- The Way to Change
The Way to Change
Why can it be so hard to change our self? We’ve read the books, perhaps several times, we’ve been on the course or retreat, perhaps several times, we’ve consulted someone infinitely wiser, perhaps several times…yet still nothing changes. Or if there is some change it seems small and insignificant. After all the time, attention and perhaps money we give to the idea of being, doing and relating better we still think, feel and do the same.
Once upon a time there was a very successful chief executive of a very big company who grew disillusioned with his life. He didn’t like himself and there seemed to be no meaning to his life. So he gave up everything and went to the Himalayas in search of a spiritual teacher. He found one of the world’s greatest spiritual gurus at whose feet he sat and studied every day for five years. One day the guru said, “You are now enlightened and ready to return to the world. Go and spread your wisdom”. Our ex CEO returned to New York and as he wandered through the streets he passed an ice cream seller. It had been five years since his last ice cream and, amazed by the selection of over fifty flavours on display, he looked deeply into the eyes of the ice cream seller and said, “Please make me one with everything!” As the ice cream seller filled a giant cone with all the flavours the ex CEO handed over his twenty-dollar note. A few moments after receiving his giant ice cream with every flavor he looked up at the ice cream seller and said, “Could I please have my change?” At which point the ice cream seller put both his hands together and started to bow, as if in prayer, and he said, “Ah, but all change must come from within!”
It seems obvious that we have to do our own work and change our selves from inside out. Yet we still read the books, go to the seminars and courses etc. which means, deep down, we still believe the work should be done, could be done, will be done from outside in. Reason? We have not yet realised how deeply we need to go within ourselves to find the power to empower the necessary changes we need or want to make. Changing a habit of action is not enough and not easy because its roots are buried deep within our being. And like the weeds in the garden unless we get the roots out then they just keep growing back. Changing how we think and what we feel seldom lasts as they too have their roots in the deep and now subconscious beliefs that we assimilated at a young age. Changing our perceptions and decisions is not easy and still not enough because they too have their roots in our learned beliefs and recorded memories within our being.
To change anything within our consciousness, within the inner space where all our thoughts, feelings and behaviours originate, requires energy. To increase the brightness of the lights in room requires more electricity. To change our habits of thought and feeling, of beliefs and perceptions, also requires energy or power. But it’s an energy that doesn’t come from outside our self otherwise we would all be buying tickets for the same source. It has to come from within. That’s why there are four daily practices, with the emphasis on daily, a combination of which have been the tried and tested ways to access the inner power and innate wisdom that we need in order to change how we think, what we feel and what we do, deeply and lastingly.
The practice of meditation gives you access to the core of your being where you always find your inner peace. And that peace, which is not a state of passivity, is your deepest power. Meditation is the practice of connecting with the power of your peace in order to remain calm while the world around you prefers chaos and crisis. It is the power you need to remain stable when those around who would try to provoke you into a reaction. Ultimately the ability to be stable and peaceful in all circumstances becomes it’s own habit. But only after the ability to touch the core of your being has been practiced wherever you are and in the face of whatever is happening around you. Which is why meditation is much more than just sitting in some special place with legs crossed and thumb touching forefinger!
This is the practice of using your mind and intellect to explore spiritual ideas. This will involve the ‘contemplation’ of the wisdom and insight of others to begin with. Not in a way that we are simply impressed by their wisdom and insights. But in a way that we use those insights as signposts into our self. And then using those signposts to trigger the ‘realisation’ of our own wisdom and insight. It is in such AHA moments that those old belief systems in which we have been trapped for years begin to crumble, new perspectives and perceptions are created and the resulting thoughts and feelings are re-aligned with what is innately true within the self. The power that is released by this process of study and self-realisation is exactly the kind of power we need to not only create new ways of thinking, feeling and doing but to also destroy the old ways. We sometimes forget that to create the new we must also be prepared to destroy the old.
It’s only when we are able to bring the power of our realisations into action that we know how much we have changed. Making those changes practical means we go into each day recognizing that each relationship is an opportunity to use and apply our power, our realisations, our new insights and perceptions. Not to impose our power over others but to restore mastery of our own creativity, which means taking back conscious control of our own thoughts and feelings. It’s in our relationships that we are challenged and tested to see how strongly any new ways of being and doing have taken root. The first green shoots of success start to appear is when we cease to ‘habitually react’ to a person or situation and start to ‘respond consciously’ and choicefully. What we often forget is that all ‘application’ needs to be followed by some time in ‘reflection’ in order to review how well we ‘applied’ and discern what needs to be adjusted next time.
From the moment we are born almost every one of us is taught that the purpose of life, that success in life, is to acquire and accumulate. This is probably our deepest and most powerful habit. It is the one that causes the most personal stress and suffering though we may not realise the connection. To want, to take and to keep is to attempt to reverse the natural flow of the energy of life. We are designed to flow outwards away from our self. We are designed to radiate, to connect, to give, to share. Changing the habit of wanting and taking, and freeing our self from the worry and insecurity that comes with it, is only possible when we consciously seek opportunities every day to give with no thought of return. It doesn’t really matter what level we make our contribution, it doesn’t really matter how we offer our self in the service of others, just doing it starts to weaken the strongest habit which is attempting t live from outside in.
In essence, four practices are usually necessary on a daily basis if we are to successfully achieve those inner changes that we expect the book, course or guru to do. MEDITATION to access our inner power. CONTEMPLATION (study) to generate new meaning and emerge our innate wisdom. APPLICATION followed by reflection to learn from the experience of our application in action and interaction. CONTRIBUTION to restore the natural flow of our being, of our consciousness.
Question: What are the three main changes you would like to make?
Reflection: How do you see your self acting differently as if those changes have already been made?
Action: Consciously create space at different times of the day each day this week for each of the four practices
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