Manifestations just aren’t that important

Manifestations are not as important as we think they are.

When we look to manifestations to make us happy, we begin clinging to conditions and circumstances, trying to get things just the way we want them.

We think manifestations have the power to make us feel good, but how we feel is determined by how well our thoughts align with God’s perspective within us.

Clinging and craving are universally recognised as obstacles to happiness, and most spiritual teachings encourage us to let go of manifest reality and find the true source of happiness within us.

That doesn’t mean manifestations will disappear or that reality is bad. And those same spiritual teachings promise us miraculous changes in our reality when we do find God.

Sometimes we let these promises confuse us, and we end up chasing spiritual growth because we hope for a change in our manifestations. That’s putting the cart before the horse, and simply won’t work.

It’s almost a paradox, but the promise is that manifestations will change to reflect the love and joy flowing through us. In other words: when we no longer desperately need them to.

Have you ever noticed that things you desire remain out of reach when you’re yearning for them, but when you forget about them and find peace they often turn up when you least expect them?

And by contrast, sometimes in our desperate yearning we manage to get what we want, but it doesn’t bring satisfaction or joy because we are still shaped by the sense of need.

Visualise

For me at this time the best answer is to view manifestations as akin to a music visualiser that generates animated images correlating with aspects of the music such as frequency and loudness.

When we watch a visualisation of music we know that it is just following the music. We appreciate how it complements the music but we never think it should change or be a certain way other than how the music is playing right now.

If we could have the same attitude to our manifestations, knowing that our whole reality is just reflecting the alignment and misalignment within us, we would stop clinging to the manifestations around us and focus instead on the love, joy, freedom, and happiness that flows inside us when we align our thoughts with God.

And that very perspective: letting go of manifestations and focusing on God; is one major component of the alignment we seek.

From relief to appreciation

Everything is changing, evolving, and expanding.

The last few days of meditation have been like a flood of relief. Today it no longer feels like relief, and once upon a time I’d have lost faith and given up because “it’s not working anymore”.

But relief is the feeling of releasing resistance, and it doesn’t make sense to think that there must be never-ending resistance to let go.

Think of relief as preparing a space for appreciation. When the same practice of meditation – letting go of your thoughts and your stories – is no longer bringing relief, that’s actually a sign of progress.

Appreciation is a more stable, powerful, aligned energy than relief. Relief only comes when we let go of resistance, but appreciation can be forever.

Sometimes it’s easier to focus on relief without finding the appreciation implicit in it. It’s a relief to get what you want after a long period of feeling deprived. But often we get what we want and then immediately forget about it, moving on to the next thing.

It’s how you play the game

I’m gradually getting my head around this idea, from the Abraham-Hicks teaching, that life will always contain contrast and always call us to expand. The question is how we welcome (or don’t) this call.

From a negative point of view nothing in life will ever be “enough”, we will always want more and never find contentment. No sooner are our desires fulfilled than we want something new.

But from a positive perspective this inherent incompleteness is the source of growth and expansion. If we can just learn to appreciate what is, and find a way to feel eager about what is coming next, then instead of an unending struggle or Sisyphean frustration, the exact same life is revealed to be an infinite journey of discovery and ease.

The flip side of “something always goes wrong” is that things are always getting better.

Floating downstream

When we look at life in ways that feel bad, we are fighting the current that carries us.

But as we learn to let go of the oars, we feel relief at giving up the struggle followed by enjoyment of the easy journey before us.

It’s the ease of this journey, and the sheer genius of the blessings along the way, that offer us endless opportunities for appreciation and savour.

Relief comes when you rest your tired muscles. But when they are no longer tired, then relief is replaced by enjoyment, satisfaction, and appreciation.

Love is not earned

Children lack insight into the minds and motives of adults, so as children we tend to take other people’s behaviour at face value.

I could never understand why things were often bleak and unpleasant at home. It didn’t make sense to me; but over time I concluded that I must have done something wrong, or failed to do something right and thereby earned these unhappy interactions.

Those thoughts stayed with me for a long time. In my interactions with new people I would be mindful of their possible expectations and my own “performance” according to those mysterious criteria.

I worried about making mistakes or doing something wrong in other people’s eyes. I would often second-guess people’s words and my own actions, trying to predict possible offences and conflict.

