If you missed part one of this tip, please click here
To briefly recap, the three most common intervention points in the “human system” are results, behaviors, thoughts (including but not limited to beliefs and values). That is, we attempt to influence our experience for the better by making changes in our circumstances, our behaviors, and/or our thinking.
While many of these interventions can provide short-term relief when successful, they often create as many problems as they solve over time. We become wealthier, more successful, and find somebody to love, only to now fill our time protecting our wealth, hanging on to our success, and worrying about losing the ones we love.
Or we become more disciplined, change our habits, get ourselves on track, but always knowing that we are only a few bad days or weeks away from backsliding further than we have worked so hard to come.
Or we affirm abundance and health, eliminate the luxury of a negative thought, only hang out with “positive people”, and wonder why our world has become so small and tight and restricted.
So what really leads to lasting transformation and change in the quality of your experience of life?
We all know at least one person who has experienced a transformative shift in their lives. Perhaps it was a friend or family member who “found God”, and once we got over our discomfort about it we came to see that they really did begin to live a kinder, gentler life. Or someone who was diagnosed with a life threatening illness or had a near death experience who shifted their priorities and began to experience more gratitude and appreciate the simple things in life as a result.
Sometimes it seems more random – they read something in a book, or heard someone say something about life that somehow struck them at a far deeper level than it may even have been intended.
One of my own teachers, a one-time Scottish welder named Syd Banks, reportedly experienced his first major shift in consciousness while hiking with a fellow participant on a weekend seminar. In the midst of an argument over which of them was more insecure, his companion told him “You’re not really insecure Syd – you just think you are.” Somehow that innocuous, almost comical statement spoken nearly 40 years ago triggered a series of insights into the nature of thought which led to the creation of a new field of psychology and a new approach to social work, education, and coaching. (Check out http://www.threeprinciplesmovies.com and the upcoming conference in London to learn more.)
Here are some of the characteristics of a shift in consciousness:
- It tends to come in the form of an insight – some kind of a glimpse into a deeper truth about life or ourselves or the nature of the human experience
- It tends be accompanied a beautiful feeling. People describe this feeling in terms of everything from a sense of peacefulness and gratitude to a dissolving of boundaries to a deeper connection with others or God or with life itself.
- While the depth of feeling fades over time, you never go back to seeing things in exactly the same way as before. As I’ve written elsewhere, nothing changes but everything’s different.
Most of us have experienced at least a temporary shift in consciousness the first time we fell in love. Suddenly the world seemed a more beautiful place. We were inspired to write poetry (well, OK, maybe that was just me :-), or to draw pictures or create things that reflected the beautiful feelings we felt inside us.
Because we attributed those feelings to another person, when things didn’t work out with them (or did work out with them but the feeling faded over time as it always does), we went back to our lives and either chalked it up to the naivete of youth or redoubled our efforts to meet another person that would give us another taste of that deeper way of being in the world.
But those feelings don’t come from outside ourselves. They are our birthright – and when we see something about the truth of that for ourselves, the shift in consciousness becomes permanent and new levels of seeing become available to us.
Which takes us to the most powerful leverage point I have yet found as I work in the field of life transformation – increasing the level of conscious understanding of how the mind, thought, and consciousness work together to create our experience of being alive.
Somehow, each glimpse behind the curtain of the human experience seems to lead to a shift in levels of consciousness. The more time we spend in our deeper, more unconditional feelings of well-being, the quieter our mind gets and the more insights we seem to have. And as we have new insights, our thoughts get even quieter and the feelings get even more profound.
For those of us interested in well-being (or indeed the well-being of the planet), this realization takes us to a fork in the road. We can absolutely continue down the path of control and attempt to think, behave, or circumstance our way to happiness and well-being. In fairness, this path has numerous advantages. It’s well lit and well-traveled and we will rarely find ourselves at a loss for companions on that journey. While these companions may disagree with us on which specific things we need to change or how to change them, they will never question the fundamental premise that we need to change something in order to be happy and whole.
On the other hand, we can take the path of transformation, sacrificing that comforting feeling of being in control in hopes of discovering greater freedom. We give up on the apparent safety of the known in search of the as yet unknown – the field of pure possibility.
I sometimes compare the choice between the path of control and the path of transformation as the difference between climbing stairs and taking the elevator. When you see your own actions, thoughts, and intentions as the primary motive force in creating change, you will do your best to soldier on up the infinite stairwell of consciousness, climbing ten stairs today and slipping back down eight tomorrow.
When you see that consciousness itself is the greatest transformative force we have available to us, you simply step into the elevator of insight, characterized by a quiet, reflective mind and a beautiful feeling, and you look deeper into the mystery of being alive. While you don’t control the timing, each time the doors of perception open you emerge from the elevator on a higher floor with a new, clearer view of life.
While many things have been written about the path of transformation, what very few people seem to point out is that if you can get past your own insecure thinking, hanging out in the unknown is fun. The kind of new thinking that emerges into the empty spaces in an open mind is invigorating.
For me personally, I completely understand anyone who chooses the familiarity of the known and the path of control. In my own insecure moments, the temptation is palpable. But each time I pull back from trying to fix what I only think is broken, I discover something new which points me towards the kindness of the design. Things certainly don’t always go my way. But no matter how well or poorly they turn out, the only thing I know which even comes close to matching the thrill and beauty of a new insight is the joy of being with someone else when they have an insight of their own.