(this is the 5th installment in “Maya’s Book of Change.” First installment began July 17, 2011)
When I found myself at a certain stage of readiness to change, and had come to the end of a long bout of self-destructive behavior that included addiction and hanging with totally inappropriate people, I sought help. Only then, when I was ready to change, people started appearing in my life to help that change occur at an accelerated rate. Sure, I read books. Who doesn’t? You seek out any means to help a transformation: a book, a workshop, a blog, like one you’re reading right now! But reading or coaching from others only act as momentary cheerleaders. They don’t do the actual work that’s necessary in order to make effective changes in one’s life. That’s something each and every one of us has to do by and for ourselves.
Let’s face it, nothing comes easy! If you ever gave up a habit such as smoking cigarettes or overeating you know what I’m talking about. But if a person wants to breathe freely and feel healthy, he or she must shed the bad habit preventing natural health to blossom. The same goes for any other trait, such as judging others, being angry or resentful, all of which make us spiritually and emotionally unhealthy. So let’s start by being clear about something.
Change never happens by giving something up. Change only happens when we substitute a new, positive habit for a bad, destructive one we wish to be unburdened of.
When I stopped smoking I started exercising regularly, doing more yogic breathing practices. I felt my body weakening and purposefully wanted to used my breath, and my mind, at a higher capacity. After several attempts (that bridged decades), playing with success and failure like a hell-bent yoyo-twirler, today I am a committed and happily recovered nicotine junkie. I did it by saying to myself over and over the affirmations, “I am a nonsmoker. I am a healthy person with healthy lungs.” But let’s be honest, this habit-breaking of mine, as anyone’s does, took many many trys.
The same story can be recounted about my equally destructive addiction to alcohol. When I was ready, I came to grips with drinking too much by substituting the new positive habit of filling myself with Spirit instead of spirits.
So here’s the thing.
Change doesn’t happen overnight—but it will happen—if you want it. You may have a couple false starts. You may fail miserably, but guess what? It doesn’t matter! You can always start again. If you fail one day you can start anew the next, or the next moment, the next breath. There’s no such thing as failure, there’s only different degrees of trying. And believe me, it’s in the trying where you will find your true success.
So now that you know a little bit of where we’re heading—changing from unhappy, fear-filled to content-with-self, and fearless to try – just how do we plan on accomplishing this magnificent, and quite staggering, seemingly inhuman feat of becoming something we’re not?
One tiny little step at a time, that’s how.
A book is written by putting black squiggles on paper, one stroke at a time, or typing one letter, one word, one phrase, one sentence, one page, one chapter at a time. Many strokes, many lines, paragraphs, word-counts later, sometimes years later: a book has finally been created. After the editing process (which for me, by the way, is 90% of my writing process and accounts for the hardest, most diligent work; before that, the actual creation part is fun and a piece of cake and a thrill to enact) … time has evolved into something entirely different than it was before starting out on this journey of transformation. When we are in the middle of it, or have undergone the process of personal transformation: time becomes T.I.M.E.: T.his I M.ust E.arn.
Don’t you just loathe hearing that?
Time? We have to earn … time?
No. That’s not what the acronym means.
It means that by giving yourself time, you will earn whatever it is you desire. That by holding true in your mind’s eye your goal, whatever it is you want to achieve … in time you will successfully accomplish it.
Time is a tool. Time is a vehicle, a means, a song, an uplifting melody upon which life can be elevated to a place that will appear, indeed, magical! If you just allow time to be.
And how does one do that? To give Time … time? Give time … space.
Courage is how.
Courage is when a person musters all the fierce strength that is falsely related to the heart (the Lion in Oz wanting a “heart”). But really, let’s be honest—courage comes from a gentle mind knowing what it wants.
When a person stops beating themselves up for not being what they wanna be, not having what they wanna have, they begin to experience a gentleness called self-love. If you don’t know what I mean by this, stick around. We’re going to be talking a lot about self-love. And no, this is not the physical sensation of touching oneself in private, so stop guffawing, silly.
