity helps everyone. It does not matter if you feel like you have artistic talent or not. You are a creative being. Although being an artist, designer, or craftsperson requires creativity, this is only one area where creative ability surfaces. Creativity opens up a part of ourselves that is often unknown and dormant. It gives us the opportunity to take risks and express our individuality, and it empowers us to discover, harness, and express our authentic energy.

In my art therapy program, confused and troubled teenagers uncovered and connected with a part of themselves that was safe and good. Creativity gave them hope. We all have parts of ourselves that we need to become more aware of and birth into being. Approach all that you encounter with creative, open-ended awareness. Ask yourself, How can I see or understand this in a fresh new way? What is my unique perspective and opinion on this? Resist taking the well-worn path and strike out into new territory. Creativity has a place in every area and aspect of your life.

I approach all things with creative vision.

108. Create a Vision Board

Remind yourself of who you are. Contemplate the many things that make you smile and bring you joy. So often, the demands of daily life consume our time and attention. We are bombarded with distractions from morning until night and are confronted with a parade of issues and problems to attend to. The path back to our core self can sometimes seem elusive. We forget, all too quickly, the importance of listening within to our authentic voice.

One of the ways that we can become more centered and be reminded of our truth is to create a vision board. This can reinforce our truth and induce more clarity and peace of mind. A collage of images, quotes, and a personal statement of truth, a vision board can remind us of who we are.

Begin by creating a statement that describes your personal truth at this time. Try to make this as concise and accurate as possible. Remember that your truth can and will change and evolve over time. Here are a few examples:

• I love and accept myself for exactly who I am.

• I live each day with an open heart and mind.

• I am free to be me.

• I express my truth.

• I allow my authentic self to lead me.

• I feel joy and abundance within.

Ask yourself what living authentically would look like. Find images from magazines, the Internet, or personal photos that support your statement of truth. These images can be of experiences that you have had or experiences that reinforce your personal values, dreams, and hopes. Be sure to include inspirational and motivational images as well as photos of beauty. Cut out the photos or, if you find them on the Internet, print them. You can also save images to create a vision board on your computer.

Write down meaningful affirmations, quotes, or passages that speak to your authentic self. These can be statements that motivate you to feel your feelings, share your truth with others, or fully love and accept yourself.

Glue or pin your photos and statements to a poster board or corkboard. If you want to create a vision board on your computer, find a program that will allow you to copy and paste your photos and quotes. You can print it when you are finished or, if possible, use it as your screen saver.

Take a few minutes first thing in the morning and before you go to bed at night to look at your board and meditate on it. As you do this, your subconscious mind will absorb and materialize your truth in the world.

Reinforce your personal truth and focus on what is important and of value to you.

I create a vision of my most authentic self.

109. Choosing Your Personal Style

Our daily choices and preferences help us to know more about who we are. Our likes and dislikes and preferences in all things give us the opportunity to try out and express new ways of being. Our hobbies and interests, the way we decorate our home, and our personal style in clothes, furniture, and cars help us to become more aware of and express our individuality.

This process begins early in life. When we choose a favorite color from the crayon box or pick our most beloved cartoon character, something in us feels an inner rightness and connection. As we grow older, we begin to lose the innocence and pure impulses that we had as children. Our inner barometer as to what feels right for us is all too often replaced by outer influences. We allow others’ opinions and beliefs to replace our inner sensors. We adopt as our preferences what our friends have, what is popular, and what advertisements tell us will make us happy, attractive, and successful. Identifying what you want based on others’ opinions and choices eventually leads to a disconnection from what feels right for you. You lose yourself somewhere in the backdrop of what you have filled your life with. Although it is important to be open and try new things based on others’ recommendations and experiences, ultimately you have to be able to discern and feel what lifts your spirit and brings you joy.

Not listening to your preferences when making small, everyday choices may not seem like a big deal. Yet one choice at a time, you can either become disconnected from your authentic self or strengthen your connection with it. Despite the many claims of fulfillment that come with the various products and services that you are bombarded with on a daily basis, what will truly make you happy is filling your life with what speaks to your authenticity and individuality.

I express my individuality in my personal style.

110. Drawing Your Essence

We tend to know ourselves best through our thoughts, emotions, beliefs, preferences, and physical attributes. It can be a bit more mystifying to know our inner spiritual presence. There are few words that can describe and accurately portray the expansiveness and beauty of our spirit.

