Inspiration Series - Month Three
Firmness, Fire and Focus
In order to relax into the flow of our lives, we first have to get in the flow.
The great promise in following our dreams is that in doing so, we come into alignment with who we really are. We literally get in the flow of our own lives and start experiencing, more and more, the inspired thoughts, unexpected opportunities, supportive people and delightful synchronicities that affirm for us the “rightness” of our path.
Rather than trying to make things happen, we learn to follow the trail set by our dreams, our successes, our energy and our impulses. We relax into the journey and allow wonderful things into our experience.
As the promise is fulfilled, we live in a state of being we call Grace.
And yet…the promised fulfillment rarely occurs in a straight line, as most of us have discovered. Sometimes we get distracted or frustrated or worried or confused. We get lost. We get stuck. We hit roadblocks. Rather than being in the flow, we tread water. Or we get caught in a cross-current that’s not going in the direction we want to go. Or we simply float, adrift on a sea of conflicting priorities.
The idea of relaxing into the journey seems ridiculous at times like that. And from a certain perspective it is ridiculous. In order to relax into the flow of our lives, led by our longings, we have to actually get in the flow. And while the “getting” doesn’t require work or struggle, it does require focus. And shifting focus may require a teensy bit of effort, depending on how absorbed we may have become in thoughts that distract us from what we want.
Did you notice that I said “thoughts that distract us” rather than “things that distract us”? That was intentional. And it’s good news. Because while we may think that it’s the stuff of life that gets in the way of following our dreams, it’s actually how we’re thinking that gets in the way.
Our thinking directs the choices we make, what we attract into our lives and how we interpret the circumstances we’re in. We can think in ways that empower our dreams or we can think in ways that diminish them.
I know you already know this. Yet most of us benefit from being reminded of it, again and again. Just as there is no such thing as too much love, there is no such thing as too much support in learning to sustain our focus on our dreams.
A while ago I was in one of those odd, out-of-flow places. At first it felt like a welcome respite after a period of intense activity – which it was – but as the momentum of my life got slower and slower I started to feel adrift. It was almost as if an undercurrent was pulling me away from shore – away from what I wanted – and I felt powerless to stop it.
I watched quietly as my dreams drifted further and further from view. Old thoughts floated into my awareness that I hadn’t courted in a while. Thoughts such as, “I just don’t have what it takes” and “I’ve been deluding myself in thinking I can actually live my dreams” and “It’s no wonder nothing is working, I’ve made such bad decisions.”
To put it mildly, those thoughts weren’t helpful.
And to put it clearly, those thoughts were the undercurrent that was pulling me away from my dreams. What had started out as the natural ebb phase of an ebb-and-flow cycle had been distorted – by my judgmental thoughts – into an extended period of stagnation.
As I reflected on those thoughts in my journal one morning, I finally remembered to “give the pen” to my wise inner Self and see what she had to say about where I was. She was very clear in her response: I had to develop firmness, fire and focus. I had allowed my attention to soften to the point of dissipation, and it was time to bring it into focus. I had to, firmly but lovingly, find a way to reconnect with what I wanted and sustain my focus on it until my energy was reignited.
That was the moment I realized that before I could “let go” to the flow of my life, I had to get in it. And in order to get in it, I had to make two distinct yet related choices:
- The choice to not invest my attention in the thoughts that diminished or confused me
- The choice to invest my attention in loving thoughts about who I am and what I want
It’s a choice we’ll be called to make, again and again. It gets easier over time, to be sure, and yet there might be occasions when it suddenly feels as if we’re back at square one. Damning thoughts of failure, resignation or “not-enoughness” might show up long after we thought we’d let them go. It’s tempting to feel discouraged at times like that, but the feeling of discouragement is only a result of the story that we’re telling ourselves: the story of having taken two steps forward and three steps back, the story of going nowhere, the story of having to start all over again.
Do not invest in that story. Refocus on the deeper truth: What you want is a one-of-a-kind expression of who you are. Your dreams or impulses or longings are your guidance, calling you in the direction of growth and aliveness.You have what it takes because you ARE what it takes. Learning to love yourself each step of the way is the power and the promise.
Of course you will need to pause along the way, to rest and replenish and regroup. You will need to stay connected with your evolving desires and let go of the ones that no longer light you up. You will need to feel your way through worry and confusion and frustration. There will be ebbs and flows and periods of stillness. You won’t always be “on fire.”
But there is a big difference between giving in to a need for rest and giving up on your dreams. There is a big difference between being loving and being lax.There is a big difference between being in the flow and being adrift.
In your heart of hearts you know the difference, and that makes all the difference in the world. Stay close to your heart of hearts, no matter what. Be firm about that. Be loving. Be persistent.
Keep the fire burning.
- Pause to acknowledge something you want to create or experience in your life. It could be a long-held dream you have yet to realize, a new longing that has recently emerged or even a state of being you wish to experience more often, such as joy or peace. What are the immediate thoughts you have about realizing it? Write them down, just the way they show up in your mind.
- Notice if your thoughts support you in creating what you want or if they are doubtful or critical. (You may have a mix of both; if so separate them into two groups.) Look at the diminishing thoughts and notice how you feel as you read them. Breathe through your feelings. Say out loud, “These thoughts are not helpful.”
- Close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Open your eyes and look at the supportive thoughts and notice how you feel as you read them. (If none of your thoughts were supportive, feel for one that is, right now, and write it down.) Breathe into your feelings with an intention to expand them. Challenge yourself to come up with more thoughts that represent the deeper truth of who you are in relationship to what you want. Here is an example:
- It doesn’t matter how long I’ve wanted this. It matters that I still do. There have been so many other wonderful things I’ve created in my life, and now is my time to focus on this. I am more wise and aware now than I’ve ever been, and I know how to soothe myself through the challenges. Pursuing this will open me up in ways I probably can’t even imagine. I have so much to gain.
- Listen to this meditative visualization several times over the next few weeks. Allow yourself to go deeper with it each time. If it feels right to do so, set aside time at least once to record in your journal any insights, questions or thoughts that arise after the meditation.