Do you feel like you’re the natural artistic type or is finding creativity a challenge for you?
In the Enneagram personality model, I’m a Point 4. Different interpretations of the Enneagram refer to Point 4 as “The Romantic,” “The Individualist,” – and “The Artist.” When I’m speaking with other people who know the Enneagram system and I tell them I’m a Point 4, usually the first thing they ask me is “Are you an artist?”
I don’t believe I am particularly artistic and I definitely don’t consider myself an artist by any stretch of the imagination. (I resonate more with the Romantic and Individualist descriptions found in the Point 4.)
However, in the Essence vs. Form (TM) processes I study with Laura Lavigne and also use in my coaching practice, one of the five Core Essences I identify in myself is Creativity.
Not identifying as an artist but identifying as creative piqued my interest in personal development. To start, I simply looked up the definition of “artist” and the definition of “creativity” in the dictionary. They both say just about the same thing: “…create with imagination and skill and express important ideas or feelings”!
My basic understanding is in the art world, it's common knowledge that repetition, pattern, and rhythm are types of art principles. Repetition refers to one object or shape that is repeated. Pattern is a combination of shapes repeated in a recurring and regular arrangement. Rhythm is a combination of shapes repeated, but with variations to the pattern.
Stippling, mandalas, zentangle, quilting – even the designs found on ancient vases all have repetition, pattern, and rhythm.
Here are five ways I have found to spark creativity:
PICK YOUR TIME OF DAY: For me, my creative time is in the early morning while the house is still asleep and the sun is just beginning to peek over the horizon. It’s such a peaceful time for me to sit with a cup of hot coffee and wake up slowly while listening to the surf, birds, and chipmunk chatter in the tree outside my deck door.
I have found that it is in the quiet of nature that I am able to be the most creative, before I start thinking about emails coming in, checkbooks to balance, and phone calls to make. It is the time when I write my Morning Pages, think about projects I might undertake, set intentions, and begin to create my day.
GET IT OUT OF YOUR HEAD: When I want to manifest something, I sometimes get overwhelmed because although I have a general idea of what I want to do, it feels like a pinball machine in my brain until I can express it somehow. Abundance is everywhere and that includes thoughts! It’s certainly not for lack of options of what to do and sometimes making decisions is hard. It’s when I feel I am spinning my wheels in the mud I either pencil my idea out freeform, write it down, collage or make a vision board. The process of doing the brain dump helps me see things clearer when it’s right in front of me and I can see it.
RECOGNIZE THE BEAUTY THAT IS AROUND YOU: Sometimes when I am feeling especially creative, I can begin to see pictures in everyday things, like the patterns in the tile in the bathroom shower, the grain in wood, or out on my walk as I see the designs in the sand from the tidewater. Take note of the patterns that are available in nature and use it as a springboard for your next project!
(Side note: I found it interesting to learn that there’s a word to describe seeing faces in inanimate objects. Pareidolia can cause people to interpret random images or patterns of light and shadow as facesof people and animals!)
VISUALIZATION MEDITATION: Sit in comfortable quiet for the sole (or soul) purpose of thinking about what you want to make. For example, if you want to design a costume, what color will it be? What will it feel like? How will you put it on, with buttons or a zipper? Can you repurpose something you already have? What shoes will you wear? What feelings do you want to evoke when you’re wearing it and what reactions do you want to elicit from others who see you in it? Use all your senses for a visualization meditation.
LISTEN TO MUSIC: While most people would probably say classical music puts them in a creative state, I personally like new age and techno music that has a steady beat! I imagine the electronic beat mimics the sound of my heartbeat and it makes it possible for me to focus, find my breath, get centered, and tap into the creative juices.
The young couple from the city showed up at Sea Spell Massage in Cannon Beach for their couples massage instruction appointment. They were celebrating their wedding anniversary at the coast. He would be the "giver" for this appointment. She was the receiver.
The session was a surprise gift for her and she had no idea what to expect when they arrived!
A review was left on my website after the session:
“Michelle (Michele) taught me not only the basics of massage, but how to specifically work on my partner's trouble spots. Very professional, kind, and a great teacher - I highly recommend the couples instruction massage option, it may be the best thing you and your partner ever do!”
