Capers is the name I have given to anything in the category of “things we might try when things feel stuck”. Or when I find myself deep inside of the perception that Everything Is Stuck.
Things We Might Try is a big category (and should be) because Hey Let’s Try Things is what we do, it’s how we practice self-fluency.
Haha, wow, just linked to a post I wrote NINE years ago, wild, time is a funny thing.
Yes, I’ve been here for nearly fifteen years and this is something we think about a lot.
We try things.
We try things, we try things, we try things.
It’s what we do.
Then, if we want, we try other things.
We use what works for us.
If a technique isn’t our yes, we can toss it, or who knows, maybe it’s a clue for a future self. Maybe it’s someone else’s technique, and that’s great. Yay, people vary.
We keep the techniques we like, and we use them until they stop working for us.
Even a good technique for you is only a good technique for you until it isn’t.
Nothing is wrong with you or with the technique if it stops working for you — if anything, that’s a sign of positive growth. What got you here won’t get you there! Time for the next version of Hey Let’s Try Things!
We try and observe and play.
An important part of trying things is that as we try things, we notice what is working, and note what we might like to try next or instead.
And, this is maybe the most important part:
We remember that it is all a grand experiment.
This grand experiment of being a human in a body in this challenging, often-overwhelming world.
Back to this very fun word!
Some people call these “exercises”, and I do not, because exercise is not a word I find appealing, if anything it lives in the category of Something I Am Extremely Unlikely To Do.
I can’t remember when we starting calling these capers (I suspect Metaphor Mouse was involved), but it is a marvelous word. An activity or escapade, typically one that is illicit or ridiculous.
It is much easier for me to generate enthusiasm for an escapade, double-especially for an illicit or ridiculous one, than it is to do an exercise, which sounds boring and painful and To Be Avoided At All Costs.
In contrast, a caper feels like a light-hearted adventure, like Audrey Hepburn in an extravagant hat flirting outrageously. High jinx!
Play is healing.
I like to channel a playful mindset because otherwise my tendency is to not do the things that help.
And when things are the most [perception of stuck], that’s when I really need a technique or “exercise” to get things moving and help me shift perspective.
Of course, it’s also when I’m least likely to try anything at all that could help, because it’s so much easier to slide into default patterns, to disassociate, or somehow end up reading The Entire Internet.
So no guilt if any of that is a little too familiar. It makes sense that we avoid what is helpful. And this is also why it’s so useful to have some capers in our toolbox all ready to go.
You might even like to keep a list of favorites, maybe even as part of the Book of You. Mine is called Try This, Babe!
You do not need to call them capers.
You can call these whatever you like, it’s all just Possible Forms for exploration and discovery.
Anything we try is useful because we tried it, even if what we get is “okayyyyy do not need to do that again!”
Not everything is going to work for us, and even though that can be enormously frustrating, it’s not a bad thing at all.
Our self-criticism monsters love to seize upon this as proof of failure: “See? You tried a thing and it FAILED MISERABLY, yet again, and that’s why you shouldn’t try things!”
Guess what, monsters, trying things is just a way to gather useful intel. If we try something and it doesn’t get the hoped-for result, it was still a useful experiment, and we get ten thousand points at least for being curious and trying something in order to learn more about what might work in the future.
A grand confetti parade in our honor for trying anything at all, seriously we are total stars for trying things.
A reminder for our monsters about the point.
The point is not any given technique.
The point isn’t even whether it works or not, again that’s just useful intel for our practice.
The point is trying [a something] with curiosity, intention & presence…
The point is everything that is revealed in the process of being someone who experiments.
What a loving way to care for ourselves, trying things. Sometimes this means creating extra safety. That’s okay too.
Here’s a secret.
Anything can be a caper if we make it conscious and approach with curiosity.
I don’t want to say that it doesn’t matter what you try, but it almost doesn’t matter. See what pulls you, and investigate.
There’s no wrong way to be intentional about how we interact with ourselves, it all counts, we’re just learning more about what works for us to best take care of ourselves.
Want to try a caper or two?
Pick a caper, any caper!
This post has been a very long introduction to some capers I like to play with.
You are welcome to make these yours, change them up, make alterations and substitutions, replace as needed.
None of these is a one right way. They are just clues, arrows in possible directions. The path is all yours.
These are offered with full trust that whatever brought you to this moment is important & worthy, whether you know what that is or are in the process of figuring that out.
Your reasons and adventures, just like your capers, don’t have to look anything like mine, being in process benefits us all! <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
Capers! Here are some I like…
Time to pause and contemplate how we want to enter whatever it is we are beginning, invoking the qualities and superpowers we wish to invite in and embody, what do we know about how we want to be while we are in this process?
We can invent a story about Why We Are Here, using the first thing that comes into our heads, then explore our cover story!
A recent retreat guest told me that she doesn’t get how proxies work but was willing to play with the project of “designing a marshmallow factory”, and oh wow did we learn a lot of extremely cool shit about designing a marshmallow factory, all of which turned out to be very relevant to everything else we were working on.
It’s such a good cover story that I am still working with it two weeks later!
Change your place change your luck!
Can I change my setting or some aspect of my setting? Where I’m facing? What I’m looking at?
Any shift in perspective in the physical is a useful experiment. This can even be a symbolic shift.
My special brain finds it hard to focus on most things, and having some blank space really helps. In order to type up this post, I moved a bunch of things into the next room so that all I see if I look up is a jar filled with flowers. I didn’t change my place but I changed my view.
