It’s a game…21!

Your inner being adores you, because you are the physical manifestation of its desire to experience time-space reality.

When you learn to love yourself in the same way you come into alignment with your inner being.

Your inner being also adores where you are, your physical circumstances. Because although it sees both the wanted and unwanted aspects of those circumstances, it focuses only on the wanted, and how these wanted aspects perfectly reflect your shared desires and preferences.

We can also learn to love our experience in the same way, if we focus more on appreciating the wanted and focus less on anything unwanted.

Just knowing that it is possible to adore where we are, helps us to find aspects of it to appreciate. Every little bit of appreciation helps, and as we practice appreciation we are allowing in more circumstances and experiences of a like nature.

This has always been implicit in the Abraham-Hicks teachings: find the feeling-place of what you desire. Feel good as if your desires were already right in front of you.

But it helps to know that even your present circumstances are overflowing with adorable aspects if you can just tune yourself into appreciating them.

Even things we take for granted are answers to our inner being’s desire to be here and experience this life: gravity that keeps everything on the ground, the air we breath, the light that illuminates our whole world, the earth beneath us and the sky above us.

There’s an abundance of things to appreciate and adore in every moment. And as we learn to see things this way, we come into alignment with our inner being and we release our resistance to the many other desired things and experiences flowing into our lives.

Freedom from desires

I’m beginning to understand why some spiritual teachings talk about having no desires.

It’s not that they have no desires or preferences, but that they have learned to find happiness independent of external conditions.

This is not an outright denial of desire, but an acknowledgement that we do not need to wait for the fulfilment of desire in order to feel good.

Just thinking about the things we desire brings us the good feeling, so long as we don’t counteract it with thoughts of obstacles and unwanted conditions.

But “freedom from desire” is not as advertised. More like freedom from conditionality. Freedom from requiring desires to be physically manifested before we can feel good.

You don’t need to eliminate desires. You can’t. Just recognise that you can feel good right now without needing to see it first. Blessed are those who believe without seeing.

It’s a game…17!

When we focus on unwanted conditions we feel bad.

When we focus on wanted conditions we feel good.

But what actually feels good or bad is our alignment or misalignment of thought/vibration relative to our inner being.

Alignment feels good, so why don’t we practice it all the time? Why do we focus on things that feel bad?

It’s because we think that having the conditions we desire right now will make it easier for us to find good-feeling thoughts about them, appreciate them in more depth and detail, and thereby find even greater alignment more easily.

Which is partly true – it’s easier to appreciate a bright sunny day when it is actually bright and sunny, as opposed to when it is raining and dark.

It’s easier, but often we take these good things for granted; the habit of thinking “I’d feel better if…” is pernicious.

After all, that’s what you are doing right now: you’re thinking “I’d feel better if…” and ignoring all the things that are already manifested and going well for you.

So the “I’d feel better if…” attitude is theoretically true but actually false. You won’t feel better if you have the physical manifestation of what you desire, because you’re practiced in the attitude of “I’d feel better if…” and so you will soon turn your attention to something else that is lacking or unwanted in your experience.

That’s why it is more powerful to practice appreciating things that are already going well for you, however small and taken for granted they may be.

The ideal is to accept that feeling good, feeling better is the real essence of our desire, and (don’t panic) find a way to feel good/better right now and let that be enough, even though your physical conditions aren’t how you want them to be.

It’s a game…16!

Feeling good right now.

There’s a bit of a paradox in the create your reality game: by feeling good you allow yourself to receive the physical manifestations of your desires and preferences. But the catch is that you have to feel good right now in the absence of your desires.

We don’t want to. We’re afraid that if we feel good without our desires being fulfilled, our desires will never come. We are afraid that if we’re happy right now God or the universe or our inner being will say “well if you’re happy with how things are, there’s no need to change”.

It takes a bit of nudging to go from thinking “how can i be happy in the absence of my precious desires” to something more like “I might as well feel really good while I wait!”

And that’s how it works. If you can feel good right now without needing to look at physical manifestations that please you, then you are on the right track. But so long as you’re thinking “…and then I’ll get what I want and be truly happy” it won’t come.

It’s a game…08!

In the Abraham-Hicks teaching it’s the vibration of our thoughts relative to the vibration of our inner being (God) that determines our feelings and manifest reality.

That’s why I’m running with this idea that happiness is a vibrational game.

