A number of years ago, I was approached by a TV producer asking me if I would consider doing a show on eating disorders. When I asked her how she found me, she said that I had helped a friend of hers overcome bulimia in a single session and that it had changed her life, and she thought it would make for a great show.
Although I had heard from one client and one student that very week with similar stories to tell, I declined the show, pointing out honestly that I don’t know how to “cure” an eating disorder or any other ailment on demand. Seemingly miraculous changes like that do happen, but they happen as a natural effect of someone waking up to the thought created nature of their suffering and the deeper truth of who and what they are at core.
While I would love to have a magic wand that I could target at a specific problem or ailment, the nature of what I call “effortless change” is more like popping popcorn and melting ice than doing surgery with a scalpel or running a prescribed number of laps on a track. In the first instance, we can predict change because we understand the intrinsic transformative nature of that which we want to change. In the second, we need a level of training and/or discipline that is beyond what most of us currently (or will ever) possess.
If I put popcorn kernels over heat, they will pop. That’s nothing to do with my 28 years of coaching practice, which is why my popcorn pops as quickly and consistently as that of a licensed therapist and no more quickly or consistently than that of my seven year old godson Ryder.
Similarly If I put ice in the sun for long enough, it will melt. Whether it melts quickly or at a glacial pace isn’t up to me, but I know the solid ice will transform to liquid water over time. This will work exactly the same for me as it would for the world’s leading physicists and as quickly for a person with a history of mental or physical illness as a person who’s been healthy their whole life.
When it comes to human beings, the equivalent of the heating element of a popcorn popper or the brilliant glow of the sun is the laser like intensity of an insightful understanding and the gentle warmth of our true nature.
1. Insightful understanding
“No one can make you feel a way that you don’t think.”
-Dr. William J. Pettit
Perhaps the most powerful truth I have ever seen is that our experience of life is 100% thought-created and thought-maintained. When thought changes, our sense of reality changes with it.
Because every problem any human being has ever had was experienced via the energy of thought, understanding more about the nature of thought is a pretty potent weapon in our problem-solving arsenal.
Here’s what I’ve seen so far:
- Thought is temporary and transient – it comes and it goes of its own accord
- When I think of thought as solid and fixed it appears as solid and fixed; when I think of it as fluid and changeable it appears to be fluid and changeable.
- There’s no such thing as “positive” or “negative” thinking – there’s the energy of thought, then there’s my judgement of the form that energy is taking in the moment
- When I let go of whatever I happen to be thinking now, new thought comes along.
- In the space between thoughts I can glimpse my true nature.
2. Our true nature
“God loves people because of who God is, not because of who we are.”
While I am not religious, I find that religious writing often conveys spiritual truth in a truly beautiful form. So for me the idea that our innate health and perfection is in no way jeopardized by our very human follies points me inwards to a deeper, more childlike part of myself that has no interest in discernment and feels free to love myself and others unconditionally and indiscriminately.
When my thinking settles down and I touch and am touched by the space of meditation within, the world looks different because it is a different level of “me” looking out through my eyes. As I feel more peace within, the habitual coping strategies I’ve evolved for dealing with seemingly inescapable stress fall away. I don’t need to binge or starve or cut to change the way I feel when I already feel at peace. I don’t need to “amuse myself to death” with an endless array of distractions when the present moment is filled with life and love and wonder.
And since nearly all of the habits we want to change started out as attempts to gain relief from our own discomfort, when we get more comfortable, the habits fall away effortlessly and of their own accord.
This doesn’t mean we can’t make changes through applied effort and will. It does mean that when it comes to experiencing effortless change, the more we see, the less we need to do.
With all my love,
PS – My new Hay House program, The Path of Effortless Change, is now available.