Honoring Your Angels, Zen-ing Out + Why I Started Wearing a Dog Cone

Everyone’s process is a little bit different.  Our daily lives, our experiences, our bodies.  Yoga teaches us this, that our mat is our own little corner of the Universe.  We have a zillion variations of poses, endless props, and enough instructors to populate a small country, all because our unique styles, abilities and needs require and respect our diversity.  Our individualism.  Our differences.  Everybody has their something.  Yoga spirit celebrates it all.

But it’s hard to remember that sometimes.  Even as a teacher, I forgot it for a while … for months, actually.  I didn’t end my personal yoga practice, or quit helping others continue their practices.  I stopped doing something else that nourishes my soul.  Forgetting that every artist creates differently, feeling that perhaps my process didn’t keep up with my peers, I stopped writing.

It was a quiet relief at first.  It freed up some valuable mindshare to devote towards business development, up-and-coming service offerings, marketing strategy, even the growing stack of administrative tasks.  Eventually, though, that fresh air formed a cloud of criticism:

  • You haven’t written in months!  How ever will you start again?
  • Did you see what _________  just published?  Brilliant!
  • You should really have stuck to that posting schedule, and stocked that library full of “emergency” posts for droughts like this one.
  • How hard is it to just publish one little post?  I mean, it’s only once per month!
  • You have SO many ideas, titles and half-written pieces.  What is the problem???

Well, here’s the problem: with that kind of internal environment, nothing creative happens.  Deliciousness cannot thrive in the midst of harshness, self-criticism and your own personal, pissed-off peanut gallery. It’s wildly infertile ground. Everyone’s creativity garden needs a little manure to flourish, but nothing healthy grows in the middle of a wasteland.

As uncomfortable as it was, though, I kept working.  And working, and working.  And last week, in the middle of a particularly dry, anxious day, something broke through:  I remembered, respected and honored my angels, those genius forces that help us create (note: I don’t adhere strictly to any one organized religion, but I’ve always referred to these “assistants” as angels… and it seems I’m in good company, too, as Steven Pressfield uses this terminology exquisitely in his extraordinary book The War of Art).

The honor-your-angel theory is pretty simple: you and I work and, in so doing, we pave a passage for the good stuff that our genius forces (i.e., angels) offer.  We slide into a space that says sometimes there is no set timeline.  It encourages a little more magic and a little less control-freak.  It promises progress if we each honor our own process.  As a yoga teacher, I help others honor their angels every day; I am not responsible for the messages, but instead for helping students clear their pathways so that they can fully receive them.

I’ll be honest with you, though: creativity angels are awesome at self-protection.  In my experience, those beauties don’t like to make appearances when we’re amped up, strung out, closed off, etc.  Our toxic energy tarnishes their halos, and it’s up to us to make our environment more inviting.

And that’s where the Zen-ing and dog cones come in. They’re two super-effective ways to clean up your act.

#1, “Zen-ing,” is doing any action that creates more easy, breezy peacefulness in your workspace.  I use a whole list of hints for proper Zen-ing, but here are a few crucial components that keep my creative ritual kicking:

  • Use calming music for soothing subliminal messages. Keep an old iPod and speaker system in your office, with soft music constantly playing.  It might be classical piano, Native American flute melodies, white noise or blues guitar.  The calm seeps into your system, physiologically combating the stress chemicals that set up shop there each day.  Think of it as the exact opposite of having a blaring, doomsday news channel on in the background.
  • Keep a candle nearby. Fact: candles can cause happiness.  Aromatherapy is widely used around the world as a natural healing practice, and is gaining popularity in the West.  Consider using them to increase your Zen.  If you can’t have a flame in your workspace, a bottle of aromatherapy oil fits nicely in a desk drawer.
  • Stop checking email so often. Take it down to twice a day (okay, once an hour??).  A helpful way to force this is to actually log out of your account so you have to log in manually.  The less time you spend responding to crises, the more time you have to be brilliant.  Trust.
  • Get a mantra going. Keep a list of encouraging quotes, empowering blog posts and faithful statements nearby.  Recite before you start working and re-apply as necessary.

#2, wearing a dog cone is less action, more mindfulness.  Just as when a dog is injured and has to wear a wide, plastic protective collar around its head to keep it from excess damage, a mental version can be extremely helpful to block out the outside world when it gets distracting or discouraging (especially unhelpful comparisons of yourself to others).  I mean, how can the external environment get into your line of vision if you’re rocking one of these?

So, you’ve designed your Zen space.  You’re working your dog cone.  You ask: where are these angels and when will they arrive?  My answer: everywhere, all of the time, and at your service.

Here’s the thing…

Forget thinking that you have to create something great.  Instead, just create a calm, centered space where the rest of the world isn’t all up in your business.  Close the door to all of that.  Sit with yourself and your experience.  Breathe.  Stretch.  Honor your individual, different, diverse, off-the-mat, yoga-inspired, angel-amped process.  Be still.  Be quiet.  Be patient.  Listen. You might just hear them sing.

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7 Responses to Honoring Your Angels, Zen-ing Out + Why I Started Wearing a Dog Cone

  1. Sonja says:

    Timely, necessary, and right on point. Love it.

  2. Jenny Fenig says:

    I heart you. LOVE this post. I’m so impressed with how you keep showing up in the world and in your biz. You are BEING the change. Keep rocking, my friend. xoxo

  3. Ivan says:

    This were comforting words of wisdom. Too easy to get caught up in the noise of it all and forget. Thanks!

  4. Kim Markison says:

    Absolute clarity, truth and beauty, just like you. You bless the world with your presence Kelly!

  5. Toney Pilon says:

    A lot of the important things in the world are actually accomplished by individuals who have continued trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.
    I wish to put a ding within the universe.

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