Monthly Archives: August 2011

Organizing as a Spiritual Practice

Being organized is a goal that most of us would like to reach. We can picture ourselves sitting at a desk with a clear surface and beginning our work without having to move piles of papers. We want to move easily through our day, feeling calm, finding the things that we need and having space to do our projects. But instead, we often feel disorganized, unprepared, and harried.

When I find myself struggling

When I’m struggling, running around in circles or stuck, I realize that I have lost my connection to my center. You may call this your heart connection, or your relationship to the Divine or a higher Being or What Is. Whatever you call it, if you’re in conscious contact with it, you can find clarity and peace, and have a totally different experience than if you are moving through your life without awareness of this connection.

Turn a problem into an opportunity

If you are trying to integrate your spiritual life with your day-to-day activities, you can use organizing as a point of entry. You can use just about anything as your focus, but consider how you could make use of your desire to be more organized.

For many years I’ve used organizing as a spiritual practice and found that it provides amazing -and continual- opportunities for me to grow and walk my talk.

When I go through a pile of things in my hall closet, I find that they represent more than 6 coats or a soccer ball or 4 umbrellas. They offer me opportunities to live my spiritual values–to be honest about what I need, to be generous, to repair and take care of my things, to create a welcoming room for visitors’ coats. I am able to continually define what I want in my life by making conscious decisions about the material things that fill my environment.

Bit by bit, as I go through my day, I will be faced with many occasions to engage in this spiritual practice—choices about how I will live and the material things that surround me.

Go inward

Take the time to  turn your attention inward. Our thoughts and emotions get our attention easily and even our bodies tell us after being mistreated, but sometimes we need to set aside our activities and be still to hear what our spirit is urging us to do.

What do you deeply want?

When you’re quiet, take time to become clear about what you are trying to achieve in getting organized and how that relates to your values. Consider how you can use a commonplace event as an opportunity to live your values and create order.

For example, your daughter hands you a permission slip to be signed. You have just gotten back from picking her up at school and running errands, and are now focused on your desire to make dinner so your son can get to soccer practice. Your first thought is “I don’t have time to deal with this now”. You feel frustrated, feeling torn between wanting to handle the permission slip so that it can be returned, signed, at the appropriate time and getting dinner on the table quickly.

“We are free up to the point of choice.  Then the choice controls the chooser.”
Mary Crowley

It is important that you recognize that this is the point at which you can make a choice that will either result in you rooting through the papers on the dining room table next week while the car pool waits, or in you making a decision to set aside time next Saturday afternoon to make a space to put such action items for your children’s school forms. Then when Saturday comes, follow through with what you decided to do.

Emotions can be cues

Let your emotion, frustration, be your cue. Frustration is caused by wanting to do several things at once, with a little irritation at being in this position thrown in. Emotions can be gentle taps on your shoulder to remind you to drop down into your heart and recognize that you have a choice.

Bringing your heart into your decision adds another dimension. It offers the possibility of practicing mindfulness and aligning yourself with your spiritual values instead of using logic and reason alone or following the lead of the loudest emotion. As you start your decision making process you need to be grounded in that part of you which can sense what is right for you at this time.

Remember your intent

A spiritual practice is a journey, and where you are at the moment is where you live your life. Now is the time you can make choices to live your life based on your deepest understanding and desires.

Coaching can help

Without taking the time to go within and check with my heart, I find that my emotions and mind can run unchecked and that my energy becomes drained. This is often the point at which I need help in bringing my whole self into the process to release emotional stuckness and connect with my deepest desires. I’ve found gentle reminders and assistance at this stage invaluable. Over and over I have grappled with this, which, ironically, makes me the perfect person to help you do this, too!

Am I centered all of the time? No, I’m not. Sometimes I’m in the flow and sometimes I find myself struggling or stuck. However, the gap between forgetting and remembering shortens with practice, and I don’t beat myself up for forgetting, I just get back on track. It’s like exercising a muscle–the more you practice, the more mindful you are.

As a coach and organizer, I’ve found that by using my awareness of disorder in my life along with awareness of my inner connection, I am able to choose actions that will help me achieve balance and peace in my day-to-day experiences, and you can, too.