Our spirit is hard to grasp and understand. Becoming quiet and listening within enables us to better connect to and embrace our inner essence. Creativity in all forms is another way that our spirit speaks to us. Painting, sculpting, gardening, mixed media, writing, and other types of art, craft, or design work allow our spirit to be expressed in the physical realm.

Try this creative exercise to better tune in to your spirit.

You will need colored pencils, markers, or crayons and white paper.

Get comfortable and close your eyes. Take deep, relaxing breaths, exhaling any stress or tension. Continue to breathe and relax. Ask within to feel and connect with your spiritual essence. Listen, feel, and become aware of whatever feelings, sensations, or images surface. It may feel as if you are making this up. Your imagination is a useful tool with which you can better tune in to pure essence. Be patient, breathe, and tune in to any colors, feelings, sensations, symbols, or images that surface.

When you feel that you have received all the information that you can at this time, open your eyes and begin to draw or paint. Put form and color to the sensations, feelings, or images. Continue to allow new awareness and images to surface while you draw or paint.

When you feel that you have completed the drawing, close your eyes. Breathe into your heart and feel it expand, then exhale through the heart.

Ask for colors or images to emerge that represent the essence of your heart. Use your imagination. Notice any colors, sensations, images, and symbols that surface. Take your time.

Breathe and continue to receive. When you have received all that you can at this time, open your eyes and draw or paint the essence of your heart. Allow more images and colors to surface as you draw or paint.

Once you have completed the drawings, periodically meditate on them. Over time they will continue to unfold and provide you with new insights and awareness. You can also repeat this exercise as often as you would like to continue to tune in to your spiritual essence.

I use my creativity to tune in to my spiritual essence.

111. Writing Your Authentic Self

Creative writing can help you lift the veil of the conscious mind and access the rich potency of your authentic self. Journaling, poetry, prose, and even doodling can help you to better know self.

The key to using writing as a creative tool is to suspend the critical mind that would like to edit and critique while you write. To elicit the voice of your deeper self, adopt a curious and patient attitude and let go of your expectations. Write to simply write and the passion of your heart and mind will use this as a channel for expression.

Stream-of-Consciousness Writing

Stream-of-consciousness writing is a technique that you can use to stimulate and promote the emergence of your true voice.

This technique helps you bypass the common issue of not knowing what to write or where to start. Stream-of-consciousness writing moves you through inner blocks and often elicits surprising raw insights. Do not edit or worry about spelling or grammar while you write.

To begin, have plenty of paper and a pen or pencil. You can also type on your computer. Have a clock or watch close by, as you will write for a specific amount of time.

Stream-of-consciousness writing employs prompts, which are short statements that stimulate and activate your deeper unconscious.

Create an open-ended stimulating statement. Use a favorite quote or one of the following prompts to write about. Use only one statement at a time.

• Who am I?

• What do I need to know about me?

• I am love.

• I am consciousness.

• I am a unique expression of the divine.

• What have I come into this life to experience and learn?

• What is my purpose?

• What do I most need to know about my life right now?

Determine the amount of time that you will write. Usually fifteen to twenty minutes to begin is sufficient. Stream-of-consciousness writing is continuous and nonstop. Do not lift your pen from the paper or stop writing. Do not review, edit, or correct what you are writing. Write nonstop. If you do not know what to write, write something like I do not know what to write. If you feel frustrated, write out your frustrations. Just keep going. Eventually you will begin to feel a sense of flow. Words, ideas, and thoughts will move from within to the paper or computer. Do not read what you have written until you have written for the desired amount of time.

For best results, use steam-of-consciousness writing for consecutive days or weekly. The more often you write, the deeper you will go into self. You can clear out emotional and mental blocks, become inspired, harness your creativity, learn more about yourself, and activate the emergence of your authentic self.

Write a Love Letter to Your Authentic Self

Write a love letter to your authentic self and listen for a response. This process will help you to lovingly integrate the presence of the true you into your daily decisions, thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

Prepare in the same way that you did for stream-of-consciousness writing. Plan to write for fifteen to twenty minutes. Have plenty of paper available. This exercise is better accomplished through writing on paper than typing on a computer.

In this love letter, write without editing, critiquing, judging, or overthinking and without ceasing for the predetermined amount of time.