Secret identity / try on aspects of an incoming self
What do I know about an incoming self, what do they want me to know about the mission, what are their insights & superpowers, what would they like me to try?
Go for a clue walk
Any form of look-or-wander through your space (or take yourself for a walk) with the mindset of noticing, anything that sparks or draws my attention is a clue.
We can also interview our clues by asking them what they know or have to show us, possibly related to a current project/mission or just in general!
Writing on the body! with a finger-tip or any wand-like object
I like to choose a word (READY!), quality (TRUST!), image (a CROWN?!) or a power phrase (I AM FIERCE!), and then write/draw it on my body and around my space, letting it echo and reverberate with intention.
Return to sender! Bye, energy that’s not mine!
Whoooooooooosh goodbye to other people’s energy, expectations, projections, anything that is not supportive of my clear calm internal space, give everyone their kittens back or just set the kittens free.
If it still feels like people are hanging out in my headspace, I imagine shedding my force field like a snake, then I call in a new one and give them the old one to play with like a decoy.
(And if this makes no sense, let it be a future clue to land later?)
Soothing / activate the parasympathetic nervous system!
Shaking, rolling, yawning, breathing DOWN to counteract the way we sort of jump out of our skin when startled, these are all good.
Anything that down-regulates the nervous system is good practice, get down on the floor and breathe for ten minutes or for a song, etc…
What else can we do to smoothe and soothe? There are so many techniques out in the world, what works for you?
Skip a stone
Stone skipping is my code word for journaling prompts, here are some favorite stones:
What do I need right now?
What needs to change in my kingdom/environment?
Where is the treasure?
what needs to be eliminated & what needs to be illuminated
Lately I have been doing a triple-skip situation where I choose one question and drop it into consciousness to be answered by Incoming Me, my current project, and the current theme of the month. Then I write down what each of them has to say.
For example, yesterday my question was “What do I not yet know about Reclaiming My Power?”, and I asked it of Circe the sorceress of the enchanted garden, the Month of Gleaming, and the project of Oh Wow This Is What It’s Like When There Are Are No Piles In My Space.
They might all have different things to share, or they might all say the same thing, and that’s useful too!
A plan for monsters!
This kind of intentional internal-investigative work is *likely* (cough) to bring out the many self-criticism monsters because a) it goes so strongly against cultural programming, and b) it is so easy to have shame/regret about how we are doing it wrong or not enough or fucking it up, so let’s come up with a plan to remind ourselves that all this practicing and noticing counts.
My usual monster-plan is to send them on an adventure or give them a task, or I will just have my Internal Scientists show the monsters The Science.
The Internal Scientists: “Ah, thank you, monsters! We have noted your objection to the cover story caper on the grounds that it could take too much time, and we absolutely appreciate your desire for speedy progress on the ops. In fact, this desire has the full support of the Institute for Havi Getting Things Done. And, OUR STUDIES HAVE SHOWN that a playful approach actually solves things for Havi faster, so we need you to hold off here to not compromise the scientific experiment in progress, thank you!”
For more support with monsters, we made The Monster Manual & Coloring Book!
What are five things that could be made more congruent/harmonious right now?
Tiny adjustments, literal-but-also-symbolic things like clearing the table, or physical shifts like postural adjustments, taking a break to recline on the floor with eyes closed…
What adjustments can we make in our internal or external space? What landscape shifts can we set into motion, either in the hard (IRL) or the soft aka the emotional, mental, energy, spiritual?
As Incoming Me loves to say, small shifts are big shifts.
Put it in a compass
Anything that is not working today, what happens when we put it inside a compass?
Playing with a compass is one of my all-time favorite capers.
In yoga philosophy there is the concepts of the five bodies, in addition to our physical body we have:
+ an energy body (breath! prana! circulation! feeling body!)
+ a mental-emotional body (where we perceive and think and interpret and feel feelings)
+ an intuition/discernment body where our wise knowing lives, this is how we channel, through accessing our instinct, feeling what is true
+ a body of truth-spirit which is the truth of ALL IS WELL RIGHT NOW pure presence this moment here-now
Whether you are into this or not, we can use techniques that work on one level to influence other levels, we can choose which body to focus on, trusting that there will be good ripple-effects in and out…
Extreme self-treasuring: a practice of small increments
For example, sixteen breaths, what would our fairy godmother set into motion right now, small shifts in internal or external space
Investigating a mystery (or a proxy mystery!)
In something today is not working, how would I approach that in detective mindset?
How can I make things better for either me now or future-me based on the evidence at hand, if this feels way too close to home, I can choose a proxy mystery, like the mystery of Why Are Trees or a mystery related to any of the clues I have found, solve for X!
Exit as we wish to continue
Checking in at the end of a day, or a week or a segment of a project.
What have we noticed/perceived/experienced? Are there any notes we wish to leave to our future selves? How can we express APPRECIATION for everything we did and tried to take care of ourselves in this time, honoring our beautiful intention and loving hearts! <3 <3 <3
What’s been working lately?
And what might I try that is new and different?
You are welcome/invited to share any !!! or anything sparked for you, play with any of the ideas here, name some capers you like or things you want to play with more. They can be from anywhere because, again, anything can be a caper. Or maybe you want to invent a new word for these!
And of course share this with anyone who could use any of this.
Also: QUESTION!!! DO WE WANT A ZINE OF THESE????
In the meantime, let’s do what we always do here and remember that people vary. We meet ourselves and each other with compassion here. We are on permanent vacation from advice-giving and care-taking. In other words, this is not like the rest of the internet, and that might be my favorite part of being here. Love you, friends! Love that you are here with me.