Personal Growth - Attract the Life of Your Dreams
Corporate trainer Indu Kohli was in Pune recently to give a workshop when she slipped and fell in the washroom. When she found herself unable to rise she knew something was wrong. She was rushed to the hospital and the diagnosis was a broken kneecap in her right leg, requiring an immediate operation, and five weeks of bed rest. She was due to fly out to Indonesia the next day, a country she had never before visited and that she was looking forward to visiting greatly. She recalls, “As soon as I got the diagnosis, I cancelled the trip, and cancelled all the other engagements. People were shocked when I called them and told them I had just broken a leg. They couldn’t believe I could be so calm.”
She recalls that her seven-day hospital stay in Pune was a party, with family and friends camping in and having impromptu picnics. “They didn’t want me to leave the hospital. They were having too much fun!”
Back home in Mumbai, the party continued as friends and relations streamed in to attend to her and to imbibe some of her matchless joie de vivre. “I finally got a chance to spend time with all of them. And to get served, which was a novelty because I am usually serving others.”
The upshot was that she healed with remarkable speed. She says, “The doctors could not believe that I could set my foot on the ground completely within days of the fracture, and in five weeks’ time I was busy travelling across the country.”
She reflects, “I’m training my mind to think, ‘Life is in forward movement, not in backward.’ That’s why I can very quickly shift to ‘Now what’ instead of dwelling on the past.”
The power of positive thinking.
We see this all around us. Those who have a positive outlook to life, who refuse to be cowed down by the hurdles on the way, who retain their optimism, grit and good humour, seem to compel life to smile at them. Everything goes right for them, little goes wrong. Cabs sashay forward at their arrival; the fish they buy is never spoilt, the clothes they buy never run colour, or split at the seams; when they buy a house its value is sure to accelerate; the jobs they want, come to them; people vie to be their friends, and abundance dogs their footsteps. It never rains on their parade. In some mysterious way, they seem to create their own luck. As a matter of fact, they do.
The power of thought
The truth is that we live in a magical universe. And we have more power than we dreamt of. Consider this: we can get anything we want – love, happiness, success, peace, money, great jobs, fancy holidays, beautiful home – whatever be our heart’s desire. Seems unbelievable? No, it’s true.
All we need to do is to think it into being.
That’s right. Our thoughts create everything in our lives, including the level of health, happiness or love that we presently enjoy. Look at your present life and you will see what your dominant thoughts have been.
A picture of peace, bliss and prosperity? Good for you. You are blessed.
Money problems, marriage problems, health problems, random problems? Don’t worry. You are in very good company because most of us are here. We worry about money, relationships or health. We resist and reject many of the situations we encounter: why does the email malfunction?, why is the boss so demanding?, why can’t my parents be a little more understanding?, why am I so fat?, why does my sister hog the phone so much? and so on. This is human and this is us. This also explains why most of us draw a mixed bag of goods from the Universe.
The bottomline is this: we attract everything in our lives through the power of thought. Such a truth is the very fulcrum of spiritual seeking and every teacher ever born has said this. In the very first verse of the Dhammapada, a compilation of the Buddha’s essential teaching, he says with unparalleled clarity: “Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think. Suffering follows an evil thought as the wheels of a cart follow the oxen that draw it.
“Our life is shaped by our mind, we become what we think. Joy follows a pure thought like a shadow that never leaves.” (Eknath Easwaran’s translation).
The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says the same thing: “We are our deep, driving desire. As our desire is, so is our will. As our will is, so is our deed. As our deed is, so is our destiny. (Eknath Easwaran’s translation).
In modern times, every writer has emphasised this point. Joseph Murphy’s The Power of Your Subconscious Mind was one of the first to really delve into the art and science of manifesting through the mind. Later, there was Shakti Gawain’s Creative Visualisation which taught how to get what we want through using our imagination consciously. Several workshops and books extolling the principles through which we can create our lives afresh have happened, among which are Silva Method and Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. The whole New Age movement, which tell us we can heal our lives (Louise Hay), manifest our destiny (Wayne Dyer), have perfect health (Deepak Chopra) are based on these truths.
But nothing has made quite the impact that the DVD and book, The Secret, has unleashed in recent times.
