Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

9 Questions to Liberate the Real You

9 Questions to Liberate the Real You

Every summer I have 6 lovely weeks away from my paid job.  This year,  I slowed down instead of taking a digital break or going on vacation for all or part of that time.

My insights and creativity soar whenever I give myself space.  So much so that I want to jump up and express myself.  But I know it’s better to wait and soak in the peace.  I did, however, scribble down some of my insights to share with you as well as 9 compelling questions that could make a major difference in your life too  Here they are.

1.  Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

At first I just wanted to sleep.  I think this is a natural reaction when you slow down because most American’s are sleep deprived.  I don’t know people manage in other countries.  I just know I needed to sleep right away.

So I slept as much as I wanted.  The extra shut-eye felt so refreshing.  Then, I no longer needed extra sleep.

Are you getting enough sleep? 

If you’re sleep deprived, read this:  Skimping on Sleep Can Make You Sick, Fat, and Stupid.  You’ll learn some of the best sleep hygiene practices to get you back into a restful cycle of regeneration.

2. Can You Relax When Attending to the Details of Life?

Life takes time.  I wonder if we all need a few weeks off each year just to take care of the accumulated must-dos.

I renewed my driver’s license, went to dental and medical appointments, ordered vitamins, cleaned out my clothes closet, dealt with hack attacks, and removed seeds from an abundance of sour sop so it could be frozen (that took hours).

Here’s the difference:  I tried to do this all in relaxed mode.  Of course, that was easier to do during a glorious break.  But even so, it gave me relaxation practice so I’ll have more resilience when life gets busier in September.

Can you relax when you’re attending to the details of life?

3. Is Your Spiritual Practice Vibrantly Alive?

Whatever your spiritual practice might be, it’s easy to do it on rote in order to get on to what might be calling from the day ahead.

But actually, at least for me, my spiritual practice is far more important than any other daily activity.  It sets the tone for the day, it calms and nourishes me, it transforms negative emotions into positive ones,  it gives me the strength to face life as it is, and it will prepare me to meet death with more awareness and peace and without regrets.

Reminder to self:  Don’t just mindlessly repeat the words of your spiritual practice.  Don’t meditate in complete distraction and then jump up and get busy.  Be fully present.  Put your heart into your practice.  Bring it alive.

Is the heart of your spiritual practice or meditation beating vibrantly?

4. Do You Carve Out Time for Personal Exploration?

I enjoyed the luxury of not rushing in the morning on many days.

Instead, I lingered in bed with my journal. I reviewed my personal goals. I highlighted the key points for working with my habits, patterns, and false beliefs.  I celebrated my accomplishments.

Do you carve out time for personal exploration?

5. Do You Stay in Bed When You’re Sick?

One week, I was beset by sore throats every few days.  Staying in bed proved to be the best medicine.

Do you work when you’re sick?  Fess up!  I’ve done that SO much in my life.  Now I know it saves time on the long run to rest when I’m sick.  Yes, it’s a matter of breaking the work compulsion.  That may not be easy, but staying in bed when you’re sick is a good place to start.

Do you stay in bed when you’re sick?

6. Are Subtle Expectations Making You Feel Discontent?

I’ve been carrying around a subtle expectation that someone will hit me on the head and a momentous positive change will occur, maybe even a Zen satori or enlightenment itself.

Some people do have sudden awakenings like that, but they are rare.  Most of us need to put in our time on the cushion, practice positivity in daily life, and regularly work with our own mind and emotions for change to take place. Positive change will indeed occur, but for most of us progress is gradual though its sweetness constantly grows.

Wishing for something else keeps me discontent.   I know it’s far better to enjoy the present moment.  So I say adieu to those subtle expectations.

Are subtle expectations making you feel discontent?

7. Do You Accept Your Own Pace?

My friend Joy suggested this affirmation for me:  “My pace is perfect for me.  As I honor it, I experience infinite possibilities.”

I’m always working at the art of subtraction. There’s so much I would like to do, but I’m no longer willing to sacrifice my health and well-being by over-stretching myself.

Accepting my own pace is not easy for me.  I expect this is due to trauma and the way, in some cases, it tries to keep your system on high.  I’m happy to have this affirmation to remind me to choose the most important priorities, take breaks, and let go of unrealistic timelines.

Do you accept your own pace?

8. Do You Acknowledge What You Already Do?

I set self-healing as one of my goals during my break.  As a first step, I acknowledged my current self-healing practices instead of piling on more.

It’s not always about more.  Often, it’s about being fully present to what you’re already doing.  For example, I’m practicing Tai Chi  at least 6 hours a week  With that alone, I’m already a self-healing star.

