“Earth’s crammed with heaven… but only he who sees, takes off his shoes.” ~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh
The true purpose of parable, fable and allegory – in fact any kind of symbolic storytelling – has been used throughout time to aid us in getting our heads around the ebb and flow of life.
Getting us past those hurdles that inexorably lie in our paths, however, often gets lost in didactic and convoluted rhetoric and, like the religions they are often attached to, can serve to keep our heads in the clouds.
Parable, though bringing about a moment that may deeply resonate with the listener, often falls short in that it requires large groups or the reliance on something incredibly anti-moment; like a book.
Meditation and the practice of it may open the door to our spiritual path, but daily games and immediate tricks on the mind are what will keep us on it. All you will need is a sense of humour, and the ability to remember to practice them.
Here are 4 suggestions of how to bring awareness to anything you might be doing at the time:
This is one for all those shrinking violets out there: exaggerate. Exaggerate your movements, exaggerate your feelings, exaggerate your expressions and your words. Make faces in the mirror and remember your inner child.
Hear yourself recounting an anecdote to a friend and becoming so inert in your enthusiasm you’re almost drying up. Try exaggerating. Throw those words around! Then see how it increases your energy.
Make big gestures, shake things up. Notice how you usually function and decide to do it big today. Turn this day into your biggest yet. Exaggerate.
A bit of an elaboration on exaggerate, change speed. This is often a tool used in chanting where we become aware of our speeds and suddenly adjust it. This one simple game can dissolve dirty habits, help us function more mindfully, and generally turn the mirror on ourselves.
Change the speed of your movements. If you are buzzing around like a blue arse fly then slow down. The moment you remember this game, make your actions or words in slow motion. Better still, be silent. Watch yourself go to speak but don’t.
If you are too slow then just as looking up to the third eye does, speed up and become pure clarity. One thing painfully slow walking meditations and slow speech can help us with is seeing all that there is to enjoy around us, but sometimes we need to speed up. Being mindful and meditative doesn’t mean grinding to a halt. Far from it.
If you feel sludgy and like you’re moving at the speed of the tortoise all the time then suddenly watch yourself speeding up. Be efficient yet relaxed. It is possible, we just think that if we’re going fast then we need to be tense and irritable. Sometimes life requires speed. Enjoy it.
As children love to do, copying and mirroring the other can be a way of uprooting adults out of their ego-rant or angry high horse. This practice, which deep down we all love doing when someone is annoying the hell out of us or trying to boss us around, is great to bring about a deeper awareness in others.
But beware. Do not take this game lightly. You might just receive a piece of their mind. Copying is a great and original form of clowning and, if done with a kind sense of humour and a great awareness of your own ego then you might just pull it off. Copying can be the way we rescue each other when one is in a rut.
Sometimes we just so blinded by a task or way of seeing things. Mindfully mirroring another (without becoming codependent or bringing down your own energy of course) can be a game we practice in the workplace, with family members, and with our partners.
Do The Opposite
And finally, opposites. Personally as someone who often lets others steal or override my own energy, I find opposites to be the best game around. Again, one to be mostly enjoyed when having a repetitive conversation, needing a way out when you are constantly matching someone’s energy or just plain need to shake up the atmosphere.
Doing the opposite of a tone, expression, posture or decision can wake us up and others around us too. Everyone wants someone to do something different and pave the way for their secret desires so don’t be afraid to take the stand.
Walk off the path when others stick to it. Be the one to stand up for the underdog that one time rather than slagging them off with the rest of your workmates.
Dare to do the opposite and you will gain respect and followers. Start small with daily habits of doing the opposite to another and you will find it has the ability to completely change your attitude to the bigger things.
Just try doing the opposite to what you usually do and go from there. The more you practice this one the higher your spiritual path will soar.
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