Monday, May 3, 2010

When One Door Closes, Another Opens... An Exercise to Manifest Your Authentic Life


The following exercise is a result of a collaborative effort between Joe and myself. Considering that you are all familiar with me, I thought I'd introduce you to Joe. Joe is a member of our community. He is actively involved both here at, "The Big Fat Lie" and at, "Through Thick and Thin". Through an awakening, Joe has been called to be of service and to bring his healing contribution forward in the world. He has started a wonderful blog to chronicle his experiences...

A few days ago, Joe posted an intriguing exercise on the, "Through Thick and Thin" community forum. I will share Joe's post with you now...

"I have come up with something that has really helped me not just with eating but with many areas of life. See, the subconscious mind really likes stories and metaphor. It will really start to feel like what you are telling it is the truth. So much so, that as you continue to tell yourself the same story over and over again it literally becomes fused into your mind. There is also a metaphysical and scientific idea that whatever you think about and focus on becomes your life. Basically, that we are creating our own reality. So, what's the point of telling you all of this?

Well, I have an idea for you to try to help keep your mind focused on what you want to create. Simply write a story about you. Write it in the 3rd person. Write it as though you are telling some one else your story. The key is to not focus on the dramas of the past. You have to let go of all of the crap you have been living with thus far when you are writing this story. It should be about exactly who you want to be and how you see your life.

It doesn't have to be overly long. It can be a couple of pages. Just be as descriptive and simple as possible. Describe how you see yourself in all aspects, (mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually). Talk about what kind of job you are doing. How you are dealing with others and how they are dealing with you. Describe what type of financial or love life etc. that you want. Have fun with it and write it from your heart and spirit. Try to keep your rational mind out of it as much as possible.

Then the task is to read the story every morning. When you wake up read the story to yourself as a ritual. Every time you feel depressed, feel like binging etc, read the story. You can also edit it as circumstances change or as you wish to add more detail to it. I think that you will be surprised at how things start changing around you. At first it will be subtle but as time goes on you may find that your life is more like the story than you thought possible.

Trust me it really works!"

I loved this exercise Joe presented and was eager to implement this practice in my life. I have done plenty of affirmation and intention work for many years. I have seen some benefit from this practice, but always felt a little blocked. It's something I haven't really been able to put my finger on. I thought perhaps writing out the story of the life I wish to create as if it already were, may have a more convincing effect on my subconscious. This sparked an interesting conversation between me and a dear friend. We talked about Joe's exercise and then elaborated on the original concept. What we arrived at is a way to heal the past, while holding the vision for the future. I will now share what I posted in response to Joe on the forum...

"Hi Joe,

I wanted to add something to this discussion. I was talking to a good friend of mine this morning and sharing your exercise with her. It sparked an interesting dialogue between the two of us and we thought of a way to take this exercise a step further that I wanted to share with you and the community.

I think feeding the vision of the life we want to live is essential when it comes to healing and most certainly for those in recovery from ED. In fact, in eating disorder therapy, this is something that is really emphasized... the need to create a vision for the life you want to live. Eating disorder therapy also involves the necessary healing work of clearing the past, and finding a path to forgiveness of self and others.

As my friend and I were discussing your exercise this morning and talking about what an empowering practice we thought it would be, she said, "Now, what if you combine this exercise with a practice of rewriting stories from your past? With the past energy cleared, the new story will more readily take root." That made a lot of sense to me.

She's in human services and shared something she learned in her training where you draw up a timeline of your life, dividing it into 10 year increments beginning from birth, to the age you are presently. For each decade, you mark on the timeline significant life events, both positive and negative/traumatic in nature. Once your timeline is completed, you are able to spot certain patterns... the ways that our history/herstory intertwines with our present. Many patterns are repeated through a lifetime and can relate to past negative experiences and traumas that were not fully grieved, mourned, shed, and released.

She then suggested going through your timeline and picking several very significant events... things that really changed you as a person, or molded your life view. The focus would be on events that are negative/traumatic in nature. She then said, "What if you rewrote those story lines and took a difficult situation but revised it in such a way that would allow you to find peace with the experience so you can release it and let it go?"

I'll give you an example that we discussed. Let's say that you had a falling out with a parent and this created a rift between the two of you that remains unhealed to this day. Surely, there are things that both of you could have handled differently. However, when we feel wounded, often all we can see is our pain... our point of view. Let's say the rift was caused by an argument where the two of you both saw things very differently and you haven't spoken since. In fact, it has been years since the two of you have had a conversation. This has greatly impacted you and created a limiting energy that prevents you from moving forward in certain areas of your life.

