I’ve a lot of “work” on myself, taking so many classes in self help and personal development and reading a lot of books. I’ve followed and learned from Pema Chodron, Steve Pavlina, Brooke Castillo, Christine Kane, Sara Wiseman, Erin Pavlina, Byron Katie, Eckhart Tolle, Kyle Cease, Tony Robbins, Lissa Rankin, Tonya Leigh, Martha Beck, and so many more. Two things that stand out for me after following all of these spiritual/ personal development leaders for year:
1- Actually Do the Work
No matter how much I learn, if I don’t actually practice the lessons/do the work, then I’m not making any changes and really haven’t learned anything. Kyle Cease says it best. He says, it’s like going to the gym and talking about getting on a treadmill and how best and how often to to use it, and learning about all the benefits working out on a treadmill will bring. And then going home without ever having gotten on the treadmill. Talking about the treadmill will not increase your fitness. You won’t know how your body responds to the treadmill and you certainly get no benefits from only talking about it.
I take all of this to mean to two things-
- I must practice what I’ve learned and actually do the work and;
- It’s better to stop seeking more knowledge than I need
By actually doing the work, I sit with my triggers and my habitual patterns and implement what I’ve learned. And then the inevitable failure to implement the new behavior patterns follows. So I know I must keep failing at it and starting again. Soon enough though, the new thought patterns stick.
In doing the work, it also means I have little time to keep seeking more knowledge. By seeking out more and more knowledge, I’m not actually accessing the inner wisdom nor fully implementing the new behavior. In the past, I’ve gone from mentor to mentor hoping for someone to help me relieve the pain of being the me who isn’t in authentic alignment with her true self. And seeking help outside of myself for an inner issue is going to fail, until I sit with myself and access my own deep wisdom and truths.
I will soften this statement by pointing out that many of the teachers are saying the same thing but in their own style. For example, maybe Esther Hicks and Abraham work for you and you just get their ideas on manifestating. Or it turns out that no matter what you do, you can’t really quite grasp their teachings. It’s then you can turn to a different teacher. Then maybe Mike Dooley at TUT or his books may help you more easily consume the teachings. This was certainly the case for me, that after trying to learn from Esther and Abraham for a while, listening to Mike Dooley’s Infinite Possibilities made more sense and it just clicked for me about intention and visualization.
And no matter, which teachers you work with, of course you still have to practice the lessons and you have stop seeking the wisdom and knowledge from elsewhere.
2 – Learning About and Following My Own Yes and No
Another realization, one that’s been so helpful for me to constrain my focus is that I simply love the idea of the Mystery. I love the idea of intuition, of an unexplainable knowing, the Mystery of Life. That by shrugging off all the striving and the pushing and the “making things happen”, there is a surrender to what arises. And if you surrender long enough, if you listen to the small voice in the stillness, a river of magical and perfectly timed coincidences and synchronicities will flow through your life, to astonish and support you. I want this. I want this with all that I am, an internal YES screaming so loudly that it’s apparent whenever this thought arises for me. I want to marvel at the mystery and weep with gratitude of how amazing life can be, even when it’s not “going my way”.
Some of my teachers utterly embrace the mystery and some are very logical and level headed about the step by step instructions about how to achieve certain outcomes. Now that I have acknowledged my preferences, I know I prefer the mysterious. I’ve dropped any teacher who doesn’t allow for the synchronicities to arise. Now I follow that small, clear voice that says yes and the other one, which can be louder at times, that says NO. I love allowing the Mystery.
There have been times in life where I have pushed against walls, pushed boulders up hills, tried so hard against what is a clearly a NO for me. And there are times when I’ve tried something and gotten the clear NO from life and I’ve immediately dropped the effort. And still I can be surprised when much better results arise.
An Example of a Ridiculously Clear NO
A recent example of this occurred just a few months ago here in Bali. After making the decision to leave Ubud and try a coastal town so that the kids can have more beach and more playgrounds, I thought Canggu in the west was THE place for us. I got a short term rental while I searched for a longer term rental. [My partner was traveling 6 days a week and was leaving all the details to me.]
Prior to moving to Canggu to stay in the short-term rental, I found a long term rental that we were going to stay in for about 6 months. It was going to be a great little house and the twins loved the pool, and the view was great. My partner had looked at it prior to his next trip and thought it could work. I had a small inkling that maybe it wasn’t the place for us but everyone was happy so I just put it out there to the Universe that I wanted this place if it was meant to be. And then I tried to rent it through Airbnb. And the transaction didn’t go through. This had happened before on Airbnb, so I gave it a few days. It happens. Not everything is a sign. I tried to book the villa again and this time, the discount wasn’t applied correctly and then after a ton of effort, the discount was finally applied . And then this transaction would not go through after so much effort to get the discount applied. It didn’t go through again. What? Now, I’m starting to have a stronger inkling that I was getting a No about Canggu. Meanwhile, we moved to Canggu into what I thought would be a sweet, short term rental.
The short term rental was a disaster. DISASTER. Mold in the living room. A bizarre sweat box of a bedroom that made it uninhabitable. The twins getting bitten in their beds so badly that they couldn’t sleep in the other room so we all slept together in my room. We changed our 16 day reservation to 3 days. Pretty obvious to me that I got a clear message saying “GET OUT” (a la Eddie Murphy’s show back in the day).
And as all this was happening and I was trying to find us a place to land after moving from the toxic, short term rental, I decide to have one last go on the long term rental for Canggu. I tried again with the same card and then a different card and still the transaction would not go through. It was a totally mystery as to why I couldn’t get the rental to go through on a card. And yet, I knew. I was getting a huge NO from the Universe about Canggu.
I wrote to the owner of the long term rental and was honest about the reason why I wasn’t renting: that I was freaked out about how I couldn’t rent her place no matter what I did and I felt it was a sign. She was deeply disappointed and a bit angry.
No matter her anger and disappoint, that decision to not take the house and give up Canggu as our future home felt deeply right. I therefore didn’t second guess myself and I moved us to Sanur.
And in allowing the mystery, everything just clicked. I found the cutest long term hotel rental in Sanur, the Bali Bubble, two bedrooms and a sitting room at a massive discount. Something like $800 less than the house in Canggu was costing us for the same amount of time. And we fell in love with Sanur and it was a joyful, happy almost three weeks in Sanur before we had to leave for our visa renewal trip to Kuala Lumpur. It turns out that Sanur was everything I was hoping for from Canggu and we spent a further two months there. Life flowed smoothly in Sanur. It felt right.
And by the way, I don’t always feel the need to know why I’m being blocked by the Universe. Sometimes I think that it may be the other thing would have been bad and in surrendering to the Universe and feeling my way through the Yes and Nos of life, I am not experiencing the catastrophes that could have occurred had I not followed my intuition and allowed the mystery to unfold.
Sticking with It for the Best Results
Because I have spent much of my life ignoring my own yeses, I still am not very proficient about feeling into the yes or the no. In the past, I’ve muscled my way past the quiet, small voice that says yes to something inconvenient and no to the convenient. But I renew my commitment to saying Yes to my authentic self as often as I notice I’m not. I won’t have the most authentic, best life for me without following my true Yes.
What have been your biggest lessons? Best results?