clearskies, bluewater

Insights, reflections and creative imaginings for our awakening world

Create what?

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happiness

happiness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

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Author: SingingBones

When we sing over the bones, we are calling the wild nature, the instinctive soul back, singing it alive again. To live with our wildness intact, is the greatest gift a woman can give herself. "It is the holy poetry and singing we are after." C.P. Estes

12 thoughts on “Create what?

  1. Leigh….you nailed it! Positive affirmations are essentially useless if the subconscious mind is saying “all of that is nonsense…you are worthless.” That IS the divided state.One thing that does seem to help is to keep a journal of what happens when you say a positive affirmation, e.g, I am fabulously wealthy”. Listen to you inner voice; it will probably say “who are you kidding? You are poor.” Write these down every day and you will notice that the voice of negation will soften over time as the positive affirmation takes hold. But you need to consciously acknowledge the truth of what you REALLY believe first. Beliefs are often invisible to us.

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  2. Pingback: Negative Self-Talk is an Affirmation « Jan Deelstra

  3. There is one another angle too Leigh.We need to learn what life is, but there is a greater need to understand what we are, and deep down hidden in the deepest dungeons of our minds and the whirlpools of our hearts even we don’t know what we want, what we can acquire and what we desire.We don’t expect miracles so we don’t get one.We pose a different ‘me’ to the world, and there is a different one inside.We are in search of it, and wear masks whenever we need to, till we find it.Maybe the inner voice is also not the real us, and a fabrication of our minds, or a tussle between our thoughts.In reality, the thoughts we can hear from within us, is not ours, we always have a choice to follow any voice coming from within, and believe me there are many.

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    • Wise, wise words. thank you very much for this insightful comment. Of course what you say is true. All those voices…. yes the art is to find the one(s) which are truly compassionate, which never cause you harm. they are the voices, or guidance which we can trust. Another time I’ll post a blog about an art process which is wonderfully helpful, called Soul Collage. it is all about working in a visual way with images to address the various voices, which are just the different side of our complex, prism-like psyche. thank you again for taking the time to reflect on my post, and enhance it! SB

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  4. What helps me much more than affirmations is pure gratitude. When I open my heart and feel genuinely thankful for whatever is beautiful in my world — my love for my children, the color of the sky, the tree outside my window, the fact that my body keeps breathing and digesting in its miraculous unseen ways — I appreciate the abundance in my life.
    I kept a gratitude journal during a period of depression and it helped redirect my attention from my fears, worries, and inadequacies to everything that was inherently right and true and good. I had to start with very basic things — I’m grateful there’s a roof over my head, I’m grateful for this bed I can sleep in, I’m grateful that my heart is beating… My goal was to write down ten things each night before I went to sleep. Eventually, as my attention to these things increased, I began filling a whole page each night.
    No, gratitude by itself doesn’t pay the bills. But it helps me be fully present in my life in an ungrasping, generous way. And that’s worth a lot.

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    • thank you for your thoughtful comment! I agree, when I can manage to look beyond my own little world and all that is wrong in it, and instead find the good, and especially to appreciate what is good in my life and in the ones I love with my whole heart, things shift radically and quickly. And also it is amazing how quickly abundance comes back into one’s life when one is willing to share without fear of lack. cheers for reading! SB

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  5. Hello,
    Haha, I happen to be one of the Related Articles’ author. I laugh because you have described exactly what I have been feeling about the whole affirmation and believing things into existence thing… I think this post is great. You are really getting to the heart of creative visualizations’ weakness. I have been battling/suffering from/ wallowing in (depending on the day) depression for… well, too long. Like your friend, I live in constant pain from a lower back injury that left titanium in my spine and nerve damage in it’s wake. I was 24 at the time of my injury and have spent two and a bit years trying to regain some quality of life. I don’t know why, but I always feel like I have to justify why I am depressed. Hm. I just realized this and it is somewhat of an epiphany that will have to be explored more later.
    Anyway, back to the point…
    So, I have been working with a psychologist that is supposed to specialize in the aftermath of injury but to me he is really more about deep relaxation, creative visualization and loving compassion for yourself. Now don’t get me wrong, these are amazing principles that, when employed correctly, can really help an individual, just not me. Ah! One of my depressive mechanisms, or automatic thought patterns, is that I seem to cling to is the idea that something can work for others but it won’t for me. Ironically, I just wrote on this at the end of my latest post. Anyway, what I was getting to with the whole psych thing is that he thinks I am at heart a sceptic. I try really hard to believe that something like creative visualization and affirmations could work for me, but in my subconscious I don’t believe they will and actively scoff at the idea that my problems could be solved by positive thinking. On an even deeper level I believe that I don’t deserve to be completely happy and I am not worthy of the affirmations I lavishly bestow upon myself.
    Like you, I had a mother that constantly said things along the lines of “you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.” Her favourite was always “If it’s not one thing, it is another.” But I don’t want to believe that, and I certainly don’t want to make my future kids (of which I have none right now, so if this sounds high and mighty and you have a child, then I sincerely apologize. I fully realize that I am not yet a parent and have no idea what choices I would make if I was, but I do have an opinion.) feel as defeated as I do when I hear “No matter how hard you try, you never get ahead” in my thoughts.
    EEK!! This comment is getting too long, so I will end it here, even though you have stirred up so many more words in me! I want to pursue your writing further and find out more about this oh-so-rational blogger who makes my fingers fly!
    Best,
    – S.

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    • P.S. I forgot to say thankyou so much for the linkup aat the bottom of your post! 😀 How rude of me! Please accept my sincere gratitude, even if it is a bit delayed.

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      • Hello S! I love your wonderfully long comment, thank you so much! One of the best benefits of having a blog is being able to connect with other bloggers and share our thoughts and hearts. I appreciate your words and have a lot of empathy for them, and for your situation. I have known several people over the years with serious chronic pain and it is no laughing matter. When someone such as yourself has had such an injury, healing simply takes time, and maybe even a long time to recover from.

        I guess I have enough to say about your comment that I will write another blog about it, there is too much for a comment box. one thing I can say now, though, is What’s wrong with being a skeptic? It is not the same as being a naysayer, and it is also important to honor your own nature. Some of us are naturally skeptical, while others are more “yes!” people, and then of course there are those pessimists in the crowd. We need to work with who we are and our natural tendencies,not against them. Thanks for sharing about your mother and those messages you were imbedded with as a child. It is also important to forgive our parents for being flawed human beings, it’s not like they were purposefully trying to hurt us, but you know, the old conditioning and familial patterns are tough to shake unless we ourselves make a conscious effort, as it sounds like you definitely are!

        I wish to encourage you with your own healing process. Visualizations and affirmations actually can change a person’s life, but again it is a process and it doesn’t happen overnight, and, as in my own experience (which I will share another day) it sometimes will lead you down a completely different path than the one you thought you wanted to go! Life is mysterious and surprising also, and painful and beautiful. And, if you weren’t already aware of it, back problems, esp. lower back, are related to a sense of feeling unsupported in life, on a more psychic level of the soul. It could be helpful to look at your beliefs in that area of your life, and work on those beliefs as you also work with the physical pain.

        You are welcome for the pingback to your article, now I better read it! and thanks for saying i am ‘oh-so-rational!’ that really made me laugh! Best, SB

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  6. Very thoughtful – no ridiculous ramblings here. It was like looking in a mirror.

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