My Journey towards Creativity and Self-Actualization

I am experiencing a rebirth of sorts.

In my 20s and 30s, I was too preoccupied with getting good grades, working on an MBA degree, and balancing a flourishing career with the duties of child-rearing. These activities were not bad in themselves. In fact, if we believe that there is a time and place for everything, then those years were years meant to instill certain values in me like discipline, focus, drive, hard work, teambuilding, passion, and the like.

But midlife brings with it certain realizations about what truly matter in life and my yoga encounters heightened my sensitivity to making the rest of my own life meaningful in a way that takes me on a different path altogether. Many people talk about freeing up the spirit, living in the moment, following one’s heart, and the like. That used to be mumbo-jumbo to me. But now, the achievements of the past are just that — factual achievements. For some reason, these are no longer that important for me. My family and friends are now more important — and I want to appreciate what they are to me and for me to be more to them than I ever was before.

Blogging and internet-based work have also become my daily fare. Nowhere in my formal education have I learned this and the truth is, most bloggers half my age know more than twice as much about these things as I do. But I know that for as long as I still have the willingness to learn, not be afraid to stumble along the way, and simply enjoy the experiences as they happen, I will be OK.

A book that I recently read by John Izzo, “The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die” listed down 5 secrets (they are not really secrets because many of us know this already but do not live it):

1. Be true to your self

2. Leave no regrets

3. Become love

4. Live in the moment

5. Give more than you take

This book is my ongoing inspiration. It makes me more keenly aware of each and every encounter, each day that passes, every person I meet, every event that crosses my path, every place I visit. One of my future plans is to attend a workshop being conducted by none other than Jim Paredes (of APO Hiking Society), Tapping the Creative Universe, in hopes that his creativity in many realms (music, writing, singing, etc) rubs off on me and opens up whatever creativity is still dormant.

I am on an adventure — a journey of sorts — to find everything that I am and everything I am capable of doing.

In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the highest level is self-actualization.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Jim Paredes posted the item below on his Facebook and it came in the nick of time. I looked at the list and realized that I’m actually experiencing some of these already. It’s also a good reminder to keep working on the rest.

Here, very briefly, are the 19 Characteristics of Abraham Maslow’s Self-Actualizer:

1. Perception of Reality: These individuals tend to have a “superior relationship with reality” and are “generally unthreatened and unfrightened by the unknown.” In fact, “They accept it, are comfortable with it, and, often are even more attracted by it than by the known. They not only tolerate the ambiguous and unstructured–they like it.”

2. Acceptance: “Even the normal member of our culture feels unnecessarily guilty or ashamed about too many things and has anxiety in too many situations. Our healthy individuals find it possible to accept themselves and their own nature without chagrin or complaint or, for that matter, without even thinking about the matter that much.”

3. Spontaneity: The behavior of the self-actualizing individual is “marked by simplicity and naturalness, and by lack of artificiality or straining for effect.”

4. Problem Centering: Self-actualizers customarily have some “mission in life.”

5. Solitude: Self-actualizing individuals “positively like solitude and privacy to a definitely greater degree than the average person.”

6. Autonomy: “They have become strong enough to be independent of the good opinion of other people, or even of their affection. The honors, the status, the rewards, the popularity, the prestige, and the love they can bestow must have become less important than self-development and inner growth.”

7. Fresh Appreciation: “Self-actualizing people have the wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy, however stale these experiences may have become to others.”

8. Peak Experiences: It’s been called “flow” or “being in the zone.” Whatever you want to call it, self-actualizers tend to experience it more often than average.

9. Human Kinship: “Self-actualizing people have a deep feeling of identification, sympathy, and affection for human beings in general. They feel kinship and connection, as if all people were members of a single family.” “Self-actualizing individuals have a genuine desire to help the human race.”

10. Humility and Respect: All of Maslow’s subjects “may be said to be democratic people in the deepest sense…they can be friendly with anyone of suitable character, regardless of class, education, political belief, race or color. As a matter of fact it often seems as if they are not aware of these differences, which are for the average person so obvious and so important.”

11. Interpersonal Relationships: “Self-actualizing people have these especially deep ties with rather few individuals. Their circle of friends is rather small. The ones that they love profoundly are few in number.”

12. Ethics: “They do right and do not do wrong. Needless to say, their notions of right and wrong and of good and evil are often not the conventional ones.”