Prepare yourself by becoming relaxed, breathing deeply, and releasing any tension and stress through the exhale.

Begin by writing the following with your dominant hand (right hand if you are right-handed and left hand if you are left-handed):

Dear Authentic Me,

Express love and support for your authentic self. Let your authentic self know how much you love and support your true inner self. Maybe there have been times when you felt truly free and alive and you would like to send gratitude to your authentic self. You can also ask your authentic self about its perceptions and feelings about any area of your life. You may want to ask what your authentic self might need or want. Write without overthinking and remember that this is an encouraging love letter that will help you to better know yourself.

Once you have opened the dialogue and expressed love and support, allow your authentic self to respond. Let your authentic self communicate to you through your non-dominant hand (left hand if you are right-handed and right hand if you are left-handed). Begin by writing the following with your non-dominant hand:

Dear Conscious Self,

Listen within and write without overthinking or critiquing what you are writing. Give your authentic self permission to say anything. The true you may wish to express love and respond to what the conscious self has written, or you may spontaneously reveal something unexpected.

Continue to write, switching back and forth between your dominant hand/conscious self and your non-dominant hand/authentic self. When the time that you have allotted for this exercise is completed, you can continue to write or end the session.

This is a good exercise to practice when you need to make a decision or when you are unsure if something is in your best interest. The intuitive voice of your heart and soul, your authentic self, longs to express your truth.

I allow my true self to emerge through writing.

112. Authentic Painting

Similar to authentic writing, authentic painting allows you to express your inner self in a creative and spontaneous way. It is not always possible to put into words and clearly understand the evolving mystery of self. We simultaneously exist on multidimensional levels, not all of which are easy to access. Your unconscious self is as much a part of you as what you know as your conscious self. Even though the contents of the unconscious are often hidden, the unconscious self exerts a powerful influence on your behavior, choices, and sense of self and your emotional and mental well-being.

Authentic painting allows the unconscious to surface and frees your creative spirit. It moves you through inner emotional and mental blocks and elicits the positive effects of being in the flow of your spirit.

You do not have to be a painter or even artistic to enjoy and succeed at authentic painting. Use whatever materials appeal to you, such as watercolors, oils, acrylics, and brushes, or paint with your hands. Paint in an environment where you can freely create without worry of splashing or dripping paint. Prepare to get messy. In this process, you can paint for a specific amount of time or simply for as long as you would like. Unlike writing, it is not necessary to use a prompt to stimulate and trigger your inner creative self. However, some people find it helpful to begin by focusing on an intriguing quote, affirmation, or statement. You can use the same kind of prompts as discussed for creative writing. It can also be helpful to play soothing or meditative music while you paint.

To begin, have your materials ready. Sit quietly and take a few long, deep breaths to relax. Breathe deeply and move the breath through the body. If you are using a prompt, repeat the affirmation or statement inwardly a few times. When you are ready, open your eyes and without giving thought to what you are going to paint, pick up your brush, dip it in a color, and begin to paint. Continue to paint and begin new paintings whenever you are ready. Continue to be aware of your breath while you paint. This will keep you centered within. Breathe into your heart and soul. Remember to be nonjudgmental of what you are painting and what it looks like. Develop a curious attitude. What you paint is not meant to hang behind the couch or impress your friends for its technical and artistic qualities. This painting is for you.

When you are finished and the painting is dry, you may want to put it away for a short time. Take it out when you are in a reflective and relaxed mood and allow it to speak to you. You may want to become quiet, notice your breath, and adopt a listening and open state of awareness. Pay attention to any thoughts or feelings that surface from the painting.

I express myself through painting.

113. Declutter Your Home

Let go of the things in your life that no longer have meaning or purpose. Who you are is not dependent on what you have. Long-forgotten material items and accumulated clutter may be a mask that keeps your true self hidden. Holding on to things that no longer reflect who you are keeps you stuck in the past.

When you clear out your physical space, you make room for a new you to emerge. Begin with your home. Make a list of what is most important to you, both what you need in the practical sense, like your kitchen table and chairs, and those things that have sentimental value to you, like your grandmother’s porcelain teapot. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and not sure of what you need and what you can discard, write those down on another “not sure” list. You can also have a “donate” or “give away” list.

As you go through this process, ask yourself these general questions: Do I use this? Have I used it in the past year? Will I use it again in the next three months? Do I love it? Does it have meaning for me?

