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.

Imagine you’re relaxing

I wanted to lie down on the couch.

I’d been sitting at the computer for a couple of hours, and I really really wanted to go and stretch out and relax on the couch.

The couch was right there…12 feet away.

But then I thought…

Huh. 

What if I focus on the good feeling of relaxing on the couch, rather than actually doing it?

What are the limits of my ability to focus on relief and relaxation as the desired outcome of lying on the couch?

After all, lying on the couch is a neutral action. You can lie on a couch and feel stiff and terrible, just as you can say the words “I feel good” while feeling horrible.

I want to lie on the couch because I believe doing so will relieve tension and discomfort from sitting for too long.

But is it necessary to get up and go lie on the couch in order to feel that?

As a test or experiment, I thought I’d find out how couch-like I could feel without actually getting up and going to lie on the couch.

Oh man.

It turns out I’ve never really appreciated lying on a couch as much as when I didn’t actually lie on it.

The process of getting deeper and deeper into couch-like relaxation revealed hidden resistance.

For example, in the past I’ve hurt my back numerous times, and so I have an ingrained fear of arching my back unsupported in case I pull a muscle in my lower back.

It’s a protective habit, but it means I’m walking around with this guarded tension in parts of my back.

Why can’t I relax without lying on the couch? It turns out I can, I’m just not used to it.

This weird little experiment of declining to recline demonstrates that I can evoke feelings of relaxation and letting go, without taking the action that I usually associate with those feelings.

It also suggests that action can sometimes stand in the way of truly changing how I feel.

Deceptive activity

The action of lying down might relax me to some degree, but it also stops me learning how to relax without lying down, which is far more valuable to me.

After about ten minutes focusing like this, I went and lay down. Surprisingly, it was harder to relax lying down than when sitting. It was harder to relax because lying down hadn’t truly relaxed me, it had just taken away the pressure.

I wasn’t learning to let go, I was just relieving the worst of the burden.

In this sense, action can be counter-productive at times.

It can relieve the pressure that would otherwise motivate us to change our behaviour – like learning how to properly relax.

It can also confuse us as to what we really want.

For example, I thought I really wanted to lie on the couch. But it turned out that I really wanted to feel relaxed and relieved…and by resisting the more obvious course of action, I learned that I could feel relaxation and relief even in an uncomfortable position.

Isn’t that exciting? That means it wasn’t even really about the position or the action (or lack thereof), but about something in my mind from the beginning.

If I can use my mental focus to relax, then presumably it was my lack of focus, or my focus on something else, that caused my tension to persist in the first place.

Doesn’t that imply that I can feel relaxed and relieved of pressure whenever I like?

This idea of mental relaxation through visualisation is nothing new. I’ve heard it before many times but never succeeded in applying it.

I think that might be for melancholic reasons.

Simple tricks or techniques to relax (or for any purpose) tend not to appeal to melancholics because of our deep desire for meaning.

That’s why I’ve only used this technique successfully now, because it fits into the broader context of how one’s experience of reality, feelings, and thoughts, flow from one’s point of focus.

I think this serves as a useful experiment in “positive thinking”.

In the process of changing my focus I discovered that I didn’t want what I thought I wanted, that my usual course of action was usually only a half-measure at best or counter-productive at worst, and it also brought me renewed excitement and curiosity as to the broader applications of this technique.