Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Embodied, Passionate Life

We all know the feeling when we are totally jazzed about something, 'on fire' with a kind of purpose or passion that fills us up.
We can feel it from our toes all the way to our fingertips. Sometimes it's hard to contain.

Our bodies tell us when something really matters to us, because they're more engaged in it. We actually feel it more fully: with heightened senses, energy, elevated heart rate, a change in our breathing.

Our bodies also tell us when the opposite is true, when we're dragging through our days, uninspired and sluggish. We can feel dragged down and exhausted even when we're not doing very much at all.

I wonder which of these two you feel more of the time in your body and in your life, because I think if we really listen, our bodies don't lie about how we really feel about what we're doing (or not doing). One wise client told me that a career coach she knew had said that she could tell what someone's true passion was by how much they moved their hands when they talked about it. More movement meant the person was more passionate about what they were talking about, less movement--not so much.

It may seem simple, but I think it's important to check in with our bodies to see how alive we really feel in the things we're doing in our lives. Why shouldn't we feel fully alive? And if we don't, what can we do about it?

Sometimes it's just a matter of shifting toward something we love, so that our lives feel more balanced and full. You can feel your energy shift when you start nurturing the parts of you that haven't been getting enough attention: taking a class in something that interests you, writing a blog, finding a group to meet with and discuss a favorite book or topic. When your energy rises, so does the way it feels to be in your body. And when things feels better and more alive in your body, you can bet it feels the same way to be in your life.

Finding out what your passion is can be as simple as checking in with your body. As you scan a list of activities, career options or even potential partners, watch to see how much heat, energy or excitement gets generated, even at the subtlest level, in your body. Notice for yourself when you talk about something how animated you get. On the other hand, also notice which things have you feeling like you're going through the motions instead.

Remember that feeling as a kid of jumping out of bed because you couldn't wait for the day to start? We've imposed so many rules and regulations on what our days are supposed to look like that we forget to check in with the delight and vitality available to us. Let some of your body's urges and impressions guide you more fully toward the things you love. You might have a novel in you waiting to be written in the hour before you go to bed; or a secret passion for baking cookies or following celebrity stories. Just pay attention to whether your passion adds to your energy or drains it. Then do more of the things that light you up.

Isn't that what life is all about?

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