From a very early age, we have been made responsible for getting certain tasks done. As children, the responsibility was usually thrust upon us. We didn’t assume responsibility for doing the laundry or mowing the yard. Our parents assigned these tasks to us. We almost always resisted doing them, whether inwardly or outwardly, but there was no way to get around them; we were held accountable. In school, it was much the same way, at least for me. Only by use of stick or carrot could you get me to crack open a math book.
As adults, we find ourselves still resisting certain tasks, but now, we are the ones that must hold ourselves accountable. No one is there to bribe or threaten us. It is up to us to be responsible. Through all the time we have spent resisting tasks, it did not relieve us from having to do them, at least not without incurring consequences. All we ever got for our resistance was the suffering that resistance creates. Recognizing this is seldom enough to dismantle our resistance though. When next year’s taxes roll around, we will still dread sitting down and paying them. Same goes for going to work on Monday mornings and cleaning out the gutters in the spring.
The problem is that certain tasks lie in opposition to our ego queen’s desires and, therefore, trigger her resistance. She wants to sleep late. She wants to read her new self-help book while she drinks her second cup of hot tea. She wants to attend to other tasks that pay more pleasurable dividends. She does not want to clean the gutters! And so it is really hard to dismantle our resistance when our ego queen has the last word on what is rewarding and what is not. As long as she sits on the throne, suffering will always be part of our experience where certain responsibilities are concerned.
Because we do suffer in our resistance in doing certain tasks, a portal is created. The portal promises greater things than what our ego queen can. It promises a new way of living that is light and free. It promises the ability to be the master creator of our own life experience. It promises entry into a higher state of being. When has sleeping late ever compared to all that! We can dismantle much of our resistance by focusing on the rewards that await us on the other side of a portal. And when our resistance is whittled down to just a tooth pick that the ego queen wields as her scepter, we will overthrow her and pass through the portal with ease.
It makes for a nice plot, and one we should be able to write, but it does require some effort on our part. We have to stay focused on the rewards of becoming our higher-self if we are to overthrow the ego queen. This means we have to actively seek out what inspires us: books, movies, people, whatever or whoever draws our attention to the rewards of living in a state of higher consciousness. By keeping our focus on the image to which we aspire, it becomes our burning desire. The desires of our ego queen begin to pale in comparison. The desire to lounge a little longer gets reduced to a dull hum while the desire to attend to our responsibilities resounds throughout our very being. Because that is what the higher-self is after all, a being that takes responsibility for the life that it leads.
Anywhere we resist our responsibilities, we will find ourselves at odds with reality. Not because the responsibilities themselves have a basis in reality, but because they are necessary in supporting our values. Our values represent the reality we wish to create. They demand that we attend to them if they are to take root and blossom into reality. If we do not assume responsibility for our values, if we try to sidestep the work it takes to support them, then we forfeit the right to influence reality. The more responsibility we are willing to accept, the more say we have in how reality will unfold.
The higher-self is the illuminated version of ourselves. It is the light emitted by the Soul that breaks through the darkness. To live from it is to master this physical existence. We become attuned with reality and create desirable situations by the mere strength of our focus.
The objects of our resistance are portals to our higher-self. In science fiction, portals are gateways to other planes of existence. A person can jump to a distant location when they step into a portal by stepping out of time and space. A portal to our higher-self works on the same principle: we are able to jump to a higher state of being by stepping out of lower consciousness. It is an accelerated process to awakening. Given enough time and suffering, we will all evolve out of lower consciousness, it is our destiny, but by seizing upon the portals available to us, which are offered through the objects of our resistance, we make gains that would take lifetimes through evolution.
We do not have to go looking far to find portals to our higher-self. Wherever we experience suffering, we will find a portal. Suffering is an invitation to go through a portal. It is like a tap on the shoulder telling us that we are out of sync with reality because we are resisting it. The more we resist, the more tapping we get. If we ignore the tapping, it becomes more aggressive. Now suffering begins to tug at our arm and scream in our ear. It is trying desperately to get our attention.
Acceptance of a situation is the only way to pass through a portal and leave suffering behind. Acceptance requires that we drop self-pity, judgments, and especially condemnation about what we are experiencing. These thoughts argue with reality and cause us to struggle against what is. When we drop our judgmental thoughts, we slip through a portal with ease, and suffering gets left behind because it cannot persist where no struggle exist.
The main thing I want to emphasize about portals is that a shift in our reality occurs when we pass through them. We gain access to our higher-self which is a game changer for us. Whatever our situation was before we entered the portal will change once we pass through it. It has to because our relationship to the situation has changed. The dynamic is totally different now. There is a higher quality of energy to it. This energy is life-changing…transforming. It is alchemy itself. No longer are we little entities struggling to survive in the Universe; we are the Universe, more powerful and enduring than any challenge we face.