Our inner being is always a match to the fulfilment of our desires. Our inner being is like the expanded version of our physical being, and we would be in alignment right now if we would only keep up with our desires rather than resisting them.

One thing I’m discovering is that alignment works on many levels. It’s reflexive and meta-cognitive, in the sense that I can have resistance or alignment about the subjects of resistance and alignment.

Or to make it much simpler: it doesn’t matter if you are resisting because you think “my desires are really unrealistic” or because you think “finding alignment is really difficult”. Resistance is resistance no matter what the subject, it feels bad and brings you more bad-feeling experiences.

Learning lessons

Early on in my search for meaning, I accepted the ideas that we are here in this life to “learn lessons” of a moral or spiritual nature, and that these lessons derived from a kind of moral order at work in the universe.

For me this translates into an expectation of having to face harsh truths for my own good. It’s an outlook that presumes an external moral framework much like the painful character growth in narrative fiction.

So even as I accept that I create my reality and my inner being is a match to my desires, and vibrational alignment will be reflected in the feelings I feel and the life that unfolds for me, at the same time part of me insists that it will also include tough and unwanted moral lessons that are both necessary and beneficial.

It’s an old spiritual trope that we have to embrace pain and fear and death in order to receive happiness and life and joy.

Suspicious beliefs

But I’m suspicious of these thoughts. They match a little too precisely some negative childhood experiences and attitudes I developed to make sense of unhappiness and fear.

It’s an attitude that doesn’t really serve me. And since it feels bad to me, that’s my indication that it’s out of alignment with my inner being.

There is no lesson that must be learned or sacrifice that must be made or hard personal change that must be undertaken to justify having what I desire in life.

Whoever told me that I had to earn external validation before I could have what I wanted was just suiting themselves.

I don’t need moral lessons. It’s not a moral game, it’s a vibrational game. And the thought that I have to pay a price or earn a reward or prove my worth or become worthy of my desires is resistance.

Because the whole point of our desires is that we want to feel good. What preconditions are there on feeling good? Only that we focus on things that feel good to us. Nothing else.

I don’t need anyone else’s permission to feel good; not God’s, not my family’s, not my friends, not authorities and not some vague moral principles either. Feeling good is intrinsic and it arises from our alignment with God, our inner being, unconditional grace and love.

It’s a game…05!

There are things we want in life that sometimes seem difficult or impossible to have.

Thinking about how to get them usually leads us into a downward spiral. So Abraham-Hicks advises that we instead focus on why we want these things.

The answer is always ultimately because of how we will feel when we have the things we desire.

Having a great relationship or an amazing job would make it easier to feel good – at least at first.

But since happiness is a vibrational game, it’s not the thing that makes us happy, it’s the vibration we are focused on.

The person you want to be with doesn’t make you feel good; it’s your vibration on the subject of that person. When you think about that person/subject you activate a vibration closer to the vibration of your inner being, and so you feel good.

But you can also think about that same person or situation and activate a vibration further away from the vibration of your inner being, and that will feel bad.

And since life is about creating and expanding through our desires these good and bad feeling vibrations correspond to thoughts that allow or resist our desires.

So what to do?

It might sound a bit strange, but since happiness is a vibrational game why not find the really good feeling vibration you associate with having that relationship or getting that job, and just feel the vibration now?

That’s what Abraham-Hicks are teaching. How do you feel when you imagine being with that person? Excitement, adventure, connection, energy. How do you feel when you imagine having that job? Purposeful, creative, proud, accomplished, energised.

When you imagine it to the point of feeling it, you activate the vibration. Just practice that vibration now. It couldn’t be more simple.

It’s not the person or the job or any other condition making you feel so good. It’s the vibration. And you can have the vibration right now and in every moment and eternally.

The question is: do you want to feel that good right now? Don’t feel bad about it, but you’re probably not ready to feel that good. That’s why Abraham-Hicks advises to start with just aiming to feel better.

But when you are ready to find the vibration of the things you desire, then you can enjoy the essence of your desire in this very moment.

Practicing happiness 23

Feeling good vs feeling normal.

I want to flesh out a subtle point in the Abraham-Hicks teachings. I think it’s an implicit point and I haven’t seen it described quite this way before.

When our thoughts are aligned with our desires (and hence our inner being) we feel positive emotion.

