Monday, November 25, 2013

What is the role of will in our lives?

If our world is magical, how can we best participate in this magic?
How do we reconcile acceptance of “what is” with our urge to grow in Divine Love? 

How do we answer Mary Oliver when she asks, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”* 

Our attention and our life force is all we have to invest in will. Will is a concentration, or commitment, of attention followed by action. It is a commitment to how we choose to be in relationship with the Divine, ourselves, others, and the environment.

We can exercise two types of will, our soul’s will and our conditioned will. Both are spiritual in the sense that everything is100% spiritual, but they have different outcomes; and, therefore, our consideration of them has very practical implications to our lives.

Our soul’s will is our portion of Divine will; the intrinsic, innate will that we came into this life with. Our soul’s will operates only in reality. It is the creative impulse. It is as unique as our finger prints. Each of us has a different experience, a different perspective, and we are each precious to the whole. If we live our soul’s will on earth, life is enriched for all. Since our soul’s will is closer to the Divine, when we express it we experience ease, unity and joy.

Our conditioned will is like a computer virus spread by our parents and society to our early mental operating systems. It is a collection of thoughtforms, beliefs, and habitual grooves. Rather than being creative, the conditioned will limits and separates. There is an efforting and suffering about it; for example, I must, I have to, I should, I can’t, etc. This is the will we commonly think of as will power. With conditioned will power we vacillate between shame and pride. When we are being moved by conditioned will, we are like the human pods in the movie Matrix, living in an imagined world separated from reality. At one time we gave these thoughtform machines instructions to separate us from life for apparent safety. We are safe and we no longer need them but they gather momentum if we remain asleep in the Matrix pods.

Our conditioned-will machines are not alive but they do take energy or life force to run. When they are running they are depleting our life force and therefore squandering our natural human health, vitality and happiness. The more attention/energy we allocate to conditioned will, the less is available for our soul’s creative life in the world.

The difference between the two wills is not about any particular activity but the motivation behind it. For example, take exercise. If you are walking, running, dancing, etc., because you love the feel of your body in free motion in the world, like a child playing, you are using more of the soul’s will; while if you are pushing yourself to exercise out of fear of being overweight, or so you can be proud of your physique, or even to stave off death, you are operating more from conditioned will.
Now, having defined the two wills, what about the spiritual ideal of always accepting “what is” appearing in our world rather than trying to change it? When we are free of conditioned will, then our soul easily and naturally accepts “what is.” No choice is necessary. But if we mentally adopt, as a spiritual stance, accepting “what is” while we have conditioned will still running, we are selling out our souls in a pretense and being manipulated by conditioned will. If conditioned will is still operating, it behooves us to choose the soul’s will.

Many of us are choosing to allow our souls more expression in the world, and agree with this prayer of intention from The Book of Runes manual, “I will to will Thy will.”* In this agreement, we exercise our soul’s will to move our attention away from our conditioning. This means we say, “Nonsense,” to the thoughtforms again and again, millions of times, by withdrawing our attention from them and putting our attention on something neutral like our breath. This is like pulling the plug on the Matrix machines.

Another analogy: recently, while in Madrid, we were warned by the tour guide about pickpockets. (For a moment, think of pickpockets as burdensome thoughtforms stealing your energy.) We were told, “If street peddlers get too close, just say, ‘No,’ firmly and then walk away.” One woman in our group was approached by a female peddler who quickly put a scarf around the woman’s neck. When she protested, the peddler pulled the scarf away and tried to take the woman’s necklace with it. The woman put her hand to her necklace and the peddler tried to grab her purse. (Thoughtforms can be very aggressive. Just keep saying firmly, “No,” or “Nonsense,” and turn your attention away to something neutral like your breath.)

Many teachers tell us to replace a negative thought with a positive one. I view this idea with caution. If we withdraw our attention from a troubling thought and immediately replace it with a pleasant affirmation, we are still giving energy to the negative thoughtform. When we are saying we don’t like it and must replace it, we are colluding with its pretense that it’s real. For instance, if I am in an argument with you, the very premise of the argument is based on the fact that you exist in the first place. So I am giving my attention and energy to you in proportion to my argument or opposition. A simple, “Nonsense,” and then moving your attention onto something neutral like your breath is more effective. Affirmations can be very powerful if said from the heart in peaceful times since all the energy is going to the affirmation rather than being split between the affirmation and the opposing negative thought.

