My friend has a calendar, entitled “Creative Visualization. Use the power of your imagination to create what you want in your life.” It is full of sayings and advice from one of the great gurus of this subject, Shakti Gawain. Here are a few:
I am now creating my life the way I want it to be.
I am expressing more and more of my potential.
Within me is a special place of serenity and power.
The universe wants me to be happy and fulfilled.
It’s safe for me to release control and experience the ecstasy of life.
And it just goes on and on, from January to December. My friend’s home is chock full of these kind of sayings, adorning everything from all the mirrors in her house, to her microwave oven. It seems that everywhere one looks (which is obviously the point) there is a little sign saying, I am great, I am wonderful, Life is fabulous, I am a success. My favorite is the one hanging by the window in her bathroom: Life is not a dress rehearsal. No, it’s not. It is a continuous improvisation, sometimes a hilarious comedy and other times a terrible tragedy.
I have been friends with this sweet, kind woman for the past 4 years. In the time I have known her, she has taken various self-empowerment courses, read hundreds of books, done endless kinds of therapy and all manner of art, movement and music courses, all in an effort to ease her life’s burdens. Those burdens include chronic physical pain, negative emotional programming, and poverty consciousness. Yeah, in other words, she’s got stuff. Who doesn’t? For years of my life, I too bought those kind of books and calendars, took various courses, listened with interest to my friends’ latest greatest way to achieve success, wealth, fulfillment and happiness, both in and out of relationship with ‘the other.’ With only partial success, depending on how you look at it. Yes, I made changes in my life, as she has done with hers. Coming back to Wisconsin after nearly a year, we sat and had tea, comparing notes. Her physical challenges remained steady, with new ones cropping up like weeds, putting a definite crimp in her computer time. Finances: bankruptcy last year, so now she has no more of those pesky credit cards to have to juggle every month. Emotional life: up and down, but she works hard to stay positive (remember the zillions of sticky notes covering much of the wall space of her house?) and smiles a lot. Fulfillment and Happiness: she is trying. She has a new cat, a real sweet one this time who likes a lot of petting and attention. That brings her comfort and joy. Success: she nods. Working on it, she says. Could be worse, then again could be better.
Then it was my turn: quite a bit of ambivalence, generally speaking. Up and down, as they say in Denmark. We nod at each other, knowingly.
My mother used to have an expression (one of thousands, which keep springing up in my head like weeds now that I have reached that milestone known as middle age): “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” I can imagine what Shakti Gawain would have to say about that one! and I can imagine that her own mother might have said something very similar to little Shakti growing up. Well, I don’t really feel that I am damned, necessarily, any more than anyone else on the planet does. But for our purposes here, it speaks to this idea of ‘positive thinking.’ I guess it really does work for some, I know people who have pretty fabulous lives, and they are certainly not sitting around thinking the worst will surely happen and there isn’t much they can do about it. But then again, neither is my friend. Neither am I. Here’s the question: If I fake it, by simply reciting these affirmations to myself over and over and over ad nauseam like a mantra, until they get into my unconscious mind where the magic happens, will it? Why has my life not turned out perfectly like my dream of it? I affirmed it up and down and all around for years. And how about my friend: nobody could be doing more in that regard, yet why hasn’t she manifested all that glory the self-help gurus promise? And what about those Abraham people anyway? Or Dale Carnegie or the Chicken Soup guys? They all talk about how this thing works, and how if you just do it, (sorry) you really can’t fail to end up rich, materially successful,wildly happy and probably better looking than you started out. So what gives? Why is my friend still struggling to make ends meet after years of affirming only the best to herself every single day?
Let’s see if Shakti can help us to unravel this mystery. Here’s a good page: ‘Today I am attracting beauty, joy and abundance into my life.” Nothing wrong with that. She goes on to write, “As you sow, so shall you reap.” What this means is that we always attract into our lives whatever we think about most, believe in most strongly, expect on the deepest level and imagine most vividly.
If I take Shakti at her word, then I have to conclude that neither my friend, nor I, are believing all the things we have been busy affirming all those years at the deepest level. In other words, we are divided. We are busy chanting “I am a fabulous success, full of vitality and health, rich and happy as happy can be” while in some deep dark chamber of our souls we are in fact believing something quite else. What say you , Dear Readers? I am guessing that some of you out there also embrace this idea of positive affirmation and creative visualization. What are we doing wrong? Why does all that fabulousness and happiness keep eluding us? Why does sorrow, pain and loneliness keep encroaching on our high?
Forgive these ridiculous ramblings, please! I know so well that life is vastly more complicated and mysterious far beyond what we can really understand. I know that all the self-help gurus are saying essentially is, Know Thyself. I know full well that we cannot simply wish our way into wonderful lives. Life happens. Sorrow is there, as well as joy. Where we choose to dwell has everything to do with what our lives will be. And we should not forget the role that karma plays. As our friend William S. reminds us, Life is a stage, and we are merely the players on it. If we don’t like the role we were given, we have choices. We can speak up, tell the Director we want a different role, a happier, funnier one, or possibly to be in a different play. We humans actually have a large amount of power over what happens to us in life, and in particular how we react to it. It’s just that we tend to forget that we do, we play small, we shrink back from our own incredible lightness of being. I know that I do, far too often. I get afraid to play big, think I can’t, I’m not worthy, I’m nothing special, I keep myself stuffed into a too small box when my spirit is larger than I even know.
Thank you for hanging in there with me for this blog, Dear Readers. I love you all for your curiosity, humor and interest, your endurance and perseverance in your own lives. I love to read all your blogs and find out how you are getting through this life, hear your wisdom, see your photos and read your poetry, see how you are growing and helping others through your actions and thoughts. I am really so grateful for you all! I affirm it: “May I continue to be blessed with kindred spirits, like-minded souls, friends in blogland and in physical reality, who help me to see myself and all my imperfections, and who still love and appreciate me in spite of them.” Now there’s an affirmation I can really embrace with all my heart and soul. I think Shakti would approve.
- THE PATH OF TRANSFORMATION How Healing Ourselves Can Change the World ~ Shakti Gawain (evolutionarymystic.wordpress.com)
- Creative Visualization & My Future (secretworldofs.wordpress.com)
- What the Bleep do we know? (saymberblondi.wordpress.com)
- Fighting the Battle, Winning the War (traumatotreasure.wordpress.com)