If anyone can be called a self-help, self-actualization pioneer, it is Shakti Gawain. Years before “manifestation,” “the law attraction,” and “the secret” entered the lexicon, Shakti was sharing daily affirmations, meditations, and mental imagery practices that millions found could help them achieve goals, change habits, relax deeply, and significantly improve overall health and well-being. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the new 40th anniversary edition of her international bestseller Creative Visualization.
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Sometimes people who have studied Eastern philosophy or are on a certain spiritual path feel a hesitation about using creative visualization when they first hear of it. Their conflict comes from the apparent paradox they see between the idea of “being here now,” letting go of attachments and desires, and the idea of setting goals and creating what you want in life. I say apparent paradox because, in actuality, there is no contradiction between the two teachings when they are understood on a deeper level. They are both important principles that must be understood and lived in order for you to become a conscious person. In order to explain how they fit together, allow me to share with you my viewpoint about the process of inner growth.
Most people in our culture have become cut off from their awareness of their spiritual essence. We have temporarily lost our conscious connection with our souls and, thus, have lost our own sense of power and responsibility for our lives. In some inner way, we have a sense of helplessness; we feel basically powerless to make real change in our lives or in the world. This inner feeling of powerlessness causes us to overcompensate by striving and struggling very hard to have some degree of power or control in our world.
Most of us, therefore, become very goal-oriented; we become emotionally attached to things and people outside of ourselves that we feel we need in order to be happy. We feel there is something “missing” inside ourselves, and we become tense, anxious, and stressed, continuously trying to fill up the gap, trying to manipulate the outside world in order to get what we want.
This is the state of being from which most of us are setting goals and trying to create what we want in life, and unfortunately from this level of consciousness it doesn’t work at all…either we set up so many obstacles for ourselves that we can’t succeed, or we do succeed in reaching our goals only to find that they don’t bring us inner happiness.
It is at the point where we realize this dilemma that we begin to open up to a spiritual path. We realize that there simply has to be something more to life, and we begin to search for it. We may go through many different experiences and processes on our search, but eventually we are gradually restored to ourselves. That is, we come back into an experience of our spiritual essence, the universal energy within us all. Through this experience we can be restored to our spiritual power, and the emptiness inside us is filled up from within.
Now to get back to our supposed paradox.
When we are coming out of the empty, grasping, manipulative condition, the first and foremost lesson to be learned is just to let go. We must relax, stop struggling, stop trying so hard, stop manipulating things and people to try to get what we want and need; in fact, stop doing so much and have an experience of just being for a while.
When we do this, we suddenly discover that we’re really perfectly okay; in fact, we feel quite wonderful, just letting ourselves be, and letting the world be, without trying to change things. This is the basic experience of being here now and it’s what the Buddhist philosophy means by “letting go of attachment.” It’s similar to the Christian concept, “God’s will be done.” It’s a very freeing experience, and a most basic one on any path of self-awareness.
Once you have begun to have this experience more and more often, you are opening up the channel to your soul, and sooner or later a great deal of natural creative energy will begin to flow through you. You start to see that you yourself are already creating your whole life and every experience that happens to you, and you become interested in creating more rewarding experiences for yourself and others. You begin to want to focus your energy toward the highest and most fulfilling goals that are real for you at any given moment. You realize that life can be basically good, abundant, and often fun, and that having what you truly want, without struggle and strain, is part of your natural birthright as a function of just being alive. This is the time when creative visualization can become a most important tool.
Here is a metaphor that I hope will make it even clearer:
Let us imagine that life is a river. Most people are clinging to the bank, afraid to let go and risk being carried along by the current of the river. At a certain point, each of us must be willing to simply let go, and trust the river to carry us along safely. At this point, we learn to “go with the flow” — and it feels wonderful.
Once we have become accustomed to being in the flow of the river, we can begin to look ahead and guide our course onward, deciding where the course looks best, steering the way around boulders and snags, and choosing which of the many channels and branches of the river we prefer to follow, all the while still “going with the flow.”
This metaphor shows us how we can accept our lives here and now, flowing with what is, and at the same time guiding ourselves consciously toward our goals by taking responsibility for creating our own lives.
Remember, too, that creative visualization is a tool that can be used for any purpose, including one’s own spiritual growth. It is often very helpful to use creative visualization in picturing yourself as a more relaxed, open person, flowing, living in the here and now, and always connected with your inner essence.
May you be blessed
your heart desires.
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Shakti Gawain is a bestselling author and a pioneer in the field of personal growth and consciousness. The 40th Anniversary edition of her classic work Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Life, was recently published by New World Library. Visit her online at http://www.shaktigawain.com.
Excerpted from Creative Visualization. Copyright © 2002 by Shakti Gawain. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.