Self-Awareness Exercise: Beginnings, Endings, Guidance, and Creativity

The last self-awareness exercise I posted, the Four-Point Check-In, invites you to check in on yourself mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Today’s exercise uses the four cardinal directions to symbolically access what is arising, what is ending, what is guiding you, and what invites your creativity.

The exercise comes from the fantastic book How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving, by David Richo. I’ve provided the exercise below not quite word-for-word, but pretty close. I highly recommend his book — from start to finish, and with every reread, I’m learning from it.

Sketch a square that represents a room, as if you are looking down at the room from above. On each side of the room, there is a window — so one window faces each of the four cardinal directions.

Imagine yourself standing in the centre of the room, and turning one by one to face each different direction.

As you turn to face the east, reflect on what is arising in your life. What are three things that are arising? Make a note of them in the east.

As you turn to face the west, write down three things that are now ending.

As you turn to face the north, write three things in your life that stabilize and guide you, as does the North Star.

As you turn to face the south, write three things in your life that evoke your spontaneity and creativity.

Picture yourself in the centre of the room, mindfully turning to each direction: looking to the east with a willingness to take hold, to face the west with a willingness to let go, to face north by staying with your spiritual/grounding practice, and to face south with enthusiasm and creativity in the invention of your life.

You may want to notice who (or what situations/contexts) helps you open those windows. Who/what shuts them?

You may want to reflect on what your stance is as you face each of these directions — how do you face each of these areas? What’s your default approach to each?

Wishing you peace with all of your endings and beginnings.


Laura McGrath is an Ottawa-based life coach and therapist who views her clients holistically, with attention to the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Would you like to explore in conversation your beginnings, endings, inner guidance, and creativity? Laura is more than happy to pick up the phone and talk it over. Get in touch.