Want To Figure Out Your Calling? Try This 10-Minute Exercise

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For most journalers, the page is a place we try to gain control over our lives. We journal to clarify and set our intentions, map out steps we might take to manifest our desires, plan how we might arrange the world around us to our liking. But being creative and producing work we're proud of isn't just about having control over everything. Big creativity requires space for new ideas, for experimentation, play, in order to take shape. If our work is to have a life, it needs space to breathe, so to speak. Thus, it's equally important to be able to give up control and get out of creativity's way as it is to "have our shit together" if we want to manifest our true desires. Here's a simple journal exercise you can do daily to practice getting into a mindset of allowing.

Access your subconscious with a small, circular drawing.

Inspired by Jung's mandalas, which he sketched in a notebook daily the year he was trying to determine the goal of his work in psychic development, this visual journal exercise will lead you through a process that puts your cerebral thinking mind at rest and helps you get more grounded in the present moment and also in yourself. Doing it will leave you feeling more engaged with the moment, and reflecting on it will help you see a different perspective of your inner world—the generative place we all create from.

"I sketched every morning in a notebook a small circular drawing, a mandala, which seemed to correspond to my inner situation at the time. With the help of these drawings I could observe my psychic transformations from day to day… My mandalas were cryptograms concerning the state of self which were presented to me anew each day. In them I saw the self—that is, my whole being—actively at work." (From Jung on Active Imagination)

The way I see it, the point of drawing mandalas daily as Jung did, isn't to "decode" the cryptogram you create but simply to create it, witness it, and accept it. The result, just like Julia Cameron's morning pages practice, of this exercise functions to (as she said) "render us present in our life. Obsessing over our pages renders us self-centered—so I believe in "write them and let them go." The purpose is in the process. If you want to start your own morning pages practice, I recommend reading The Artist's Way.

See it for what it is, not what it "could be." Then, let it go.

So on a blank-paged journal, simply sketch a small circle and fill it with doodles, words, anything at all that feels good to flow out of your hand, until the outline is filled. I suggest setting a timer for this, as long as you would do a guided meditation for, 10 to 15 minutes if that feels comfortable for you. Just like free-writing morning pages, don't stop even if you don't know what to draw. Just keep the pen moving and don't take it off the page. After you're done, take a step back from your drawing and look. What do you see in the circle? What is the inner state you're bringing to the desk, the office, the studio, the world, today?

Just like our relationship with the moment is our relationship with life, our creative projects aren't individual isolated creations; they're small projections of us. Allowing yourself—whatever state you're in—to come wholeheartedly to your work, starting with the help of your journal, will make your manifestations all the more substantive.

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