I think this happens a lot. I believe that intention is powerful. I believe that it is important to hold a clear vision of the life you want to create. I also believe it is important to clear the clutter of the past so there is room for that new vision to become a reality. Otherwise, our perceptions, beliefs, and deeply ingrained expectations can cloud the waters and make for murky manifestation. It is important to be present and sometimes, being present involves addressing the past in the now so you can be free and clear to move forward unobstructed.

What if you rewrote the story of this argument with your parent that created the rift and really came from the heart and your soul as you described? Describe the situation from a higher vantage point. In this retelling, say the things you wished you had said and hear the things from your parent you wished you had heard. What if in the retelling you wrote a story where you both could come to understand the situation through the other's eyes and came to a place of peace and acceptance with each other? If you read this story to yourself daily, how would that shift your life experience? Would it have a healing effect on this situation that has troubled you for so long, even if it was a sense of peace awakening within your own heart?

Now, after doing this healing work, how much more potent would your exercise to call in your highest life vision be? I have a feeling it would be immensely powerful!

My friend and I were talking about how you could take this one past situation at a time, working with the issues that have greatly impacted you, while simultaneously working with the exercise you created Joe. How cool is that?! We thought it was pretty cool and felt it could have a very life-enhancing effect. I think I am going to combine this rewriting of a past story with your approach and see what happens. I already have a few issues in mind that I would like to do some release work around.

I just wanted to share this with you. It would be quite a potent community challenge to combine these two processes together. As you said Joe, our minds respond to story and metaphor. Why would this not have the same effect in rewriting the stories of the past? I would love to hear your thoughts on this. It sparked a really interesting conversation between me and my friend... took us to some wild places. My curiosity is peaked, so I definitely want to explore this."

From the marrying of these two concepts has come a comprehensive healing practice to find peace and closure with the past so space can be freed to allow the new vision of the life you want to live to enter. Sometimes people avoid healing the past and taking steps toward forgiveness. They would rather wipe their hands clean of yesterday and be done with it. I can certainly understand the desire to never look back and keep on, keepin' on. I have spent a lifetime doing just that, figuring that nothing can erase what has been done, so why bother addressing those issues? However, I have come to be aware of what a defense mechanism this has been for me.

We always hear the concept of the present being our point of power. I agree that this holds true. We are either here now, or we are nowhere. However, making peace with the past can be a necessary step in fostering presence. Doing healing work on past situations does not imply that you are stuck, living in yesteryear. Many misunderstand what true presence is really about. It is not about living in denial and putting on blinders. Sometimes, to be present you have to own your past and take steps to heal former issues in the now.

I'm actually excited to work with both aspects of this exercise. In my personal experience with affirmation work I have found marginal success in focusing on the future with positive intention. However, I stress marginal because there always seems to come a point in the process where I hit a brick wall. I believe this wall is built brick by brick with deep-held beliefs, conditioning, and expectations about what we are able to receive out of life based on past experiences. I agree that when it comes to the past, what's done is done. However, you can't just drop the past like a bad habit and think that it has no effect on who you are today. Those past experiences color your present life and indeed, your future. For example, let's say you wanted to create an abundant life, particularly in the area of your career and finances. If you grew up in poverty, how effectively do you think you would be able to call in this abundance? Surely, growing up poor has given you some powerful life experiences that have formulated your view of abundance and your ability to receive. These conditioned beliefs about abundance will act as a limiting factor that does not allow intention work to be completely effective. In order to manifest the life you envision for your future, you have to clear and resolve the energy of the past. The past after all, is foundational in who you are as a person.

The person you are today springs from the past and the experiences you have been through. This includes both positive and limiting aspects of yourself. A great book to read on this topic is, "You Can Heal Your Life", By, Louise L. Hay....

You Can Heal Your Life

Louise was diagnosed with cancer. She was told that she didn't have much time to live and that she would be required to go through extensive chemotherapy if she hoped to have any chance at survival. Something awoke in Louise when she received this dismal diagnoses. She got a solid intuitive hit that the reason she developed cancer was because she was holding onto resentment related to her past. It is interesting to note that many cancer patients have made this connection... that something is eating away at them emotionally and needs to be addressed before the cancer can be healed. This may sound like a rather airy-fairy concept to some, but there has been extensive research into the area of the mind-body connection. What has been established is that there appears to be a link between what the mind believes and how the body responds physically. You can find quite a few powerful stories out there about this.

