"I find that my biggest challenge to becoming a successful photographer is that I lack focus."
- Unknown Photographer
A lot can be said about this quote in regards to life in general. Most lack focus to stay centered on life and career goals, let alone accessing higher states of consciousness and wholeness.
I had some excellent mentoring at Western Washington University's Small Business Center located in downtown Bellingham, WA, that is free for anyone to use. This was very valuable in getting important information in starting up my business ideas and learning what types of steps to undertake in order to move forward. There is so much more to starting a business, of which includes such things as advertising, marketing, networking, etc. I think the biggest and most important thing is having well written goals, highlighting the steps to achieve them, with dates of when said steps might be completed, and just as important, to spend time visualizing what your goals would look and feel like completed. Yes, what an accomplished goal would feel like is crucial, it is the feeling modality that empowers it with your creative forces within. If you don't have a small business center in your town, contact your local Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Administration for information on starting up a business.
Part of this work/play towards being successful is understanding how many of us sabotage our success by living out unconscious patterns learned from home, school, church, community, etc. Getting conscious of how we sabotage is crucial in stopping self-defeating patterns so as to not live out quiet lives of desperation, frustration, boredom, or lack of passion and joy. Crucial to this process is really noting when we run up against a wall where we can't figure out the next step and throwing in the towel. The idea is to keep on trying and most importantly making time to turn inward and listen for inner guidance, which may come as images, voices with specific directions, or you might be thinking of possible ideas and as you view them in your minds eye, you notice which one feels right out of all the others. You may have an urge to talk to a particular person for advice or assistance. Be willing to take the risks to find out what is intuition and ego distractions. I would also recommend reading Doreen Virtue's book, "Divine Guidance," an excellent guide to learning how to become more conscious of your intuitive process.
Stop thinking; instead, listen for inner guidance, images, insights.
Part of the problem has to do with not being in alignment with the things that make us passionate. During my time creating my degree program in Spiritual Psychology at Fairhaven College, I was always having a wonderful time learning and practicing what I was pursuing, and the whole time it was effortless. I can recall just before I graduated, it was a week or so before finals, and everyone around me was freaking out about them. I recalled sitting down one night and wondering if perhaps I should be stressed out; that whole monkey see, monkey do philosophy, we have adopted as cultural norms. After a bit of pondering it dawned on me that I was doing what I loved, which was why I wasn't stressing out.
Unfortunately, after graduating, I lost sight of that insight, and begin to fit myself back into other programs that were nothing like Fairhaven. Instead, there were all these requirements of what spirituality was and wasn't, and then I tried to pursue an M.A. in psychology and all that non-sense, then getting depressed over things not working out. In the end, spirit got my attention as to not following my passions, my intuitions, my dreams, and what brought me joy. I can see one part that threw me for a loop was realizing my dreams would cost money, and I just couldn't see how I was going to get the money to do them. This limited thinking caused me to give up my dreams and follow the typical advice given or expected by others, such as just take whatever pays well, or do whatever you're good at, or the worst one, having others tell you to be realistic. And the other foolish notion I was ingrained with was needing to find an organization to work for who would pay me and take care of me.
I am fully conscious of the realization that no one will ever take care of you as well as your own self. No business or corporation can ever guarantee you a job for life, especially not these days with all the upheavals going on with cutting costs, outsourcing, downsizing, etc. None of the great and or successful ever followed those rules. And the very small percentage of those making most of the money are assuredly tapping into their creative ideas and intuition to be more successful. Why aren't all of us doing this? James Ray states that the trend we are moving back towards is more small businesses, because the corporate conglomerate idea is no longer ideal in terms of being profitable. So, my question to my readers is, "why should you settle for less?" Are you really enjoying your life in all areas of it?
We are all winners, creative, intelligent, with the inner capacity to tap into higher states of consciousness. It just takes discipline to get back on the horse when it throws you off. We were born with this capacity, and over time we were taught to bury it, turn it off, or turn it down. So, we are a conglomeration of patterns that negate our creative potential. We learned to negate by repeating actions that negated. So, it makes sense that we need to figure out what actions will empower us and repeating them till they are second nature. Repetition is the only thing that will create positive new patterns to get what you want in life. The critical piece here is ensuring it is what you are passionate about doing. If you are doing it only for the money, then you are destined to not be that successful. If it is not effortless, it is not what you are supposed to be doing in alignment with your higher self.
The one thing I would change about the movie, The Secret, would be to emphasize the spiritual component more. If you are not in alignment with your own spiritual depth, then it will work against you. Being in alignment with your spiritual self is always going to have you doing what you are passionate about while being of service to the world, however your higher self may have decided to do prior to coming to Earth. When we are in alignment it is effortless and joyful. Doors begin to open, you begin to meet people, you begin to give up what no longer supports your higher emerging self, as you get rid of the masks and of pleasing family, loved ones, or society.
