Life is so full of intense happenings and frivolous distractions that too often we remain our own deepest mysteries. And what a price we pay for it. Ignorance of who we are can raise our stress levels, interfere with making decisions in line with our best interests, entangle us in other people's agendas and rob us of a fulfilling life. It's not easy to get up close and personal with our own desires and directions, surrounded as we are by consumer prompts, media attention grabs, addictive drugs and the 9 to 5 slog.
Here are a few games you can play and tools you can use to dip into the self.
"Imagine you have 10 billion dollars and 10 years to spend it. Then you make a list of 100 things that you want to do, be or have with that money. Spend at least a week on the process. Make sure you go to 100, because it's sometimes the later items that go to core issues. (If you write down things you know you could never have), look at what being or having those things would do for you and ask yourself how else you could fill that need."
TERRI CORNISH, intuition specialist, certified co-active coach, Sacramento, CA
"Mix up a deck of tarot cards, then pull a single card and turn it over. You could also randomly open a book of illustrated mythology or tribal lore, a family photo album or other collection of images with mythological or personal resonance. Describe the card or picture objectively, as if you're telling a friend about it on the phone, e.g., 'I see a tree.' Then retell that description in the first person present tense ('I am a tree'). Describe the feeling and atmosphere in the card ('misty and vague'). Then put that back into an I statement ('I am misty and vague'). Then turn all those statements into open-ended questions ('How am I like a tree? When am I misty and vague? Why?'). You're the only one who has to answer those questions, so you can do it honestly. Write the answers down in a journal, with the date and source image. Then you can go back later and see where you've been."
JAMES WELLS, tarot consultant, Reiki master, workshop facilitator, Toronto
"Ask yourself which activities have in the past or currently brought you absolute joy. What sorts of things have you done that have brought you great feedback from others? What things do you do that come effortlessly to you and yet seem to be a big deal to others? The answers to these questions are clues to your sacred gifts. The signs of our sacred gifts are that they bring us joy, and they're always things that benefit others. Expressing your sacred gifts in full measure will bring purpose and happiness to your life."
MONIQUE MACDONALD, RN, personal consultant, co-creator, Sacred Gifts Program, White Rock, BC
"We have an exercise called stepping stones. Stepping stones are the major markings or events in your life. The first one is always the same for everyone, I was born,' and then whatever just comes to you. We
list about a dozen or so stepping stones and just jot down brief entries about them. We want to get them into chronological order. As we read them back, we begin to get the sense our lives are an evolving process. You may read entries back and feel a discontinuity. But over time, as you get in touch with your life, you begin to see the continuity of it."
JON PROGOFF, director of Dialogue House, Intensive Journal Program, NYC
"I think the real nub of it all is wearing a red nose. That really does force you to confront your self-image. The red nose has been called the world's smallest mask. It's not a mask that hides you; it's a mask that reveals you. The nose draws attention to your face and your eyes and really exaggerates who you are. People see you differently, and you see yourself differently. Wear a nose while out doing buying groceries. People will laugh, but you'll also connect with them. It breaks through that day-to-day mask that we all wear. If readers want to be daring, they can forget the Kama Sutra and wear red noses while having sex. People have this fear of being ridiculous. Once you overcome that fear, it's very freeing."
NEIL MUSCOTT, artistic director, Cirque du Poulet, Toronto
"We have a process called Clearing the Three Layers of Denial. Throughout, keep your eyes open and focused, looking down slightly, holding an awareness of your body. Place the index and middle fingers of both hands at your collarbone where the indent is. Run the fingers down the chest about 1 to 2 inches at a 45-degree angle to find a couple more indents. Stimulate those points with a light circular motion while taking two to three full, deep inhalations. Now place the fingers of your right hand just behind your ear lobe. There's a little hollow there. Place the fingers of your left hand in the navel. Hold your fingers in place and again breathe deeply. This is a good way to prepare for an activity to get to know oneself, eg. meditation."
LYNN HIMMELMANN , New Decision Therapy practitioner, Toronto