Take a good look around your home and you will likely come across many things that are no longer “you.” These are items that you have had for a long time, things that were given to you as gifts, and other items that you don’t quite know what to do with. There may be magazines that you think you may read one day and supplies for projects that you have been meaning to get to. All of this clutter prevents the free flow of energy in your home and within you.

Have a plan in place to discard the clutter. A friend with a truck is always helpful, or call a local charity that is able to pick up and accept large items. When you are ready to purge, start with the bigger items, such as furniture, old bikes, outdoor furniture, fixtures, curtains, or rugs that you no longer use or like. Once the bigger items are moved, you can use the momentum to keep going. Go into each room one by one and move through your list. If you come across items that you are not sure what to do with, use the general questions for clarity.

Keep positive during this process and stay in touch with your emotions. It is likely that you will feel sadness and a hesitancy to let go of some things. Feel your feelings and remind yourself that you can lose track of who you are when you hold on to things. You are not the old tickets to a concert, a pair of pants that no longer fit, a chair that is falling apart, or books that you have already read. Things only contain the value that you give them. Value yourself more and things less.

We often become overly identified with certain objects and believe that they embody aspects of who we are. As you eliminate material possessions, declutter your home, and let go of your emotional attachment to certain objects and things, you will begin to more clearly see the true you. Things get old, break down, become outdated, no longer work, and fall apart. They are not alive. You are energy, always evolving, changing, and discovering new aspects of who you are. The authentic you is beautiful and unique. Don’t give these qualities to inanimate objects. Minimize your attachment to things and pour your energy back into you. Your authentic self is priceless.

I let go of things and more clearly see who I am.

114. Simplify

Simplify your life and make space for the true you to emerge. In this busy, multitasking world, we can lose our sense of self. From morning until night, our energy is often focused outside of ourselves on tasks and responsibilities that do not support the truth of who we are. Take back control by focusing on what is essential.

Begin by contemplating what is meaningful and important to you. Make a list of seven things that you most value. What is it that you most want to do in life? What are your priorities? What is your purpose? Write them all down, then list the top seven by their priority.

Think of all the many things you do each day. Write down your commitments and how you spend your time. Write them all down: work, childcare, after-school activities, hobbies, family time, social activities, phone calls, email, Skype, Facebook, playing games, shopping, cleaning the house, watching television, etc.

Compare the two lists. How much of your time and energy is devoted to the seven things that are of most value to you? What are you spending time on that is not reinforcing what is important to you? Eliminate those things that needlessly consume your time and energy. It might feel stressful to let go of commitments to people or activities that you have been involved with.

Here are a few more ways to simplify and enjoy what is important to you.

Learn new ways to let go of stress and relax. Reading Facebook posts, playing computer games, or watching television may give you a break from stress and release tension, but there are other ways to relax that offer you greater rewards. Take a walk, breathe, practice yoga, meditate, read a good book, or play with your kids. These kinds of activities will empower you to relax and reconnect with yourself.

Learn to say no to those things in life that you do not want to do. Feelings of guilt may surface when you take back your power to choose what to devote your energy to. Many of us have been taught from a young age to put aside our feelings and do and give what others expect of us. Learn to tune in to your gut and listen to it. If something does not feel right for you, say no.

Learn to say yes. Become aware of what you want to give your time and energy to and say yes to it. Don’t put it off and wait for the perfect time. Life is here for you to live, right now. We often put our true needs at the bottom of the list. When we are done taking care of others and doing what is expected, we tell ourselves that we can then focus on what is important. Yet that time never arrives.

Look at your list of what you most value. Review your current daily activities, then ask yourself if there is a way that you can bring the qualities of what you most value into what you are already involved with. For instance, perhaps being able to help others is one of your values. Is there a way that you can help others at your current job? Can you volunteer time at your child’s school?

Commit to spending time and energy doing what is most important to you. Even if it does not seem practical or if you feel that it is too indulgent, take the leap into you and do it.

Simplifying your life allows new interests and possibilities to emerge. As the waves of busyness cease, what is essential and authentic emerges.

I commit to what is truly important in my life.

115. Plant a Flower

Plant a flower as a metaphor for the blossoming of your inner self. The step-by-step process of nurturing a flower from seed to blossoming is similar to the process of nurturing the emergence of your authentic self.