We were not born on this planet to be what others want us to be.
All of this change in my life has come about because I got tired of living the way I had been living. Tired of putting up with others expectations, judgments, and limiting mindsets. After my opening in September, I began to spend time every day journeying in various modes and was rewarded with a lot of inner guidance and healing work. When you finally have enough of the stifling ways of our culture, you begin to look at other possibilities, realizing that it is a very small percentage of people who are willing to forge their own destiny versus following like a sheep. That's not living at all. It's called dying and it is akin to being a slave and prisoner, a mental version that is just as destructive as the physical ones.
You are what you believe yourself to be and if you base it on what others say and do to you, then that is where you get your definition of who you are. Most belief this is not true, but that is the illusion our ego feeds us. A person can find out if this is true by paying attention to their feelings and making a point of having time for silence and introspection. But, that is the rub of the ego, it will ensure we are kept busing doing what we "think" we are, when in fact we are not what we think, but what we feel. The whole chest/stomach area is our prime navigation equipment in this realm, and will tell if what feels and doesn't feel right; always; all ways. The problem with knowing this truth is it comes into conflict with the ego beliefs, which leads to rationalizations, dis-belief in the feelings, or distracting us from action based on what others will think. The scary part of this ego construct is we don't even know it is going on and if we are we tend to be distracted anyway by the patterned thinking. We all know that a iceberg has a huge portion of its being submerged. This is exactly what we have as well in our own subconscious.
I have been spending time contemplating on what soul is and isn't based on my own ongoing inner experiences. I have had dreams of this immense submerged self surfacing as huge submarines in dreams. I have had illusion laid bare in an instant that were so horrible that I literally changed patterns instantly upon having the awareness. My being in shock is an understatement, especially when I thought I had done quite a bit of work in these areas. The submerged aspects of the soul are astounding and could blow your mind if opened too much. That is why I believe psychedelics are such incredible tools for liberating one's authentic self to take over driving our vehicle from the ego false self. And I still stand by the basic tenet of my spiritual psychology degree of body, mind, soul, spirit integration. Wholeness, complete wholeness comes when we do the necessary work in these areas to integrate and set our authentic self free.
We came into this world conscious and steadily had it eradicated by the incessant pressures of conformity; either it was taught out of us, guilted out of us, shamed out of us, intimidated out of us, beaten out of us or ostracized out of us. As adults we are so out of touch of our early years, and we have been conditioned to believe that our early years were irrelevant, hence off limits. I am strongly suggesting that the past is where our freedom comes from. In being aware of the illusions, one can free themselves to gain access to that powerful authentic self we were in touch with as children. While doing some journeying, I was told by my guides, "Sherman, you have no idea how powerful you are in being." a few moments went by until this realization sunk in.
In being authentic is where our true power lies. Intellectually this may seem ridiculous, until you grasp it in feeling intuitive knowing mode. When you act from your higher self, you are always guided through the closed doors, around walls, over obstacles. You are always led to find people, places, and things that will assist you and support you in creating the passions you came to create for the betterment of self "and" humankind. As embodied souls, we did not come here to please ourselves alone. Self pleasure for the sake of only our selves is an ego pursuit. The difference is in following our passions from authentic self, we please our self first by doing what we love, while our passions serve others.
When we surrender to authentic self, the ego patterns fall away, as do the people associated with those dysfunctional patterns. We no longer attract people who judge, argue, criticize, manipulate, lie, cheat, steal, play games, intimidate or who love with conditions. Like wise, things that supported our denial fall away. Things we used to do based on the false self fall away as well. It takes time to adjust, but this is dependent on how well we disconnect from ego self and listen and follow our inner connection with feelings and intuition. This can be work, especially so for those who have heavily invested in others approval and ideas of right and wrong. Moving forward means learning to find your own inner answers till you know longer listen to anyone else, unless it feels right within your own being. Be patient with this process.
One of these days I am going to be in a space to be able to write about these things in greater depth. In the meantime the last six months have felt like having Queen Elizabeth II on my back and only being able to carry it; nothing else. But, this will end as does all integration and transformative inner work. In the meantime we must be gentle, sensitive, and nurturing of this inner process, because we are the only ones who can birth this inner opening. Yes, others can help, but we must be the one's who open the inner gates of awareness. It is amazing how much falls away when the authentic self is revealed. What and who we thought was important changes in ways that will begin to support who you really are in ways that will astound you. I will write more about this soon.
To Know thy self is to love thy self...
On this surface this makes perfect sense intellectually. When you open to the depths of your being, it will move you to tears, as the meaning begins to awaken awareness of how buried we've been...
