Creating Change with Baby Steps

It is said that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.  It occurs to me that another definition of having lost touch with reality might also be doing nothing and expecting different results.  We hear it all the time in the world around us.  People want things to change in their personal lives and for the world at large, yet simply sit back and wait for something different than what’s already happening.  Sometimes they become very emotional; sad, resentful, angry, or even depressed because what they want doesn’t seem to be forthcoming.  They just don’t seem to notice their own lack of effort when it comes to bringing positive change into being.

We live in a time where our lives are becoming more and more passive.  We are blessed with a technological world that is much safer and easier to survive in (relatively speaking) than the one our ancient ancestors endured.  Food is generally plentiful in our industrialized country so we don’t need to spend all day hunting, gathering, or tending the fields.  Most of the things we need or use in our modern lives are manufactured for us, so we don’t have to work physically hard making our own shelter, clothing, furniture, or tools.  Our children learn, not by physical experience, but by listening to someone tell them “facts” as they sit idle.  Even our entertainment has become less participatory as we sit and watch movies or sports, surf the internet, or listen to recorded music.

In theory, all of our modern “labor saving” conveniences should be freeing up our time to enjoy life and engage in higher pursuits, but their rising costs are making it so we have to work more hours and become more stressed out to acquire them.  At the end of the day, people are tired and so drained that they have little motivation to do anything to make their personal existence feel better, let alone make efforts to change the world.  This can make them feel trapped in an unkind universe where they have no recourse but to go with an unpleasant flow.  But going with the flow doesn’t mean that you can’t use your paddle to steer around the rocks or stop to rescue a fellow traveler who has fallen out of their little canoe.

If we want to feel different, if we want our inner and outer worlds to change for the better, we have to take steps in that direction.  Not only does “the Lord help those who help themselves”, but action attracts energy for more action.  We allow so many things to stop us; time, money, distance, weather, inconvenience, etc.  Sometimes it’s the weight of past failures pressing upon us that makes us shy away from action.  At others, it’s feeling unsure of what course to take.  Some people are willing to join in group action as long as someone else initiates, but have trouble self-starting.  We can do all the crying out or praying for deliverance we want, but in the end, we’re the ones who have to get up off the couch and move forward.  The good news is that it doesn’t have to be at a dead run right out of the starting blocks, but can start with baby steps.

When you were a baby and just learning to walk, you were so eager to move.  You watched your parents and older siblings easily fly around the room, upright, and wanted to do the same.  You didn’t just sit and cry about it, did you?  You got to your feet however you could and began to make your first wobbly steps.  Mommy or Daddy saw you and would kneel with outstretched arms and encourage you to come to them.  Smiling and laughing, you’d take a step or two and invariably fall.  Did you decide that you simply “weren’t a walker” and quit right then and there.  Nope.  You probably laughed and squealed with joy, got up, and took a few more unsteady steps, only to fall again, giggling in delight.  Eventually, you made it all the way across the living room and into your parents arms without a thought or care in the world.  From then on, you strode more and more confidently around the house or yard, exploring your new world and relationship to it.

So why do we succumb to inertia and stop moving?  In part, we forget how it feels to take baby steps.  You see, we human beings get used to sensations very quickly and stop consciously acknowledging them.  We come to take the things we’re “good at” for granted, (like becoming expert walkers, talkers, eaters, shirt buttoners, etc.) but beat ourselves up when we don’t achieve comparable success at new skills right off the bat, especially when someone else makes it look easy or succeeds first.

Another thing that changed for us after the experience of learning to walk was that our cognitive skills grew and we began to think in a verbal, aware way.  (Thank God I wasn’t having conscious thoughts when I was learning to walk—I could just hear them: “Dang, mommy and daddy walk good! I’ll never get the hang of this and walk like they do.  Looks like I’ll be crawling to high school.”)  Thinking brought the possibility of worry, fear, self-doubt, low self-esteem, and looking before we leaped.  Over time, thinking about doing new, or possibly unsuccessful things can become more and more traumatic to us with each successive perceived “failure” and we can come to stop taking actions out of fear we’ll struggle physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.  The truth is that we don’t actually fail until we stop taking action.  The answer is to go back to basics—Baby Basics.

So what are some practical “baby steps” you can take to feel better and start to move forward on your creative, healing or spiritual trajectory?  Start by engaging your Inner Baby.  Remind yourself of what it felt like to be in love with yourself, your body, the family dog, whatever came into your field of view, and every new experience.  What follows is a brief list of simple and effective actions you can take to help yourself feel better, become more active, and begin to heal your inner world.  When each one of us heals our inner landscape, the world outside will change, too.

