It's spring here in the northeast. The forsythia branches are showing their first spurts of yellow; the air is warmer; and the puppy dogs on the street are friskier because the world is a-w-a-k-e and alive and full of good things to sniff out and smell.

These spring energies of rebirth and regeneration prompt feelings of clearing and claiming. So, with this in mind, I offer you The Seven Essential Questions.

These questions have stayed with me since the '90s where I first learned of them at some long-ago workshop or lecture. (And thanks to the mastermind who created of these queries.) Interestingly, I was told that one family shared their responses with one another over a holiday get-together as a way to catch-up and connect at a deeper level.

To prime the pump, I will proffer a few varied suggestions (in italics) for each question so you can get an idea of the direction and depth. You are encouraged to take a moment to respond and drill down to your essence. I find it helpful if you actually write down your responses. There is no right or wrong, good or bad. The key idea is for you to express your truth and to understand who you are and the direction you are taking with your life.

You will have multiple responses to this questions, such as....a male, a mother, a wife, a son, a warrior, a pilgrim on the path, an artist, a leader, a grandfather, a golfer, a comic, a healer, a master, a student, a seeker, a devotee of....

Family, love, health, money, justice, truth, sanity, security, fame, standing, position, freedom, drugs, creativity, sex, beauty, etc., could be on your list. Clearly, you need not limit your responses on this question or any of the others.

What matters is the kissin' cousin to what you seek, but discern the distinctions:

Matter = what is very important and, even, necessary to you. On a physical plane level, what matters makes me think of an old New York magazine personal section where people would list the 5 things they could not live without, such as chocolate, perfume, the beach, rock music, love, and the like. Those are a great way to begin your response to what matters, and you might want to go a little further and add some more soulful and bigger-picture responses as well.
Seek= what you are going after, what you are looking for, your quests and aspirations. You could seek the good life, money and fame, acceptance, honor, love, passion, peace, balance, stability, patience, detachment, etc. You might consider where you are placing your energies.

Could be knowledge, expertise, money, solutions, particular skill sets, an open heart, a good eye, an aesthetic sense, mechanical know-how, parenting experience, a great chocolate chip cookie, demon organizing skills, a gift of gab, a sweet voice, and the like. Obviously, you will have multiple responses to this question because, dear one, you are a multi-dimensional being with much to offer.

Well, we could go back to "What matters?" but what you need is more primal.

For example, I need some semblance of order in my physical surroundings as well as a flower and/or some greenery plus a candle. These are necessary for my sense of peace and well-being. I may want chocolate, but I don't need it. I need the order and beauty.

You might need music, salt air, ocean views, connections, laughter, a great haircut, substantive conversations, time to be creative, dancing, a garden, alone time, intellectual rigor, problems to solve, mysteries to unravel, something to build, etc.

You might, also, need peace, quietude, a connection with Spirit, play dates with certain loved ones, adventure, travel, a kitchen, a view, good health, strength, or the ability to speak your truth/learn to forgive/protect yourself/be less critical.

This can feel like a loaded question, but it's not. You might have spiders, snakes, and public speaking on your list, but let's expand the thought. What scares you? What keeps you awake at night? What makes you squirm? Is it death, homelessness, violence, an unfulfilled life, being a failure, being alone, getting sick, being dependent, having no job/ no money/no children/no choices, or something else?

Where to you place your dreams? Where do you direct your prayers? What is your heart's desire? Could it be health, happiness, love, peace, security, freedom, space, time, or some other wonderful something? This one will be, I suspect, the easiest for you to answer. Notice if there is a connection between your hopes and fears? Do opposites attract or are they the flip side of the same coin?

At first glance, these questions might seem basic, but if you take some time to reflect you may surprise yourself with your answers and, equally, you may re-align and strengthen your focus. An examined life is an excellent way to mindfully re-assess where you are placing your energies, attention, and focus.

Onward in consciousness, we go!

Author's Bio: 

Adele Ryan McDowell, Ph.D., is a psychologist, teacher, and writer who came to her current place in life through the frequent and not-so-subtle prodding of the gods. She likes looking at life through the big view finder and is a perpetual student who believes in the power of an open heart, and a good laugh.
She is the author of Balancing Act: Reflections, Meditations, and Coping Strategies for Today’s Fast-Paced Whirl and Making Peace with Suicide: A Book of Hope, Understanding, and Comfort.
Adele -- a Texan by birth, upbringing, and pioneering spirit -- lives in Connecticut where you will often find her driving along the highways and byways, singing loudly in her car.
You can learn more about Adele, her writing, and her thinking at,, and