Because I just moved back to Oregon and I am new to the area, I wanted to offer a service for couples in my practice in addition to individual massage sessions. But I didn’t know any other therapists to partner with for a side-by-side or tandem couples session – and I don’t have room for two tables in my office – so I decided to offer “Couples Massage Instruction” as an option, something a couple might do for a date night. I limit the service to only one person receiving in a full 90-minute session, though.
Giving a massage to someone you love is a deeply connecting and intimate offering. There is a degree of vulnerability as both the giver and the receiver. Touch can create a bond and greatly benefit all aspects of a couple’s life together.
The intent of my couples massage instruction is to create more intimacy in relationship with a partner through the giving and receiving of massage. It can be quite powerful to slow down and take the time to truly be present with another.
The session includes a grounding and quieting exercise, instruction, demonstration, and a hands-on approach and practice to integrating massage into a relationship at home. Massage is no longer considered just a luxury!
An appointment would usually involve full-body massage instruction. In this case, the receiver is an athlete so we chose to focus on the upper body and particular areas of tension in her back and shoulders.
We talked about the couple’s experience with massage and knowledge of the body and muscles. After a grounding practice, we got started with the instruction! We focused primarily on Swedish effleurage long stroke techniques, starting with a flat palm with light pressure, moving into different stroke types (such as kneading, stretching, and compression) as his confidence increased, and then into more therapeutic offerings using deeper touch and different “tools” such as knuckles and forearms.
We also focused on his posture, application of his body weight over her at the table, and body staging in order for him not to become fatigued during the course of the massage. He is a natural giver!
I believe in the session the couple was able to:
In addition, the receiver was encouraged to communicate about pressure and give partner feedback. It will motivate the partner when telling him/her what an amazing massage he/she is giving and remembering that the giver definitely wants to please!
Throughout the appointment, we always returned to the Essences the couple picked at the beginning.
Do not use a bed to massage, if at all possible. It's uncomfortable for the receiver, especially for the neck, and uncomfortable for the giver, the hunching over and trying to move around. In the private home, you need a hard surface to sit and lie on – the floor is better than the bed – and use props such as pillows, rolled up towels, and blankets.
Prepare the space. Lock the doors and turn off the phones if you don't want to be interrupted. Keep all supplies near you. Use the bathroom beforehand.
What are some issues couples face when starting a massage routine?
Sore thumbs – Using them too much. Knuckles, palms, and forearms are good alternatives. Use other tools such as balls or other items you can find in the department store or bath and body shop.
Tired hands – Too much pressure or kneading. Gravity and body weight are good alternatives. Contour your hands to partner's body and try to touch more surface area. Try to keep fingertips and palms down, especially for long, deep strokes.
Boring – Do a different body part, use a different stroke, use different pressure, or make an agreement beforehand to change the giving/receiving within a certain time frame.
Lack of confidence – Learn just one or two approaches. Ask your partner for feedback and be excited to learn together!
I hope you find this information useful in creating connection through touch in your own relationship! As always, don’t hesitate to ask me questions or leave a comment.
Essentially yours ~
In a few weeks I will be presenting a workshop on The Magic of Essence Declaring. It is a 2-hour introductory workshop to the Essence vs. Form ™ full coursework by Laura Lavigne that I recently became a Certified Essence Coach in.
So then, what is “Essence”?
Although we do go into the specific description of Essence in our Essence vs. Form ™ workshop offerings, an Essence is similar to a “motivation,” a description that is sometimes used in Enneagram studies. (The Enneagram is another one of my loves, and the two tools partner wonderfully together!)
When my mentor Laura teaches Essence vs. Form ™, one of the processes we do is a visualization meditation that encourages us to think about specific times in our lives when everything was available to us and things were “just right.” During that visualization, we are able to begin to find the words that relate to the Essences we are experiencing and then we begin to audition them to see if they ring true in our core.
One thing is clear to me between both my study of the Enneagram and in working with Laura Lavigne’s Essence vs Form ™ tools, we especially thrive when we know and honor our motivations and Essences!
I personally have determined that five of my Core Essences are Stability, Independence/Freedom, Depth, Creativity, and Curiosity.
When I began the Essence vs. Form ™ coursework, I was initially confused by what I determined were my Core Essences because I felt like Stability and Independence were in conflict with each other. I did know I have a deep desire to have a “home,” but I also know I would feel caged if I didn’t have the opportunity to go on adventures and explore freely.