All that anxiety and effort stemmed from the false childhood premise that I was being treated according to my worth or desert, and these were lacking. I brought these thoughts to new interactions and looked for evidence to confirm them.

A new premise

With the benefit of knowing how I create my reality with my thoughts and focus, I can look back and see that things were not as bleak as I make out. If I hadn’t taken to heart the bad moods and cruel comments, there was plenty of room to manoeuvre.

If I had applied the Abraham-Hicks principles I would have had a much happier childhood.

It’s okay that I didn’t. My unhappiness has given me a correspondingly magnificent desire for joy, freedom, and expansion.

But looking back is helpful in this moment because I don’t want to keep those old thought patterns going anymore.

My new premise is that instead of getting the treatment I deserve, I get the reality I allow. God wants me to be happy, His love and blessings have never stopped flowing into me. It’s up to me to enjoy the flow instead of resisting it, to look to where the blessings are instead of where they aren’t.

There is no stream of bad things raining down on me because of some fault or error of mine. There are only good things that I allow, or resist.

Life is as good as I allow it to be; I am as happy as I allow myself to feel. Searching for my own faults and trying to avoid making mistakes was itself just the product of a misunderstanding.

There is no degree of personal perfection required to turn your life around. There is no correction of faults or errors required before people start treating you right. We do not earn God’s love and blessings, they are freely given.

We just have to accept them.

Remembering ease

I have this recurring suspicion that the answer to all of my questions in life will turn out to be “just stop trying”.

That’s partly because I used to be so intense I turned relaxation into an effort and “giving up” into a long-term goal that never got closer.

I’m so much happier these days, and my current themes of ease, trust, accepting, allowing, and letting go of the oars resonate so strongly.

Occasionally things are going so well that I forget. But the beauty of ease is that everything can always get easier. There’s no limit. The wonder of trust is that it just gets stronger the more you do it. There will never be a time to stop trusting, to stop enjoying ease, or to stop letting the current carry you downstream.

There will never be a time when happiness, appreciation and joy aren’t the only game in town.

So remind yourself to let go of the oars, let go completely, and allow God to reach you continuously with all the love and the blessings He has made for you.

Accepting love without earning it

Many of us grow up feeling that our place in the world is not assured, that love and happiness must be earned or accomplished.

We look for ways to please others or keep our own hope alive – the thought that being different, becoming more or better will bring us the love we desire.

As adults it can be hard to disentangle being loved as we are from these patterns of behaviour that are all about being loved for what we do or who we hope to become.

In relationships we tune out the love that is already there, and focus instead on our own promises and ideals about the person we want to be.

Love and momentum

Even if we are loved for who we are, our own self-image may be tied up with “being better”.

We are carried by the momentum of old stories in which we imagined ourselves being more successful, more attractive, more loveable in any number of ways.

But in most cases the people who actually love us don’t know those stories and don’t care either. People love us not for our promise of who we are going to be; they love us for who we have been the whole time.

If we really want to feel that love, it has to start with us. We have to begin thinking thoughts about how loveable we already are, and always have been.

We need to appreciate that we have always been loved in our very essence, quite apart from our qualities and attributes.

And it helps a whole lot to know that who we are in essence is love. Our innermost being is an extension of divine love. Love is less a condition of how others relate to us and more a condition of our very existence.

When you charge your phone you don’t think about whether your phone deserves electricity or not. You charge it because that’s what it needs to function.

Your heart doesn’t beat because you’ve earned it. It beats because that’s what life is.

And this is what love is too: it’s the feeling of life within you, the spiritual essence of your existence here. Love is the greater part of your being, and it’s focused right now and always on your physical experience.

Emotional guidance

In fact that’s why it felt so bad in the first place: the very thought that we might not be worthy of the love we had enjoyed naturally as small children. It’s the falseness and disharmony of this thought that caused us such strong emotional guidance to the contrary.

The more we thought “I’m not good enough”, the worse we felt.

And in that awful feeling of emptiness arose the idea of changing ourselves until we were good enough.

But that just adds more plans and strategies on top of the initial falsehood. We don’t feel bad because we aren’t loved; we feel bad because we keep focusing on thoughts that feel bad, thoughts like “I’m not good enough”.

And the answer isn’t quite “I am good enough”, because love was never something we earned.

