First appeared in Share Guide, 1/00
Ten Steps to Personal Transformation
The quest to discover and live our truth is the Hero's Journey, a sacred pilgrimage home to ourselves. It's the high road - and a rigorous one. We may try to camouflage our fear of the unknown with workaholism, bravado, or apathy. There's another way: following the path of the heart. How do we find it? With a transformational road map. I invite you to join me on a mission to remember and reclaim your life purpose.
Step One: Give Yourself Permission to be Passionate
Our resistance is the Refusal of the Call. Change whispers in our ear, and we attempt a high-tech tune-out: call waiting, call forwarding, on hold, voicemail...
We fight change because acceding to it feels like stepping off a cliff into an abyss. Out of touch with our vital, intuitive nature, we panic and crawl safely back into the shopping center mentality. We resign ourselves to buying the leopard print pants because we're afraid to be the leopard.
How do we answer this call to reclaim our juiciness, our connection to what's true for us? We start by giving ourselves permission to be passionate, to dream beyond our self-imposed boundaries.
As we grant ourselves this grace, the still, small voice inside us grows stronger. We advance from being good soldiers, who take orders, to spiritual warriors, who take responsibility. Responsibility is the ability to respond, to say yes, count me in!
Step Two: Say The First Farewell
One of the "symptoms" of transition is that the familiar starts to seem strange. You feel a need to distance yourself from the "ordinary world" of others. This leave-taking needn't be physical; it can occur symbolically. In the year before I left my corporate post to start my marketing communications business, I made a conscious decision to mentally "let my company go." I still completed the work to my usual high standards, and freed up enormous emotional energy I'd been pouring into job frustration, which I productively channeled into the launch of my business.
Step Three: Enter The Void
Pry those mental fingers loose! Your willingness to be in free-fall, to release one trapeze bar before the next has swung into view, is an essential step in restory-ing your life: looking again at the story you've created about how the world is, and seeing how this filter distorts your view of beauty your own beauty.
The poet Rilke encourages us to "live awhile in the question." You're entering a corridor between the worlds; it's okay to not know what happens next. Simply be with the change process. As you allow yourself to feel safe inside the space between who you've been and who you're becoming, the feeling of falling into an abyss will subside.
Step Four: Enlarge The Lens
Marcel Proust said, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." Look with the eyes of wonder, like a child. When children encounter the unfamiliar, they s-l-o-w w-a-y d-o-w-n, allowing their senses to absorb new information. You can do this with personal transformation. Breathe deeply into the mystery. Ask yourself, how can I expand this experience? Discover the place inside you that is "crea-geous," a warrior living from creative courage.
Keep a journal. If you're more kinesthetic than visual, dance your change process. What does it feel like as flowing movement? You might also paint or sculpt your journey, or make up songs describing your experiences.
Step Five: Bless The Fear
Fools rush in; the rest of us tremble. Fear is normal. It's even valuable, because it gives us something to push up against, which helps develop our spiritual muscles. This is positive resistance. Weight training for the mind. Fear itself is only a smoke screen: false evidence appearing real. You can defuse it with "affirmative action." Every night before bed, I used to look at my office (set up in a corner of my living room) and give it the thumbs-up sign. I did this for years. A simple, powerful, YES for success!
Step Six: Do The Work!
In the Hero's Journey, this is the Initiation. Goethe said, "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it/Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now!" Once you commit to change, a confluence of forces moves to assist you.
I draw inspiration from improvisational comedy. The core concepts of improv are: Begin with what is. Don't manipulate the action, discover it. Never stop the action by saying "but" or "no"; instead say "yes, and" and add on to what's come before. In this way we build a story, a calling, a life.
When I wanted to start writing for health magazines, I began by authoring a piece about a fashion designer for a business magazine (Begin with what is.) After the article was published, I asked the editor, "Do you have other needs I could fill?" (Discover the action.) He said they had a column they were thinking of dropping for lack of writers with good story ideas. The topic? Personal health. I became their primary contributor, and used these articles as a springboard to generate assignments in health magazines. (Yes, and...)
When you feel air currents wafting past your face, you're in the solution. The poet David Whyte describes this forward momentum eloquently: "The rest of creation is waiting, breathless, for you to take your place."
Step Seven: Take The Tests
There's no hitching a ride to self-discovery (or a new career or relationship) on someone else's coattails! To own your power, you must be willing to scrape your psyche on the rocky road inland. It's the only way to discover and claim your unique gifts.
You'll encounter tests along the way, as you master an experience and are ready to move on. The tests can be innocuous or even pleasant, depending on our degree of resistance.
I saw a woman wearing a fabulous T-shirt that brings this principle home: "If you want to live life on your own terms/You've got to be willing to crash and burn." Now that's answering the call!
Step Eight: Humor Yourself
We can lighten up our enlightenment. When I was deep into my transformational journey, a healer told me, "One day you will hear laughter and realize it's your own voice." It seemed a strange prophecy. Yet as I peeled away layers of false beliefs and crusty attitudes that kept me enslaved, I felt laughter spontaneously bubble up from some subterranean source, and I understood. This is who we are. Let yourself feel the joy, the light, the love inside your being.
To encourage dormant humor, play with a puppy, a kitten or a child. Make up nonsense words to popular songs and walk around singing them in public. Enroll in an improv comedy class.
Step Nine: Be Grateful
Gratitude and forgiveness are brothers. Be grateful for all the challenging people in your life bosses, co-workers, children, friends because they're your greatest teachers. These relationships are difficult precisely because of your resistance to the teaching, which might be about compassion, self-worth, generosity, or unconditional love. The Mayans have an expression, In Lakéch, which means, "I am another yourself." We're always looking in the mirror. If we don't like what we see, we can blame the mirror, or look within. The latter is the path of personal mastery, and peace.
Expressing our gratitude can also bring healing to a relationship. Remember that intention initiates transformation. Everything we manifest in the outer world begins first as a thought in our minds. Appreciating another opens new avenues for our own abundance to flow in.
Step Ten: Be The Change
Heroes know that mastering change requires daily practice. I really enjoy the signs in public gardens that say, "Stay on the path." This is the key to integrating change in our lives: have big dreams, take baby steps. Gandhi said, "You must be the change you wish to see." Imagine if Gandhi had remained a lawyer, the gifts the world would not have.
Living authentically means choosing to live from responsibility, courage, creativity and faith, all of which unleash tremendous joy and freedom. It's a lifelong process of self-actualization. And it's our reason for being here.
As a "midwife for the soul" Amara Rose offers life purpose coaching, talks, CDs, e-courses, playshops, and an inspirational monthly newsletter, "What Shines." Please visit LiveYourLight.com to learn more. Contact Amara at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call: 1-800-862-0157 within the USA.
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