Interestingly enough, Independence/Freedom, Depth, Creativity, and Curiosity are not only my Core Essences but they are also traits similarly found in the description of Fours in the Enneagram. So I am pretty clear that those traits are part of who I am deep inside, part of what makes me most authentic.
Which gets me to what my post is about today: AUTHENTICITY.
What does the word authenticity mean to you? Synonyms for authenticity are genuine, real, bona fide, true, and valid.
I’m not speaking just about speaking your mind when you are connecting and being as real as you can be with other people.(Maybe you’ve had an interaction with someone in the past where you have felt that they were not being "real" with you and they presented with a phony, fake, insecure, or pretentious vibe?)
I’m talking about the type of authenticity where you are being honest with yourself, more accepting of yourself, and in alignment with your own inner truths.
We’ve been taught to present a certain way in the world, affected by what are considered social norms. We oftentimes, too, get stuck with certain labels and they unconsciously become part of our personality: “She’s an overachiever and perfectionist.” “I’m an introvert.” “He’s just sensitive.” If you hear those statements enough, you may lose sight, and in a sense begin to quiet or even betray, one of your Core Essences because you begin to believe something different than what is your authentic true nature.
When we are authentic with ourselves, we honor our inborn gifts and traits. We become more intuitive, open-hearted, and accepting of our perceived flaws.
With that being said, authenticity doesn’t mean we stop growing or changing, we simply choose to love ourselves even more while we enjoy the journey to deeper self-understanding.
With authenticity, we are able to find more joy, clarity, and personal power.
If you were able to name just one of your soul motivations or Essences, what would it be? I’d love to have you post it in a comment and how you discovered it.
Essentially yours ~
I have been creating malas for some time, and about once a year I will offer a half-day workshop on how to make them and how to meditate using prayer beads. I find the process to be very peaceful and effective for calming the mind and the creative process feeds my vitality.
The most challenging part I have personally found in making a mala is deciding what beads to assemble together! It’s certainly not for lack of options! I have a Pinterest board of ideas to share with you that I’d love to try some day.
Malas are sacred Hindu or Tibetan prayer beads and should be treated with respect. They should be “placed,” not draped (except on the body), or kept in a treasured piece of cloth or tied bag when not in use.
Malas can be worn as a necklace, of sorts, usually falling slightly lower than the sternum in the center of the chest or wrapped several times around the left wrist.
Their traditional use is as a meditation tool to count mantra repetitions. Malas are held while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a positive word or phrase. This practice is known in Sanskrit as “japa.”
Parts of a Mala
The malas we make when I present a workshop are made with 8 mm size Rudraksha beads. They are the seeds of the fruit from Rudraksha trees found mainly in Indonesia, Nepal, and India. They have been used traditionally by Hindu, Buddhist, Japanese, Chinese, and Zen followers for controlling stress, overall healing, meditation, and engendering positive changes.
You may choose to make other malas using gems or stones you are drawn to.
The spaces of thread created between the beads are known as the “knot of creation.” Knotting also makes the thread of the mala stronger.
The large bead at the end of the strand of beads is the meru or guru bead, believed to represent the student/guru relationship.
The tassel is believed to represent enlightenment or a lotus. There are also several ways to make tassels and one of my favorites is to incorporate pieces of ribbon with the threads.
What is “Mantra”?
(Below is an excerpt from the Daily OM 08/27/16)
Broadly speaking, every speech is a kind of mantra. It’s used to communicate and to get something done. A meaning is delivered.
The most valuable mantras have been chanted since ancient times and have been found to help attract and realize valuable gifts in one's life. The ancient sages, who received these divine mantras after great meditation and prayers believed in the power of the mind.
Each one of us has the ability to attract and create what we want in our life because all we perceive lies within. Through mantras, we can unlock the potential to attract our desires.
Mantra Using a Mala
Why 108 Beads (or Dividends of 108)?
There are many, many varied explanations for why the number 108 is auspicious and they are all open to interpretation. For example:
A very simple mantra that you may already know and probably have heard is "OM" the simplest Hindu mantra, and yet it generates huge energy and beneficial vibrations within and outside you. The energy you gather as you chant this mantra can be diverted to reap powerful benefits and blessings for almost anything you desire. The mantra devoted to the universe and the glory of its creator is OM.