Love is natural. Love is who I am. Love is part of my being. Love is the precondition of my existence. Love is my starting point, my foundation. Love is always present to me. Love is the source of my being.

There is nothing I need do. There is nothing asked of me. There is nothing required for love to flow, except that I allow it.

Other people’s bad moods

I used to feel responsibility and fear of other people’s bad moods and negative emotions.

But like everything in my experience, how I feel is not determined by circumstances (including the circumstance of other people being moody). How I feel is determined by my thoughts about circumstances.

For example: “he’s in a mood again!” feels pretty bad. I could sit, tense with anxiety, because I think someone expressing unhappiness or frustration is the foreshadowing of angry outbursts and cruel attacks on bystanders like me.

And in most cases I’d be wrong. Not just wrong, but blinded to the many positive aspects of the other person’s experience of contrast, blind to the value it holds for them and me, and at worst unwittingly contributing to the outcome I fear.

For all I know they might look up from their moderate feelings of frustration to catch me staring sidelong at them as if they are something horrible.

For all I know, my fearfulness contributes to their sense of dissatisfaction and overshadows the ease and happiness that is there even in the midst of a bad mood.

And for all I know the reality might be entirely benign. A moment’s contrast amidst a sea of calm, but I fly off in panic and stick the label “bad mood” over the whole day.

Is the bad mood in them or in me?

I don’t really know how other people are feeling, but if I’m sensing a dark and foreboding mood then that mood is active in me too.

Even if someone is in a bad mood, how does that effect me?

No, a bad mood is just another circumstance, and it’s my resistance that makes it seem so dire.

It’s therefore within my power to ease my thoughts and find relief, either by changing the subject of my focus or by telling a new story about it.

What is a bad mood?

What is a bad mood after all, except misaligned thoughts creating negative feelings.

The person in question is experiencing contrast, and their emotional guidance tells them their thoughts are out of alignment.

It’s actually nothing to do with me, anymore than my emotional guidance is the “fault” of others.

In fact my guidance is telling me, in my fear of others’ moods, that I have the wrong idea about them. Other people’s moods can have no impact on me, because other people do not create my experience.

Other people do not decide what thoughts I will think, what stories I will tell. Other people do not control my perception and focus.

When I was a child people’s bad moods scared me because I thought they were about me, reflections of my self giving rise to anger and malice in others. I interpreted their moods as judgement, and anticipated a terrible punishment to follow.

Now I’m an adult and I understand how things work. Other people’s negative emotions are not about me, but about their own thoughts, stories and perceptions.

Change your perception

I’m lying here on the couch and my wife is watching a video with headphones on, and it sounds like she’s sobbing her heart out.

Except she’s actually laughing her arse off, quietly so as not to wake the baby.

My thoughts lead me to hear crying before I hear laughter (don’t worry, I checked) and that’s just a matter of practice and momentum.

What kinds of thoughts can we have to help soften our experience of others’ emotions?

People are happy most of the time. People are usually in a good mood. People have their own emotional guidance to help them find alignment. People have their own inner being to call them always towards happiness and joy.

Sometimes people get stuck in their resistance but it’s okay. Being stuck just increases their desire for freedom.

And if people are resisting, and feeling really strong guidance, I hope they get it. I hope they heed the call. I hope they learn to feel good too, as good as I feel right now.

I’ve had my own resistance too. I’ve dug my own hole deeper than it ever needed to be, and that’s how I understand now that it was never necessary to increase my suffering.

I can really relate to people in a state of resistance feeling strong guidance, and that’s why I feel good for them. I know the joy and the trust and the ease and the freedom that flows to them, even though right at this moment they are looking away from it.

I know how good life can be for them, and with that loving intention I can let them go, knowing that they will find their answers too. Knowing that there’s nothing really “wrong” about a bad mood.

Awakening to your higher self

There’s always been this dichotomy of two selves.

The self you are most aware of is more like a focal point than a separate entity. It’s how you participate in the physical world, but it’s not the fullest extent of your being.

When we worry, fear, struggle and fight, it’s as if we are focused on this self to the exclusion or ignoring of its true nature, and ours.

What people call the higher self, Buddha-nature, Christ dwelling within us, is an awakening to this greater being of which we are a part.

If we say the physical self is a focal point, then it is this greater, spiritual self that is focusing here.

We could live most of our lives focused only on the physical self, with only fleeting awareness of the bigger picture.