Put together by an Australian called Rhonda Byrne, the DVD took the world by storm. Every top American show ran an interview with Byrne and those she calls the co-creators, people whose insights form the content of the book and DVD. They include a whole lot of New Age thinkers, trainers and writers including Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Neale Donald Walsch (author of the Conversations with God trilogy). Pretty soon the fever spread to India. Everyone we met or spoke to was reading or watching The Secret. Even seekers that one would have expected to be aware of these truths could not seem to have enough of it. Even my own sister, Susan, sat riveted through the Oprah show and told me how powerfully it impacted her. “For the first time I got that we usually think of what we don’t want rather than what we want,” she said. Having recently got her bathroom fixed, she found to her horror that her overhead tank was sending water down to the bathroom, a problem that persisted despite persistent efforts. “I have been thinking ‘I don’t want a leaky loft,’ which is why I got it,” she concluded triumphantly.
R A Mahima, a Mumbai-based filmmaker, who specialises in spiritual documentaries, including a film on Meher Baba, probably speaks for many when she says, “It made me perceive the patterns in my own life. For instance, I am in a commercial profession in a very commercial city. But my heart and mind went towards spiritual work, and therefore I attracted only those kinds of films. I feel so blessed!”
The truths that The Secret talks about are not new, but that’s no reason not to celebrate them because they encapsulate the throbbing promise of spirituality. All of us who enter the spiritual life are driven by the urge to gain control over our lives – to be able to control what we think, say, or do. All of us want to realise our highest potential, and to fulfil our reason for existence. And yes, most of us want a really nice life too – we want the house, the car, the diamonds, the soulmate.
Perhaps this is why The Secret has such wide appeal. It is not speaking only to the seeker. It is targeting every man, and it is telling him how he can get the life of his dreams through many apparently doable ways.
One tends to forget, after a few years on the path, how amazing was the first discovery of the truth that we can actually change our thinking patterns and habitual behaviours, and collaborate with the Universe in making things happen.
I first stumbled upon this truth several years ago when I was searching for the secret of self-esteem. After a year of confusion and many false leads, I had a glimpse of my true Self, and I realised that I was whole, perfect, and complete at that level. The rest of it, the faulty deeply underconfident self, was conditioning. It was a staggering realisation, but oddly enough, it did not change anything in me. I still kept seeing myself as the old conditioned me, not as this blissful self I had glimpsed.
In the fortuitous way that life makes things happen, or presumably my thought processes do, I came across a newspaper article that talked briefly about the power of the subconscious mind. I learnt that you could not change your behavioural patterns at the conscious level, but that you could at the subconscious. That we were who we were because of the repeated instructions we had given our subconscious such as, “I am stupid’, or ‘I am clumsy.’ I also learnt that you had to phrase your word positively since the subconscious did not process negatives. If you said, “I don’t want to smoke”, it interpreted it as ‘I want to smoke.” And made you smoke some more. A familiar dilemma to all those who have tried to kick an addiction.
Forthwith I began to utter the words “I am whole, perfect and complete” to myself day and night. Around the fourth month of doing this, I could feel something happening in the chest area. It felt like a stone that was rolling closer and closer. Finally, it happened one day. It was as if a foundation had formed and sealed up some space within me. I could sense that it was coming between me and the perilous pit of despondency I was prone to fall into. I was by no means filled with self-esteem, but I had a sure knowledge that I had been released to void my conditioning without fearing that I would not be able to stand it. The sealing of the pit indicated that I would be able to accept anything about myself without coming apart. In the following years, I had much need for that knowledge.
This awareness that we have the power to change ourselves at the deepest, most fundamental way seemed wondrous to me. We weren’t stuck within our faulty nature. The life we inherited through nature and nurture could be changed. Nothing was irrevocable. I could be anything I wanted to be. And the Universe or God was with me in this enterprise. It was giving me what I needed for growth, it was willing to even indulge me in whatever desires I had. I was not the helpless lone creature I had thought I was. I was on a magnificent human mission to realise my highest potential. The mundane world I had inhabited so far, was thrust aside like a stage set, and I could see glimmering before me a vast expanse and fathomless depth of shining possibilities. I have never quite got over the wonder of that realisation. It gave me the courage and motivation to stay on the path for many years and it was the consolation of my life when I went through a bad phase. After all, if God was on my side and taking such great care of me, did I really need to worry about anything?
The law of attraction
The Secret says more or less the same thing in different words.
The magic of manifestation is presented as the law of attraction and the Universe takes the place of the subconscious mind.
Writes Rhonda Byrne, “The law of attraction says like attracts like, and as you think a thought, you are also attracting like thoughts to you.”
John Assaraf, described as a best-selling author, lecturer and business advisor, elaborates, “You become what you think about most, but you also attract what you think about most.”
Another person, Mike Dooley also described as author and international speaker, says it even simpler, “Thoughts become things.”