OM is the primordial sound and it always exists in the entire cosmos. It is said that when this Universe was first conceived and created, a sound was heard – OM. The sound of OM generated and created the entire universe and everything in it. Most mantras begin with the sound OM.
Other mantras and general meaning:
- Om Namah Shivaya: “I bow to the inner self.”
- Om Shanti Shanti Shanti: “Peace Peace Peace” or “May there be well-being for all; may there be peace for all; may there be wholeness for all; may there be happiness for all.”
- Om Mani Padme Hum: “In dependence on the practice of a path which is an indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech, and mind into the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha.”
- Om Gam Gana Pataye Namah: Used at the beginning of a new venture to help remove obstacles in our path
- Om Vakra Tundaya Hum: Powerful mantra for straightening out negative and scattered energy and bringing minds into clarity and focus
- Om Gam Ganeshaya Namah: A devotional mantra for opening up to Ganesh, the remover of obstacles
- Sat Nam: “Truth is my name.” *Sat is extended eight times longer than Nam
- Neti Neti: “Not this; not this.” The phrase is a way to rebut something—be it harsh words or a situation in your life you would like to change.
I hope you are as excited to learn about malas as I am in creating them and sharing what I know about them with you! Watch this site in the future for any mala workshop offerings.
Essentially Yours ~
In my previous blog post, I wrote a little bit about the history of the Enneagram and the 9 different Enneagram personality types/expressions/points. I will go into each of the types in more detail in the future, but please read last week’s “Introduction to the Enneagram” for some background information.
Each of the 9 Enneagram personality types also operates in one of the three parts of a triad comprised of the Heart/Feeling Center, the Head/Thinking Center, or the Gut/Instinctive Center.
Finding your own center is the key to learning more and discovering more about your type; knowing your center makes finding your type even clearer.
Point 2 Helper/Giver (Externalizes Image): Two's motivation is to sense the needs of others in order to feel important, needed, appreciated, and loved. Twos want to present a loving image.
Point 3 Achiever/Performer (Represses Image/Neither Externalizes nor Internalizes): Three's motivation is to achieve recognition for accomplishments, to be successful with an image that looks good to others. Threes want to be seen in a good light.
Point 4 Romantic/Individualist (Internalizes Image): Four's motivation is to find love and deep connection, to be unique, and find meaning through self-expression. Fours want to be seen as original.
Point 5 Investigator/Observer (Externalizes Fear): Five's motivation is to protect privacy, limit one’s desires or needs, and to pursue knowledge to understand one’s environment. Fives want to find safety.
Point 6 Loyalist/Questioner (Represses Fear, Neither Externalizes nor Internalizes): Six's motivation is to feel safe, secure, and prepared in what is perceived as a threatening world. Sixes seek relief from fear.
Point 7 Adventurer/Epicure (Internalizes Fear): Seven's motivation is to not be limited, to protect the self from anxiety, and to not miss out. Sevens shun unpleasant emotions, including fear.
Point 8 Asserter/Leader (Externalizes Anger): Eight's motivation is to be powerful, independent, in control, and demand respect. Eights are not afraid to express their anger.
Point 9 Peacemaker/Diplomat (Represses Anger, Neither Externalizes nor Internalizes): Nine's motivation is to have peace and harmony through over-adaptation. Nines are agreeable and accommodating.
Point 1 Perfectionist/Reformer (Internalizes Anger): One's motivation is to avoid mistakes, do the right thing, and be ethical. Ones try to follow internally-created standards of behavior.
In future blog posts I’ll go into each of the 9 types in more detail, and over time we’ll look at the subtypes, wings, the direction of stress and integration, and levels of development.
I’ve also started an Enneagram Discussion Group local MeetUp in the Cannon Beach area, and we are actively seeking new members. If you’re on the northern Oregon coast and reading this, please consider joining us for a get-together!
Essentially yours ~
It was also during this time I learned about and fell in love with the Enneagram and became a student of the Enneagram for the rest of my life!
The Enneagram is a study of 9 different character types and motivations found in all people. It’s a dynamic system of personality, expression, and awareness. The Enneagram helps to explain why we do the things we do. The wisdom of the Enneagram lives in our very core.
