In this series of articles, I would like to shed some light on my personal pathway, acknowledging that yours may look very different. The objective is to give you ideas and spark your curiosity so you can start finding out for yourself where your own purpose quest could start. If you want to check on prior articles, you can find volume 2.1 here and volume 1 here.
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, philosopher
I do not consider myself to be a painter by any means – under normal circumstances 🙂 When I was at my low point however, I had the urge to take crayons and just fill page after page with pictures. It was a short burst and something I haven’t done since but still I found it very helpful. I painted without thinking, just what came to mind. There was a couple holding hands at a table (my husband and I), there was a house on the countryside on a hill, me in a yoga pose, taking others for a hike where land meets sea, telling them stories and local legends….
Interpreting tarot cards
What? I am imagining now how hundreds of eyebrows are raised in unison by the people who read this. Tarot? Isn’t that something that old ladies in purple velvet tents on old fairgrounds did? Well, yes and no. Basically, what tarot provides is a platform for reflection and pondering your issues. You get cards with symbolic images that can be interpreted in many different ways depending on the context and your frame of reference so they can open up opportunities to look at familiar questions in a different light, bring new aspects in or confirm what you have been thinking or intuitively leaning towards all along. My friend Nikolina, who suggested I could try Tarot and was kind enough to walk me through, even uses this as a technique in a business context, e.g. to get the creative juices flowing when writing a marketing plan. The session that we had was titled “new beginnings” or something like this and each card that I drew represented a different piece of the puzzle, such as “what you’re turning your back towards”, “what you are taking with you”, “what you’re afraid of”, “what will help you on your path” and so on.
Writing/Journaling – 15 questions from theory U
Theory U is a globally acclaimed transformation approach for ecosystems, teams and individuals developed at the MIT by Otto Scharmer that has been successfully applied in all sorts of different contexts. What it does is basically help systems to “see themselves” and get unstuck, solving dilemmas which they may have been grappling with for years. This is achieved through creating a deep understanding for each other among the stakeholders and then letting go of all preconceptions, agendas and opinions to become ready for something new to emerge. It would take too much space now to describe the whole approach of Theory U but I would encourage you to have a look at it, there is also a free online course called “leading from the emerging future” and dozens of useful videos out there. Within the Theory U process there is a journaling exercise with 15 questions where you just write in a time-boxed setting, answering the questions very spontaneously. This too helps to “get out of your head” and access more subconscious knowledge and feelings that you may have been keeping bottled up. One very emotionally loaded and powerful question is “What would you like people to say at your funeral?” I jotted down my answers without thinking and looked at them again one or two days later and was surprised about the clarity of the wording on some of the replies.
Associative talking: Answering the same question over and over again
The most simple exercise of all was probably this one: My coach invited me to try an exercise that she had first come across in her mindfulness training. The setup is that you identify one key question, phrased openly, for instance “What is your life mission?” This question gets posed, then whatever you answer spontaneously, the coach’s reaction is always “thank you, [name]” only to then ask exactly the same question again. This happens over and over for 10 times or so. It’s also OK to not give an answer if you don’t have one. The first couple of replies are usually your cognitive and filtered “truth” and then you get below the surface and uncover what’s hidden. After about the fourth question I welled up and cried. I left out a couple of answers because I felt I couldn’t speak and what came then when I could speak again had a different depth and quality than what I had answered before. The second question was “What are ways in which you can live your life fully?”
Next volume: 2.3 ̶ Elementary school, improv theatre, and values
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