Being anxious is a common contemporary experience, even more marked in recent months. However, an anxious state of mind is not conducive to best thinking, such that projects, job applications, assignments, communications, decisions, and thus life, may be placed at risk.

Often it takes something radical to interrupt old patterns of striving, stress and workaholism. Get to mid-life and lots of things have not gone as planned, right? Many of us are faced with big changes, tragic losses and health challenges.

What do you love? Why are you here?

Wow. Feeling a part of it all, it took days to realise the anxiety had gone.

In his book ‘Brain Rules,’ John Medina notes how around half the brain — loves colour and starts firing as soon as we’re engaged with colours. Enriching stimulation for the brain, calming mindfulness practice as well as nurturing inner listening, are all great reasons to continue this line of enquiry. (There’s a link to my free ‘Listen to your Heart — A Creative Project’ at the end of this article).

Contemplating ‘What do you love?’ requires time to let your mind wander and return with the patience and kindness you would offer a dear friend. Opening up to remembering positive experiences, imagining and gratitude usually follow.

Michael Singer, author of the remarkable book “The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself”, in a podcast conversation with Tami Simons (of Sounds True), describes the inspiration, creativity, elation and total well-being that naturally arises with letting go of the mental chatter in your head that’s associated with old conditioning and stuff we unwittingly hold onto.

Asking ‘What do you love?’ at the start of my courses, retreats and coaching, some people smile and others frown. One person remarked: ‘No-one ever asked me that!’

Almost always, as the old pattern of ‘what’s wrong?’ is interrupted, people can be confused and ask: ‘What do you mean?!’

I reply, ‘Anything! People, places, objects, practical, natural, ordinary, luxurious, utilitarian, edible and otherwise; plants, animals, weather, seasons, celebrations, crafts, minerals, gems, elements; books, films … walking on the beach, a particular piece of music, poetry, art or dance… anything you enjoy!’

What do you love? What really matters to you? What has delighted you, from an exquisite feather to a magnificent waterfall?

Now, if you’ll give yourself this gift, it’s your turn.

Follow this step-by-step approach to a gentle contemplative experience:

  1. SETTLE yourself by becoming aware of your feet flat on the floor, bring attention to your spine — sitting up straight — and notice your breathing without needing to change it, and allow each breath to help you relax…and then as you become settled, bring your awareness to the area of your heart. You might even like to place your hand there.
  2. ASK: Close your eyes and ask ‘What do I love?’ I ask for 50 things, but any number is fine. As each thing comes into your mind’s eye, open your eyes and write. Or draw. Close your eyes again, seeing or sensing again what you love, opening your eyes again and writing. Keep on with this process for as long as you want. There’s no need to be concerned about order and it can of course, be completely private, or done with your children or grandchildren.Here are some guiding phrases:
  • I love the scent of…
  • I love the sight of…
  • I love the colour of…
  • I love the taste of…
  • I love the touch of…
  • I love being…
  • I love seeing…
  • I love listening to…
  • I love reading…
  • I love doing…
  • I love making…
  • I love playing…
  • I love visiting…
  • I love collecting…
  • I love wearing…
  • I love exploring…
  • I love enjoying…
  1. REALISE: From this open-minded place it’s far easier to ask if there’s anything you’d like to make more time for.
  2. FOR THE FUTURE: Keep your list in your journal or cut it into slips, fold and place in a jar so you can pick one when you feel like a change of channel in your thinking or to lift your mood.
  3. GET THE FREE CREATIVE PROJECT that follows on from this article. Click on the link at the end and be guided to easily create your own design to remind you, at a glance, of what you love; what matters to you and the preciousness of your life.