If you need any help along the way, I’d be happy to hear from you. You can use the comment feature of this post and I will respond to your comments and questions. Or you can email me at thesherrymonroe@gmail.com or give me call at 573-446-3783.

This week look at frustration as a cue to drop into your heart and choose wisely!

Sherry

How do I know my decision is right for ME?

It can be tough to make decisions that will impact a number of areas in your life and those around you. A decision can become more complex the deeper you dig. You have to make some difficult choices about how you will live your life, what values you will consider as touchstones, and what risks you are willing to take. A list of the pros and cons may seem incomplete.

How do you make a decision that will not only look good on the outside but feel good on the inside? There is no definitive answer to that question, but you can find out for yourself. Let me give you an example of how one client corrected what might have been a poor decision for who she is.

An unexpected opportunity

A couple of years ago, my client was given a great job opportunity. She was offered a job which took advantage of the skills she had learned over 15 years in her current position and would promote her to management. There would be a raise in pay which would increase over two years, dependent upon her performance. She was excited about being in a leadership position. She hadn’t thought of herself as a manger before, so the offer took her by surprise.

When we met, her eyes shining, she talked about the advantages of the new job and the opportunities it presented in terms of the higher salary and recognition.  Although a little nervous, after reflection she thought that she was up to the challenge and that she could do all of the things the job entailed. She thought she was ready to accept the offer. However, days and then a week went by and she dragged her feet in responding to the offer.

When I asked her what was stopping her, she shook her head and shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know.” She looked puzzled.

Check in with your body

I asked her to check in with her body and see what it had to say. Often we tend to rely on intellectual reasoning, advice, and “shoulds” and ignore what our bodies have to tell us.  I told her to focus on where there was tension in her body and the quality of that energy for a few minutes and see what she could learn. She said that there was a surface layer of excitement, but below that there was a hesitancy pulling back part of her energy. She felt uneasy about something, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. Her body was warning her of some aspect that wouldn’t be a fit for her.

Project yourself into a decision

I suggested that since she had already looked at the terms of the offer, she should now close her eyes and project herself into that job several months into it.  She should take as much time as she needed to watch herself move through what would be a typical work day in this new position. After several minutes, she opened her eyes. She gave a little laugh with a frown and said that it was hard to project what might happen since she hadn’t done this job before, but that her day was okay…and her voice trailed off. She still couldn’t put her finger on what was causing her to be hesitant.

Does this decision match who you are?

I told her to close her eyes again, only this time she should imagine that she had the perfect job for her, for who she was. She shouldn’t worry about trying to decide what kind of work she was involved in before she started the visualization, but just start through her perfect work day. When did she get up? What clothes did she put on? Where did she go? What kind of building was it? What did she do once she went through the doors? Who was there? Where did she eat lunch and with whom, etc.

She settled in for another round and several minutes later, her eyes flew open. “I know what it is that bothers me! I’m not in an office by myself in front of a computer. I’m picking up some materials and going back out to my car. I go to see people at their places of work. I wouldn’t be happy sitting in an office by myself every day. I’d be miserable and always finding excuses to go to where other people were hanging out.”

Decisions which are right for you

My client longed for more direct human contact and physical movement at her job than this offer would provide. She decided it wasn’t the right offer—for her, but she felt that she could do better than her current job. She started looking around for other jobs that could use her skills and give her the freedom that she wanted. Ironically, at that point, one of the things she had to deal with was how other people would have dealt with the “great” job offer, but thanks to her body check she knew in her heart that she had made the right decision–for her.

A “Good” Decision

For my client, a good decision was based on both checking in with what her body was trying to tell her and projecting the details of her choice into the future to see how they felt. She needed help in acknowledging what her body was trying to communicate and in following through with a decision that was right for who she was. A decision based on external factors only, without including what your heart and your sense of yourself have to say, is a decision that will fail to satisfy you.

It’s wonderful that we all carry around with us a body which gives us physical clues to what’s right–or wrong–for us. Don’t forget to check inside when making choices!

Sherry