I’m slightly uncomfortable writing this post.
I am a typical Gen X-er who’s deeply skeptical of anything that smacks too much of what my friend Nancy calls “woo-woo” stuff: that is, anything that might fall under the umbrella of “New Age.” On the other hand, I’m also a West Coaster who grew up around first- and second-generation hippies, owns more than a few books on astrology, and considers myself curious and open-minded. I’m just a little conflicted about it all, and I like some salt mixed into my spirituality.
One of my favourite sayings comes from activist-astrologer Caroline Casey: “Believe nothing; entertain possibilities.” That pretty well sums up my approach. I have friends who see angels, undertake shamanic journeys, worship deities and/or the earth – and I have friends who delightedly refer to themselves as evangelical atheists. I love hearing all of their stories and wrestling with the big questions. What I have absolutely no time for is a surfeit of earnestness, self-seriousness and/or narcissism, so I try to avoid committing those cardinal sins.
So with that preamble, I want to talk about something I think is really cool… if a little woo-woo.
I recently had the great good fortune (and pleasure) to meet Kate Sutherland at a workshop I was leading. Kate came up to ask a question afterward, and we ended up chatting for quite a while about this and that, until we realized we were the only ones left in the room as everyone else had wandered off to their next appointment. That’s when I figured out I had just met a kindred spirit.
The reason I got so wrapped up in our conversation is that Kate was telling me about a book she recently published called Make Light Work, a pithy, approachable guide to using what Kate calls “inner knowing” in everyday situations. Her writing journey touched on some themes that are dear to me, such as preventing burnout in people working for social change, bringing intuitive and other “soft” skills into the workplace, and getting clarity around our personal strengths and callings so we can infuse passion and power into our work, and provide maximum value and service to those around us.
Make Light Work is a compendium of techniques you can use to bring your inner knowing to bear on any manner of things in your life. I’m particularly interested in how this stuff applies to work, but you can filter it through any number of lenses. The techniques range from things you might already be familiar with (like setting the energy for a project, or finding a guiding image for a situation) to things that might fall outside your comfort zone (automatic writing, inner guides). I’ve been experimenting with several of them, and trying to push through any skepticism & resistance I may have in favour of just testing things out to see how they work.
My experiments have really paid off. I devoured the book in a couple of hours (stretched out into smaller chunks, as it is really a series of exercises you have to experiment with) and have been using Kate’s simple techniques on an almost daily basis. And some big things have been coming more easily to me in the two weeks since I picked up the book – things like:
- Writing blog posts
- Public speaking
- Group facilitation
- Mediating between battling factions
- Making small decisions that threatened to take me far too long (due to my compulsive need to weigh the options) more quickly & lightly
- Gaining clarity around what I can (and should) bring to a situation
- Figuring out where my energy is at and how to work with it more effectively
I’ve been really amazed at how much of a difference some small and seemingly simple things can have. Stuff like mentally clearing my desk before I start to write, and asking myself what I need to pay attention to, has been really transformative. I think what’s beautiful about Kate’s book is that although I knew about some of the techniques, she spells them out in such straightforward, step-by-step ways that she makes it incredibly easy. And her personal anecdotes throughout the text are relatable, grounded and avoid assuming (or dictating) a particular belief system.
So. Anyone else out there curious about this stuff but leery of going over to the new age dark side? If so, I recommend giving Make Light Work a try. It’s probably the most pragmatic and down-to-earth resource on inner work I’ve come across. Heck, I’ve written a whole blog post about it, despite my shyness about talking about anything “spiritual” in public. That’s how good it is.