Here is a personal example: Recently I had a session with one of my early teachers. This teacher, Robert Tennyson Stevens or Bob to me, was in South Florida for the first time in several years. Among many other things, Bob is a master iridologist, who reads not only physical symptoms in the eye but also the thoughtforms which cause the physical symptoms. Then he offers suggestions for changing persistent beliefs and thoughtforms. He has documented that when the beliefs change, the eye changes. For the first time in the 16 years that I have known Bob, I was ready to have an in-depth iridology reading, ready to be fully seen. Among other things, he found I am still holding onto a belief that love equals loss. My soul’s will is to feel massive amounts of God’s love. But this thoughtform’s mandate, which I gave it early in childhood, is to protect me from feelings of loss and it does that through fear, as if saying, “Don’t go deeper in God’s love. The greater the love, the greater the loss.” Bob gave me an affirmation to say: “I have my love, my God’s love, and my love stays.” Rather than saying the affirmation when I notice I am blocking a deeper connection with a limiting thought or behavior, I move my attention to my breath or to the energy in my palms. Many, many, many other peaceful times throughout the day, I say my affirmation. Repetition is how we learned the old beliefs and repetition in a relaxed state is how we reprogram ourselves. (As a hypnotist, I learned that it is imperative we give suggestions when in a neutral, relaxed state.)

Having said that, feeling our feelings is different from giving ourselves affirmations.  A feeling is a sensation or energy moving in the body and any feeling, even fear around the loss of love, requires a different approach. When I notice a feeling, rather than moving my attention to the breath, I move it directly to the sensation. I concentrate my attention so completely on the movement of energy in my body that the thoughts, the storyline about any cause of the feeling, drops away. I follow the sensation inside my body. I welcome it, however unsettling it is. I love it by giving it room to expand if it does. Attention minus any thoughts or story eventually balances the energy in the body. If the sensation is the product of a thoughtform, it will lessen when the thoughtform (not the body sensation) is deprived of our attention. If the feeling comes from the soul, it will enlighten with wisdom and love.

Noticing and understanding which of our wills is operating moment to moment gives us the opportunity to make a choice. If you have difficulty discerning between the two wills in any moment, just remember The Book of Runes prayer, “I will to will Thy will.”** With our intention and our ability to move our attention, we are answering Mary Oliver’s question, “…What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”*

*New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver.

**The Book of Runes by Ralph H. Blum, page 132.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Out of the Comfort Zone

I have been the sort of person who likes to over prepare, practice more, get more training, before doing something outside my comfort zone. Recently I told my mentor, “I’m not ready yet.”  And he said: "You don't wait until you are ready. If you wait until you are ready, you will never be ready. You do it and you get ready." 

I realized he was right. A comfort zone is really a plateau. We get to the next level by stepping out, taking a risk, taking action, and working the edge between our comfort zone and our fear.

Going to a Toastmaster International meeting in June 1997 was a big step out of my comfort zone. I was going with the express purpose of facing my fear of speaking full on. I know fear. Most of my life has been spent avoiding it in some way. But I have learned that I limit myself immensely by staying in my comfort zone. 

More and more, I am practicing working that edge, working in the zone where it is uncomfortable. I am learning the value of working where the fear is.   

While I am working the edge of my comfort zone, where the fear is, there are some things that are helpful:

The most prominent help for me is doing Archetypal Dreamwork with the North of Eden organization. The emphasis here is following the lead of fear to uncover lost parts of my essence.

I have also realized that some feelings I call fear are just a heightened life force energy or passion. I am passionate about speaking but as time draws near I sometimes experience performance anxiety, especially if I am stepping out of my comfort zone. An analogy: Water under constriction, as when it is pushed through a narrow opening like a pressure nozzle on a hose, feels hard, forceful, prickly and uncomfortable when it comes out, like fear. When water flows freely through the hose it still gets the job done of watering our projects but it is more sensual like passion. We might not recognize it as passion because we contract at what we label fear. I often check in to see if my performance anxiety is really fear or squeezed passion. In either case, fear is not a stop sign when I'm committed to working the edge of my comfort zone.

I find it helpful to balance my erratic energies with such activities as exercise, meditation, Reiki, acupuncture, massage and other types of stress reduction techniques.

When I continue to work the edge of my comfort zone, I find that fear turns into exhilaration. What would you do if you were not afraid? Whatever the answer, do it anyway. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

I am here

Here is my simple story. I am here. All I know is that I’m here. Mind is available to me and it forms and runs programs or routines for me. Some of these routines are navigation tools I use to experience life: body, senses, and thoughts. Some are pathological strategies formed to protect me from life, which can hijack my native tools of body, senses, and thoughts. I am capable of focusing my attention at will but I forgot this when I allowed mind to commandeer my attention for its pathological strategies long ago. When I use my attention to look at myself, the pathological strategies wind down, losing their steam because they are no longer needed, nor fed by my attention. The navigation tools remain and I experience life, whatever is, more directly and more fully.