Tuesday, September 27, 2016

deciding to live consciously and creatively

www.amyknowsbest.com

Effective therapy in NYC and beyond is about helping people create new realities in their lives—internally AND externally. And creating new realities starts with a decision to participate consciously and creatively in the present moment.

Deciding to step into a conscious/creative mindset is so subtle as to almost be unrecognizable as an action that we can take. Like when a child spills milk and you feel an impulse to get angry but decide not to, the inner process that occurred is so instantaneous that it seems automatic and unworthy of calling it a decision. But a decision was made. An action was taken. A healthy and wise one, actually, for all involved. Choosing to comfort rather than to shame a child brings you emotionally closer to each other and facilitates the experience of connection and safety for both of you.

The capacity we have for taking such actions and making such internal/subtle decisions is exactly what we need to shine a spotlight on and cultivate if we want to become skilled at neutralizing our negative moods (i.e. depression, anxiety, anger, obsession), while generating feelings of calm, confidence and gratitude.

action in the ‘here and now’ – versus – promises about the ‘there and then’

Deciding to live consciously and creatively is less about New Year’s resolutions or other grand promises, and more about changing your attitude/perspective in the moment. There are endless ways to characterize such internal shifts in consciousness. One way to think about it is to imagine shifting your mindset away from an unconscious/reactive/sleepwalking state of being and toward a conscious/creative/awake state of being.

We do this by ‘catching ourselves’—by noticing when sensations of toxic kindling kick in, those negative thoughts/feelings that, left unattended, are likely to grow into a raging fire of negativity and chaos in the mind. Consciously noticing these occurrences within yourself gives you an opportunity to make some decisions about what you want to do next. When people do not consciously notice such internal rumblings they generally end up reaching for alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, sex, obsession, interpersonal conflict, shopping/spending or whatever means of mood altering they’ve habituated themselves into during the course of living.

When we are consciously aware of what’s happening internally AND want to respond in a manner that is healthy (rather than unhealthy) for us, it’s as if we are at an intersection looking at the different paths we can take. Many wisdom traditions encourage us to cultivate the habit of taking “the next right action” as often as possible, one day at a time, rather than regularly succumbing to those self-defeating habits/patterns that keep us stuck in familiar cycles of pain and misery.

the daily practice of subtle (almost imperceptible) decision making

I cannot stress enough that the decision to wake up and participate more proactively in your life is not a promise you make about the future; it is an action you take in the present moment, over and over and over. All of us are in a daily battle with what in Hindu mythology is referred to as the demon of forgetfulness—the frustrating human phenomenon whereby we forget to live consciously and instead slip back into sleepwalking and self-defeating patterns.

As we cultivate the daily habit of deciding to live more consciously and creatively, we increasingly leverage “the power of now” and all the substantial resources in it. Shifting into a conscious/creative mindset not only gets easier but in fact becomes second nature simply because there are such valuable rewards in it. This subtle and almost imperceptible inner process—a form of contemporary mindfulness—is the essence of personal power and the foundation for remaining passionately engaged in each moment of your life.

Chris Kingman lives with his wife in Park Slope, Brooklyn and has a full-time private therapy practice in Manhattan, NYC where he works with adults and couples. Follow Chris on Twitter or Facebook.

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