The one thing Byrne stresses over and over again is this line: “Thoughts are primary cause of everything, and the rest is effects from those thoughts.” So whatever the effect, traffic jam, winning a lottery ticket, getting robbed on the local train, becoming a millionaire, losing a diamond ring, finding a soulmate, it all began with a thought. Thoughts generate feelings, which generate words and actions, and before long, a destiny is formed. Byrne says that millionaires become millionaires because they think thoughts of wealth. A few, however, may lose their fortune and win it again. Thought is the prime cause here too. Once they make their money, fear of losing it becomes paramount, and they lose it all, but once again their thoughts of abundance revive and they become wealthy again.
This perspective aligns beautifully with karma, for it implies that every thought has a consequence. Good thoughts earn good karma, and bad thoughts ditto. The book does not talk of the karma of past lives but they too come our way, triggered off through thoughts and actions of some other life. This explains why some of us may experience benefits we never thought we were entitled to, or suffer disasters which seem most unfair.
Thoughts become things
The awareness that everything arises out of a thought is a paradigm shift of staggering magnitude. Maybe trains come late because of our collective thinking, maybe the computer does not work because we thought it would not, and not because of a technical problem. Maybe your physical handicap can be altered. Maybe your deafness can heal. Maybe your blindness will lift. Maybe you will get pregnant even though you have hit menopause. Maybe you will become the prime minister of India. Maybe you will be the new A R Rahman. If you can think it, you can have it. The irrevocability of the material universe crumples like cardboard. Nothing is impossible.
Illnesses can be unmade, relationships can be reforged, black moods can be made to yield to gentler ones, barking dogs can be made to lick us and so on. This insight can enable us to transform our lives in the most complete way and to arise out of the sense of victimhood. Life or fate has not sent a googly down our way. We have by our unconscious thinking and feeling. There is nothing more malleable or flexible than the circumstances of our lives or ourselves.
Thoughts then are double-edged weapons that can transport us to heaven or plunge us into hell. That, of course, is the Catch 22 of the seeking game. How do you make sure you think good thoughts? Most of us would say that this is the spiritual pursuit in a nutshell. One cannot help faulting the book for making the task seem so easy. From one point of view it makes sense to dial down the difficulties and dial up the pluses. It encourages people to get started. On the other hand, those who read how others are able to manifest cures of incurable diseases, millions of dollars, great houses and so on, are bound to feel a little inadequate when they find that negative thoughts will keep sneaking back, and that staying aware of thoughts and feelings is by no means easy. Yes, it is possible to have mastery over thoughts, but unless you have the will of a superman, and less karma than a saint, it will take you time.
But what is worth remembering is that there is no more meaningful pursuit in life than mastering thoughts because the end result is freedom. Imagine being free of worries and fears. Imagine being free of the control of others. Imagine being immersed in a state of joy, bliss, and peace. Who can doubt that we will attract an avalanche of good?
Indeed, not only can enlightened masters attract good things, they can actually control the very elements and get them to yield what they want. This is how Satya Sai Baba manifests his vibhuti, gems and watches, straight from the raw material of the panchmahabhootha (air, ether [space], fire, water, earth).
Making it happen
The book offers a simple three-way process called The Creative Process to make thoughts things.
The first is to get clear on what you want. And then you ask.
Says Lisa Nichols, a motivational speaker. “The first step is to ask. Make a command to the Universe. Let the Universe know what you want. The Universe responds to your thoughts.”
They give a useful tip, which is that you need to ask only once. Writes Byrne, “It is exactly like placing an order from a catalogue. You only ever order something once.”
Many years ago, I was a drifter, never wanting to do or be anything. On one occasion, though, my editor had to take a day off and she asked me to take charge. It was a surprisingly stimulating experience, and later, on my way to an errand, I daydreamed about being an editor. Then I forgot about it, because I didn’t really want to be one. It was too much responsibility. Six months later, I was offered the editorship of a popular magazine, out of the blue. The Universe had delivered. And all because of a daydream! Although I knew nothing about spirituality at that juncture, I knew instinctively that it was that one thought that had made this happen.
The next step is to believe.
Says Lisa Nichols, “Have what I love to call unwavering faith. Believing in the unseen.”
They give you a tip to make this easier. Since thoughts make things and you have thought of what you want, it has to materialise. How can you doubt it? Makes sense to me and it has made my belief stronger.
Writes Byrne, “In the moment you ask, and believe and know you already have it in the unseen, the entire Universe shifts to bring it into the seen. You must act, speak, and think as though you are receiving it now.
The key is to hold this thought as long as is needed and not to entertain a contrary thought.
