Is the radio station in your head stuck on a self-defeating channel? Maybe it’s time to pick a better song.
“At every point in time,
there are infinite possibilities
and a parallel reality exists for each possibility.”
–Daniel Jackson, Stargate
Imagine this? A foreign exchange student from a tiny African village with no running water or electricity comes to the West and gets dropped off at a hotel room. The hotel maid, who has a giant crush on George Strait and loves to listen to the local country and western station, forgot to turn off the radio when she finished tidying up the room. Hours later, the student walks into his first hotel room ever to find a radio playing non-stop country and western music and loud, obnoxious ads.
He much prefers the drumming of his little village, but unfortunately he has no idea that a) the radio has an off switch or b) that, at any time, he could simply move the dial to a different, more pleasing station.
Hopefully, the above scenario has never happened, but it’s a perfect metaphor for life. An extensive line-up of music stations with an immense variety of options is available for anyone with a car, a boom box or a computer with Pandora.
Life, too, offers a dizzying choice of consciousness options. We can choose joyful thoughts or thoughts of fear. We can choose to celebrate or worry. The station we tune into is completely up to us. It’s the most important decision we ever make. Our consciousness channels create the quality of our life.
Most of us are like the exchange student, stuck on one channel and unaware that, at any time, we could pick a different reality. We are the captains of our fate, the master of our mind’s channels that all too often get stuck on an endless loop.
Before long, we start believing that reality is nothing but the loud, obnoxious C&W station playing in our consciousness. We fail to realize that a) there’s an off-switch, b) there are lots of other channels and c) the world only appears the way it does because, in our ignorance, we chose the wrong channel. Isn’t it time to change the dial?
Pam Grout is the author of E-Squared, 9 Do-it-Yourself Energy Experiments that Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality. And she chose to write about radio stations today in honor of next week’s debut on Hay House Radio.
“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” –Aibilene Clark, from the book and movie, The Help
I’m sending a shout-out today to the anonymous person that taped uplifting affirmations to the bathroom stall at Mirth Café in Lawrence, Kansas. Your words reminding me that “I am beautiful. I am powerful. I am capable of great things” made me so happy and reminded me that the simplest of things, the tiniest of actions can impact the world.
Your affirming words not only added joy to my day, but they elevated the energy of every person I encountered from that moment forward.
I once saw a comic strip where the boss scolded his employee who went home and took it out on his wife who then screamed at the kids. In the last frame, the toddler is sitting outside on the front porch shaking her finger at the puzzled dog.
That boss had no idea the chain of events he started when he chose to criticize rather than encourage.
You’re probably heard of the parlor game, “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”, which suggests that any two people on earth are, on average, a mere six acquaintance links apart.
I like to think of those beautiful human bonds when I get discouraged, overwhelmed by the issues in the news. It’s tempting to wonder what I, one solitary person from Kansas, can do to solve the political chasm, what I, a single mom with a couple twitter followers, can do to stop gun violence.
And then I remember. I can invite my neighbor over for ham and eggs. I can bake a casserole for the new mom that just came home from the hospital.
Yes, we’re all different, have varying political beliefs and religious affiliations. But every last one of us eventually shows up in the same bathroom stall.
One tiny sheet of paper. Five simple lines. Tiny actions sending beautiful ripples out into the universe.
Leave a comment below with the words you’d like to leave on the door of your bathroom stall.
“Violence is interesting which makes it a great obstacle to world peace and more thoughtful television programming.” –P.J. O’Rourke
Crisis, conflict and violence are the prevailing themes of our 24/7 media. If some stranger talked to us the way newscasters do, we’d tell them to go jump in a lake. Likewise, if our boyfriends made us feel the way headlines often do, our friends would line up for an intervention. ‘Toss the jerk out on his head,’ they’d say.”
Living in fear sells products, creates economies, elects politicians and keeps the flying monkeys on the job. But it’s not the truth about the world.
The reality is that the world is safer today than at anytime in history. The murder rate has plummeted in the last ten years. School shootings are no more prevalent than they were in “Leave it to Beaver” days. In fact, collaboration, goodness and, yes, love are the norm.
It’s just that the dominant paradigm, the one we’ve blindly bought into is “life sucks.” Any thought to the contrary is sidelined immediately by the 27-inch box in the corner of most of our living rooms (and kitchen and bedrooms). In fact, if you pay attention to the box–and most of us use it to form our view of reality–you have little choice but to conclude that murder, rape, war, and genocide is the human condition.
But if you look at it scientifically, the math just doesn’t work out. For every Koran-burning Terry Jones, there are 335,000 ministers who aren’t burning the Koran, who are espousing peace and love and tolerance. For every Scott Peterson, there’s 58.9 million husbands who didn’t murder their wives.