13. Means and Ends: “They are fixed on ends rather than on means, and means are quite definitely subordinated to these ends.”

14. Humor: “They do not consider funny what the average person considers to be funny. Thus they do not laugh at hostile humor (making people laugh by hurting someone) or superiority humor (laughing at someone else’s inferiority) or authority-rebellion humor (the unfunny, Oedipal, or smutty joke).”

15. Creativity: “This is a universal characteristic of all the people studied or observed. There is no exception.”

16. Resistance to Enculturation: “Of all of them it may be said that in a certain profound and meaningful sense they resist enculturation and maintain a certain inner detachment from the culture in which they are immersed.”

17. Imperfections: Actualizers “show many of the lesser human failings. They too are equipped with silly, wasteful, or thoughtless habits. They can be boring, stubborn, irritating. They are by no means free from a rather superficial vanity, pride, partiality to their own productions, family, friends, and children. Temper outbursts are not rare.”

18. Values: “A firm foundation for a value system is automatically furnished to self-actualizers by their philosophic acceptance of the nature of self, of human nature, of much of social life, and of nature and physical reality.”

19. Resolution of Dichotomies: “The dichotomy between selfishness and unselfishness disappears altogether in healthy people because in principle every act is both selfish and unselfish.”

My corporate friends may never understand why I am choosing to start anew on things that are so different from what I was brought up and trained for. Maybe someday, they will.


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Beautiful Yoga Quotes – updated

This post originally came out in my yoga blog, The Yogini from Manila. But I felt that these also spoke strongly about how we deal with life so I am posting these here, with a few more additions. 

I hope some of these will touch you just as they touch me…..

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Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured. ~B.K.S. Iyengar

You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state. ~Sharon Gannon

Yoga is possible for anybody who really wants it. Yoga is universal…. But don’t approach yoga with a business mind looking for worldly gain. ~Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois

By embracing your mother wound as your yoga, you transform what has been a hindrance in your life into a teacher of the heart. ~Phillip Moffitt

Yoga is 99% practice and 1% knowledge. ~Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois

Anyone who practices can obtain success in yoga but not one who is lazy. Constant practice alone is the secret of success. ~Svatmarama, Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Yoga is the practice of quieting the mind. ~Patanjali, translated from Sanskrit

When you inhale, you are taking the strength from God. When you exhale, it represents the service you are giving to the world. ~B.K.S. Iyengar

Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you. Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God. ~Krishnamacharya

Yoga is difficult for the one whose mind is not subdued. ~Bhagavad Gita

In karma yoga no effort is ever lost, and there is no harm. Even a little practice of this discipline protects one from greater fear (of birth and death). ~ Bhagavad Gita

When the breath wanders the mind also is unsteady. But when the breath is calmed the mind too will be still, and the yogi achieves long life. Therefore, one should learn to control the breath. ~Svatmarama, Hatha Yoga Pradipika

For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on earth. ~Sanskrit Proverb

When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills. ~ Chinese Proverb

Undisturbed calmness of mind is attained by cultivating friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and indifference toward the wicked. ~ The yoga sutras of Patanjali

Yoga exists in the world because everything is linked. ~ Desikashar

Before you’ve practiced, the theory is useless; After you’ve practiced, the theory is obvious. ~ David Williams, Ashtanga teacher

Yoga is the perfect opportunity to be curious about who you are. ~ Jason Crandell

Yoga is invigoration in relaxation. Freedom in routine. Confidence through self control. Energy within and energy without. ~ Ymber Delecto

The most important pieces of equipment you need for doing yoga are your body and your mind. ~ Rodney Yee

Yoga heals, nourishes, and challenges us. The practice infiltrates every corner of our lives. ~ Valerie Jeremijenko

Yoga is difficult for the one whose mind is not subdued. ~ Bhagavad Gita

Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most full and whole way. With yoga, we become aware of how and where we are restricted — in body, mind, and heart — and how gradually to open and release these blockages. As these blockages are cleared, our energy is freed. We start to feel more harmonious, more at one with ourselves. Our lives begin to flow — or we begin to flow more in our lives. ~ Cybele Tomlinson

Yoga does not remove us from the reality or responsibilities of everyday life but rather places our feet firmly and resolutely in the practical ground of experience. We don’t transcend our lives; we return to the life we left behind in the hopes of something better. ~ Donna Farhi

Namaste.

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