Difficult as it is, there are times when the stakes are so high that we rise to it naturally. Dilnaz Dastur, a healer and seeker, recalls the night her sleep was shattered at 3 am by a phone call and the news that her only son, 25–year–old Zerick, was in an accident.
Rushing to the hospital, they found him ravaged. Flesh was hanging from his face, blood streaked down, his eyes were too swollen to see through. Anyone would have quailed, but summoning up her courage valiantly, Dilnaz determined that she would only see the boy healed in her mind’s eye. Zerick himself was a staunch advocate of positivity as was her husband. They refused to permit anyone with a negative thought around him, and simply flooded him with their own resolute focus on a positive outlook. Additionally, Dilnaz gave him hands–on healing. The astonishing outcome was that despite 40 stitches, today, two months later, he has barely a scar on his face.
What is needed to make such a state of implicit belief and faith a natural state of mind? Self-respect and self-regard are probably two of the key attributes because only these will give us the buoyancy and optimism to attract the best of life towards us.
Manoj Lekhi, educator, trainer, and the head of the Mumbai chapter of the Sidha Samadhi Yoga (SSY) movement, has led an astonishing life. A successful businessman, he gave it up when he discovered SSY. Throwing himself passionately into the movement, he eventually became fascinated with the idea of developing children’s potential, and opened a school with that in mind. He also gives courses, including a highly inspirational management course called Professional Insights that promises a hundred-fold increase in productivity. He attributes his success to two beliefs he picked up in his childhood.
One, that he was born with a golden spoon in his mouth and would die with a diamond spoon, and everything that happened was for the best.
Such a belief system orients him to the positive. He too narrated an accident that he suffered a couple of weeks ago. He had a gash on his face deep enough to warrant 11 stitches. Instead, he employed positive thinking, pranayama, and meditation, and within a week, even the scar was barely visible.
Step three is to receive.
Lisa Nichols says, “Step three, and the final step in the process, is to receive. Begin to feel wonderful about it. Feel the way you will feel once it arrives. Feel it now.”
Again, this is not easy. When we are down in the dumps, or bogged with difficulty, it is hard to believe that we can come out of it. Faith comes to the rescue here. Faith in the process and once we have done this a few times, perhaps faith in ourselves too. Nevertheless, to maintain this dauntless determination, the most lasting and permanent way is to work on oneself. Get in touch with your thoughts and feelings. Get into the practice of accepting them. We are simply not able to accept most of our thoughts or feelings. An insult hurts us so much that we cannot experience it and let it go. We brood about it, shed a few tears, construct a vendetta against the person, tell our close ones about it. In the process of creating this elaborate drama, we forget that the actual event was just the utterance of a few words. All we needed, was to see if there was any truth in it. If so, we worked on it, if not, we dismissed it exactly as we did our outgoing breath, without a thought.
Unfortunately, the process of growing leaves us with so many lumps and bumps, so many tender spots and hurt feelings that the world has us by our short hairs. Anyone, even the most casual stranger passing on the street, holds our happiness and peace of mind in his hands. We need to work on retrieving it and keeping it safe in our own custody.
Neena Dandekar, a follower of the Oneness Movement, says that thanks to her spiritual practice today she has reached such a state of acceptance that she has no worries or fears. Says she, “I don’t interfere with God’s plan. When we do, things go wrong. I feel like I am walking on a bed of roses.”
Byrne recommends meditation practice but in the interests of not scaring away newcomers promises that not more than 3 to 10 minutes in the beginning should enable you to master your thoughts. My own suggestion would be to make it longer. Chanting and affirmations are also easy ways to bridle your mind and inject it with good thoughts. She also suggests that you send the thought that you have mastered your thoughts into the Universe and you will have it served up to you. Another thing you can do is to broadcast the message that your negative thoughts are powerless and your positive thoughts are powerful.
Aiman Khorakhiwala, a former businesswoman and an active seeker, found the book very energising. Says she, “It makes you aware of your thoughts. And once you are aware you might as well switch to a positive mode.” She finds the process quite easy though she attributes it partly to her daily Art of Living practice. She says, “When I drive, I visualise where I want to park, and 80 per cent of the time, I get it. I also use it to manoeuvre through traffic jams in Mumbai. I just think that I should be in a particular place at a specific time, and I sail through!”
Her relationships have also benefitted. She says, “If I find myself thinking that my husband is not paying me enough attention, I shift it to visualise how I want him to be. And when he comes home he is invariably how I have pictured him to be.”
Her desire to do something for the environment manifested in two days when she was invited by the Bombay Natural History Society to help with a global warming campaign.
