“When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”
Congratulations! You’ve done it! You’re sick and tired of suffering. You’ve realized that the struggles in your life are your responsibility. You don’t want to keep repeating the same patterns over and over. You are ripe for transformation. Good for you!
Change must be in the air, as your comments and emails so aptly attest to. I feel a momentum of readers here recognizing how they are blocked, walled off, stuck in a rut – wanting to change, but still finding themselves playing out the same old, same old.
This post is all about, “Now what?” You are willing to get serious about not letting these patterns continue. You are eager to take action, but what do you do? Get out the shovel, the clippers, the fertilizer, and the hoe. It’s time to tend to your inner garden.
As you set the stage for change, be willing to get a little dirt on your hands. Stay conscious so you can discriminate the weeds from the beautiful flowers and plants that bring you joy. Learn to sow and fertilize seeds that support your happiness, peace, and well-being.
As you give your consistent, loving attention to the tendencies that don’t serve, they begin to unravel. And when you cultivate a lifestyle that keeps you from going to sleep and letting your patterns run wild, the freedom you long for shows up at your doorstep.
Are you ready, willing, and able? Here’s how.
Begin by asking yourself questions that illuminate every detail of this conditioned tendency that has found a home in you. Identify the roots, stem, and leaves – what drives you, your inner reaction, and your behavior choices. Keep an open heart and mind as you ask yourself:
- What am I experiencing in my body?
- What story am I telling myself that is keeping this tendency alive?
- What do I believe to be true about myself, other people, and the world in this situation?
- What are my expectations of how things are supposed to be?
- What am I assuming?
- How do I go from relaxation to suffering? Exactly how does this pattern develop and manifest?
You now have a whole lot of information about how these pesky troubles arise. Next, take your time with the answer to each of these questions. Let yourself go from thinking about the responses to a felt experience of them in your being. Walk in your garden and smell every rose.
This step makes the unconscious conscious. It awakens us to the truth of these tendencies, so they can no longer hide. It brings light to the darkness, compassion to what we have rejected or pushed away. It takes us out of the well-worn rut so we can pause, breathe, and observe.
- Close your eyes and receive the response to each question in silence, in stillness.
- Feel the sensations in your body, one by one.
- Tap into your inner wise one, then see the stories and belief systems with clarity. Are they actually true? Do they serve?
- Review the process of how you go from relaxation to suffering, feeling each step. Get to know this experience with great familiarity.
This step is about breaking the chains from the past. It invites you to be open to new possibilities, to venture out into the unknown. There is an inflexibility to repeating a pattern – the ones that get us into trouble. A happens, then B, then C, and without even realizing it, you are reacting in the same unpleasant, automatic way. It’s frustrating. Your heart is beating, but you aren’t truly alive.
By inquiring, then allowing yourself to receive fully, the pattern just can’t hold up in the same way. The jig is up, and the light has been turned on. As that happens, inflexibility is replaced by openness. New ways of responding become apparent. The soil of your being is rich for new seeds to be planted. You see the same old situations and people with fresh eyes – truly as if for the first time.
Maybe you will walk away. Maybe you will discover the kindest heart ever. Maybe you will discover that silence is golden. Be prepared for the unexpected.
Openness asks us to yield to the mystery, to not know, to make space for sane, appropriate responding to take shape. We behave in alignment with the moment, rather than being propelled by old baggage. We are alive, spacious, and true.
Rinse and Repeat
I can’t say this often enough: True transformation requires a true commitment. You don’t explore a pattern once in a while or only when you’re really hurting. Make your freedom a continual choice. Orient your whole life to wholeness, and the riches of the kingdom will be revealed to you.
Be a dabbler, and your movement is likely to go at a snail’s pace, if at all. Your garden will be overgrown, and your fields fallow.
Create room for stillness. Read inspiring books (and blogs). Spend time with fellow lovers of life. Commit to no longer letting your patterns run you, and the whole world is yours.
Are you stuck in a pattern? Have you found your way out? I’d love to hear…