How to Live Your Vision

by Brad on November 18, 2016

How to Live Your Vision, with both Purpose and Commitment, in a World that Would Rather You Didn’t

(presentation to KindYoga of Cape Cod)

©2016 Bradford Glass – Brad@nullRoadNotTaken.com – www.RoadNotTaken.com

 

Download pdf version

 

Introduction

Live Your Vision: a vision is not a plan or goal; it has no end point. It’s a “way of being” in the world. You don’t do a vision; you become it. Because the energy fueling a vision comes from love that already lives inside you, you don’t need to force your will. You allow it to manifest – using conscious awareness and intention.

With Purpose & Commitment: a vision is a possibility you live into, not an expectation you live up to. You do that not through “trying harder,” but through conscious awareness … yet at a level far deeper than the consciousness needed to get through an ordinary day.

In a World that Would Rather You Didn’t: society doesn’t want you to think for yourself; taking personal responsibility represents a threat to the mass culture of compliance, consumerism and greed in which we live. In fact, the more you do think for yourself and live with commitment and purpose, the greater society’s pressure for you to stop.

A few questions. Notice how the questions themselves may touch you.

  • Is your life today a perfect reflection of your vision and potential?
  • If you’re not living your own life today, whose life are you living?
  • What’s the story you tell yourself about why you can’t?
  • Will your story still work for you 30 years from now?
  • What are you willing to do to create and live a new story?
  • What are you willing to do to deny yourself of your new story?

As you might know, many of us have pretty good “stories” for why we don’t have what we want. “I’ll live that way when I have enough money, when my kids are done with school, when other people think I’m ok enough, when I think I’m ok enough, or when Mercury gets out of retrograde.” Nonsense. You’ll have what you want when you believe you can have it. Life is not the problem. It’s how you see and think about life that stops you. By misidentifying the enemy, you let yourself off the hook for the greatness inside you.

 

Background: My Premise

What holds us back from our dreams and potential? Stress, anxiety, overwhelm, resentment, anger, frustration, guilt and dread … caused by an unconscious, yet futile, obsession with making life (ourselves, others, world) conform to the way we think it should be, to the point of a consequent denial of the way it truly is … all of which leaves us believing more strongly in our limitations than in our potential.

 

Background: Problem Statement

How did things get this way? (if we get to know how and why, we can release it.) We were taught to see what should be rather than what is. (You should be nice to others; you should do well in school; you should get a good job; you should make a lot of money; you should control how life goes; life should be fair, you should get over it!) We come to believe life is conditional – only if we get it right do we gain approval of others. Here’s where I see this has led us.

  • You believed early lessons about “how life should be” were true.
  • You became whatever you learned you “should be” (responsible, right, victim, controlling), an adopted false self.
  • You practiced being this “false you” to gain approval of a conditional world; you now believe this is who you are.
  • Old lessons became prevailing beliefs, which, after years of practice, became your core competence.
  • Principle: We think our world into being.
  • You created “what is” with your thoughts.
  • You created “what should be” with your thoughts, too.
  • So you created the “gap” between the two, which you became obligated to manage … causing your stress, anger, anxiety, etc.
  • But … all of this is made up in your head.
  • Fact: “The way things are” doesn’t ask for your judgment or upset. It asks for your acceptance and creative genius.
  • The missing ingredient for evoking this change is consciousness, (not knowing more or trying harder)
  • It’s time to stop fixing stuff and instead get to know the thinking that created the stuff in the first place.
  • You do that through practice – your awareness in this moment is your most powerful tool for evoking change in the next moment.
  • When you see life as it is, with clarity and depth uncommon in our sound-bite world, you discover your own power to change it.

Many of these lessons are so common they show up as society’s “prevailing wisdom,” which, as it turns out, isn’t wisdom, and largely, isn’t even true. Today I want to explore this space and discover what’s really going on, because it represents the key to your living your truth, on purpose with purpose. I’d like to share some of my stories and lessons, and I’d like to hear some of yours. I welcome questions, suggestions and even disagreements – it’s how we all learn. I’ve got handouts for you at the end, and the text of this program is on my website.

 

Forces that Hold Us Back — What gets in your way?

An unconsciously-adopted societal “rule book,” almost the air we breathe, which values:

  • answers over questions,
  • busyness over silent reflection,
  • doing over thinking,
  • compliance over creativity,
  • social acceptance over personal responsibility,
  • money over happiness,
  • expedience over completeness,
  • drama over meaning,
  • our limitations over our potential,
  • scientific reason over subjective knowing,
  • problems over possibilities,
  • external validation over inner truth,
  • knowledge over experience,
  • productivity over fulfillment

We might summarize these “rules of life’s external game” like this: If you want to make it, you have to play the game. The game says if you know more, try harder, stay busy, look good, don’t rock the boat, and get it right, you’ll make a lot of money so you can buy a lot of stuff and then you’ll be happy. We even have a name for the game – the American Dream. (The original American Dream promised “freedom of spirit.” What happened to that dream?)