  1. Take time to consciously clear your energy every day.  Smudge with sage or incense, use sound from a bell, singing bowl, or tuning forks.  Sit quiet somewhere for a few moments and visualize the dusty dirt and greasy grime of day to day life being released as steam, smoke, or flowing down into the Earth.  Brush yourself with a feather.  Take a shower or bath with intention—the intention to be cleaned and cleared by the water.  Talk to the water and thank it.
  2. Align with Creation.  Reconnect with The Light of the living world by using a candle, small fire, or the Sun.  (“Gather” the light with your hands and place it successively into your mind, heart, and body.)
  3. Rebalance yourself and energy systems often.  Hold rocks, crystals, or personal “power objects” or place them on your body for a few minutes.  Trace your energy meridians.  Listen to restorative or uplifting music.  Take breaks to rest and recombobulate.
  4. Get up and move your body, especially when feeling intense distress.  Walk, jog, dance, ride a bike, roll on the floor, shake your arms, or bounce up and down in place.
  5. Engage in little rituals and ceremonies of your own design.  Light a candle in gratitude and say a prayer for those who are hungry.  At meals, leave a tiny food offering for your Spirit Guides or ancestors.  (Native Americans call this “Feeding the Spirits”).  A powerful one we have used is to go outside before bedtime every night for a week or even a month and make a little offering of tobacco, corn meal, water, food, or other things to “ALL MY RELATIONS” (… any and all Beings from anywhere, anytime, anyplace who would come and help with your rebalancing, healing, and enlightenment).  Be mindful to notice any changes in how you feel or your life outcomes.  Get a deck of inspirational cards and read one a day.
  6. Set up an altar (large or tiny) with things that have meaning for you to remind you of what is important in life.  Pick them up to touch or hold them while you visualize about their meaning. 
  7. Engage in service for others.  Do a good deed.  Visit someone who has lost a loved one.  Pick up trash on your block, or clear the snow off your neighbor’s sidewalk.  Put water or food out for birds or wild animals.  If you’re not up to serving meals to the homeless, make dinner for a sick friend or parents with a new baby.  Visit with people in a nursing home or read to kids at the local library.
  8. Make some Baby Art!  Finger paint, play with Play-Doh, or get crayons and color.  (We’re here when you’re ready to “graduate” to more heady stuff…)
  9. Engage in Sound Making.  Play a drum, shake a rattle, sing in the shower.  Learn a Native American song on YouTube.  Play with your voice and make funny sounds.  Say stuff kids would say in your best 4yr old voice.  (“Hey!  That’s MY Barbie!”)
  10. Join with like minded others.  It doesn’t matter if it’s watching the Steelers, hooking up with a meditation circle, taking a class, or joining a knitting group.  We are here to heal through relationship, not in isolation.  When we join together, we can raise much more energy towards that end than “the sum of the parts”.
  11. Take quiet time.  Close your eyes and explore the vast Universe that is your own being.  (It’s called “meditating”.)  Spend a day in silence, or without reading anything.
  12. Go out in Nature.  Sit on the grass and look for bugs.  Walk in the park.  Stroll through the woods.  Wade in a creek.  Lay on a blanket and star gaze.
  13. Most importantly: Give yourself a break and Start Where You Are.  You may be overweight, out of shape, feeling inept, or without skills.  OK, so you’re not an expert belly dancer, poet, baker, tennis player, artist, or energy healer.  It’s not a race.  If you hadn’t noticed, new Babies are arriving everyday who will look up to you for your achievements and want to learn from you.  No “expert” was born that way.  We may come into this world with “gifts” we chose for this lifetime, but they do not develop unless we use them.  (Are you so sure you’ve already opened all of yours?)
  14. Come to The Mesa Creative Arts Center (Oops! Did I say that out loud?) to learn about healing, sit in the Medicine Wheel, walk by the lake, make some art, talk from the heart, or participate in a ceremony.  That way you won’t have to go it alone.  Email, call, or come by to see us and we’ll further explain the items on this list for you and add to it.

The coming “shift” that has been predicted for Humanity by spiritual masters and indigenous cultures is not, by any means, a “done deal”.  Each of us have to make choices to commit to changes that will bring it about.  Last Sunday (7/31/11) we entered the 5th Day of the current level of the Mayan Calendar (according to Carl Johann Calleman).  This 18 day period (through 8/17) is a time of breakthrough energy coming to us from the Flow of Creation.  It’s a time of “budding” and is most suited to our forward movement in life.  It’s time to get moving, Baby

About Brad Silberberg

Brad Silberberg, director of The Mesa Creative Arts Center in Burgettstown, PA (Pittsburgh area) is an artist, holistic healer, spiritual leader, and change agent.
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