Something very interesting happened this week.
I’ve been listening repeatedly to a conversation between personal development teacher Bill Harris and motivational speaker and author Jack Canfield. I recorded it when I first heard it, way back in 2005, and it sat in my iTunes ever since. But this week the shuffle mode selected it, and my ears perked up at the nuggets the two men shared. (Truth, after all, is timeless.)
What stood out for me was the principle that it’s very important to focus on what you want, as opposed to what you don’t want or what you want to avoid, because whatever your mind focuses on gets manifested. I’ve understood this intellectually for a long time, but knowing something and living it can be two entirely different things.
One day this week during my morning Buddhist practice I focused on a prayer of gratitude and appreciation for the man who established the practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, back in the 13th century in Japan. This was no mean feat, as like all truth-tellers, he was persecuted. Both state and religious authorities attacked him, because his sincere and selfless efforts to awaken people to their true potential threatened to disturb the status quo that kept so-called “ordinary” people subjugated.
Usually when I think about him, and everything he went through, I express my gratitude as, “Without you, there is nothing.” But on this particular morning, my mind spontaneously said: “With you, there is everything.” I made a 180-degree shift. From nothing to everything. From hopelessness to possibility. From fear to faith.
Focus on what you want, as opposed to what you don’t want or what you want to avoid, because whatever your mind focuses on gets manifested.
As I continue to affirm and reflect on my new belief it’s as though a portal of awareness has opened up in my mind. I see so clearly now how my fear-filled mind focuses over and over again on what I might lose, what terrible thing might happen to me, what pain awaits me if I try to move forward. My default thinking pattern is that I have to suffer or, at best, settle for “what is” because it’s what I deserve and I’m fundamentally powerless to change it. And I think this kind of unconscious, habitual thinking is deeply embedded in all people who have suffered the trauma of abuse. (Please see About Me for my story.)
But I also know that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. When we keep plugging away on a daily basis at dedicated, spiritual practice (Nichiren Buddhism in my case) and finding additional ways to heal our mind (EFT/Tapping in my case) and exposing ourselves to positive influences, even the most deeply embedded negative neural pathways eventually shift.
Does this mean that I’ll experience nothing but smooth sailing from now on? If this wishful-thinking fantasy were true, how could I possibly continue to grow? But it does mean that my capacity to appreciate my current circumstances has grown exponentially. My self-esteem and willingness to challenge myself, ditto. And most importantly, where before there was trauma, I now feel trust.