Most people walking the path have had the experience of finding life getting smoother and more aligned to the Universe. The people we wanted for our growth manifest, insights come our way through books, articles and hoardings, people we think of call us, or when we call others they tell us that they were thinking of us. Roxanne Marker, a psychic healer, remarks that whenever she needs to read a book, it falls on her head when visiting a library or bookshop!
Detailing the countdown
Time does not exist at the Universal level so what you want can manifest now if you intend it powerfully enough.
Byrne talks about having attained perfect vision in only three days. Reaching out for her glasses, she discovered that she had somehow internalised the message that eyesight dwindles with old age. She worked powerfully on changing the message and in three days the job was done! She adds that she expected it to happen in a day.
Size is also not an issue. So whether you ask for one rupee or a crore makes no difference. Whether you ask to write in your local paper or be a Nobel-prize writer is all the same to the Universe.
But to make this really workable, you must also make sure that your works and actions are in alignment with your thoughts. You might think you want to be the next Aishwarya Rai but if you don’t make the rounds of the studios, or have a portfolio done, it might never happen. Quite often the action to take will be revealed to you. An idea might strike you or a name might pop into your head. Without a pause take the action needed. Quite recently we needed a model for a shoot. It was 8.30 in the morning and the shoot was for 10 am. I was sure I was going to make it work. A name popped into my head without any apparent connection to what I wanted. I called her and in 20 minutes she got me my model.
To enhance the process and make it really work, here are a few pointers:
Attitude of gratitude: Give thanks for what you have, and more will be given to you. Recently, I happened on an insight that if you thank God or the Universe or your ishta deva for what you want in advance, you get it faster. For instance, if you want to have a wonderful and effective day, say, ‘Thank you, God, for giving me a wonderful and effective day’. The exercise charges you and puts you in a positive frame of mind and makes you more receptive to good things coming your way. I use it all the time and find it to be a fast and effective way of aligning myself with the Universe. It has gone a long way in eliminating my sense of victimhood and in changing my moods. I wrote about it in the magazine (Spirit column, July 2007), and I have received feedback from a lot of people telling me that they have found it effective in their lives.
Use creative visualisation: Says Byrne, “Visualisation is simply powerfully focused thought in pictures, and it causes equally powerful feelings. When you are visualising, you are emitting that powerful frequency out into the Universe. The law of attraction will take hold of that powerful signal and return those pictures back to you.”
If you want to get married in a year’s time, visualise yourself meeting the right person (be clear about who this person is – what does he look like, what does he do, how does he dress, what are his attributes and so on), falling in love, and moving towards engagement and marriage. Try and see it in as much of detail as possible. Feel the wonderful sensation of having met the right person, of being in love, of getting married. When you feel that it has really happened and that you are already married, well, it’s probably on its way.
One lady in the book visualised her soulmate and thought and felt about it for all she was worth. When nothing happened, she recognised that her actions were not in consonance with what she wanted. She had not left space for her perfect man’s car in her garage, or for his clothes in her wardrobe, or for him on the bed! When she fixed that she found him. Another man heard a girl’s name and knew instantly that he would marry her. Who she was or how he would meet her, he did not know. Then he got an invitation to a party and her name was on the list of invitees too! Without a doubt in his head, he went for the party, recognised her from across the room though he had not set eyes on her before, and married her!
Have a vision board: The book suggests a vision board, a place where you can put pictures of everything you want and wish to be, and put it up in a place where you can look at it morning and evening and affirm that this is what you already are and that what you want is yours.
Manoj Lekhi’s six-year-old daughter, Veduci, has a vision board and recites what she wants loudly and clearly. “I eat my food nicely and by myself,” she chanted to me on the phone.
Lekhi says that she was very shy about a year ago, and he gave her an affirmation which said, “I speak very expressively and I look at people in the eye.” He says that she has become much more sociable since.
Children apparently take to this like a charm. They like its playful make-believe air. Byrne wrote that shortly after she got her hands on a book that revealed the truths she has written about, the company she founded was going bankrupt. Using her newly found powers she swung in to save it.
She writes that each time she got a bill she would pretend it was a cheque, and would not open it until she felt it so powerfully that she would be grateful for it. Then she would add an extra 0 to it and write in a book that she had received that much money on that day. Pretty soon she salvaged her company. I presume the epic success of the DVD and book is creating a mountain of money in her life, presently.
The bottomline is this. We hold unbelievable power in our hands. Why not manifest it? The world will be better for it and so will you. Isn’t this why we are here?
We welcome your comments and suggestions on this article.
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Subject: - 29 March 2009
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