How to Conduct an Experiment in Vitality
Hey y'all! I thought it was about time I provided a little support for conducting your own experiments. I am mushing together several influences from the creative arts and therapy that have helped me, and I hope it helps you too! Experimenting takes off the pressure that makes us feel like imposters and failures for not knowing what the heck we're doing with our lives/art/work/parenting/etc. It's grace and play and everything good and healthy for your soul, so I sure want you to have it.
Step 1: Identify an area in your life in which you want to experiment.
Maybe you feel stuck in your health, frustrated with a relationship, or want to try making some art. Perhaps you want to play with your personal power or try a social experiment. Just choose something you are genuinely curious about or interested in changing.
Step 2: Brainstorm some “little experiments.”
Get out some paper and go at it! There are infinite possibilities, so let yourself scribble as many ideas as come up. For example, if you wanted to experiment with your personal power, some possible experiments could be:
- Changing your body language
- Saying no
- Going somewhere new on your own
The key is to choose small actions. Experiments can bring up a lot, and we don't need the drama of huge variables to get results.
If you need more ideas, think about different types of experiments. The examples above include an embodied experiment (changing body language), a verbal experiment (saying no), and a novelty experiment (going somewhere new on your own).
Step 3: Do the experiment, and notice what happens.
Here comes the fun part! Do the thing! Pick one little experiment, and as you do it, pay attention to what happens. What emotions come up? What sensations are in your body?
Try to be a neutral (or loving!) observer of your experience. Just be curious and collect the data. There's no need to judge yourself or figure anything out. Just notice as much as you can.
Step 4: Allow the experiment to complete.
THIS IS A REALLY IMPORTANT STEP. YOU MIGHT BE TEMPTED TO SKIP IT. DO NOT SKIP IT. :D
Every experience has a natural conclusion, and most of us slide right by it and jump into the next experience. In doing so, we cheat ourselves out of the deeper meaning we can get from our experiences.
Let your little experiment integrate in your subconscious. That means, slow down a little and let it sink in rather than "think about it." Some ways to reflect on your experience besides "thinking" include:
- taking a walk/moving your body
- making an image/collage/art
- sleeping (naps, overnight, a few nights...all are wonderful!)
- journaling in stream-of-consciousness
Think of this as the night that follows each day. You need a dark, dreamy time where your mind can integrate your experience without the fluorescent light scrutiny of normal thinking and talking.
Step 5: Make meaning from this experiment.
If you skipped Step 4, your brain will probably come up with a habitual explanation of your experience. If you completed Step 4, there will probably be some murky, interesting truth gems floating around. Awesome!
It might feel weird to try to articulate this. That's okay; it just means you are learning something NEW.
Now is the time to try to put words to it. If your experience could talk, what would it say? Try writing it down or talking it out with someone who is truly a good listener.
What insights did you get from your experiment? What new experiments is it pointing you toward?
If your experience was enjoyable/interesting/exciting/helpful: maybe you do it again or try more experiments in the same vein.
If your experience was uncomfortable, or you couldn’t do it, or it came with negative internal backlash: there is some kind of block. Not to worry--you can experiment with the block!
Neither outcome is better. Both are chock-full of interesting data for you. Learn what you can, and then try a new little experiment.
I'm here for you.
If you have questions about experimenting, drop me a line! Experiencing a creative block or need some ideas? Let me know what you want to play with, and I would be happy to brainstorm some experiments with you! Contact me.