Approach this process with mindful awareness. Begin by going to a garden store and picking out a flowerpot, or use one that you already have. Get soil to fill the pot and flower seeds of the type that you would like to grow. Put the pot in a sunny area in your home or outside, add the soil, and plant the seeds. Water the plant and make sure it gets plenty of sun. Be patient and soon the seed will sprout and grow into a beautiful blossom.

This simple symbolic act of planting and nurturing a flower encourages the blossoming of your authentic self.

Symbolically, the pot represents your physical self. It is the container from which your true self is nurtured and emerges.

The soil is symbolic of all that you have experienced. Your life challenges, losses, problems, and issues are the rich soil from which your true self emerges. Like soil, your past may not appear to possess any outstanding qualities that can support and cultivate the beauty within you. Yet everything that you have experienced nurtures your strength, awareness, and potential. With these qualities, your authenticity emerges.

The seed represents the dormant potential within that has not yet manifested. Even though the seed is small and bears no resemblance to a flower, with the right conditions it transforms. With care and nurturing, you too will experience this kind of transformation. What is unknown and unrealized lies dormant until it is activated.

Water softens the seed and represents intuition and emotion. Trust your intuition and what is in your heart. The sun represents love, power, and energy. Shine your light, love yourself, and have gratitude for the qualities that make you unique. Be patient. You will break open, like the seed, and new life will spring forth. You will blossom and spread your love and beauty out into the world.

I plant a flower and blossom.

116. You Need You

You are your most prized creative masterpiece. Unfortunately, not everyone sees you in this same way. Have you ever been criticized, judged, or bullied for being different or for speaking your truth? Do you ever feel like you have to choose between being yourself or being who others expect you to be?

We all have, at one time or another, spoken our true thoughts, shared our feelings, and expressed who we are, only to be ridiculed or rejected. Sometimes we can easily shrug off another’s opinions and commentary; at other times it goes deep. We feel the pain of not fitting in and become fearful of sharing our truth. This apprehension often keeps us locked into a false sense of self. We put aside our natural impulses in favor of doing and being what we feel will be accepted and safe. The stress of not being liked and understood keeps us locked in an isolated inner prison.

Ignoring and detaching from your true feelings and thoughts and ignoring your preferences only leads to loneliness and leaves a void that no one can fill. You need you. It is only when you embrace and love yourself for who you are that you find the safety and security you seek. You are the best friend and ally that you have. Don’t alienate your most powerful self. At the end of the day, liking and respecting yourself is what matters most.

Don’t give your power to an outer source. Know who you are and dig deep within and create the kind of life that you desire. You are more powerful than what you may believe. Choose what feels right for you. However quirky, different, exotic, or unusual your preferences and tastes may be, if something speaks to you and your heart leaps with delight and wonder, embrace it. Explore the variety of life and new aspects of your authentic self will spring forward. Give yourself permission, without judgment and criticism, to be who you are. Don’t ever think that there is anyone more important to please than your most true inner self. This is who you want on your side. There are no substitutes.

I choose what feels right for me.

117. Tarot Cards for Self-Awareness

Throughout the ages, we have sought the reflection of our truth in a multitude of ways. Originating in Northern Italy, tarot cards have been used for generations to gain insight into ourselves, others, and life. They reveal the wisdom of a variety of esoteric traditions, spiritual philosophies, and multiple cultures.

The tarot cards are a deck of seventy-eight cards used for divination. Traditionally, each deck is composed of fifty-six minor arcana cards and twenty-one numbered major arcana cards and one unnumbered major arcana card. The major arcana cards represent the various stages of growth in our search for greater meaning and self-awareness. Through symbolic images, they reveal universal life lessons passed down through the ages. You can use tarot cards to gain insight into your current life lessons and the hidden influences that are either promoting or limiting your highest good.

If you do not have a tarot deck that you use exclusively for self-growth, you may want to purchase a new one. Tarot cards respond to energy. Over time, they begin to acclimate and hold the energy vibration of the purpose that they are used for. I have tarot cards that are used primarily for personal divination, a deck that I use when I work with others, and a deck for spiritual growth and self-awareness. If there is not a bookstore that sells tarot cards in your area, there are many online stores that carry a variety of tarot decks. Purchase the deck that you feel most drawn to, and make sure that it has a major arcana.