Some people compare the Enneagram to the Myers-Briggs inventory; some approach the Enneagram from a more spiritual perspective. Some relate the Enneagram to Jungian psychology.
When I was first learning about the Enneagram, I was taught that it developed over 2000 years ago by Sufis and was handed down in the oral tradition. I have since learned that the exact origin of the Enneagram is actually not known. There are different theories about how the Enneagram came to be based on the teachers who teach it.
We do know, however, that the Enneagram was introduced in the United States in the 1960s. Well-known Enneagram authors and teachers include Robert Ochs, Richard Rohr, Helen Palmer, Don Riso and Russ Hudson. (Riso and Hudson are the creators and developers of the highly-respected Enneagram Institute.)
When you choose to learn about the Enneagram and take the system into your own being, there is no doubt that it is a valuable tool for improving relationships and points to areas for undertaking deep personal growth.
I am not an expert on the Enneagram by any means but I know enough about it and love the system enough to share the basics. I invite others to participate in local Enneagram discussions since study is deepened when a variety of people come together and feel safe opening up.
Later, I will also share about Subtypes which explore whether you operate more outwardly, inwardly, or in a position of self-preservation.
Additionally, each of the personality types has a backup called a Wing, which is the number found in the expression of the point next to your personality type, on either the right or left side in the system. For example, as a Point 4 Romantic/Individualist, my own backup or influence, so to speak, is either a 3 (Achiever) Wing or a 5 (Observer) Wing.
I will also go into the Wings in more detail, the levels of development, and the direction of growth and stress in future blog posts.
To start with, perhaps one of these 9 types feels true to you, just in saying the name given to each Point?
1 The Perfectionist (or The Reformer in some teachings)
2 The Helper (or The Giver in some teachings)
3 The Achiever (or The Performer in some teachings)
4 The Romantic (or The Individualist in some teachings)
5 The Investigator (or The Observer in some teachings)
6 The Loyalist (or The Questioner in some teachings)
7 The Adventurer (or The Epicure in some teachings)
8 The Asserter (or The Leader in some teachings)
9 The Peacemaker (or The Diplomat in some teachings)
As the saying goes, once you begin to explore the Enneagram it is like “peeling an onion.” The more you begin to understand how the system works, the more enriching life can be!
I plan to share many more blog posts about the Enneagram, so please don’t hesitate to contact me with a comment below or at Michele.EssentialBeingCoaching@gmail.comif you have any further insights.
Essentially Yours ~
I have been asked to re-post an article entitled “Why Epsom Salt After Deep Tissue Massage?” that I first wrote on June 8, 2013. Instead of re-posting it as it was written at the time, I have included it for the most part in this blog post with minor revisions and additions.
There is no denying the healing power of a hot bath! Water has energy! Water not only cleanses the body, it purifies the mind.
In some cultures, spiritual baths mark a rite of passage or are a precursor to sacred religious ceremony involving prayer. These rituals are either practiced either alone or in a group setting.
Epsom salt baths are beneficial for several reasons:
Epsom salt is made up of the compound magnesium sulfate. “Epsom salt” got its name because one of the earliest discoveries of magnesium sulfate took place in Epsom, England.
Magnesium and sulfate individually play essential roles in the way in which bodies function:
Taking an Epsom salt bath helps restore levels of magnesium and sulfate in the system because this compound can be absorbed through the largest organ, the skin. It is oftentimes recommended to soak three times a week for about 12 to 15 minutes.
A common recommendation is to add a cup or two of Epsom salt to warm water in a standard-sized bathtub; more salt is not necessarily better. Tepid water instead of hot, steamy water is best for the skin because warm water does not strip away protective oils like hot water does.
Before getting into the bath, make sure that all of the salt has dissolved so that it can be more easily absorbed (and not wasted when the water is drained). Additionally, any salt that has not dissolved in the water may dry or cake on the skin and appear on your body as an opaque white powder.
Dry, itchy skin is a common skin care concern for people of any age or those living in drier climates, and Epsom salt can help! Mineral-rich Epsom salt bathwater can help turn rough, dry skin into smooth, soft skin, especially if partially dissolved salt crystals are used to exfoliate dead skin cells and rough spots away. (I sometimes mix mine with almond oil or jojoba oil and essential oils.)