Alchemy, in medieval times, was the art of transforming base metals into gold. In modern times, we use the term more broadly. It can be applied to any process of transmutation in which something viewed as worthless is transformed into something of great value. Some people just seem to have a knack for alchemy. They can take trash and transform it into something useful. Their talent actually derives from their willingness to see the trash in a different light.
Some people are equally talented at transforming their painful past experiences. Consider those who have “trashed” their lives through youthful transgressions and successfully transformed the experience into a positive platform for helping others pull through similar troubles. The same can be said for people who have experienced tragedy and used it to their advantage by building strength and compassion from it. In truth, there is nothing we have ever done or ever experienced that cannot be transformed into something valuable. In everything, including our mistakes, their lies the potential for great gains. The problem is that most of us overlook these opportunities because we are trying so hard to bury what is painful. In this way, we pay a high price for our resistance.
When we try to bury our trash, whether it be in the literal sense or the metaphorical, it always finds its way back to us. In the case of actual trash, it creeps into the ground water and pollutes the soil when we don’t deal with it responsibly. A painful memory works the exact same way. Transgressions and tragedies haunt our dreams and manifest in our personalities in less than desirable ways when we don’t own them. By trying to bury a painful period in our past, we actually freeze it like a frame in a film. We have to allow the scene to play out in order to be free from it.
In a sense, every episode in our life is a chapter taken from our life’s story. When times get tough, we tend to end the chapter prematurely. “They take advantage of me at work. My job sucks!” End of chapter. Imagine if the story, “Cinderella” had ended like that. She would still be working as a maid for her wicked step sisters. Little girls everywhere would be stuck reading a tragedy rather than a fairy tale. If we want our lives to read more like a fairy tale instead of a tragedy, we need to develop our story past the point of conflict. The conflict is meant to lead to the climax, not the conclusion. So how do we arrive at a happy conclusion if we do not have a fairy god-mother like Cinderella’s to do our bidding? We continue to write the chapter, of course.
The thing most people do not realize is that it is totally within our capacity to write the chapters of our lives. We get to decide if a chapter is chaotic, sad, or happy. The only thing we must concede are those elements of the story that have already been set in motion. They have to play out before we can add onto to them. So if I created a negative situation with my thoughts, it will manifest, that is a chapter I have written, but what follows is a blank page. I can write it however I like.
Ask any literary teacher and they will tell you there is nothing to be learned, nothing to be gained if a story is lacking in conflict. The same is true of the Universe and all things in it; we evolve under pressure. Adversity is the steps that we must mount if we want to get to the good stuff. Therefore, we shouldn’t get hung up on the adversity that works its way into our life story. “The bigger the challenge; the bigger the opportunity.” Let that be our mantra when something disagreeable lands in our lap. The alternative is to become a victim of it, which, consequently, is the making of a tragedy.
When we lay claim to our experiences, we are in control of what follows. It is the means by which we become the authors of our lives rather than the victims of it. We begin by acknowledging our situation with objectivity: "This is my reality; now what is my next move?" We consider the possibilities and then choose the path that is most illuminated. The light we seek may be very faint at first, but a little light is all we need to get us going in the right direction, the direction of our higher-self. If we stay true to this course, the light will grow, and we will eventually find our way out of darkness, no matter what form that darkness takes.
We have all heard the saying, “The best things in life are free.” I love this saying because it speaks to true happiness. We only need to turn inward to find what would fill us with joy. As spiritual seekers, we all know this but it doesn’t prevent us from falling into the trap of trying to buy our way into spirituality from time to time. We go looking for answers outside ourselves. We go to retreats, take a spiritual course, seek out energy healers, take pilgrimages, keep an empath on retainer, buy special crystals, personalized mantras, etc… The list goes on and on. We hope one of these services will free us from the heaviness of our ego. But no service, no ritual, no teacher can do that. At best, they can point to the cause of the heaviness. In other words, they point back to ourselves. All that we really need to be free is a true willingness to move past our ego.
To ensure that we find our freedom, the Creator hardwired us with the means to do so. It is the key to unlock the chest to our greatest treasure, our Soul. It is priceless. It is the Holy Grail. And yet it is available to everyone regardless of age, gender, personality, nationality, socioeconomic status, or belief system. It is more abundant than rain and more reliable than sunshine. The key is in plain sight, and yet there is no chance of it being stolen: its value goes unrecognized. It is, in fact, the objects of our resistance.
If we think about it, everyone carries resistance. It is the rare person indeed who doesn’t resist something. Resistance is a characteristic of the ego. If we possess an ego, then we know well what it means to resist. But while we spend quite a bit of time resisting aspects of our reality, we are blind to the opportunities that come with them.
