Oprah Winfrey has long been an advocate of meditation but before we get to that, I want to share with you a wonderful exercise that she encourages everyone to do.
Oprah describes the story of her life in six words: “Seeking the fullest expression of self.”
This is how she defines “who” she is, where she is now, her purpose, and where she’s going. The exercise I’m about to share with you will help you define your own story so that you can align your whole self (beliefs, thought habits, feelings and actions) with it.
Oprah suggests writing a mini-memoir of just six words – something to describe where you are now. The intent is to write something that describes you most authentically. Let it come from the heart, with no editing, that is the most powerful way to create a headline that says, “this is who I am.”
This exercise could take a few seconds or a few hours so make sure you have adequate time to yourself. Let your thoughts go, stream-of-consciousness, and write what comes to you without editing it for content. Don’t judge (you’ll be tempted to edit out the parts of your life you don’t like, but be honest – “where I am now”).
Here’s the really revealing and most beneficial part: don’t just do this exercise once and forget about it. Oprah suggests doing it every year, because as you grow and evolve, you “never stop discovering new dimensions of self and self-expression.” You are not the same person you were six years or six decades ago, and writing a mini-memoir is a great way to see where you’ve been as well as consciously chart the direction of your life.
Oprah visited Fairfield, Iowa a few years ago to visit the world headquarters of Transcendental Meditation. She took part in group meditations in the TM buildings for, as she puts it, “for the sole purpose of being still.”
Why stillness? Well, imagine a pen. Your pen can’t do anything by itself. It can only lie there, as the tool it is, and wait for something to use it. Okay. You have a hand. The hand picks up the pen, but still, the pen can do nothing because the hand has no direction. The brain gives the hand direction to write, or draw, or make senseless scribbles… so where does the direction for “what” to do with the pen, come from?
The direction can come from fear – a reactive, rushed, chaotic reaction to something (imagine writing a retaliatory letter to a boss after you’ve been fired). Or, the direction for your hand and your pen can come from… aaaahhhhh… the stillness within you. That’s the origin of your creativity, and your self-expression! That’s where the good stuff originates, the stuff that makes the world a better place!
When Oprah did the meditation at the TM center, she reported not wanting it to end. She felt full of indescribably wonderful joy, love and peace – and she said, “Only from that space can you create your best work and your best life.”
Only from that space of joy, love and peace can you guide your hand, and your pen, to create something wonderful.
Oprah meditates at least once a day, and often twice: 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening, and everyone on her staff does the same. She says, “The results have been awesome. Better sleep. Improved relationships with spouses, children, co-workers. Some people who once suffered migraines don’t anymore. Greater productivity and creativity all around.”
When you access the stillness within you, you access the very best of you: the part that’s creative, loving, limitless, joyful and peaceful. And then, what you do with your hand and your pen, can be truly magnificent. Something only YOU can create.
Feel free to substitute your tool of choice, whether it’s a chef’s knife, computer, wrench, paintbrush, scissors, makeup brush, tractor, calculator, sewing needle or clay… and activate that stillness within that stimulates the best direction for the tool.
Now go write your memoir… use meditation daily to unleash your highest self… and write your 6-word memoir again a year from now.