As August gives way to September, my somewhat relaxed summer schedule gives way to a very full autumn. Many new and exciting projects are on the horizon and two new books will be launched in November. (More about that in the coming weeks!) So my days are overflowing, and sometimes I’m not sure where to put my focus because there is so much going on. Last week, I was starting to get overwhelmed. Perhaps you can relate.
When the pressure is on, my most challenging part of the 24-hour cycle is between 3:00 and 6:00 am. All summer, I had been sleeping well through the night. However, a couple of weeks ago, I found myself back in stress mode, sleeping only until 2:30 or 3:00 a.m. When I woke up, I was usually in the middle of a dream – not necessarily a scary or unsettling dream, yet a dream that wouldn’t let go of me. And then I was hooked. And you know how the story goes from there – one thought leads to another and to another, and the minutes become hours and then it’s time to start a new day.
This is not a new pattern for me. I’ve also learned not to fight against it. Instead, first I breathe into the bottom of my body and into my spine. This helps me to feel grounded, present, and safe. And then I ask my greater wisdom what this is really about. Why am I awake right now – what is it that I actually need to pay attention to?
What I don’t do is get out of bed and try to distract myself or get busy with a project. This liminal space-time in the early morning hours is way too valuable to waste it on “busy-ness” or trying to coax myself back to sleep. I trust that I am awake for a reason, and that if I use this time-space wisely, something important is likely to happen.
I call this a “liminal space-time” because in those pre-dawn hours, space and time are fluid. I’m neither fully awake nor fully asleep. Yet strangely, some part of me is hyper conscious as I drift between worlds. As I float in this space, messages and insights often come. Many things sort themselves out in my thoughts and understanding without me having to do a lot of work. I trust that something bigger than me is supporting me and guiding me forward.
Last week, after three or four nights in this pattern, I awoke at 3:00 a.m. in a new kind of stillness. Something was happening in my awareness. I had been dreaming of a circle with a light at its center. Floating in the liminal space, I continued to see the image of the circle and the light. I sensed that the circle represented the whole of my life and the light at the center represented a life-giving force. The message: I was putting the wrong thing in the center!
Still floating in the liminal space, I remembered a powerful statement and question posed by Craig Barnes, president of Princeton Theological Seminary, in a morning address at Chautauqua a few years ago:
The center is what holds, feeds, supports, and defines the circle.
What do you choose to put in the center of the circle of your life?
Suddenly it was all clear. In the last couple of weeks, I had been putting my projects in the center of my life circle as if they were the source of the light. And that wasn’t working. Instead, I had to be at the center of that circle. Well, actually, the light of my soul and my soul mission or life purpose had to be at the center. And I had to step into that light – to embody that light – and let it radiate through me out into the circle and out into all that I do.
As I floated in the liminal space, I felt myself step into that light as the center of my life. In the next few moments, it was as if all of the many projects organized themselves within the circle around the light. Some projects were close in; others were further out. They organized themselves; I didn’t have to. They showed me where to put my attention first.
In those pre-dawn hours, I was reminded that my projects – what I do – are not the center of my life. They live within the circle or sphere of my life, but they must not become the center. The light of my soul must be the center.
As I started letting the light of my soul shine through those projects, I was overwhelmed with Love. I know that Love is the source of my light – Love is the source of my soul mission. Love is why I’m here. Love is how I got here. And only Love can carry me and sustain me in sharing what I have to bring to the world. I had just forgotten that in the last couple of weeks.
One of the questions we ask in Transformational Presence work is, “What is mine to do, and what is not mine to do?” I totally believe that the projects I am currently working on are, in fact, mine to do. Yet now I know that when I try to make the projects the center of my life circle instead of my soul light, there is no life-force energy. And, in fact, the projects start to steal the life force from me.
However, when I make Love the center of my life – when I stand in that Love and let it radiate through me – my projects become infused with Love. Energy flows and I am engaged in the projects in a different way. Yes, there are still timelines and deadlines. Yet when a project becomes a vehicle for Love, then it becomes a journey that is all about Love expressing itself in the world. And that’s an amazing energy to ride!
What are you putting in the center of your life?
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