HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated April 24, 2011
The yin and yang of life plays out. We inhale and exhale. We move and we rest. We strive and we relax. We gain and we lose. We cling and we let go. We add and we subtract. We dream and we wake up.
Like Easter, these movements represent a resurrection from a death, a coming back to life. Easter promises everlasting life. It defies finality and stands it on its head. For people of the Christian faith, Easter is revolutionary because it is about going against what we have always known the world to be.
Easter challenges reality frontally. It is about fashioning our lives and the world to liberate us from temporal lures, weaknesses and inevitabilities.
Today, I write about shedding. Old skin is shed to make way for new skin. One sheds to allow the old to wither and the new to come to life. I am talking about letting go — of things, habits, people, dreams and dysfunctions that keep us mired in bad habits and trapped in our lonely lives.
I have listed a few suggestions that may make this Easter a kind of turning point that can make us more alive.
1. Do some inner and outer spring cleaning. Look into your clothes closet, your garage, your desk and sort out your belongings. You will find that there is lot you can throw away. If you haven’t had any use for something during the past two years, or even less, you can probably live without it. How many shirts, pants, shoes have you not actually worn but have been keeping all these years?
I did some cleaning recently and I felt good about it. I even cleaned out my computer. My son Mio gave me good advice when I started to clean my laptop of programs, downloads, pictures and other stuff. He advised me to be ruthless, and it worked. Once I trashed the things I had kept for no great reason, my computer worked faster and was more responsive.
In my creativity workshops, I tell my students to make a map of sanity where they draw up a list of people and habits that nurture them and another list of people and habits that stunt their growth. This is something I learned from the book, The Artist’s Way. It is a very helpful tool because it not only reminds us who and what keep us grounded, sane and happy, it also prevents us from unconsciously walking into people and situations that habitually drive us crazy.
Examine your core beliefs and ask yourself why you believe what you believe. Do all your beliefs still serve you? Were they culled from real experience or are they beliefs you merely inherited without questioning them? If they serve you, keep them. If not, it may be time to drop them.
2. Live a less virtual and a more real life. This is a big one for me. I sometimes catch myself stuck at my desk for the most part of the day doing Twitter or Facebook. While it is great to catch up with friends and meet new people, too much of it can get to you in not-so-good ways. It deprives the body of movement and eats up a lot of time in useless and occasionally, even toxic conversations. Instead of doing serious thinking and writing, one can get lost in issues that are not really worth getting into or spending that much time on.
Life is meant to be lived in a real world where people meet, talk, touch, and express themselves in person.
3. Have a spiritual, intellectual and physical practice. It is important to commit to regular rituals. This could be activities like going to Mass, meditation, yoga, or whatever moves us, a regular ritual that keeps us in touch with our thoughts, feelings, self, or with the “ground of being.” This does two things: it defines us in both personal and impersonal ways. It opens us up to a bigger, borderless reality where a larger truth resides, and it prevents us from losing our sense of self in the occasional madness we encounter as we go through life. Knowing that there is a sanctuary of sacredness within us where we can find and access our deepest beliefs is vital to sanity and happiness.
Also, reading good books, or opening one’s self to new ideas and a willingness to drop old, expired beliefs for new thinking, can only expand us.
Regular exercise, no matter how little, is far more beneficial than none at all. Everyday, I try to do 70 push-ups and some stretching. I also try to take 40-minute walks three times a week. I don’t always feel like doing these but I know that they can only be good for me, so I strive to do them regularly.
These three habits have helped me renew my spirit, and keep me feeling alive day after day. It even enhances my sense of personal integrity by merely doing them regularly. I look at it as a kind of holistic cross-training. It reminds me of life’s deeper purpose especially when I am subjected to “the test,” those moments when I am asked to choose between showing a false self and taking the easy, tempting ways of the world, or being true to myself, and in the process, doing a private Easter act of defying the world.
Easter is a time not just of a renewal of faith in a risen Jesus but also a chance for us to have a go and experience our newly risen selves.
A blessed and revolutionary Easter to all!
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1. Creative for Life Workshop in Cebu on April 30. Venue: Alpa City Suites (8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.). Registration and workshop fee: P4,000 (inclusive of handouts, am/pm snacks, lunch and certificate. Contact details: (032) 415-8056, 0917-6207424 Shirley Ong. Please call Shirley at 0917-6207424.
2. Now, finally in Alabang! Creative for Life Workshop in Alabang on May 8. Call 850-3568 to 70 / 0917-8080627. Venue is at Pixie Forest Amusement Center, Level 3 Festival Supermall, Filinvest Corporate City, Alabang. Call for reservation.
3) Creative for Life Workshop in QC on May 14. Call Olie at 0916-8554303 or 426-5375 for all workshop inquiries. Or write me at email@example.com. Check http://jimparedes-workshops.com/ for details on all workshops.