A Practice + Some Thoughts: In Times Of Transition

A few days ago I watched Michel Gribble-Dates’ New Years workshop from 2019 on the Ombrella YouTube channel.

I was returning to work after a three-month medical leave for depression and I wanted 2020 to be more focused, more centered, more grounded.

In the workshop Michel guides you through an exploration of Dharma. When I hear the word Dharma the first thing I think of is the 90s TV show “Dharma and Greg” (anyone remember that one?). And although the Dharma character is a free-spirited hippie, yogi blend, that’s not really what Dharma is about.

Dharma is your purpose, or your calling, for those of us in the Christian tradition.

To begin, Michel invites us to explore our understanding of Dharma, or call. For me it is “God’s vision for how I might impact the world with hope and joy as I flow through the ups and downs of my journey”. Michel’s understanding is shorter, “alined action”.

Take a few minutes to explore your understanding, or interpretation, of Dharma, or call.

How does it shape your life or how would you like it to shape your life?

How has it influenced you for the positive or negative? There is no right or wrong because this is personal. In the church we talk a great deal about call and sometimes it can be intimidating. Especially if you don’t think you have one or if you are afraid you are not living up to your call.

Let that go. Dream big, how would you like to interact with the world? You don’t have to be specific about a career or area of ministry. Just think about what purpose/call/

Dharma, means to you...

Michel then guides you through a series of questions that focus on vision, actions steps and relationships. She suggests that you take one question at a time to explore for a week or a month. You can do this exercise all at once as you would if you watched the workshop, but I like the idea of living with each question for a period of time, really getting a chance to explore it and open yourself to the guidance of the Spirit as you sit with the question.

The questions are…

1) Who am I in the next phase of my life?

2) What habits/rituals am I cultivation to become the person I envision?

3) What relationships do I need to cultivate in order to become the person I am becoming?

4) How will I feel in the next phase of my life?

5) What will I do (what do I want to do) in the next phase of my life?

6) What do I need to know in this next phase of my life that I don’t already know?

7) What is the plan to get to who I want to become?

8) How can I hold myself accountable to the plan?

9) What needs to be redefined in my core relationships to become who I want to become (to accomplish what I want to accomplish)?

10) How do I need to use my time differently to become who I want to become?

11) How can I upgrade my environment in support of who I am becoming?

12) How can I upgrade my internal space to support the person I am becoming?

I think the thing I loved best about the workshop was that Michel allowed for time to explore each question, but then gave us time to cultivate a 5 minute action step that would move us toward the vision the question evoked. That’s right - just 5 minutes.

What can you do in 5 minutes today, tomorrow, or this week to move you toward your vision?

Anyone can do something for 5 minutes.

Even if you are super busy you can find 5 minutes in your day for movement toward your vision.

For example, question 11 is “How can I upgrade my environment in support of who I am becoming”. This was a really important question for me as my office space had become a trigger for my depression. I knew something had to change. I needed to declutter and set up structures to keep my space decluttered. I applied the 5 minute rule. Every day at the end of the day I will take 5 minutes to declutter my office. 5 minutes... 5 days a week... will make a huge impact on the state of my office. I don’t have to get overwhelmed with trying to do it all at once. Just 5 minutes.

I have applied this concept to other areas of work as well. One of the strategies for coping with depression is to take baby steps. After 3 months away I have a ton of emails in my inbox. Thankfully, most of them are junk that can quickly be discarded. But there are still a lot of them. It’s overwhelming and the thought of tackling them all at once is daunting. So I took the 5 minute rule (though in truth I broadened it a bit to 15 minutes, but the concept is the same). I work through emails for 15 minutes at a time. Breaking huge tasks down is the best way to accomplish them.

Listing the actual steps towards a goal or vision will give you a map towards that vision.

The key is then to take the very first step.

Don’t put it off.

Do it as soon as possible. You will build momentum and have the energy fueling boost of movement towards your desired outcome.

I encourage you to take an hour and check out Michel’s New Year’s workshop, but if you can’t do that, work through the 12 questions on your own. Just don’t forget the VERY important step of listing a 5 minute action step that you can take right away to start you on the path to your vision for 2020.

Happy New Year!

Wishing you growth and movement towards your vision,

- Elizabeth Snelbaker

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