Are you worried that you can’t make your dream come true?
One of my favorite dream experts and best-selling authors, Barbara Sher, has a dream exercise she calls, “Reclaiming Wonder.” She developed this exercise because she found that when people attempt to get back in touch with their dreams they become stuck in their everyday burdens.
They suddenly can’t see past their responsibilities to pursue the dream–even when they desperately want to.
You spend so much time worrying about what to fix for dinner; when you need to buy new tires for your car; how you are gong to pay for your or your kid’s college, and so forth–down to worrying about what you need from the grocery store for dinner that you forget to stop feel the moment that you are in as it is happening.
It’s like Christmas. I bet there are many of you who spent the past holiday season in a blur, running around frantically trying to buy gifts, bake, wrap, work, and prep for guests until you collapsed in your pajamas the day after everyone is gone. During the crazy, did your stop to notice the changing season? What about the trees in your yard? The snow? How about the smell? Did you stop to notice the smells of the holiday season?
All to often, people forget to look at the winter season with the wonder of a child because everyone is so busy worrying about everything … then BOOM another year is over.
Wonder is the place where dreaming is born. It’s the place of the beginnings.
In order to start a new adventure, like blogging, you have to get back to that place of wonderment like when you first experienced play as a child. Do you remember what imaginative play felt like? Do you remember how it had no rules? Sometimes it would simply involve spinning in circles until you fell on the ground and then laid there staring at the sky lost in your daydreams.
Wonder put you in touch with what drew you in–what was calling out to you to inspect at a closer range. It’s about living in the moment and taking a chance. It’s about being lost in thought and not caring what anyone thinks. It’s almost as if you are separate from the world in your own private place observing nature and the space around you as if it had a life and voice of its own.
Then you grow up, take on a world of responsibility and give up on play and your imagination. You stop connecting with that child who found everything about the world an interesting, captivating place.
Maybe you dreamed of traveling the world, living as a Monk in Tibet, chasing the Lions in South Africa, dancing on stage, staring in your own movie, or painting a masterpiece. You didn’t care what anyone thought about these dreams–you just languished in them, twisting them into their own stories whenever you wanted to escape into your mind.
Those were the days when the flowers and the butterflies felt like they were talking to you.
So how does a worried adult bring back their wonder and awe at life?
Barbara Sher has an exercise in once of her books, “It’s Only Too Late If You Don’t Start Now” …
1. Find your favorite dried spice (hopefully it isn’t garlic, but Ok if it is…) — something that you love to smell.
Place some of it into a small plastic bag that is easy to access and can fit in your pocket. You can just put the spice directly into your pocket, but if your spice is ground cinnamon, it could get a little messy. You want this spice easily accessible at all times as you go through your day.
Whenever you hang up your phone after a business call, or look at your cell phone, or finish running for the train, bus, taxi, or race across town to pick up your kids, reach into your pocket and squeeze the spice with your fingertips, and watch yourself snap back to the pleasure of wonder.
2. At this very moment take the palm of your hand and touch something near you, like to polished wood of your desk or the fabric on your pants, or sleeve, and pay attention to the sensation.
See how many different surfaces you can touch without getting up from your chair. Imagine what the same experience must have been like when you were only a one-year-old.
3. Discover how many senses respond to the atmosphere outside.
Sit somewhere outside or next to an open window and close your eyes. Take in the bluster of winter (or the warmth of the air if you are somewhere warm at this time of year). Take in the quickness of the wind, or the stillness of the air. Notice how much you know about this day without using your eyesight at all.
Listen to the wind blow through the trees, or the rain on the roof, and feel the heat or cold or dampness on the skin of your arm and the wind in your hair, and smell the fires burning, or fresh cut lawns. And notice the extra awareness of quickness or calm or crispness, of hints of memory about days like this or the expectation of rain or snow or nightfall that comes from somewhere harder to name.
4. Once you’ve taken in all you can with your eyes closed, open them and look around you.
Take special note of what shows you the kind of day it is; screen out other distractions. Note the clouds moving, bright shadows or the absence of shadows, dawn or evening light, or the purity of winter.
All this belongs to you. That’s what you’ve lost and what you want back again. And now it rests in your hand.
When you see the extraordinary in the everyday, you’re always on a journey, no matter where you are.
This where you can begin to enjoy the possibilities that life has to offer. As part of your plan to work on your dream this year, start first with reclaiming your sense of wonder. Look at all the beautiful things that work in your life right now. Let go of your thoughts about needing to be responsible and remember what it was like to be a kid full of imagination.
Then get up and go find your favorite spice.
This week promise yourself that you will bring back into your life that sense of childhood wonder. Try something only a child would do. See if it helps you remember something you loved. Pay attention. Listen to what you soul will tell you about the experience.
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