When our thoughts contradict or resist our desires (and our inner being) we feel negative emotion.

Throughout each day we experience a range of alignment and misalignment, positive and negative emotion. Some of us spend more time in the negative and others spend more time in the positive.

The average of this range is our “point of attraction” or “set point”. But I think of this as an area rather than a point, having a range albeit a small one.

Everything in this range feels “normal” to us, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative. We don’t like the negatives and we do like the positives, but they still feel normal or expected to us.

Shifting “normal”

I think the real point of the A-H teachings is to shift the range of what we consider normal, so that there is more positive and less negative.

But most of us approach these teachings with a desire to obtain things that are quite far outside our normal range. We fixate on “big” desires that we think would feel amazing if we achieved them.

But amazing is a long way from normal. “Amazing” is like saying “far away”. And if we set our attention on things that are far away we will inevitably experience distance.

This distance translates into a believability issue. It would be “amazing” to wake up tomorrow and find you’ve won the lottery. But if it feels amazing in that distant sense, you probably don’t believe it will happen.

Ironically, if it feels “amazing” that probably means you have a lot of resistance to it. If you really believed you were going to win the lottery tomorrow it wouldn’t feel amazing after all. It would feel normal to you. Positive, but in a normal way.

Thats why the A-H teachings emphasise ease and satisfaction and appreciation.

Recalibrating normalcy

It’s counter-intuitive, but if we focus on good things that feel “normal” we tune ourselves into allowing our preferences and desires. Whereas if we focus on distant things that feel “amazing” we implicitly reinforce our resistance to them.

Focusing on amazing distant things we don’t have is like saying “I’d feel better if I had that”. But if you had it, you would soon adjust to it as it became part of your new normal.

So the real question is what constitutes your “normal” set point? Is it a normal of allowing and appreciating good things? Or is it a normal of resisting and yearning for distant things?

The point of the A-H teachings is to change your normal…not by greatly changing the contents of your life right now, but by changing your own relationship to the flow of wanted and unwanted in your right now experience.

Because even in an experience with lots of resistance there is still some allowing of good things. Do you appreciate these things? Or do you deride them as insignificant?

Are you focusing on the fulfilment of your preferences or the denial of them? Because your “normal” contains both, and where you focus determines which one will grow in your future.

Am I looking at my normal experience through the lens of getting rid of unwanted things? Or through the lens of appreciating wanted things?

Appreciation doesn’t mean I have to feel ecstatic about every little thing in my life. I don’t have to feel wonderful that so many of my preferences are being met. But to at least acknowledge that they are being met is an excellent shift to make.

What do you prefer?

Do I prefer having a couch to sit on, or having nowhere to sit? Obviously I prefer having it. How does it feel to have it? Of course it feels normal. Does it feel good? Yes of course it feels good to have my preference met.

I could at this point say that it doesn’t meet all my preferences in a couch, or a couch isn’t a very significant preference, etc. But that’s just resistance.

Go back to the preference. Couch or no couch? Couch. Feels good? Yes.

Now I could also object that it doesn’t feel good enough, this good feeling isn’t really changing my life. But that’s resistance too.

Try preferencing again: good feeling about couch or no good feeling about couch? Well when you put it that way, I prefer having a good feeling about my couch.

By extension: do I prefer feeling good about all my many preferences that are being met right this minute? Or do I prefer not feeling good about them? Of course I prefer feeling good about them.

And here’s a glimpse of the whole milieu of preferences that I have allowed into my experience. It’s a snapshot of my “normal” degree of allowing vs resistance. It’s an insight into how good I’m letting my life be, objectively how many preferences I’m letting be met.

Ultimately even something as cliche as winning the lottery is just a preference. It’s not a game-changing deus ex machina that changes everything about your life. It’s not an emotional atom bomb of joy and amazement that will keep you glowing for years to come.

It’s just a preference some people have. And for many it’s a stick to beat themselves and their normal experience with….a symptom, not salvation.

In reality there are so many preferences met that I take for granted in my daily life, it’s shameful that I ignore them and wish for “more”.

I’m literally uplifted and sustained by a whole web of preferences I’m allowing on a daily basis. I go from one good thing to another, albeit taking them for granted most of the time.

As a teenager I would have been overawed at all the stuff I have now. But today I’m just expecting it to be there. I shouldn’t feel overawed anymore, that’s not the point, but if I want more of my preferences met I should take stock of where, how, and why my life is so full of things I desire, value, like, and prefer.