The self in “self-love” is obviously the damaged (ouch! don’t you hate to hear that word!) part of our psyche that we all have (another name for it: human nature) that is our challenge, our “ticket” if you will, by which we’ll learn how to approach the vast and seemingly unattainable subject of The Big It.
The Big It, for refreshers, is the universal Spirit that connects all.
It is precisely through each person’s personal scars, deep fears, life challenges, flaws, hang-ups, whatever you call your own personal human condition (some say “sinner” but I shudder at that harsh, judgmental label). Whatever we prefer to call our reasons for inviting change into our life, each one of us is given the opportunity to break free of what holds us back from being what we truly are.
And what might that be?
At our human birth we entered life with a clean slate, an unscarred psyche. Our nature was angelic, truly.
So to change into our “higher Self” from our “lower self” we don’t need to change anything, really; we just need to remember what it is we truly are, and always have been. Children of Great Spirit, Cells of One Consciousness, part of the thing called God: Spiritual Beings in human form. We remember we are a Light-filled being, once again, when we gather our courage and let go of what we don’t need any more (the flaws, hangups, challenges, etc.).
This is who and what we truly are.
Truly, underneath all the bruises, shake-ups and break-downs of our lives, behind our fears, our inhibitions our neurosis and hang-ups … each and every one of us is pure Love in physical form.
Courage and Love go hand-in-hand.
Here’s an exercise you can practice so you can become more familiar with your inner courage. Allowing yourself at least ten minutes to complete this exercise, sit quietly with no distractions. Shut off your TV, music, radio, computer, cell phone. Tell the dog to lie down and go to sleep. Wait till the kids are down for the night. Tell your partner/mate to give you some quiet space and … make time for this first step journeying into the inner chambers of your heart, where you will learn to love your own Self.
Sit comfortably. Close your eyes. Listen to the sound of your breathing. Let your breath come in and go out in regular, even counts, slowly, for a count of 4 or 5 breathing in, the same count for the out-breath. Continue breathing in and breathing out in this consistent manner.
Find your comfort zone.
Focus on your breath.
If a thought comes into your head, just watch it, as if it were a bird drifting onto the horizon of your mind, your blue-sky precious, clear mind.
Pretend your mind is a dome of brilliant blue sky (inside yourself of course; this is a visualization). Your mind is free, open, relaxed.
If a thought does happen to skitter onto this beautiful scene (yes, the mind does like to think!) think of it as if it were a little bird flying into your vision, and just watch it. Don’t shoo the little thought-bird away. Don’t talk to it if this thought-bird tries to “talk” to you. Just watch the bird (or leaf, or butterfly, if that’s easier for you) as it flits and flies around your blue-sky-mind and slowly, slowly, it will disappear, if you don’t engage with it. Thoughts like to chatter. If you refuse to chatter back at them, they give up and leave you alone.
After a few minutes of this quiet time of breathing and relaxing, bring the idea of I AM Courage into your mind.
Ask for Courage. Request it from the originator of all, which we’ll call pure consciousness: The Big It.
Ask nicely. Ask with conviction. Ask softly. Ask sweetly. Ask for Courage. Really want it.
And it will be given you.
The first step to change is wanting it.
The second step is asking for courage to change. Asking your own inner self, which is part of the Big It, or asking help from any other idea of sacredness or divinity you are comfortable with. Do not ask another person or group of people. Just your own inner courage and your own Higher Power, whatever that means to you.
Now, once you have engaged this center of inner power, go ahead and ask for Courage.
And believe it when you get what you ask for. That’s one of the basic laws of the Universe.
If you never ask, you won’t get what you want. And once you ask … you get, sooner or later. Your request may not be fulfilled according to your time schedule … but it will manifest, surely, truly, in T.I.M.E.
So remember to do this exercise many times, if you wish. Once is sufficient, but usually people feel so good in this quiet connection with our deeper selves that you may want to repeat this exercise many times. And so do! You are the creator of your new life. You can do whatever you wish when you own your own inner Courage.