Overcoming the Heat

Are you feeling overwhelmed with all you have to do for your career?
Does it feel like the heat is ON, you are sweating, and getting no relief?

Here we are the beginning of August, and it’s the height of summer.  The air is THICK, the sun is HOT, and I imagine all you may want to do is just sit in the cool air conditioning, or just stay in the pool.

Temperatures can really soar this time of year, both internally and externally.

It’s hot outside, and when you look at your To Do’s, you just want to stick your head in the freezer.

I get it, deeply.

Remember when the sun was welcoming?
Remember when you made your vision at the beginning of the year and had so much joy and inspiration?

Does it feel like your “get up and go” has melted on the sidewalk in the mid-day heat?

So, how do you find relief with the heat?
How do you cool down and keep momentum going so the summer counts?

And most importantly, how do you stay connected to your dreams and juicy vision?

I really struggle in the summertime.

When I hit my 20’s I started to have some real issues in high heat and humidity.  At a week-long beach vacation with my family, for the first time, I got sun poisoning and heat stroke.  It was terrible.  I was in bed for two days, and was very physically sick.

After that, I found I started to have a real sensitivity to the heat, and it only increased in my 30’s and 40’s.

If I looked at the forecast and saw temps in the 90’s and above, I could feel my stomach tighten.  I learned quickly I had to cover my head with a good hat, and really minimize exposure.

And the reaction was very quick.

I would get light-headed.
I would feel like I was going to pass out.
My energy would plummet.

This was terrible, and kept me inside many times when friends and family were able to frolic and enjoy activities that I couldn’t participate in.

I felt really self conscious and alone.

Have you ever felt that?

I was convinced that if it was that hot outside, I would not be able to function.  No exceptions.

As this sensitivity only seemed to be getting worse, I imagined it would only continue to do so.  I couldn’t conceive it would change or be different, even though, deep in my heart, I really wanted it to.

Hot environment = suffering.
Period.

I found Zen and meditation in the winter of 2013.  I would go to the temple wrapped up in sweaters and socks, and cozy up on my cushion.

With meditation came peace, and at a time when I had lost so much in my life, it was a healing balm.  I began to build a new life, and Zen was the foundation of it all.

And then the summer came, hot as always in New York City.  I watched the temperatures rise, and became nervous to go to the temple because there was no air conditioning.

How would I be?

But because Zen was saving my life at the time, I went on a very hot summer day, and sat down on the cushion.

And a miracle happened.

I was ok.

In fact, I found that meditating actually brought my body temperature down.

I had found a way to be in the heat.
And what’s more, I realized my belief had changed.

In THIS environment, heat did NOT equal suffering.
Why?
Because I was concentrating on my breath, and working with my mind.

So, what happens when you get overheated?
What happens when the pressure of the sun is pounding down on you?

More than likely, you stop breathing.

It’s a very common response, and always accompanies overwhelm.

And then, when you stop breathing, your mind races.

And your mind probably starts to generate thoughts like
You never complete anything
You don’t deserve success
You can’t handle a thriving career

And this is all perfectly normal! 

But so is the heat. And on the journey of your amazing life and doing creative work that matters, you will always encounter challenges.

We can’t control the weather, but we can learn HOW to work with it and meet it.

It can be easy to think that when the heat is on with your career, it will ALWAYS mean you are stuck, or can’t complete.

But, what if that’s not true?
What if the heat is here to help guide you to what you actually NEED?

I now know that I need to wear a hat in the summer.  Also, if I’m going to be outside, I have a cold cloth or some ice to rub over my pulse points.  I make sure to check weather forecasts, and will be flexible with plans on those days the heat is really high. I avoid wide open spaces with no shade or covering.

So, what do you need when the heat is on?
What truly is HELPFUL to cool you down?

Perhaps, you need to take a quick walk.
Perhaps, pick up a journal and free write your frustration.
Perhaps, reach out to your coach or mentor or a close friend for some empathy.

But in all of these, stay CONNECTED.
Connected to what is happening in your body and what actually helps.

The reason?
Otherwise you will do the same thing over and over and find yourself stuck again and again.

Those big dreams?
You will believe with everything you’ve got they will NEVER come true.

We all have sensitivities.
There is no problem here.
It’s so easy to judge ourselves, but that judgement just generates more heat.

So, allow yourself some self compassion in the moment of sweating and cool yourself down.
Come back to curiosity.

Asking the question,
What is helpful?

Come back to your breath, and create the environment where you can handle the heat AND continue to take action towards your dreams.

This is where you are unstoppable, no matter the weather.

When Your Inspiration Runs Dry

You know that moment when everything is just FLOWING?

The perfect words are coming out of your mouth or onto the page
The perfect stroke out of your brush
The song is just soaring…

It’s EASY….

You feel like an unlimited and unstoppable Creative Force, ideas pouring out. 

Isn’t that glorious?