Accept where you are

Sometimes the very thoughts that inspire us also lead us to frustration when we cling to them with an all-or-nothing attitude.

Learn from your life’s patterns

Two great obsessions of my adult life have been mastering the martial art I practice and finding spiritual enlightenment. These two subjects have unfolded concurrently, with remarkably similar patterns.

I recognised it sooner in my martial art: 20 or so years of striving made harder by my determination, and my belief that mastery was always within reach yet forever elusive.

If I had found a way to relax and enjoy it, accept where I was, and just let the practice evolve, then I think the same journey would have been a pleasant one instead of an increasingly unhappy struggle.

Still, something shifted recently and I was able to stop approaching it with so much intensity and demand. I’ve found the progress I longed for, but only after I stopped needing it. I understand so much more now, but only after I stopped insisting that this understanding would change everything for me.

Accepting where I am

Spiritually, I have had the same all-or-nothing attitude. Life is nothing, enlightenment is everything; I just need to somehow get there from here. But how?

That attitude has inspired me at times and definitely kept me motivated, but it’s also blinded me and kept my journey volatile and unstable.

It doesn’t really make sense to say that life is nothing and enlightenment is everything, because life is clearly varied and slow and gradual and nuanced.

Wanting enlightenment to transform me is like wanting my practice to immediately give me mastery; but if that was how it worked, why did every master who’s ever lived spend their lifetime training?

What I’ve done is use the ideal of enlightenment to motivate, inspire, goad and cajole myself for years. But the premise was wrong. There is no “enlightenment” that will manifest like magic and transform my reality in a moment. That would be a repudiation of what reality already is, in the same way that mastering kung fu quickly and easily would deny the circumstances that made me desire it in the first place.

Accepting where I am means recognising that I’m not on the verge of “getting it”. But I am always on the verge of feeling better (or worse) than present.

If I had accepted that every training session improved me a little, that would have been enough. Instead I beat myself up thinking that every session was a chance to find “the answer”…and I hadn’t found it.

Methodological modesty

In fact it’s not possible to take what Abraham-Hicks people call a “quantum leap” from terrible circumstances or feelings to amazing ones. That’s not how life works.

To “need” a quantum leap implies desperation. And desperation cannot produce satisfying results. In fact no amount of effort can produce results because you can’t be anywhere other than where you are right now, and from where you are only two things are possible: Feeling better or feeling worse.

If I break it down, the real drivers of my experience are contrast and desire. Both arise naturally, but it’s up to me how I welcome them. Fixating on enlightenment is not a separate ingredient or game-changer. It’s gotta be either contrast or desire and my feelings about it will tell me which it is.

My problem has been taking the inspiration I feel about enlightenment and trying to make that my benchmark for life, when in reality it is a desire. With my desire so clear, I could welcome contrast for what it is: a sign of expansion and good things coming. Instead I treated contrast as a sign that I had failed to achieve enlightenment.

I don’t control desire and I don’t control contrast. Yet every moment of my existence I’m focused on one or the other, and I can focus negatively on how remote my desires seem and how unwanted contrast is, or I can focus positively on how good desires are and how contrast means more good things are coming.

Like kung fu, in the end there are no quantum leaps or sudden transformations. But if you practice you improve, and if you accept that and even welcome it, the journey can be satisfying and progress assured.

Writing your life: handling contrast

I’m learning to handle contrast (unwanted experience) better, and it reminds me of my writing experiences.

In the past I didn’t handle contrast very well. I was like a writer who recoils at his own clumsy self-expression and gives up on it immediately.

I’m becoming more like an experienced writer who knows that not every idea will work, and who doesn’t expect a first draft to be perfect. A writer who doesn’t give up just because the words don’t yet flow effortlessly into their final form.

But where I’m heading is the kind of mature writer who knows that it is never going to be “complete”, because the very act of writing expands my skill, heightens my expectations and refines my judgement.

Isn’t that why early drafts look bad? By the time we’ve finished the draft we are a better writer than before, and we see more room for improvement. Our ideas are more developed and nuanced, so we find better ways to phrase it. And sometimes we’re just done with a story or idea and we want something fresh and new.

Why is there contrast?

