Inspiration Series - Month One

Make a Vow

A vow reflects, paradoxically, both the course we want to take…and the response we bring to those times when we have drifted off the course.

Several months ago I was talking with a dear friend of mine who, among other creative and inspiring endeavors, officiates at weddings on the beach in Key West. (She can, of course, officiate at weddings anywhere, but has carved a lovely niche for herself with beach weddings.)

One of the reasons she is in high demand as an officiate is that she writes beautiful wedding vows. She has a talent for transforming a couple’s love story into clarifying statements of promise and commitment. After our call I was reflecting on how important those vows really are in creating a safe and loving environment for the relationship to flourish. If they’re crafted well and taken to heart, they serve as foundation, guide and haven all in one.

And that is how I often think of the work I do: I help people create safe and loving inner environments for their dreams to flourish, free from the diminishing and literally life-crushing voices of self-doubt and self-judgment. I realized that, as important and sacred as we consider our vows to another person to be, we don’t often take the time to develop vows to support the most important relationship of all: the relationship with our Self.

As I was contemplating various themes for this inaugural offering in the Inspiration Series, the idea to focus on vows kept inserting itself into my awareness. I thought I’d already figured out the “best” first theme, but eventually I slowed down to pay attention to the idea of making a vow and realized it was perfect.

No matter how far along you are in creating a life you love, taking a little time to pause, reflect, rediscover and recommit to your innermost wisdom will always be time well spent. And to me that’s what we’re doing when we create vows: we’re acknowledging the deepest truth about who we are and what matters to us.

We’re also, of course, making a promise. This might seem either scary or impractical, since we all know that promises can be broken, and sometimes should be broken – or more accurately and lovingly, they should be released – as we outgrow the person we were who made the promise a few evolutionary paces behind where we are now. So how can we make promises we know we will keep?

We reach for the deepest truth we can find, because deep truths transcend time. We speak in language that is clear but not overly specific, focusing on heart-centered values rather than on particular actions. We acknowledge that we’re making the vows from where we are right now and, even though we’re choosing from the perspective of making a lifelong commitment, we give ourselves permission to rewrite our vows as we grow.

A straightforward way to create vows is to think in terms of honoring the powerful insights we have come to recognize as deep truths for living the kind of lives we want to live. For example, as you have undoubtedly heard me say countless times, I’ve learned that self-judgment will never, ever get me where I want to go, and self-love will always move me in the direction I want to go. So my central covenant is to always find a way to love myself, no matter what.

For years, as I recognized with greater and greater clarity how utterly essential self-love is to living in peace and joy, I thought of it as a theme in my work and in my life. But in elevating it to the status of a vow, my level of commitment to it has deepened. I am experiencing more profoundly grace-filled moments of knowing – and not just thinking – that I am worthy of a joy-filled life. Those moments are priceless, and they anchor me to the deeper truth of who I am when fear threatens to carry me away.

Starting from the perspective of identifying core themes or insights you already have about the way you want to live your life, here are a few questions to stimulate your process of creating vows to yourself that truly have the power to anchor, guide and support you:

  • What are the essential insights you’ve gained that you want to keep front and center in your awareness?
  • How do you want to treat yourself (e.g., with respect, compassion, deep listening, trust, etc.)?
  • What quotes, images or metaphors resonant so strongly with you that you might want them to guide you in creating your life? For example, to paraphrase Albert Einstein, we can live life as if nothing is a miracle or as if everything is. If that idea resonates strongly with you, you might vow to live your life as if everything is a miracle.
  • What intentions, themes or practices have been powerfully effective for you (e.g., letting go of control, praying or meditating every day, lightening up, being in nature, following your own inner guidance, allowing yourself to receive support, etc.)?
  • What values or qualities really matter to you (e.g., honesty, partnership, communion, living joyfully, peace of mind, etc.)?

Take some time over the next month to explore these questions. See if you can distill your responses into loving vows to yourself that feel good and right to you. Write them down. Speak them aloud, either when you’re alone or, if you feel called, in front of close friends. Consider posting them where you’ll see them often. Commit them to memory. Meditate on them.

And most importantly, call on them in your everyday life. Let them guide your thoughts and your choices. These vows reflect your essence. They provide a powerful, personally crafted vessel through which your creativity, your brilliance and your innate goodness can flow into the world. ..and into your world.

Never forget that you matter, and what you love matters. Making vows to yourself will help you remember.

Inspired Practices

  • Listen to the accompanying meditation regularly over the next month.
  • Explore the questions offered in the essay and write vows to yourself. Here is a very simple example:

I vow to…

…love myself in any way I can, no matter what.

…honor my soul’s longings.

…follow my inner guidance.

…promote peace in my mind and in my heart.

…remember that Life is on my side.