Hey, how is everyone doing, good I hope! Life has been transforming at warp speeds, shedding layers so fast, I wonder if my skin will disappear and my insides slop down to the ground. I have had to do a lot of resting, both physically as well as mentally. Meditation has become a regular thing to do in order to remain balanced and to hush up the ego construct that is bothersome. The chatter is not such a problem as is how it distracts me to do something else or get caught up in something irrelevant. I am getting better and better and its game plan and it has become a source of laughter for me to watch its antics. A few days ago I had this epiphany in regards to the games it plays. I got something in the mail and got really angry about it, only to realize the part getting angry wasn't me. I have known this for some time, but I get distracted into thinking (the problem) that it is me and its not. So, I caught ego in the act and immediately got back to calm. Oddly enough the metaphor that came to just now is getting back into the center of the hurricane where all is calm. Its when we step out of the center of our being outside the center that we step into the raging hurricane and get blown all over the place.
Later that night I was working on business taxes and during a break to the bathroom, I noticed ego slipping in this really subtle fear about something and since I was aware of it, I didn't get distracted into "thinking" it was me. It was so hilarious that I laughed out loud. When I got back to my office, I got a snack out and while eating, ego tried to slip in another silly fear, and oh how I laughed. I was howling and as I was laughing, I heard this inner voice say, "It's not funny." And I said out loud to it, "yes it is." Since then I have been watchful for this process that I used to be unconscious too. We have been trained so well to accept fear, anger, hatred, violence, etc. And you know, none of those are who we are as a conscious being. Love is all there is. When we step out of our center, love no longer exists. We get caught up in all the isms, what others think about us or how we should behave according to the dysfunctions of those who run government, religious institutions, academic institutions, and economic institutions. It can be rather unsettling to realize that who we thought we are isn't who we really are. And who are we really. It is not such an easy thing to answer, nor is it something one can put conveniently into a convenient paragraph for comfort.
I am reminded of making masks while attending Fairhaven College. It was my first time having a mask done in art class. I had the grace of having the teacher apply the strips one by one. And it was such an organic experience, because I suddenly became aware of how symbolic this was of being forced to create a mask in my early years for family, community, church, and school. As each of those pieces of gauze were added, I began to loose my eye sight, then my mouth eventually was sealed and allowed just enough room to breathe via my nostrils. I was very calm and centered, while being able to have this incredible experience of how my authentic being was put under, sort of mummified if you will. Unable to see out, nor speak out, nor act according to authentic principles of spiritual being. When it came time to take off the mask, I was told to move my facial muscles to separate the mask from the skin, which began a slow process of extricating me from the mask. As I look back on that moment, I better understand the implications of extricating myself from The Mask. If only it were as simple as making a plaster mask. The beauty of this is realizing that our authentic self is untarnished and untainted beneath the mask. To be or not to be, that is the question...
Here's a link to a broadcast I heard this morning of John Demartini being interviewed for his new book entitled, "The Heart Of Love: how to go beyond fantasy to find true relationship fulfillment." You can listen to his interview by going to http://www.worldpuja.org. You will need to register (free) in order to gain access to the Archive section. Once there, go to Dr. Demartini February 21, 2007. Clicking will activate the on-line player. He had some really incredible things to say about relating with others and a host of other things that I'd not heard before. The times are changing and it is about moving out from the oppressiveness of masks, walls, self-imprisonment to old outdated beliefs that literally stifle the spirit out of us. This has been what most mainstream religions have been about, stifling spirit so that man can create the facade of what God is based in man's image. This is being created by human beings who are disconnected, and in their fear, they force others to abdicate their own spiritual connection, so the disconnected can feel powerful. The true disenchanted are those who are disconnected from spirit. The illusion that money and power make someone is absolute non-sense.
Nothing, no career, no amount of money, no property, no significant other, no accrual of power makes us anything but disenchanted, because it is nothing without spirit, our spirit. There is nothing wrong about material things, its just that they are nothing without spirit. And by spirit, I don't include the fear, guilt, shame based non-sense that we have been conditioned to believe as the divine. There's nothing divine about fear, guilt, shame, intimidation, hatred, violence, lying, cheating, stealing, killing. We are blessed children of God/Goddess, nothing less, nothing more, and great abundance is ours right now by being open to it, open to spirit, for we are empowered to create miracles; all of us. Creating is what we do naturally. When we are connected to spirit we create in the positive; when we are disconnected from our spirit, we create in the negative, meaning we negate the ability to create abundance in all areas of our lives.
I close with this beautiful quote:
" A life without change is not a life; it is a stagnant pool. To change your mind frivolously is a cop-out. To change your mind under the direction of the wisdom of the heart is a brush stroke on the masterpiece you are delivering to the world."
- Alan Cohen "Dare To Be Yourself"