Taking Epsom salt baths regularly may help keep skin soft, but the key is to remember to rinse away any salt that is left on the skin after the bath. Pat the skin dry after exiting the bath and applying moisturizer after a soak may be necessary.
Epsom salt can be found in most stores and pharmacies near the first aid supplies or in the soap or lotion aisle.
Despite the benefits, Epsom salt baths are not for everyone. They generally are not recommended for people who have conditions such as heart problems, high blood pressure, or diabetes. If you have a neurological condition, then hot water may not support your system.
Consult a doctor first if any questions arise about using Epsom salt as part of your essential healing and self-care.
Essentially Yours ~
As I enter a new stage of life and add on more years, I am finding it even more important to slow down and check in with my body (and mind, heart, and spirit) and offer myself radical self-care!
Recently, though, I discovered there are many other ways of radical self-care that I have not been giving myself because I formed a belief system one way or another around them. I started recognizing when a need came up and what the thought or sting was around it and why I felt I could not take advantage of the opportunity.
Maybe some of these will resonate with you and together we can accept our basic self-care without any judgment!
Eat a snack:
I have bounced around with my weight since before I can remember, and I certainly have issues with food tied to my emotions. I was taught that snacking puts on pounds, and I tend to deprive myself and have erratic eating habits – I oftentimes skip breakfast. But every day around 3 PM it seems like I am going to crash. I now have healthy snacks (apples, carrots with hummus, celery, olives, granola, nuts) on hand that I can grab and not feel guilty about.
I also bought a cool water bottle that reminds me to stay hydrated!
I was recently in a weekend workshop and I immediately realized after I sat down, based on the configuration of the chairs in relationship to the instructor, that if I didn’t sit in the center of the half circle or directly across from the whiteboard that my neck was going to be contorted for the entire three days. Since I had driven 7 hours to get to the location and had a 7-hour drive to get back home, that would be two more days in a car with even more limited mobility. I was grateful that it was the type of workshop where I could sit or stand or move to the floor as needed. Taking care of myself really allowed me to absorb the course material fully without having physical pain distract me.
On the way home, I felt it was just as important to take frequent stops in the car and stretch, something I haven’t done in the past because I would just try to plow through in an effort to reach my destination.
Set and honor boundaries:
I have been an accommodator most of my life and I used to think that I could only be as happy as the least happy person around me. I realize how draining that can be!
Whether at home or work, I am now enforcing boundaries. Since I am self-employed, I am sticking to my posted work hours instead of offering to reschedule something I already had going on in order to “squeeze in one more session”.
A friend of mine once said, Michele, would you really ask your dentist to stay late because it worked better into your schedule?
Additionally, I had a talk with my husband about when we could discuss what I feel is a hot-button topic: politics! I asked him to save up everything he wants to say so we can talk about it on our daily long walk, that way I can work it off and move the energy while I am moving my body.
Since I have a home office, I also requested from my husband one hour of alone time in the morning in order to drink my coffee and write out my Morning Pages or do something creative since mornings are when my mind is sharpest.
No electronics day:
Not using my laptop or phone for the day has been a huge challenge. I am usually only able to accomplish this when I am out at a continuing education class or retreat. I have found, though, it’s easier to avoid electronics when I have things I want to do outside, although I sometimes take my phone with me to listen to music!
Checking social media can be such a time waster. It's like opening the refrigerator when I'm not really hungry.
I have a bucket list and as a visual person, almost 100 boards on Pinterest of things I want to do! The list was just getting longer and longer and the dreaming getting more and more out of reach. So I started tackling my incompletes and I feel like I am having more fun and accomplishing more!
I have wanted to learn how to play the piano for a long time but I didn’t want anyone to hear me practicing on the keyboard. I bought some big earphones that plug in and a beginner’s book – Here I go!
I have had several friends offer to help me make a perfect pie crust. I am still working on that parallel parking thing. And this fall when the days are shorter and the nights are longer, I am going to study geography. I had forgotten everything I learned in school about the world and borders are changing, too! Next up, the aurora borealis?
As you can see, it’s not always the big things like having a once in a while Pamper Day that we need to schedule or plan in order to honor and take care of our own essential being.
What do you do to practice your own radical self-care? I’d love to hear in a comment!
Michele Duncan King