Every day, we’re spoon-fed “news” about missing children, identity theft, the mild-mannered neighbor who walks into work with an AK-47 and a bomb pack and blows up his boss and 27 co-workers.
Why do we think this is news?
On the same day (February 18, 2008), two-year-old Karissa Jones was abducted from her home in Louisville, Kentucky (by her father, as it turns out), there were 53,298 two-year-olds in Kentucky who didn’t get abducted, who were safe and sound at home, happily sipping apple juice from their Winnie-the-Pooh high chairs. Nearly a million children of all ages in Kentucky also didn’t get abducted that same day.
Why is Karissa the “news?”
News, by definition, is new information that teaches people about the world. Picking out what happened to two-one thousandth of one percent of the state’s two-year-olds is not an accurate picture of the world. If you ask me, what happened to the other 53,298 two-year-olds is a bigger story. Or at least it’s more realistic news.
What you see on the newscasts at night, what you read in the morning newspaper is not a realistic perception of our world. It’s an anomaly, an out-of-character thing that happened at one moment in time. News junkies pride themselves on believing they’re well-informed. Because they know what Ann Curry said about the latest layoffs at Boeing and what Morley Safer reported on the earthquake in New Zealand, they smugly believe they’re up on current events.
But do they know about the African-American postman in Germantown, Tennessee who jumped into a lake to save a couple whose brakes went out of their car when they were coming home from a hospital dialysis treatment? Do they know about the Marysville, Kansas attorney who flew, on his own dime, to Israel to donate a kidney to a 10-year-old he’d never met?
Thinking you’re informed because you watch the news is like thinking you understand a zoo when you’ve only seen the “Z” on the entryway sign. It’s not a complete picture, guys. It’s not even a good picture. I’m not going to argue that you can’t find the letter “Z” at any zoo. But if you try to convince me you’re a zoo expert or even that you have a faint understanding of what a zoo is all about because you’ve seen a “Z,” well, I’m sorry, I have no choice but to argue.
Attention-grabbing headlines and newscasts are nothing more than a sales tool, no more “factual” than “The Simpsons.” Isolated incidences get turned into frightening trends and our own thoughts have become conditioned to leap to the worst.
The mission of this blog is to free readers from the straitjacket of the relentless news media. Instead of asking “What’s wrong?,” a question we hear over and over again, I’d like to pose a simple question with the power to change the world: “What’s right?”
Like everyone else on the planet, I learned ages ago that opportunities for pain and suffering are always going to be available and that if I was going to live with intention, it’s best to steer clear.
I’d have never become the author of 16 books, a reporter for People magazine and a world traveler if I’d accepted the onslaught of “negative invitations.”
“That’s not possible,” naysayers always insisted on telling me. “It’s hard to write a book. Even harder to sell it. You’re an unknown from Kansas. You got B’s in your journalism classes, for God’s sake.”
“Talk to the hand,” I’d always say to those voices. “That may be your way of seeing things, but I choose a different reality, a higher path.”
But in 2008, after three years of ever-increasing income, even being in a position to turn down a fourth project for National Geographic, I took the ego’s bait.
By then, a constant stream of bad news dominated the headlines. My profession, journalism and book publishing, was among the hardest hit by the global downturn. Publishers were cutting back their lines, lowering their advances. Many of my colleagues in the newspaper business were suddenly without work.
Again, I normally don’t listen to such nonsense. I much prefer a spiritual reality that proclaims abundance no matter what the circumstances. But by 2009, after little by little letting the dire news seep in, I plucked the aforementioned recession invitation out of the trash. I decided to take just a peek.
The party was in full swing. My agent was repeating the “nothing’s selling” mantra over by the punch bowl. Regular clients were on the corner sofas, moaning about the economy and their need to buy less.
Before I knew what happened, I bunny hopped right into the middle of the celebration. I began singing the “ain’t it awful” blues along with the party’s deejay. I told anybody who’d listen about my hard times.
Before long, I convinced everyone I know that my career as an independent author was over. I even fooled them into believing that, after all these years on my own, I was old, washed up and as yesterday as the History Channel.
I actually reveled in the sympathy.
Then one day, I got out my beat-up copy of Think and Grow Rich. As I read Napoleon Hill’s words about “thoughts being things,” I suddenly got it.
Look how powerful my thoughts and words had been. Look what I’d done to myself. If I can create this disaster with nothing but my thoughts, I can just as easily create the opposite.
When I think back about it now, I’m slightly embarrassed. How could I have fallen so bumpily off the wagon I’d use so successfully for so many years? I know good and well how this stuff works. I know that I create my own reality. I know that listening to dooms-dayers is the most futile exercise in the world.
I wasted no time using Hill’s famous advice.
