Discover more from Catalyst To Change: Offerings, Gifts, and Invitations
Offerings, Gifts, & Invitations
Practicing for Uncertainty
Thanks for being here. Below you’ll find offerings, things I’m thinking about, gifts, content I am exploring and invitations, upcoming classes and other events.
Wishing you supportive transitions, with the new year and as you cross the next threshold in your life, whatever that may look like for you.
It’s raining again. The grey sky hovers above the rooftops I see out my window. It’s as though the clouds were caressing the city. There are some days when I can imagine a blue sky up there above the clouds, but today the grey seems to extend forever.
Still, something is comforting about the grey. Its soft presses down over the city like a heavy blanket. Under its weight, I feel supported to go inside, focus on what is happening within me and be with my thoughts for a while.
It’s been a few months since I started school. It is the most rigorous form of school I have ever attended.
During this time, my life has taken on an additional level of complexity which has also invited a fair bit of uncertainty into my life. Beyond school, my family has been navigating some health crises, and I have been feeling stretched in new ways, both mentally and emotionally.
The thing is, these topics are the very topics I am studying, namely how practitioners navigate complexity in ways that open them up to transformative potential rather than getting stuck in anxiety or limited ways of responding.
Back in October, my supervisory team told me that pursuing a doctorate would be challenging. They told me I would learn to ‘kill my darlings’ to cultivate ideas and then learn to let them burn away if they couldn’t withstand the heat of a discussion. They shared that the ground under my feet might start to dissolve and that if this happened, I’d know I was on the right track.
So far, all of these things have come to be. They also told me this path would be reflexive, that the questions I was exploring would show up in my own life, and that my inquiry and life path would start to mirror each other.
So here I am on the path of living the very questions I am asking. How can I navigate complexity and be in uncertainty in ways that foster transformative potential? When I get stuck in the process, how can I engage my attention to get unstuck? And what is that phenomenon that lights up within a person, even amid the greatest challenge, that allows them to navigate through it with grace?
When things become very uncertain, having a certain amount of structure and rhythm in my days is a lifeline. The most supportive structures and rhythms take the form of what I’ve come to know as practices.
Practice is one of the words that I spoke aloud for years without thinking much about what it meant. Then, one day I asked myself, what is a practice? And what does practice mean to me?
Practice is something you do again and again. A practice often involves a set of actions or gestures held together by some theory, science, or belief. Practices are often preparatory. You practice scales on an instrument to play a song. Or you practice to hone your skills and cultivate your capacity. A practice will often ask us to surrender our agency in order to reach a greater sense of freedom on the other side. Think of the jazz musician, who practices over and over, and with time becomes able to improvise in a way that appears highly intuitive and fluid. In this way, practice liberates, and structure gives to emergence.
The thing about practice is that through repetition and dedication, eventually, you may get in touch with something that is beyond the parts. The practice no longer becomes a series of actions; instead, it takes on a life of its own. When it does, you enter into a conversation with the ethos behind the practice itself.
In this way, a practice offers access to a direct experience of being in and with a process. Being with the process mirrors life, how reality unfolds moment by moment, the ups and downs, and how you meet this reality on different days and in different phases of your journey. In this way, practice is a container for flow.
Practice is also a form of measurement; it’s a way for me to assess where I am that day while leaving room for surprise. The thing about any practice is that you get to meet yourself again and again, and with each encounter, you have the opportunity not only to learn but also to discover something new about yourself.
A practice often works with the boundary between known and unknown. It’s a realm where I can work with my growth edges and nudge myself a bit further than I thought was possible.
When things are uncertain, engaging in a practice that offers a rhythm and invites us to go beyond what we think we can do, can prepare us for what is to come.
What I’m Reading:
I have heard about Csikszentmihalyi’s work for years now and am finally getting to read it firsthand. In this book, Csikszentmihalyi describes and explores ‘flow,’ a state of consciousness that makes our experiences satisfying. Drawing upon years of research, he outlines ways in which we can cultivate flow in our lives and, as a result, experience greater joy and meaning in all that we do.
Last month, I sat with Gabe Crane and Rahul Deedwania from Woven Wings Live, a podcast focused on wisdom and tools for vibrant living, and talked about:
What does it really mean to be “in process,” or “with our process?”
Why is process important?
What are the tools and structures that make being in process fruitful and supportive to our lives? We explore the core tenets of this psychological discipline and enjoy a rich inquiry into the acts of observation and following what we discover to find something meaningful and life-giving.
Hope you give it a listen, and share it with a friend if you enjoyed it!
For many of us, the past few years may have raised questions about where we want to live, our relationship with place, and our sense of belonging. Knowing where to cultivate our roots can be a complex question, especially for those of us who no longer live in the same country or region as our larger family and live far away from the cultures of our ancestors.
When we are out of touch with a place, we are unable to ground or root into all that place has to offer as well as give back to it. As a result, we may exist in a state of transience, hovering around the places we find ourselves without engaging fully. Without roots, we become easy to sway and susceptible to being pushed around by forces that further destabilize us.
The places and the nature around us hold the ability to activate more of our potential. Even a walk outside through nature or the feeling of the breeze brushing our skin can instantly shift our state or connect us with another facet of ourselves. What if we could tap into this transformative potential even more fully?
This is a two-part class exploring our relationship to place. Together we’ll consider how your inner nature meets the larger nature around you and what becomes possible when these can enter a dynamic exchange.
Learn more and register here