Consider that there are areas in our lives that leave us feeling stuck – a relationship, a job, trying to get in shape, trying to break a habit, trying to recover from an illness, trying to find meaning, trying to be happy – whatever they may be, our efforts at improving on them leaves us feeling like we are spinning our wheels. Nothing seems to change. A door has been closed to us, and no matter how hard we push against it, it won’t budge. But actually, these “closed doors” are reflections of the resistance we harbor. We meet with the level of resistance in our lives that we ourselves are generating. The correlation between what we are resisting and what seems to be resisting us is not always apparent. In fact, it may be beyond our ability to connect the two. That is okay; it is enough to know that our resistance comes back to us in equal measure in some form or fashion.
If we want to get unstuck, we need only go about changing our attitude of resistance. It is what is preventing us from moving forward. Consider that it is not in the nature of the Universe to be stuck. It is constantly unfolding and creating. We are a part of the Universe, and so it is in our nature to unfold as well. It is in our nature to create new and wondrous experiences. However, we work against our nature when we resist. This is why becoming aware of the pockets of resistance in ourselves is so important: they are the keys to getting unstuck. We actually have to reach out to what we have been resisting, rather than push it away, in order to get the wheels turning again.
If we are not sure how to gauge our level of resistance, we need only look to our emotions. They tell us all we need to know. Anger, jealousy, and regret are a few of the emotions we experience when we resist. For instance, anger arises from a revolt against reality; jealousy, from resenting someone else’s reality; and regret, from lamenting our own. Though we may have good reason for wanting to improve our reality, we will be ineffectual in doing anything about it if we throw up mental barriers to what we are experiencing right now. We have to develop an attitude that would allow us to be at peace with what is while seeking something better in the future.
It may seem like a paradox to be at peace and want change at the same time. The key to doing so is to willingly work within the parameters of reality in order to affect change. This requires that we focus on the avenues that are open to us in any given moment instead of those that are closed to us. For instance, Mother Theresa did not focus on how much sickness surrounded her in Calcutta; she focused on how much of it she could alleviate. Booker T. Washington did not focus on the doors that were closed to African-Americans; he focused on the ones that were open through education. President Nelson Mandela did not focus on fighting inequality in South Africa; he focused on building equality and accomplished the “impossible” as a result. It is interesting to note that he had taken the opposite approach in his youth and had only met with further frustration. It is tempting to put these people on a pedestal and deem them exceptional, but in truth, what made them exceptional was their attitude. They chose to work with reality rather than resist it.
We can develop the same attitude they did and work wonders in our own life situations. Whenever we feel stuck, we look for whatever positive action is available to us in that moment and take it. The action may seem so small as to be insignificant, but here is a secret: there are no such thing as insignificant right actions. Each one leads to bigger and better things. This is because whatever we focus on grows. Therefore, if we focus on an opening being offered to us, even a itsy bitsy one, it will grow significantly larger. And if we maintain that focus for any appreciable amount of time, it will blossom into a true blessing for us.
Case in point, in his book, One Small Step Can Change Your Life, Psychologist Robert Maurer tells the story of Julie, a young woman he once helped. Julie was a single mom, unemployed, overweight, and suffering from poor health as a consequence. She resisted any kind of exercise regimen because she did not believe it was possible for her to turn her situation around. Sinking in despair, she sought out Dr. Maurer for depression. The medical doctor that worked with Maurer had seen many cases like Julie’s. His standard procedure was to prescribe anti-depressants and hope that she did not sink any lower. But Maurer wanted to try a different approach. He could see that Julie had poor life management skills and thought she might gain some traction in her life if she met with success at some simple tasks. Instead of prescribing her anti-depressants, he told her to go home and march in place for one minute every night while she watched T.V. She came back on her follow-up visit ecstatic at her ability to fulfill this simple task. Over the next several months, Maurer built on this task until Julie worked up to doing 30 minutes of cardio almost every day. Her success greatly altered her attitude about what was possible, and she became devoted to her workout, which subsequently, improved her health. Julie exemplifies the power of taking advantage of even the smallest openings in reality.
In every moment, there is a positive step we can take no matter how bleak our situation seems. By focusing on it, we are embracing the moment we are living, our reality, and the Universe responds by opening itself up to us. It as if it is saying, “Do what you can; I will do the rest.” If we resist taking the simple steps, maybe because we do not think they will lead anywhere, the Universe is powerless to support us.
Welcome! You have just stumbled upon the current book I am writing. Yes, I know it looks like a blog, but with a little time and your helpful comments, it may be much more in the future. Please stick around and watch it grow.