Within a week, I had two new assignments. A new book contract came next. Rather than live frugally, the advice my friends were freely passing out, I decided to spend the summer overseas, volunteering and letting my newly-recovered faith pay the bills.
That decision to say, “I am prosperous and, of course, I can afford to travel overseas to volunteer” was the beginning of a more fruitful life.
Needless to say, I’ve taken that beautifully-engraved invitation and ripped it to shreds. And don’t bother sending anymore. Because from now on, my RSVP’s to any negativity will say one thing, “Have a good time. But don’t expect to find me there.”
Pam Grout is the author of E-Squared, 9 Do-it-Yourself Energy Experiments that Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality.
Kids know important stuff, stuff we mature adults work very hard to unteach them. But maybe instead of urging our children to “be careful” and “act responsible,” we should follow their lead.
Here are the top six things preschoolers have over us:
1. Make believe. You don’t have to tell a kid that “anything is possible.” They’re pros at “pretend” or what behavioral specialists call visualization. Olympic athletes, in fact, spend nearly as many hours mentally rehearsing their success as they do physically practicing. Well, duh? our kids could tell us. They don’t need anyone’s permission to be a pilot or a doctor or an architect. They’re already flying around the room and healing their dolls’ boo-boos and building sand castles. They know popsicle sticks can be boats, batons or bridges over moats. Or better yet, lined up all the way to Bulgaria.
2. The opposite game. Remember how much fun it was to state everything backwards, to say “I don’t like you very much” which, of course, meant “You are everything to me.” If we could only realize that our political opponents and anyone else who disagrees with us or nags at us or call us names are really just playing “the opposite game.” Then we could quit taking everything so personally and remember that the biggest secret in the world is “we all really love each other.”
3. Tag, you’re it. Instead of hogging all the attention, kids chase each other around and parlay being “it.” And, needless to say, we all want to be “it” from time to time.
4. Cry when they’re hurt. Instead of pretending to be all “cool” and “together,” kids just lay it on the line. The only games they play are for fun. They don’t care what color or sexual orientation or religion a playmate is. In fact, they don’t notice differences at all. I have a friend who lost his arm when he was in the Navy. Until kids get to the age of 5 or so, they don’t even notice that he’s missing his right arm. It’s remarkable the day kids he’s known since they were babies suddenly notice. “What happened to your arm?” they ask in utter amazement. Of course, their mom’s give them dirty looks and tell them to “pipe down.”
5. Show-and-tell. Think how much closer we’d all be if we stopped long enough to honor one another in a circle of show-and-tell. If we listened to one another’s stories, looked at each other’s creations. Why isn’t this a normal thing? Every week or so we should get together with families and friends and show them something we really like, something unique about us. Bring in some doodle we made on the side of a Visa bill or something we thought up while waiting at the dry cleaners. Adults still think things up. We just don’t tell anyone. We don’t think it’s important. Not with lawns that need mowing and mufflers that need fixing.
6. What’s the hurry? If you want to expand your world, go on a walk with a five-year-old. They notice everything. The sun glinting off the mud puddle. The snail making figure eights of slime along the sidewalk. The hawk perched on the neighbor’s mailbox. Sure, you know everybody’s Facebook status registered on a little screen. But preschoolers? They know everything else.
“One thing I’ve learned. Never set limits on yourself, not in the race, not in life. You may not win every battle, you may not win every race, but there is glory to be found in any worthwhile human endeavor.” –Hobart Brown
Hobart Brown, a metal sculpture artist, was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1998. The reason? He has made happiness his occupation.
And, as he says, by “following my heart, by doing what seems to be the most fun at the time and by not doing those things that weren’t fun, I think I’ve lived a useful life.”
Indeed. Not only has this zany artist put Ferndale, California, his home of several decades on the map, but his invention of kinetic sculpture racing has inspired millions of people to take life less seriously.
As he likes to say, “It seems to solve the problem of how to have fun as an adult.”
When Hobart moved to Ferndale in 1962, this little dairy community of 2500 was almost a ghost town. The glorious Victorian homes were selling for a song, and city fathers were thinking about tearing them down, replacing them with modern structures. A great dissension reined between the farmers who had been there since the late 1800’s and the artists who were turning the cheap Victorian into funky studios.
Hobart’s crazy brainstorm, which eventually turned into the World Championship Great Arcata to Ferndale Kinetic Sculpture Race, brings a quarter-million people to town every Memorial Day weekend, pumps more than $2 million into the economy, and has totally healed the rift between the farmers and the artists.
Kinetic sculptures, in a nutshell, are works of art that move. Shaped like everything from giant bananas to two—ton dinosaurs to floating wheelchairs and 75-foot iguanas, these human-powered vehicles are peddled, pushed, paddled and pumped, Fred Flintstone-style. They’re made from scrounged bicycle parts, discarded lawn mower gears, painted septic tanks, old bathtubs and anything else inventors can come up with. Each machine is a testament not only to childlike imagination and engineering genius, but to artistic ingenuity, camaraderie, and well…insanity.
Hobart proves my point. One of the greatest ways to serve your fellow man is to figure out a way to enjoy yourself and to let people know that enjoying yourself is a good thing.
Vow today to approach your life with a sense of aliveness. Intentionally decide that you’re only going to look for the good and concentrate on the beautiful.
When you decide to practice the attitude of happiness, boredom turns into exploration. Canceled flights turn into a party. Waiting in line becomes a great opportunity to meet new people. Vacuuming the floor is a ballet performed to Van Morrison. And, of course, a rainy day calls for an indoor picnic with five kinds of cheese.
Make this revolutionary attitude switch now. Your joie de vivre will be contagious. Maybe you’ll even make the 6 o’clock news.
Man only likes to count his troubles, but he does not count his joys.—Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Before entering the hospital room of a tuberculosis patient, visitors are required to cover their entire bodies. They even don surgical gloves and face masks.
None of us balk at this seemingly overcautious behavior. We don’t want to catch tuberculosis. It’s contagious, for goodness sake. Of course, we’d go to great lengths to avoid being exposed.
Yet, we never protect ourselves from the bad news we see on television, the horrible reports we read in the newspaper. What we see on the nightly news is nothing like what we see in our own neighborhoods. The new media presents a grossly-distorted picture, an anomaly.
And, unfortunately, that picture of “America, the Ugly” is every bit as contagious and as damaging as those tuberculosis germs.
Poet and novelist Maya Angelou goes so far as to call negativity poison. She is vigilant in protecting herself from negative conversation. If she hears what she calls “a poisonous comment,” she quickly says “sayonara” and doesn’t feel a bit guilty about it. If anyone starts in at her home, she asks them to leave.
“If you allow it (negativity) to perch in your house, in your mind, in your life, it can take you over. So when rude or cruel things are said, I say, ‘Take it all out of my house.’ Those negative words climb into the wood and into the furniture and the next thing they’ll be on my skin,” she says.
She prefers what Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians. They wrote complaining about old men who were chasing young women, about church members who refused to tithe. And he wrote back, “If there be anything of good report, speak of these things.”
Your thoughts are magic. Not one of them goes unheeded by the universe. Whatever it is you think and feel the great universal energy stands up and says, “I second it.”
Why cast your spotlight in dirty corners? Why focus on negativity?
Our thought about ourselves, about our world, about our relationships create our reality. In a landmark physics experiment, researchers who theorized that light waves were curvy found curvy light waves. And those who deduced light waves were straight as Billy Graham? They found Billy Graham-straight light waves.
Who needs a mind reader or a psychologist to dredge up an unburied unconscious? If you want to know what there’s just take a look around. It’s all right there in living color. If you see dysfunctional relationships, finances that are always a struggle, a word of snotty sales clerks, then that’s what you’re spending your time thinking about. In fact, the thoughts come first.
Change your thought and your focus and you can literally change your world.
When we first learn about manifesting and the “law of attraction,” we tend to jump in with giant goals, things like new cars, new homes, boyfriends who look like Fabio. Those are all fantastic intentions and every single one of you deserves every one of those things.
But what I’d like to suggest is baby steps. Starting small. When you first learn to play golf, you break it down and master one step at a time. You spend a week practicing, say, keeping your eye on the ball. The next week you work on keeping your lead arm straight. It’s impossible to take it all in at once.
It’s the same with learning to manifest. In fact, jumping into the deep end, our normal inclination, tends to backfire and actually ends up being counterproductive. Let’s say you decide you want a BMW Z3 2.8 Roadster by oh.…next Wednesday. It’s quite possible that, instead of getting all worked up and excited about the new car, your predominant thoughts will be something like “eat my shorts.”
Needless to say, thoughts like those can only lead to disappointment. And I think that’s what happens. We get all fired up about this amazing idea that our thoughts create our reality. We start affirming and visualizing and being sure that this is our destiny and then the past starts creeping in. The negative thoughts. The way it’s always been.
Going from broke, depressed and loveless to rich, perpetually happy and a having a black book filled with numbers is a virtual chasm and can’t help but fail. When these intentions don’t happen overnight, which they won’t (They could. It’s possible. Gurus in India pull jewels out of the thin air), you’ll get discouraged and either give up or believe you’re not worthy.
What I’d like to suggest is starting small. Building muscle gradually.
Start with something you have absolutely no baggage around. Money, which is No#1 on most manifesters’ hit parade, comes with how can I say this politely, more suitcases than the Chicago airport.
If you start with something simple, something like say a blue feather, your thoughts won’t immediately put up their dukes and start yammering. In fact, small intentions are so nonthreatening that often we manifest them immediately.
For one thing, you’re not fighting the current. Most people, something like 95 percent of the human race, think manifesting money is supremely difficult. No doubt you’ve heard all the alleged facts about money:
It doesn’t grow on trees.
Making money is hard.
But I hasten to point out you don’t hear people going around saying, “It’s impossible to find blue feathers.”
So by starting with baby steps, you won’t immediately provoke the group consciousness. And, most importantly, you won’t trigger your own doubts and past failures.
Here are the three steps:
1. Go for something small, something you won’t be all “that’s impossible” about.
2. Make an intention and make it crystal clear.
3. Set a deadline.
In fact, for the next week, I’d like your help in creating some data for my new Hay House book: E-Squared: 9 Do-it-yourself Energy Experiments to Prove your Thoughts Create Your Reality.
I’d like your permission to enlist y’all as my test subjects, as my guinea pigs, if you will.
Using the three baby steps I just outlined, I’d like you to attempt to manifest the following five things:
1. Upfront parking spot
2. Blue feather
3. Free cup of coffee
4. Hearing from a friend from the past
5. Having something interesting and unexpected land in your mailbox or in-box
You’ve got a week.
And I hope you’ll send me an email or make a comment here to let me know which of these things you’ve manifested.
And just know that once you’ve got things like this down, moving on to money and that date with the Fabio look-a-like will be a piece of cake.
As we say in Manifesterland. “Today, a feather, tomorrow the world.”
“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
–T-shirt I saw in Hawaii
Filmmaker Michael Moore, in a 2002 commencement speech, gave the following advice. “All you boys should learn that once you give up on that girl, she will come to you.”
In some ways, prayer works the same way. By believing we desperately need prayer or a miracle or something we don’t have now, we deny God’s truth. We suit up with the wrong attitude.
Any time we look for an answer, we make the false assumption that the answer isn’t already here. Praying for love or happiness or some other desired goal defeats the whole purpose. It assumes somehow that the outcome of life is still in doubt. It’s not. God’s truth is perfection, all-joy, all-love, and to crave some piddling commodity is believing there’s something else. You have to suit up with perfect confidence that you have the right for all that is good. In fact, you have to believe it’s already here.
To Jesus, prayer was not a matter of bribing God. It was simply understanding that the higher law of Spirit overrides the lower law of the mental and physical plane. To plead or beg or to act like it’s not here is to suppose duality, not unity. And unity is what we’re going for. To get those ducks lined up, to get all those waves in laser-like coherence.
Like a laser, touched for the very first time
“We can’t afford the luxury of doubt.”
–Elastigirl in the Incredibles
I don’t know if you know anything about laser technology, but it works a little bit like Congress did on September 12, 2001. Remember how all those cantankerous old senators and representatives completely forgot they were Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives? How the only thing in their minds were “I’m an American, by God” and they sang God Bless America” in one great, big unified chorus? Well, that’s how a laser works.
Unlike ordinary light, that has lots of different types and sizes of wavelengths, lasers have one size wavelength, each of which precisely reinforces every other.
This is how you want to pray. Or it is if you want to see something appreciable happen. When Jesus “prayed” to multiple the fish and loaves, he didn’t beg God to “make something happen,” he simply put all his thoughts into one laser-like formation, namely that abundance and plenty was his divine right.
In fact, the real reason Jesus was crucified was those in command thought he was altogether too confident. How dare he be so bold as to think he could make crippled people walk, lepers dance? But Jesus didn’t just think he could do these things. He knew. He knew the truth of who he was which made his mind a veritable laser. He didn’t doubt for one second there was plenty of food to go around. He didn’t stop to question if a blind man could see (after all, the gift of health and perfect self-expression is everyone’s divine right) or if that storm that so scared the disciples was real. He knew that he had the right to command the heavens and the earth. In fact, that’s the only big difference between Jesus and you and me. We’re still wondering.
If you go back to Aramaic, which as you probably know is the language Jesus conversed in, the root word of ask reveals more than a “well, if it’s not too much trouble.” Ask, in Aramaic, means a combination of claim (as in that deed to the land is yours) or demand. To ask for something in prayer is to simply lay hold of what’s yours. You have the right, and even the responsibility to command your life.
How can we be sure, you ask? Same way you’re sure two plus two equals four. Because it’s a simple, unalterable principle of mathematics. If you add two plus two and get five, that’s not the principle of mathematic’s fault. Likewise, if you’re not getting the answers you want from your prayers, that’s not God’s fault. It’s you that’s screwing up the principle.
With God, there is no variation. There is one perfect picture of health, abundance, joy, peace, love, and all that other good stuff. But because we, like ordinary light with its variety of wavelengths, have all these variety of thoughts, we create a lot of turbulence. But it’s not necessary.
Prayer that is focused through an integrated, whole personality is like a laser—a single, clear beam. It doesn’t matter who asks or how they ask God’s answer is always “love and light and peace.” That’s not only God’s final answer, it’s the only answer
“Great Spirit is everywhere. It is not necessary to speak to him in a loud voice. He hears whatever is in our minds and hearts.”
Prayer, as far as most of us are concerned, is a desperate S.O.S. reserved for special occasions. We think we’re “praying” only when addressing God directly with some screech for “HELP!” But since God is the force field that runs the universe, every thought we have is a prayer.
Every time we think any thought—be it a silent “God, doesn’t she realize that skirt makes her look like Walter Matthau” to “I’ll commit hari-kari if I don’t get that raise”—we influence the force field. I think I should probably repeat this: every single thought affects the force field.
The only reason we don’t change water into wine or heal cancer with one touch is because our thoughts (our prayers) are scattered all over the place. Instead of being one, constant, well-aimed tuning fork, our thoughts are more like a junior high band of beginning trumpet players.
On one hand, we “pray” for things to work out, but on the other, we worry they won’t. At the same time we speak for good, we secretly smirk that optimism is a bunch of baloney. We want to be committed to so and so, but what if he leaves? We want to make money, but didn’t the Bible say something about rich people, camels, and eyes of a needle?
The force is literally bouncing off walls. Go this way. No wait. Go that way. The force is knocking around like a lightning bug in a Mason jar. It’s being dissipated because we have no clear bead on what we really want. It’s not that God or “the force” isn’t answering our prayers. It’s just that we’re “praying” for too many things.
When you figure the average person has something like 60,000 thoughts a day, you come to realize that your life experience is “prayed” about by a heck of a lot more than the “please, God, let me get out of this speeding ticket” you uttered when you first noticed the flashing red light.
Sure, you begged God for peace of mind today, but you also spent 1200 thoughts obsessing about that damned co-worker who stole your website idea. Yes, you pleaded the money case with God, but you also spent 500 thoughts worrying about your overdue car payment. When you understand prayer for what it really is, it’s easier to understand why that one-time plea to the big guy doesn’t always pan out.
The only reason Jesus could walk on water was because 100 percent of his thoughts (prayers) believed he could. He had overcome the world’s thought system that says, “Only an idiot would be stupid enough to step out of the boat.” There was not one doubt, not a single thought (prayer) in his consciousness that didn’t fully believe it.
Your mind is very powerful, no matter how badly you disrespect the privilege, no matter how ineffectual you feel. Every single thought produces form at some level. Just because those thoughts are screwed up (and believe me, if you’re a human, some of your thoughts are screwed up) doesn’t make them weak or ineffective. Weak and ineffective at getting what you want, maybe, but never weak and ineffective.
Pray? Who me?
“Prayer is a soul’s sincere desire, uttered or unexpressed.”
People often tell me, “I don’t pray. It’s a waste of time. It’s like believing in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy.” My response? It’s impossible to stop praying. Can’t be done. Thomas Merton, the Christian mystic, said “we pray by breathing.”
Take Al Unser, for example. He didn’t call it praying, but when he won his fourth Indianapolis 500, five days before his 48th birthday, he demonstrated the true power of prayer.
That year, 1987 to be exact, he had been unceremoniously dumped from his race team even though he’d won the Indy 500 three times before. For the first time in 22 years, it looked as if he’d be forced to watch the famous race from the sidelines. His sponsors and pretty much everyone else wrote him off as “all washed up.”
But in his mind, in every thought he possessed, he knew he was not too old to race. He knew he could still win. That “prayer” was so strong that when Danny Ongais, one of the drivers who had replaced him on the team, banged himself up in practice, Unser was brought in to race a backup car, a used March-Cosworth.
Nobody except him expected anything. Not only was he driving an older model used car, but when the familiar “Gentlemen, start your engines!” rang through the P.A. system, Unser was stuck back in the 20th position.
But that didn’t phase the three-time winner. In every fiber of his body, he saw himself winning. He expected nothing but victory. Finally, on the 183rd lap, he worked his way up the field, crossing the line for his fourth Indianapolis 500 title. Al Unser never had a doubt. Every single thought “prayed” for victory.
Or think of the mother, who having never before picked up anything heavier than a grocery bag of frozen foods, suddenly lifts a three-ton Plymouth off her first grade son. At that moment, she is so thoroughly engrossed in her urgent need to move that car off her precious child that she has no room for other thoughts. “I’ve got to move that car” was the only “prayer” in her mind. She did not remember, anywhere in her mind, that such an act was impossible.
Newton’s first law of prayer
“I’m 32 flavors and then some.”
–Ani Di Franco
When you throw a tennis ball in the air, you can count on it coming down. Granted it might fall in the neighbor’s petunias or on the roof of the 7-11 where you’ll need a ladder to retrieve if, but it’s guaranteed to come back down.
Prayer (thought) is just like that tennis ball. It comes back just the way you send it out. Like Newton said in his famous 4th law of energy, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. What you give out, what you “pray” about, you get back in equal measure. If you send out fear thoughts, you get things to be scared of. If you lie, you’ll be lied to. If you criticize, you get criticized. But on the other hand, if you send out love, you get big, bounteous love. If you send out blessings, you get blessed in equal measure.
Everything you “pray” about eventually externalizes. Or to put it another way, your inner thoughts are continually being cut and pasted into your outer life. If you want to know what you’re really “praying” for, take a look around your life. You’ll see your innermost thoughts, the real desires of your heart, the prayers no one knows about but you.
I knew a girl who was paranoid of spiders. She used to worry that she’d reach into her makeup drawer some morning and instead of grabbing a lipstick, put her mitts around a big, fat spider. This unfounded thought passed through her brain every morning for months until….guess what? She reached into her makeup drawer and grabbed a big fat, hairy wolf spider.
To put it another way, thought is creative. The thoughts you hold in your mind, both conscious and unconscious, create what you see in your life. Every thought (prayer) has a certain vibration. It boomerangs back to you according to its pitch, intensity, and depth of feeling. Your thoughts show up in your life in equal measure as their constancy, intensity, and power.
Shoot-Out at the I’m OK-You’re OK Corral or how your mind works
“You always said to be true to ourselves. Which self are we supposed to be true to?” –Buddy (AKA Syndrome) in The Incredibles
Your mind is engaged in an ongoing showdown between different, conflicting parts of yourself. These splintered intentions or prayers, if you will, set all sorts of dynamics into motion. Let’s say you have a conscious intention to buy a new house and you pray to find one. At the same time you set that intention into motion, you simultaneously send out an unconscious, but equally effective, fear of a higher mortgage payment. You start fretting about interest rates, start worrying about the termite contract you inadvertently let expire on your current house, both of which send out even more unconscious intentions. If these unconscious fear intentions are stronger than the conscious desire intentions, well, guess which one wins?
The dynamic of opposing “prayers” (and again, every thought is a prayer) can produce confusion and doubt. As you become open to new perceptions and desires and simultaneously experience fear and anguish, you set up a struggle.
If it keeps up, you start to doubt that prayer even works. Or at least you conclude it doesn’t work for you. You become discouraged and start believing that life and circumstances are more powerful than you are.
Believe me, they’re not. Not even close. Your conflicting “prayers” are simply creating turbulence in the flow of God’s light.
Let me just repeat–prayer is extremely powerful. But it doesn’t respond only to your pleas. It responds to every intention—conscious and unconscious–with opposing sides battling it out. Here are four of most common battle fields:
1. The rut. We humans have this annoying tendency to fall into habit patterns. Remember those 60,000 daily thoughts I mentioned earlier? Well, all but 1000 of those thoughts are the exact same thoughts you had yesterday. Scientists tell us 98 percent of our 60,000 thoughts are repeats from the day before.
I once had a neighbor with an invisible dog fence. You couldn’t see it, but if her little jack terrier even dared step foot outside that fence, he got a painful shock. All of us are like that little jack terrier—stuck in our invisible fences.
Instead of using our prayers to think up new ideas, to ask for meaning to life’s great mysteries, we waste them on trivial, insignificant, thoroughly meaningless things. Look at the cover of a typical women’s magazine:
Lose inches fast
Last-minute strategies for holiday glam
Quiz: Does your mate really love you?
Don’t we have anything better to think about?
If the 7 million readers of Ladies Home Journal would all wonder instead, “What can I do to improve my own soul?” or “How could I make the world more loving?’ the big problems we’re so afraid of would be solved in year. Seven million people concentrating on issues like that are an unstoppable force.
2. The ad man’s copy. U.S. advertisers spend more than $250 billion every year trying to convince you that without their products, you are a complete and total loser. The ad shill’s entire reason for being is to make you and me dissatisfied with what we have and who we are. The average American sees between 1500 and 3000 commercials per day. Even non-TV watchers are constantly being invited to consume. Everything from ATM monitors to dry cleaning bags to stickers on supermarket fruit has been known to bear ads.