To begin, take out the major arcana cards and shuffle them. As you do this, relax, take a deep breath, and exhale any stress and tension. When you feel ready, ask for a card that represents you at this time. Take a deep breath and pick the card that feels right. Place it face down in front of you. Shuffle the cards again and ask for a card that represents an inner aspect or quality of who you are that you need to own and express at this time. Take a deep breath, pick the card that feels right for you, and place it face down in front of you, next to the first card.

Now pick up the minor arcana cards. These cards speak to the more practical and day-to-day aspects of life that have a minor or temporary influence on your ability to express your authentic self. Shuffle these cards, relax, and breathe. When you feel ready, ask for a card that reveals an inner obstacle that you need to confront and release. Pick the card and place it face down in front of you, next to the other two cards. Shuffle the cards again and ask for a card that reveals the gifts and abilities that you can draw from to empower you at the current time. Pick this card and place it face down in front of you, next to the other cards.

Begin to turn the four cards in front of you over one at a time. Start with the card that represents you. After you turn it over, take a few minutes to meditate on it. Look at the symbols that the card contains, then listen within and trust your intuition.

When you are ready, turn over the card that represents the aspect of your authentic self that you need to own and express at this time. Again, take a few minutes to meditate on the card. What feelings and thoughts surface as you look at the images on the card? Trust your gut feelings and intuition.

Now turn over the two minor arcana cards one at a time, and pay attention to the images on them and your intuitive impressions. Write down what you receive. New insights will continue to unfold.

Most tarot decks come with a booklet that provides insight and an interpretation for each card. Consult this for further understanding and insight into what your cards reveal. There are also a variety of books that can help you to further tune in to the symbolic meanings of your cards. Llewellyn Worldwide offers an extensive collection of tarot cards and books at www.llewellyn.com.

I meditate on tarot cards for deeper self-awareness.

118. Learn Something New

Do you ever become bored and restless with the familiar daily routines, but you are not sure of what to do to create positive change? Sometimes we sense that it is time for something new in our lives, but we are not sure where to begin. We have been taught to live life safely, to follow the sure and predictable and not take risks. Although it is natural to seek security and stability, we are here to create and experience new ways of being. To be truly alive, we must continually grow beyond ourselves and challenge our complacency.

If you feel as if it is time for a change, it is. One way to break out of familiar routines and discover more of who you are and what brings you joy is to learn something new.

If there is something that you have always been interested in but have not had the time to pursue, give it a try. We often put off learning new things because there does not seem to be any practical reason to do so. Taking a class about European history may be interesting, but you may not find it to be useful in your everyday life. You might also use this argument to persuade yourself not to pursue similar activities, such as poetry, calligraphy, drawing, or theater. Another common reason for not learning and participating in a new activity is that we believe we may fail or not be very good at it. Although it feels great to quickly learn and excel at new things, if you judge your performance as either good or bad, you will eventually be disappointed. When we do things for external validation, we limit the magic of self-discovery and the joy of being fully present to what is.

Learning and participating in new activities can be inspiring and increase our creative potential. When we challenge our self-perception, new doors open. This is what happened several years ago when I took some computer programming classes. I had been working as an intuitive and an artist for a short time and I began to doubt that I could make a living in my preferred profession. On a whim, I enrolled in a course to learn how to be a computer programmer. Every class was a struggle. I barely passed and have never worked a day in my life as a computer programmer and probably never will. Yet learning computer programming helped me to better understand myself in new ways. One surprising insight had to do with intuition. Never a math or science scholar, I relied heavily on my intuition to guide me through what felt like a maze of computer language and code. To my surprise, many of my classmates also seemed to follow their hunches and were unknowingly using their intuition. I came to a better understanding of the diverse ways that we use our intuition and how much we use the more logical left brain when we intuit. This insight and others inspired me to teach intuitive development a bit differently than I had been and to eventually write the book Discover Your Psychic Type.

Shake up your routines and self-perception. Activate the emergence of a new you. Learn a new language, take up a sport, or learn how to fly a plane or parachute from one. Whether it is a cooking class or a course in how to make wine, grow herbs, run the rapids in a kayak, or survive in the outdoors, explore the natural world and your connection to it. Join a theater group, take acting lessons, learn how to play a musical instrument, or take voice lessons and sing in a band. Learning something new is learning about yourself and having fun in the process.

I commit to learning something new.