It is ironic that the more you can control your life the more freedom you find in living it. This post offers a 4th of July exercise for finding both control and freedom in every context of your life.
Sometimes control seems impossible, but if we break life into distinct contexts and actively think about each one, living comes under greater, better, wiser control.
In the Inner Advent course, which is a reflection on your inner year, the first exercise is to make a list of all the contexts that impacted your inner life of thoughts and feelings and intentions. These reflections are the ground for your inner development.
Let me share a number of ways to understand yourself in a number of contexts. If you do context reflections once a year, every season or every day, you will begin to feel more at home, more empowered, more creative. When you move from vague awareness to conscious experience to a clearly articulated thought picture of each context, the more control you will have over your whole life. In other words, the balance between how the contexts shape you and how you shape your contexts will become more creative.
You will establish a meaningful consciousness of each context and how it forms the setting for your life and for your growth and development. Reflect on the good, the bad and the ugly in each one. Look at the thoughts you have, the feelings you have, and the intentions you have regarding each context.
Sit down with your journal and reflect on the year so far. I have included questions to prompt your reflections. Have a “Sharing the Year So Far” conversation with a friend, your partner, your child, your coach or therapist.
(Disclaimer: On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest attention and 1 being serious neglect) I give myself scores between 2 and 7. I’ve got a long way to go, especially with finances.)
WORLD – What world events impacted your inner life? Did you give serious thought to any event, forming opinions that altered your sense of self, the world, the future?
NATURE – How did the weather impact your inner life? Did you spend enough time in Nature this year? Do you have a pet? Do you have a garden? Indoor plants? Do you look at the stars?
RELATIONSHIPS – What relationship events impacted your thoughts, feelings and behaviors? Did anyone die? Did you make any new friends? Did a stranger change your life?
HEALTH – Were you healthy? Did you change your diet or exercise? What about sleep? Sex? Anxiety?
CULTURE – What books did you read? Movies? Concerts? Internet? Did you take any classes? How did these cultural experiences change your inner life?
FINANCES – Did your financial life change? Did you pay attention to your budget? Did you have productive conversations about your financial life?
SPACE/ PLACE – Our physical environments have a huge impact on our sense of self. Did anything change? Is your environment more nurturing, more challenging.
WORK – Recollect your work over the year. Were there changes? How was your work successful? Did you fail at anything?
Now, if you wish, begin to imagine using other questions. If you are inspired, go deep with wisdom-seeking attention.
Choose one or two contexts and reflect on your life and your soul in the context. Spend a few minutes writing about your engagement…or your neglect with the context. Don’t judge. Explore and reflect.
Which context is the one you feel in the most control? The least control? Are there contexts that you don’t care about?
Or take a specific question and ask it of each context: Is there a reason to celebrate in this context? Is there a need to change or a need to comfort? Who can help you with this context?
Where do you find regret, anxiety, despair, overwhelm?
Where do you want to focus your will to do more, experience more, change more?
Which context do you want to reframe? How can each context improve?
In an earlier post, I wrote about the mantra, “I am safe. I am calm. I am awake. I am nourished.” Use this mantra as a way to reflect on your experience of self in each context.
Please share your experience with attending to the contexts.
If you would like guidance in this process or discover something that needs support for a deeper exploration, please consider working with me.