This applies to contrast in our lives too. Contrast will always be part of life because we will never stop expanding and growing.

But it’s up to us whether we think of contrast as a catastrophe, a reflection of our failings and a reason to give up like the writer who excoriates himself for a dissatisfying first attempt.

Or if we instead start to view contrast as part of the process, and even a sign of growth, expansion and development.

Contrast is inevitable because we are always moving forward, always deepening our expectations and refining our preferences.

Must contrast be painful?

It’s our thoughts about contrast that make contrast painful. If you think unwanted feelings and experiences mean you’ve failed, you’ve f***ed up, you took a wrong turn, you don’t deserve better, you’re a bad person, then of course you will feel terrible when contrast comes.

If you are afraid of contrast, afraid of the unwanted in life, then your experience is going to be uncomfortable, like a would-be writer who doesn’t ever want to reread or edit his own work.

This all-or-nothing attitude makes contrast painful. It is itself a form of contrast, reflected in the rigidity and fear and anxiety that governs your world.

And yet it is liberating to know that contrast is not even bad. Unwanted experiences are not truly unwanted, they are part of the dynamic, how the whole of reality works.

Because you could not form new preferences without releasing old ones. You could not refine your desires without your unrefined desire being discarded. You could not expand without your prior existence seeming too small.

But that doesn’t mean you have to hate and bemoan where you are/were. Instead appreciate how it has fed and informed your expansion. And see if you can at least not freak out when contrast happens again!

Letting go 05: What is reality, really?

We think we inhabit a physical world with fixed rules based on observable forces and objects. But when we dig into this solid, enduring reality we find that there is nothing substantial at its core.

Molecules reduce to atoms, atoms reduce to subatomic particles, subatomic particles reduce to…what exactly? Measurable quantities of energy, properties of mass and charge, probability functions?

And if we go in the other direction, turning our attention back onto the observer, what do we find there?

No one has come close to reducing consciousness to something more tangible or physically explicable. The experiential core of your individual reality defies a material explanation.

Many people have encountered and contemplated this intangible reality of ours and there’s a consensus of sorts that however we explain both the subject consciousness and the objects or phenomena known by consciousness, the two cannot be truly separate and distinct in nature.

Non-dualism rules

This used to be my thing, but I got a bit cynical when this “enlightened” perspective didn’t yield any apparent benefits to me.

Back then I didn’t understand that I could feel better just by making how I feel my top priority. I didn’t yet believe that nothing is more important than feeling good. I didn’t know that feeling good is good.

I know so much more now, and it’s funny and satisfying to see old knowledge I’d let gather dust suddenly fall into place as a component of my happier and more aligned perspective.

So what do I have to gain from my unusual perspective of reality? What does it benefit me to see beyond appearances? What can I do better or differently now that I know how things work?

Vibrational reality

The upshot of all this is a different causality. A different kind of cause-and-effect at work in reality.

When we wish things were different, we tend to look at our circumstances and ask “but how can all this simply change?” We imagine physical laws and physical reality governing all things. We regard manifestations as dominant.

But this leaves no place for the miraculous. It leaves no place for revelation. It leaves no place for providence.

In the Abraham-Hicks teachings we are told that there is a vibrational reality waiting for us that is a perfect match to everything we desire – with the caveat that our desires will never stop expanding and evolving.

The only thing missing from that vibrational reality is…us. We are the only component that freely chooses whether or not to allow vibrational change within us. We are the only part of our reality that can resist the pull of our desires and the outpouring of love and blessings that is God’s response.

We resist this pull by focusing on the unwanted and misaligned aspects of everything. This habit of thought keeps us feeling disjointed and out of harmony with what we desire. It turns an effortless journey into an unpleasant struggle.

But the solution is easy. We just have to learn to let go and allow ourselves to be drawn into the new reality that awaits. We just have to let ourselves be part of the tapestry God is weaving on our behalf. We just have to let ourselves be taken care of, and enjoy being passengers on the way.

What could be more valuable than a deep and moving feeling of appreciation and love in your heart? Well maybe you’d like to be rich too. But only because you associate being rich with having feelings of freedom, joy, trust, confidence, appreciation and joy.

The audacious claim in the A-H teachings is that by finding those feelings you will allow that wealth to come to you. It’s not just that: whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be added unto you.

That will require letting go of resistance, including perhaps the resistance in your old view of “how the world works”.