 

Forces that Pull Us Forward — What helps you?

  • natural curiosity and wonder about life’s (and your own) mysteries
  • willingness to allow life’s experiences to change you
  • tolerance for the unknown, the uncertain, the paradoxical
  • acceptance that truth is context-sensitive and thinking-dependent
  • an innate, personal longing … energy that wants to express itself through how you live and work

The pull of your internal world is subtle, personal, indirect, yet persistent. Showing up in intuition, dreams, recurring life patterns, energy, body sensations, its message is this: inside you is a natural, creative essence, energy that makes you unique, energy that wants to express itself through how you live your life. You feel its pull many times a day, showing you your truth, asking you to listen. (In fact, it keeps pulling at you until you do.) It’s the energy of resonance – when you “know without knowing” that something is right and true for you. At its core is your greatest potential.

Summarizing the forces at work here:

  • we’re biologically wired for curiosity and wonder.
  • we’re culturally wired to deny whatever we find.

We’re born to explore life’s potential, yet we’re acculturated into a worldview that tells us not to look. But this is an issue of awareness rather than skill, however, so there is great hope for change.

Mark Twain once said: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” So much of what we “know for sure” … “just ain’t so.” How do you get to know what’s true??

 

The Path Forward

If the path to living your vision with purpose and commitment can be viewed as a process, here are five “phases” you negotiate along the way. You don’t simply “do” these, but rather, you “become” them.

  • Accept. Gain complete clarity and acceptance that “the way it is” today just is. Release all judgment; it just is. This is true about every aspect of life, all that happens in life, and who you are – including your not-knowingness. It simply is. Claim it. Because we generally lack depth of awareness as to who we are and how we do what we do, we tend to live in judgment of “what is.” We see what’s wrong instead of what’s possible, what ‘should be’ instead of ‘what is.’
  • Understand. Gain complete clarity and acceptance that “the way it is” is a natural consequence of your thinking up until now. You are the causal factor in “the way it is.” Included is your “interpretation,” which is the life story of your thinking, not of reality. Know your truth. Make it conscious. Claim it. We blame life for our struggles, but it’s how we see and think about life. In order to create meaningful change, we need to change the thinking that created “the way it is,” now.
  • Envision. Create in your mind, then continually replay to yourself, a bold, powerful vision of a life you’d love to live. (This can be done at any level – a lifetime, a job, a project, a conversation, or even being a competency you desire). This is powerful only to the extent that you’ve previously claimed “what is” and your thinking. Envision living a life that fully expresses your truth in the world. This brings rational and emotional energy together, creating meaning. Envisioning is powerful because it creates a memory of the future, so when you show up living your vision, you act as if you already knew it to be true.
  • Act. Nurture conditions for your vision to manifest. Take one action toward your vision each day. Let go of how it turns out; focus instead on being With each step, just listen – for feedback, a natural information flow in every living system that will guide your next step, and the next. Be with yourself. No need to set another goal or agenda again, or plan an outcome; and you don’t have to manage yourself to them.
  • Sustain. Sustain your vision and inner truth for a lifetime by adopting personal practices in three areas of life: (1) extreme self-care, (2) honoring your thinking, not the opinions or demands of others, as the measuring stick for your life, (3) connecting deeply – with yourself, nature, higher power, and community of support. These practices allow you to “be with yourself,” becoming your vision.

Practicing Your Way to Your Dreams

While you may believe that reading about new ideas will change you, the fact is that only personal felt experience of those ideas can do that. You don’t learn to ski by reading books; you learn to ski by coming down the mountain. You develop felt experience of your thinking by getting to know your thinking. You get to know your thinking by becoming a regular, conscious observer of it. The process is “practice.” “There is no path; paths are made by walking.”

A practice is an exercise done regularly and purposefully, with an intention of interrupting the incessant flow of your mind’s unconscious chatter, so you can get to know it. Unlike tasks, which have a clear end point, practices are never “done.” That’s because practices don’t force change directly; they create conditions where change occurs naturally. Compare building a house to tending a garden. You make a house. But with a garden, you nurture conditions (soil, sunlight, water, etc.), then allow growth to happen naturally (you don’t make roses grow). This approach is opposite the “know more, try harder” command-and-control model we’re so used to.

If there’s an obstacle to getting to know your thinking, it’s the unconscious mind, whose job it is to protect you from change. It sees change as a threat, not as a possibility, so until you interrupt its flow with conscious awareness, you keep doing the same things the same way. In effect, you practice being who you don’t want to be. If you’re not living your vision today, it’s because, through unconscious habit, you’ve mastered not living it.