Louise L. Hay began to work with affirmation, positive intention, and visualization. She went without traditional medical treatment because she firmly believed if she could release the resentment that she was carrying from the past, come to a place of forgiveness, and hold positive intentions of her future self, healed and whole, she would be able to release her condition of cancer. That is exactly what she did. She was considered a medical miracle. However, she remains adamant that her recovery was the direct result of releasing the power the past had over her by making peace with it, while simultaneously holding a firm vision of the life she wanted to live.

I have unresolved issues from my past. It's true that I can't go back and change what happened, but I can reclaim my power by giving myself a voice. I think it's important that our voice is heard. We all need that validation. We all deserve to say our peace.

Sometimes, we encounter experiences that we feel unable to address. We lack the emotional readiness to delve into certain areas, especially when pain is involved in order to work through the difficulty and find resolution. I personally have encountered situations that were too painful for me to deal with at the time. In reactiveness, I shut down, disconnected, and turned to eating disorder in order to survive and keep going. Above all, in times of crisis we will move toward self-preservation, even if those means of coping are not balanced or truly supportive. Those unresolved issues are like open wounds. I carry them with me to do this day. Those past issues affect me in the now. When past memories surface of times I have been tested to my core I can feel the intensity of the emotion as if it just happened. All the years that have passed do not create distance in terms of my feelings. Emotionally, I'm transported to that still frame in time. Nothing has been released or resolved. Those past experiences continue to play a role in my life to this day.

My past will always be a part of me. It cannot be erased or blotted from my soul. However, I do not need to fall into victimization by playing the blame game and clinging to anger, bitterness, and resentment. I know everything that happened in my past is exactly as it was meant to be. Yes... even the painful moments. My past is the culmination of the woman I am today. However, I believe I will not fully step into my power and reclaim my life until I find a path to peace with yesterday's experiences. I may not have been able to deal with those traumas then, but I am strong enough to face them now. This, in its purest essence, is presence. Presence is when you have the willingness to show up, feel, and consciously engage in your life experience... all of it... past, present, and future.

The forgiveness and release work I am currently doing around my past is a gift I give to myself. It sets me free. It allows me to shed the shackles of the past, redefining my beliefs and expectations about receiving. I believe that as I continue to clear the past, much like Louise L. Hay, I will be able to call in my future because I have created the emotional space to let it in. The way will no longer be blocked and barred by the self-imposed limitations of the beliefs I developed through my past experiences.

For this reason, I am eager to write both the stories of my past and future. Personally, I feel that releasing the past, and coming to a space within of peace and forgiveness will be absolutely key if I hope to create a life that fulfills me. I also know it will be essential in my recovery from eating disorder.

I believe rewriting the story of the past in tandem with creating our story for the future may be the missing link. I have never used these concepts in tandem so I have no idea what the end result will be. I am curious to explore this exercise though and see what comes up.

This month, I encourage you to do the same. As Joe suggested, write up the story of your future life. Set your intention for where you want to go. It is always helpful to have a destination in mind when setting out on any journey. The story of your future self can act as a road map. As Joe said, there is always room for detours too. Often when we begin shifting and evolving, our desires change. Where you are looking to be in this moment may turn into an entirely different arriving point as you go through your healing process. Keep your options open and know that nothing is written in stone. You always have the power to revise your story. Use this story of the future you to reinforce your vision at times in your life when you are struggling, feel insecure, or a dealing with eating disorder issues. This will have an empowering influence and remind you that challenges are temporary. You always have the power to direct your course away from what isn't working for you, toward a future that will fulfill you.

Simultaneously, drawn up your life line and pinpoint those significant life experiences that led you to where you are currently. Notice if you see any patterns. Do certain scenarios seem to crop up consistently throughout your life? This is not a coincidence. This is the direct result of your past conditioning and likely relates to issues where you may need resolution and closure. This doesn't make you a failure or a victim. We all have our stuff and we also have the power to create healing for ourselves. When we are willing to go there, own our lives, and show up on our behalf to do the deeper work, we are present. We reclaim our power and shed the limitations of the past like an old skin.

Pick one story from your past to rewrite. Let your voice be heard. You deserve to have your say in this matter. As a daily ritual, begin first by reading the retelling of your past story. Honor whatever feelings surface through this process. Hold space for the emotions to come. Then read your future story. This is a powerful statement... an extremely affirming act. Quite literally, you are saying, "I am willing to heal the past and let it go so I can welcome in the new and all the good seeking to find me."

I will share my experience with this exercise and the effect it has on my life. I also look forward to connecting with others who take up this challenge. I would love to hear about your experiences working with this exercise. Feel free to share with the community the way this practice creates openings in your life and heart.

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