We’ve all experienced magic in our lives. Times when things just flow, when we’re in the right place at the right time, and it feels like the whole world is smiling with us. These are times of ease and gentleness, of feeling that we’re “on track” and “on purpose,” and knowing that somehow we’re a part of It All. Athletes call it being in the zone. We experience coincidences, synchronicities and miracles. It feels like we’re living in grace—and we are.
There are other times when things don’t work so well. It seems like nothing is going our way, like we have to push and force things (and people, and ourselves!) to make things happen. We’re constantly fighting to get ahead, and it’s a struggle just to get out of bed in the morning. Life feels like one battle after another. We feel disconnected and alienated from the world, others, and ourselves, and we go to bed at night feeling tired and exhausted.
These are two very different ways of experiencing and perceiving our world. Our experiences are, in part, a function of our perceptions and attitudes. These are two different modes of being, and we all tend to live in either one mode or the other. Oddly enough, there’s one common denominator underlying all my experiences. As A Course In Miracles teaches, “I am responsible for what I see…”
If this is true, and if my experiences have something to do with me, the questions arise: How did I get myself into this? Why am I “seeing” life this way? And how can I shift gears from living life in low gear to living life in high gear?
When we were about two years old, we learned a very powerful word: “No!” No! became the magic word we used to assert our individuality and independence, to separate ourselves from our parents, and to seemingly live life on our own terms. And thus we learned to live in the land of No!
Living in No! feels powerful, just as rebelling and resisting may feel powerful. This gives us a sense of autonomy, of power, of being one’s own person, and of being “right.” We resist authority figures, we resist our parents and partners (who then resist us), we resist our emotions and experiences, and we resist the flow of life itself. We live our lives defending and resisting, kicking and screaming; we create conflicts, burn our bridges and paint ourselves into corners; and then wonder why our lives are not working.
For many of us, our theme song of life is “my way.” But even though on the surface we feel proud of our independence and doing things “my way,” living in No! is a lonely, frightening experience.
An ancient metaphysical formula states, “As above, so below; as within, so without.” Everything I see is a mirror for me. When I curse and condemn others, others condemn me. When I rebel and resist others, others resist me. “Pain is always some form of non-acceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is,” writes Eckhart Tolle in The Power Of Now. When I say “No!” to What Is, the Universe says “No!” back to me. Shutting myself off from the Great Flow, I get to live in the Land of No!
It’s true that we sometimes need to say no. We simply do not have the time, money and energy to say yes to everything. We need to set limits and boundaries. We do need to discriminate, and to say yes to some people and experiences, and no to others. But there’s a huge difference between gently saying no sometimes, and chronically living life reactively out of No!
Attitude is everything. We cannot change other people; we cannot change the world (at least, not immediately); but we can change our own minds. Changing our minds is one of the keys to personal power.
Making the shift from living in No! to living in Yes! is a process. Here are some practices for learning to live in Yes!
Bless everyone and everything in your life – An ancient myth relates that the Kahunas transformed the Hawaiian Islands into the paradise they are now, through the practice of blessing everything they saw.
Practice radical forgiveness – Criticizing and condemning creates conflict. Forgiveness begins with the willingness to see things differently. When we’re willing to give up the “blame-shame game,” and give up who is “right,” we set ourselves free. As A Course In Miracles teaches, “Forgiveness is a Gift I give to myself.”
Release fear and resistance in the emotional body – One of the most effective ways of doing this is with the tapping therapies, such as EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). These techniques release and resolve patterns of trauma and resistance that are stuck in the body-mind.
Practice saying “Yes” to everything that shows up in your life, whether seemingly “good” or seemingly “bad” – Everything in our lives is here for a reason, whether we can see it or not. While we may prefer certain experiences, we can more easily dance in the Great Flow when we align ourselves with What Is. This is the spiritual principle underlying “resist not evil” and “turning the other cheek,” as Jesus taught; and why Gandhi instructed his followers to respect and even love the British while engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience.
Count your blessings, and expect miracles – We’re responsible for what we see; and what we focus on expands. Through these practices, we learn to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. As we do so, we begin living in gratitude, grace and love.
Living in Yes! is a revolutionary act. It involves giving up the war against our reality, against What Is. It involves reconciling with our enemies, with authority figures and with all parts of ourselves. It involves surrendering to What Is; making peace with What Is; and gently saying ‘Yes, and this too……,” to everyone and everything. As Byron Katie teaches, it’s “Loving What Is.”
Living in Yes! is a decision. It’s a decision to drop our fears and defenses, conscious and unconscious, and to open our minds and hearts to those around us. It’s a decision to play with new and previously unimaginable possibilities. It’s a decision to really live, and play, and dance on a higher level. It’s much easier—and more fun!—to go with the flow than trying to swim upstream all the time.
Albert Einstein once remarked, “There are two ways to live in the world. One is to live as though nothing is a miracle; the other is to live as though everything is a miracle.” We can resist the flow of life, or we can live in the flow of love. We can choose to live in No!, or we can choose to live in Yes! The choice is up to us.