But the real joy and ease and happiness comes as we come into alignment with this higher, spiritual self that is an extension of God, and begin to merge those two perspectives.

Our higher self is always united with God. It knows only endless streams of love and appreciation and joy.

Our physical self can, as a focal point, be in harmony with our higher self and enjoy the resonance and beauty of that most satisfying relationship.

That is why ease and relief are important, because from God’s perspective there can be no reason, no obstacle, no thing to stand in opposition or resistance to the love and the light that is His very being.

This higher self, this relationship with God is always within us. It just takes practice of relief, practice letting go of the oars and turning downstream, practice of trust to the point where we can feel its presence as naturally as we feel a cool breeze on our skin or the rhythm of our own breath.

It’s only taken me two years of exploration and practice to cease feeling chronically depressed and find relief and trust available to me at all times.

And in that two years it only took about two months of daily focus to really hear the answers i was seeking: let go of the oars, again and again let them go. Let the current turn you downstream. Stop trying, stop efforting, let go into trust that the universe is good, that God desires your happiness, and rest in the utter totality of trusting the creator of the universe to carry you gently, easily into the love you always desired.

This trust is the spring of life-giving water. It is the abundance of joy promised us. It is everything we desire, and it is available to us always.

I remember

I remember my desire
Born out of suffering and misery
To awaken another world within me.

I remember being inspired
By poets and mystics
Who promised infinite treasures
If I could follow their meaning.

I remember wanting
To see God in every damned thing
Around me
And within me.

I remember trying
A hundred different ways
Meditation, prayer,
Knowledge and devotion
Desperate and shaking
Blaming myself, giving up
Endlessly addicted.
Dark night or just deluded
Depressed or half-enlightened
Realisation or rumination

And I remember the promise
In the joy of its fulfilment
The revelation and remembering
That all of my efforts
Weren’t wasted, unsuccessful
But they kept me on the path
Long enough for me to shed them
Like the lotus in the mud
To take the joy without the sorrow
And the love without the heartache
And knowing without doubt or confusion

You don’t “have to”!

“I have to go pick up my son in a minute.”

That’s a great example of an old negative thought.

Have to means “possess as a duty”.

And that’s exactly how it feels if you think about it that way. Uh oh, here comes a duty.

But I don’t pick him up from school out of duty! I pick him up because he’s a delightful kid and I’m eager to see him, and I get to be the first person he sees after school, enjoy his smile, ask him about his day and bring him back home.

Do you want life to be full of duties? It’s just a form of expression, but words carry meaning from context and other uses, and when there are much happier words to use why not use them?

“It’s time to go pick up my son, and in case you’re wondering, I love doing it!”

Love yourself

One of the hardest experiences as a child is to realise there’s no love, help, or comfort coming, and that you must somehow get by without it.

We build resilient methods of getting by, but the stronger they are, the longer we will endure without relief.

As adults we have the opportunity to learn how to love, soothe, and comfort ourselves. We can learn to reignite the flames that were extinguished long ago. And then we can finally put down the massive burden of having to live life on empty.

Learning to love yourself heals wounds where survival strategies just numb the pain.

And loving yourself can be so much easier when you know it’s not just you, but also a loving God, inner being, universe, or whatever word helps you find it.

Loving yourself feels good. Loving yourself restores you. Loving yourself answers the questions you been turning over ad infinitum on your own.

Loving yourself lets God in.

And then there is no difference between loving yourself and being loved by God. The love is God’s, but it is up to you to allow it, accept it, let it in where it might upset decades of careful strategies and contingency plans.

There’s an obvious connection between loving ourselves and trusting God. We need to believe it’s safe to let our guard down; we need to trust that God will never hurt us; we need to trust that love is everything we are wanting before we can truly allow it in.

We need to know that our fears and doubts do not come from God. We need to trust that as we finally let love in, everything will be transformed.

In the Abraham-Hicks teachings loving ourselves is not emphasised, because for most of us there’s just too much resistance. Instead we’re advised to just feel better, less bad, in every possible way, and trust that everything is working out.

But there will come a time when you can feel good not just about the things in your life but about your own self too. So don’t hurry or rush. There’s no time limit. It’s counter-intuitive, but by feeling good about anything you’re already letting more love in than if you stare grimly at the subject of “self love” and try to conquer it right now.