But as an observer of your thinking, you gain a perspective on your consciousness that you could never get as a participant alone. You see your thinking at work. When you notice your thoughts, you notice the ones that “protect your edges,” the ones that keep your context small. As you notice the edges, you get to know the edges, and in so doing, you develop a new power of choice – to learn from them instead of retreating. Awareness of your thinking changes your thinking. By releasing thinking that is “not you,” the true you emerges, just like Michelangelo’s David emerged from the marble – “all I needed to do was remove that which was ‘not David.’”

Practices for Personal Transformation

By adopting these self-reflection practices, you may find your consciousness progressing down the path noted here.

  • Silence – open a pathway to inner contemplation
  • Contemplation – become aware of your own thinking
  • Conscious Awareness – broaden perspective, clarify perception
  • Clarity – experience truth – about yourself, others, and life
  • Personal Truth – choose thoughts that honor your truth
  • Self-Trust – trust your thoughts to guide your choices
  • Personal Freedom – experience life as your own
  • Peace and Meaning – be connected with all life

Practice: The felt experience of silence. We’re often taught that being silent means we’re unproductive, so we learn to fear it. Silence focuses your awareness on the present moment and opens you to deeper listening of your true self. Claim 15 minutes each day. Sit alone in a place you love, in nature if possible, without distraction, ideally a place you can visit each day, so you can get to know it and call it your own. Relax your body; take three deep breaths. Gaze at a simple object nearby, or close your eyes. Then breathe naturally. That’s it. There’s no right or wrong; just be present for 15 minutes. At first, and maybe for some time, you may notice thoughts continue to flood your mind. No need to fight or judge them. With some practice, you’ll find your mind calming. You’ll likely come to love (and seek) silence. As the practice of silence intrigues you (it will), up the ante: how about no radio, TV, news or malls – for a week? If you feel better (you will), another week.

Practice: Observe your thoughts. As you notice your thoughts, you realize you not only have them, but have a relationship with them. Stop what you’re doing several times a day. During a few moments of quiet reflection, replay in your mind thoughts you’ve had since the last time you stopped, as if a movie with you as its audience. Listen to what they tell you. Just notice; don’t try to change them. With regular practice of self-observation, you will (1) come to know your own thoughts, (2) hear subtle messages of your inner truth, (3) see that only your thoughts determine your reality, (4) release the judgment you’ve create by confusing what should be with what is, (5) see life from a far broader perspective, (6) make new choices easily and naturally (simply because you now can), (7) get so good at this that you’ll see thoughts as they occur.

Practice: Envision your future as a movie. In addition to being audience in your life’s story, you’re also the director. This affords you separation between you and your life, so you see and create with less attachment to details. As all directors know, anything can come next. You simply change the script, creating a story that evokes your greatest potential. This is not about planning or predicting a future, but about giving your dreams energy, so they have space to manifest. Sit quietly where you feel inspired. In your imagination, create your future as a movie, with you as its star, living the life of your dreams, evoking the heart, soul & spirit of the “you” you may never have dared to expose, even to yourself. Imagine where and how you live, how you relate to others, your community of love and support, making a great living doing exactly what your heart and soul love most. Do this exercise regularly, each time adding detail, making changes as you like. Fall in love with your movie. You need sell only one copy – to yourself! Regular practice envisioning your future creates a “memory of the future,” energy pulling you toward it, manifesting the vision as reality.

Practice: BE your vision. Take one action step toward your vision each day. Let go of the outcome; focus instead on being it. Just do or be one thing that energizes your dream. Instead of judging each step, just listen – for feedback – a natural flow of information inherent in every living system. No need to make up goals, plans or steps ahead of time; they actually constrain you. Far easier, and more powerful, is to let the natural feedback from being your vision guide your next steps. It will. Your daily action steps are significant because each step takes you into your deepest truth – exciting, rewarding, and genuine; and because you’re never more than one step from “home.” This simultaneously frees you from the tyranny of goals and outcomes, and grows trust in your own inner truth over the opinions of others.

Practice: The felt experience of self-care. We’re often taught to care for others, commonly to the exclusion of ourselves. Caring for yourself creates self-trust, evokes emotional intelligence and improves your connection with others. Create your own personal daily ritual to honor and respect the many dimensions of your being. If you’re unsure how to start, choose from these ideas: Physical: walk, do yoga, eat well. Mental: read, quiet time to think. Emotional: be around loving people, journal, have fresh flowers in your home, create fun. Relational: join communities of like-minded others, build support systems. Soulful: a practice of silent time in nature, watch a sunrise. Spiritual: time in nature, inspiring music, connect with a higher power.

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