Are you always going for more or do you acknowledge what you already do?

9.  How Do You Expand Your Limits and Maintain Your Boundaries?

I worked with a healer who holds a different set of beliefs than I do.  This helped me open to new possibilities, for which I’m grateful.

At the same time, I realized I could never be fully comfortable or completely me without triggering dissonance, disagreement, and discord.  In short, too much stress for me and not the sense of safety I need to keep my nervous system regulated.

I want to expand my limits and eradicate concepts, but my beliefs about the world make sense to me and help me keep moving forward.  In fact, when I experiment and try other approaches, I always come back to knowing I have the most powerful practices – for me – at my fingertips, thanks to the years I’ve studied Tibetan Buddhism.

Sometimes I’m exceptional when it comes to setting boundaries.  Other times, like in this situation, it’s hard for me to do so and I find it difficult to detach.  But, I’m learning I have a right to be who I am.  It’s okay to acknowledge, “This doesn’t work for me.”  That doesn’t mean it’s not good at all or doesn’t work for someone else.

I find it’s a delicate balance to stretch myself and respect myself at the same time.

How do you expand your limits and maintain your boundaries?

Slowing Down vs. A Full On Break

My break turned out more like a slowed down version of real life than a holiday.

On the positive side, this approach helped me to practice relaxation during daily activities.  It allowed me time and space for sleep, self-exploration, and fun.  My creativity constantly burst forth as well.

It wasn’t the same as a digital break or full-on vacation though.  In the end, I wish I had gifted myself the latter if only for a week or two.  That wish churns in my mind for the future.  I know I don’t have to wait till next year!  I especially like to indulge in relaxation on Saturday mornings.  I also see the other side of the island beckoning to me in the fall.

I know for certain that I need regular breaks to replenish myself.  I hope you’re getting the downtime you need too.  I also hope these questions stirred some food for thought.

Do you take vacations, digital sabbaticals, or other forms of regular breaks?  I would love to hear from you in the comments.

P. S. You can sign up for my monthly note – Wild Arisings – and receive my free 50-page e-book, 21 Simple Stress tips by clicking here.

Thank you for your presence!  May you be well, happy, and safe – always.  With love, Sandra


Great Links for a Good Life {Summer Edition}


Self-Mastery: The Key to Peace, Happiness, & Freedom


  1. Hi Sandra,
    Great questions to aid in taking care of our bodies and spirits. Thanks, Brad

  2. What a wonderful time you’ve been having Sandra…it all sounds so…tranquil. And I say that even though you’ve been active, it felt as though it was through an aura of peacefulness. Congratulations to you.

    I loved answering your questions…they’re certainly worth pondering…as I always seem to do after reading your articles.

    Looking forward to more of the same in the future.


    • Thank you, Elle! It feels so luxurious to have 6 weeks off during the summer. I feel very fortunate indeed. I’m glad you liked the questions.

  3. I took a “working break”—–in other words, I took a break from my regular work so I could do house cleaning at home. So it has not been a real break and maybe next time I will actually get a real break. I am also taking care of a friend who had surgery and so that interrupted the break, too, but I felt it was necessary and she had no one else. I think, to get a real break I am going to have to change my identity and leave town! 🙂 Haven’t done that in a LONG time (leave town, that is).
    So maybe next year I will have learned what a break really is! And I am full of those subtle expectations, Sandra. Can drive a person nutz! 🙂

    • Hi Jean,

      Sometimes, I think we do really need a break to “catch up” on all the miscellaneous of life like cleaning the house. I think that’s worthwhile too. It’s funny, I used to take a vacation and travel to a relaxing place once a year. Now that I live in Hawaii I rarely do that even though I can just travel to the other side of the island for the sunny beaches. I still think it’s good to do that and want to develop the habit again. I hope you get your time away with your secret identity. 🙂

  4. Love these questions Sandra! The one about really paying attention during your practice was highlighted for me as I know sometimes I do just go through the motions so it’s ‘done’, and I also know that ‘really doing it’ makes the experience richer as well as the rest of the day. I’m always one to try to find better questions and really like the ones you suggest here. Also glad you had a lovely rest. 🙂

    • Hi Tara,

      The practice one is a big one for me, too. Now that I’m taking Tai Chi, I love how the teacher always reminds us that each moment is different and not to jump forward to the next movement in your mind. I so agree that “really doing it” makes it such a different, more effective, and more meaningful experience.

      It’s interesting that you are always seeking better questions. A sure sign of an inquisitive mind. I appreciate that. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

  5. I needed to read this today. I know what you say is true, but as you know, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the daily grind of doing. Thanks for the timely reminders and for referencing my blog!