But, what about when you’re stuck?
What about when, no matter how hard you try, NOTHING is coming?

When the cursor is just blinking at you on your computer, or your throat closes when you need to speak, or the canvas just sits empty in front of you, as if to say,
Ummm…Hello?? Anybody there? We’re waiting for your genius…..

Doubt has come in that you will never have another brilliant idea again, and all you can think is,
How the HECK do I get out of here?
Why was this so easy before and now is so hard?

If there was a muse, she has left the building, and there you are, now alone feeling stuck and hopeless.

Have you ever felt this?

When we are mired down and completely uninspired, how do we turn it around and get back into flow?

 

I have a few things on my plate these days.  Just gave my first ever Move the Crowd Workshop last week (thank you to all who came!), am planning my next big online event, and I’m getting married in two weeks.

I’m deeply grateful for all of this, AND I’m holding a big container.

With so much needing my attention, I could feel my mind squeezing….my inspiration waning.  And I needed it most now.  I actually had one of the most important things of my life to write…

My wedding vows.

I learned very quickly that I don’t write well under pressure or when I’m exhausted. So, I was looking at my calendar and starting to panic.

For those that are new to the community, this marriage is a miracle.  Five years ago I went through a devastating divorce and the worst year of my life, watching all I had built burn to the ground.

I went on the first date of my LIFE at 38, because I had met my ex at 18.  I had a LOT to learn, to heal, and laid myself at so many coaches, mentors, and teacher’s feet to learn HOW to find love again.

I thought I knew what love was….until I met my fiance.

From losing everything five years ago to now living in a house, I’m about to marry a man who not only shares my Zen practice and does yoga with me, he completely supports me and my work.  He’s every vision board I made over the years come true.

This is no small thing, and the first time I got married, at the tender age of 22, the vows were written for me.  I just repeated the words.  They were not my own.

This time, for the FIRST time, I’m writing them. These are my words.

So, it matters…it matters deeply.

For weeks, I’ve felt stuck around what to write, and as each day was passing, I was starting to get more and more anxious.  I’m going to be standing in front of my closest friends and family….I’m going to be FACING the man I’m spending the rest of my life with….

What the HECK am I going to say?

 

Last Saturday, I did a Half Day meditation sit at the Fire Lotus Temple in Brooklyn.

Our teacher started the day with these words,
I’ve been reflecting lately that we really don’t know what’s going on.  We come to the cushion with our minds racing, and thought after thought pulling us here and there.  Then we sit, and our mind settles, and everything changes.  And it’s not a KNOWING…it’s an experience.  We actually don’t KNOW what’s going on, but it happens. 

This resonated with me, my racing mind, and my anxiety about writing the vows.

So, I sat.
I placed my attention on my breath.
And I practiced letting go, again and again.
I saw each thought as it arose, and released it.
I felt every emotion as it coursed through my body.

And then, I relaxed, and an image came.

When the day was over, I grabbed a pen and paper and just started writing.

One of my friends came up to me and said,
Oh wow….a lot came up, huh?

I took a moment from my racing pen and said,
This is what happens every time I do a longer period of sitting.  What felt impossible suddenly opens.  Where I had no ideas, I now have clarity.  I always walk out knowing exactly what to do next.

And then I said,
It’s really the creative process.

 

Could we even really explain what happens in that moment of inspiration? Probably not.  The words wouldn’t do ti justice, but you’ve FELT it.  You’ve felt the flow from inside to out.  It’s not logical, it’s not planned….it’s far more magical.

And yet, where it won’t come from, is a place of pressure, clinging or control.

You can’t grasp it.  There’s nothing to hold, actually.

Inspiration is actually an EXPERIENCE.
Creative Flow is an EXPERIENCE.

It’s not something you lock in a cage and demand from.  It’s not something you can “think” or “logic” your way out of. Flow moves and breathes.  It’s alive.

So, what is really vital to the creative process?

SPACE.
RELAXATION.

When you are feeling completely stuck, step back.  Take a break.  Go outside and connect to the sky, or hold your hand over your belly, and do three deep breaths.  When you do this, all the whirling stops, and you can connect back to your unlimited spaciousness inside.

And from the space comes the inspiration.  And with inspiration, comes the flow.

What helps you to create space in your life?
How can you incorporate this into your life?

We have so much pulling us today as Creative Forces: family, emails, health, constant notifications.

I learned VERY quickly in my business, I needed to schedule in Half Day Sits at the temple at least every two months.  And last weekend, it was proven to me again.

The day after the sit, I sat out in my backyard in the August sunshine, and wrote my vows.

I cried when my pen lay down, because there were just what I wanted.  These were the words I wanted to say. The doubt and pressure disappeared….and all that came from my pen was the intention I had all along,
LOVE.

So, trust the experience of space, and incorporate this into your life.  Invite the muse in openly.  She will frolic and play in the vastness.

When you are open and relaxed, your perfect and truest work will emerge.
 

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography