As many of us get back into the routines and schedules of the fall, life can feel pretty controlled and disciplined. Many of us are busy with work or school, family demands, spiritual activities, hobbies, and social commitments. Some, if not all, of those commitments, may be positive and increase our life satisfaction. However, the drive to move on to the next thing can make it hard to notice when we have gone off track, or something has started hurting us. Or maybe nothing is wrong, but the routine feels like a rut.

Spontaneity allows us to feel and act naturally without planning, focusing on our goals, or worrying about the consequences. It is effortless action. Spontaneity can help us break out of our routines to reconnect with and learn to trust our instincts. Spontaneity can inspire curiosity and allows us to be present in the moment without worrying about the end result. Because spontaneous behaviours occur without specific thought or planning, they can also help us reconnect to our internal motivations. When I do not have a plan, what do I do? When I let myself be in the moment, how do I feel?

Spontaneity can also lead to great moments of creativity and productivity. Some artists and athletes describe the feeling of being spontaneously productive as being “in the zone.” They are particularly productive and successful in those moments where actions seem to flow without conscious thought. As a teenager, I played violin. I recall times when I was practicing, repeating a song, trying different things and emotionally connecting to the music without thinking about what my fingers were doing. Even hard songs would feel easy in those moments, and I barely noticed the passage of time.

Without fear of failure or the constraints of expectations, we are free to try out new ideas, play with possibilities, and experiment. Things that seemed impossible may suddenly become opportunities because possibilities are allowed to grow without being suppressed by expectations.

Unfortunately, because spontaneity requires a person to feel and do rather than think, it can be difficult to force. Counter-intuitively, the more you try to be spontaneous, the less spontaneous you are. To be spontaneous, you need to try not to try. Spontaneity has similarities to mindfulness. Learning to quiet our thoughts and be in the moment is necessary. Shame, guilt, expectations, and fear can get in the way of spontaneity. To be spontaneous, first, we must acknowledge how we are feeling. We should also create space to be spontaneous where thoughts and emotions will not invade. Sometimes being spontaneous requires that I give myself permission to make mistakes, have fun, and be outwardly unproductive. My only task is to have fun and be spontaneous.

Often when people practice meditation, they focus on sitting or laying still. However, there are no rules when you are quieting your mind for spontaneity. Movement and actions should come and go as it feels right. As mentioned above, art and physical activity can be great ways to practice spontaneity. For example, you could go for a walk and let your feet guide your route, or you could paint a picture and allow the paintbrush and colours to guide your hand.

There is only success with spontaneity. Because you are trying not to try, you have already achieved your goal every time you give yourself an opportunity to be spontaneous. Have fun, be playful, and be spontaneous! Just remember, if you go for a walk, you might want to bring a phone, just in case you end up somewhere unexpected.

This is a topic at our recent art therapy Groups, please join us!

I see clients in person or by zoom at a discounted rate for my practicum.

Meghan Odsen – Master of Counselling practicum student under the supervision of Irene Haire, MC, RCAT Registered Provisional Psychologist with an Art Therapy Specialty at The Belmead Professional Centre 218-8944-182 St Edmonton, Ab T5T 2E3. Call me at 780-232-1055 web: www.cloverdalecounselling.com for group information E-mail  info@cloverdalecounselling.com or ihaire@shaw.ca