    • I’ve been there a million times myself, Debbie, and I’m sure I’ll return again from time to time. It’s so help to remind each other. Your blog posts are always so rich. I’m happy to share them with my readers.

  6. Hi Sandra,

    I work digital and personal breaks into each day – so I am completely offline and away from my daily life a few hours each day. Because I am a single mother, I am ever-present for my children. The online work that I do is all an expression of heart energy and a celebration of life so it’s not really anything to ‘unplug from’ – I use my experiences from each day to create in some way. Both being a mom and doing this online work are my purpose in life, very fulfilling and a joy to be present to. I think it’s possible to be so present, and so in love with it all, because I do take daily breaks and consistently rest my body and refresh my energy.

    The thing about vacations is that I love where we live – it’s beautiful and I can visit the ocean and hills daily if I wish (I usually do!). There is a flow to each day that feels a bit as if we are on vacation, daily (minus the kids school!). And, play is part of our every day life. So I don’t have the desire or urge to go on vacation, as most people do.

    I very much appreciate that you shared the free Daily Affirmations with Joy group. (It won’t be ending soon, though, I’m doing the full year next year. I love the feel of exploring and sharing the energy of these affirmations together!)

    I love your questions! Working with one can be life-changing; working with all nine feels like it would dramatically increase peace and possibility. The one I find myself currently working with is ‘subtle expectations causing discontent’.

    • Dear Joy,

      I love the way you weave your breaks into your day. I do that sometimes too when I go off to the warm pond. Your love for your online work is so inspiring. Your words reminds me of a quote from Gandhi that he never needed to take a vacation because he was never working. That’s such an amazing perspective.

      Oh, it’s so wonderful to know that you will be offering the affirmation group next year. I’ll edit the article to mention that.

      Yes, I think once we take care of the gross distractions of life, the subtle ones pop up giving us the opportunity to remove a few more veils of deception.

  7. Dear Sandra,
    Love the questions and your answers. Can I just say, I want to move in with you 😉
    Ok jokes apart, taking breaks daily is my thing. I have one day of the week when I’m completely offline and then during the day I spend an exact amount of time online. I dont exceed that….cause then when on earth will i LIVE!
    I feel when we can LIVE offline, we can share authentically online too. Imperative for us heart centered online business owners..right!?
    At this point in my life, I’m working on #9. Pray for me.
    Sending you lots of love,

    • Dear Zeenat,

      What a great model for living with ease. I love it! I’m always trying to incorporate more of this ease into my daily style. I tend to over focus and have to really watch that. #9 is a really trick one, isn’t it! I’m sure you’ll have much to teach us as you develop your capacity further and further. So when are you moving in?

  8. Right now I ned more sleep, I do stay in bed when i am sick- learned the hard way that it works. Great questions Sandra and very impressed with you FB progress. xxoo

    • Hi Suzie,

      It’s so good to know what you need! Hope you get those beautiful zzzz’s. I’m jazzed about reaching more people on Facebook too. Love to you, dear Suzie.

  9. A timely post for me, Sandra! I am in the process of taking stock after a stressful time, not all of which was negative. Yet, you know how sometimes, we can breeze through the seemingly tough and get stuck with something totally unexpected because we got sucked into it. It happens inexorably and in that state of mind, there doesn’t seem a way out. I’ve been experiencing this with a client of late. I am in the process of getting out of it amicably, remembering that “this too shall pass”. Ugh, until it does, the fun doesn’t begin.

    And so, your post was very very soothing to read today. Thank you from my heart!

    • My heart is with you, Vidya! You’re such a dynamic person and you accomplish so much. I completely understand how it’s each to get sucked into the unwanted. My enthusiasm can take me there sometimes, until I see once again, “This is way too much.” It’s so brilliant that you see where you’re at and are amicably making a change. I’ll be breathing with you until you are free.

      I’m glad you found the post soothing. That means so much to me!

  10. This is beautiful writing and a lot of it resonates with me. I’m currently wrangling with the extended sore throat issue.

    However, if I stay in bed my mind starts racing with all the ideas I could be doing and so it never lasts long.

    Maybe I should also heed the message in – 7. Do You Accept Your Own Pace?

    • Hi Drew,

      Isn’t it interesting how our mind becomes so creative when we give it space. I often get the same impulse of wanting to jump up and dive in. It can be challenging, but I find it a good practice just to jot the ideas down and allow myself to remain at peace for awhile.

      #7 is good too. Good luck with your sore throat, that is a bummer.

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