The most dangerous ads, as far as I’m concerned, are the new drugs ads that teach people to be sick. Madison Avenue has done a stellar job training us to need deodorant, mouthwash, and Domino’s three medium-one topping pizzas for $5 each. Now, they’re breaking new ground by training us to be sick.
3. Other people’s heads. Like radio waves that fly around in the atmosphere, other people’s thoughts constantly bombard you. You unconsciously pick up the thoughts of your family, your culture, and your religion, even if you don’t go to church.
I read an article about a guy who had invented dozens of products including many that you and I use on a daily basis. He was regularly dubbed, “a genius.” But if you gave him George Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” test, he’d have been sent back to first grade. The guy never learned to read. And he said that was intentional.
“If I had learned to read,” he said, “I’d pick up other people’s ideas and cement those in my head. I choose not to bother with the interference.”
In fact, the reason most of the spiritual big cheese meditate is because it helps them avoid the interference. It helps them tap into the Universal thought that is goodness, beauty, and light.
4. Your own head. Despite what you may think you’re praying for, it’s quite likely there’s an even bigger prayer getting in the way. Unfortunately, all of us have an underlying prayer that goes something like this:
“There’s something wrong with me.”
“I’m not good enough.”
“I have no talent.”
“I don’t deserve it.”
“I can’t do it.”
“It’s too hard.”
Sweeping negative statements like these are what we call false prayers, the default beliefs to which you march in obedience. The good news is they’re not true. The bad news is they operate as if they were true. They’re your own personal amulet that you carry unwittingly everywhere you go. You wouldn’t dream of plowing through life without them because, well, they’re just so…familiar. But the problem is these particular rabbit’s feet are concrete and weigh 189 pounds. They sap your strength, shackle your potential, and knock your hopes to hell and gone.
When I first began writing for magazines, I had an inferiority complex that wouldn’t have fit in Shea Stadium. Because I was from a small town in the Midwest, I couldn’t imagine that I had anything to say to a fancy editor from New York. Although I sent query after query pitching my many ideas, I didn’t really expect to sell too many. After all, I just “knew” there “weren’t enough” assignments to go around. At best, I figured I might be able to sneak a few under the cracks.
Needless to say, I got a lot of rejection letters, so many that I probably could have wallpapered the city of Cincinnati should they have needed wallpaper. The editors didn’t exactly tell me to drop dead, but they didn’t encourage me to keep writing either.
Then I read a book called Write for your Life by Lawrence Block. In the early 80’s, when his column for Writer’s Digest was at the height of its popularity, he and his wife, Lynn, decided to throw a series of seminars for writer-wannabe’s.
They called the day-long seminars “Write for your Life” and set about booking hotel rooms in cities around the country. Unlike most writing seminars where you learn to write plot treatments or how to get an agent, Block’s seminar dealt with the only thing that really matters when it comes to being a writer. Getting out of your own way. Getting rid of the countless negative thoughts that tell you what a hopelessly uninteresting specimen of humanity you are.
At the seminar, participants meditated, grabbed partners and confessed their greatest fears and did all kinds of things that helped them get to the bottom of why they wanted to write, but didn’t.
The seminars were hugely successful, but Block, who was a writer, not a seminar-giver, eventually got tired of trotting around the country, collecting tickets. Instead, he self-published the book that I ran into about the same time.
I took the book to heart. I did all of the exercises. I wrote affirmations. I consulted my inner child to find out what I was so afraid of. I even sent myself postcards for 30 days straight. On these postcards, I’d write such affirming reminders as “You, Pam, are a great writer.” “You, Pam, have what it takes to sell to New York editors.” “You, Pam, are interesting and people want to hear what you have to say.”
I’m sure the postman thought I was a little cracked, wasting 25 cents or whatever the postage was back then to send myself a postcard telling myself I was fascinating and abundant. But if he knew what a change it made in my life, he’d have been doing it, too.
Suddenly, I started getting assignments from the big national magazines with, yes, the big New York editors. First, there was Modern Bride that wanted a piece on exercises couples could do together. Ladies’ Home Journal asked for a travel story on Tampa Bay. Suddenly, this once-insecure writer from Kansas was getting assignments from big national magazines, the kind of magazines you see in dentists’ offices.
Did I suddenly start writing more fluidly, coming up with more compelling ideas? Probably a little bit (after all, that was one of my affirmations), but mostly I changed the reality of what I thought and said about myself.
I gave up the “prayer” that there “weren’t enough” assignments to go around. I let go of the “prayer” that I wasn’t talented enough to sell to national magazines.
If you’re not getting answers to what you formerly thought of as prayer, you have to take into consideration the other thoughts you formerly “prayed.” To bring about “God’s truth in form” you have to get all those ducks flying in the same direction. Once they’re all quacking for the same thing, you’ll get nothing but health, wealth, love, friends, and perfect self-expression.