Grand experiment, anyone?
(hey, hit the 2 sets of bullet points for the short version!)
In my book Scooch! I wrote about my experiment with the idea that it might be a friendly Universe. Starting so broadly (the whole Universe!) naturally took me to smaller-scale experiments in life about … anything.
So why experiments and what constitutes grand?
I’m pretty enamored of the idea that all of life and aspect of life is or can be an experiment. Looks to me like it’s closer to the truth (how much do we really know for sure?) and everything loosens up a bit and feels better if you know (admit?) you’re experimenting.
Since I’m no scientist, I think of experiments as playful and fun, not serious and scary. As a life coach, I encounter people’s fears and the self-generated pressure that we human beings typically put on others or on circumstances until we realize we’re in charge of whether we opt in for pressure or not. I’m in favor of setting things up and cultivating mindsets for maximum spaciousness and ease. Hence, experiments!
Here are some ways to think of experiments:
Why a grand experiment? I do like to say, If you’re going to bother experimenting at all, make it a grand experiment.
The following could make a simple, humble experiment very grand indeed:
(Need some support with questioning thoughts or reframing?)
(Need help choosing or holding your focus?)
(Need help following a path of least resistance and/or choosing ease and forcing nothing?)
(Need help reeling it all in when you’re discouraged or distressed?)
Have fun with your grand experiments.
Love & blessings, Jaya
P.S. Hey, now you know why I set up dating as a grand experiment. Get my free pdf to support your own grand experiment.
Join me, if you will, in a new vision of love. As you read this to try it on, you might put many faces & kinds of relationships to the word BELOVED. I invite you to stretch yourself in love, stretch your ideas around love, stretch into new behaviors in love. I invite you to a love overhaul--a grand experiment, if you will.
My aim, which I may grope toward gracelessly & will only achieve imperfectly, is to love as purely as I’m able at any given moment. I love myself at least enough to let love be pure perfection in the imperfect ways I give and receive it as I evolve. I love others by appreciating and accepting the gorgeously imperfect love with which they grace me. I am willing to grapple with, to keep meeting, what challenges me in the realms of love.
Toward the beloved, I seek to be in a state of ongoing discovery (awe, curiosity, joy!), instead of holding to all I’ve decided so far about who they are (and worse, letting that become an accruing list of here-we-go-again grievances). My love gets to allow their becoming, and to acknowledge the journey that they’re on beyond me and sometimes (I am wowed by this privilege daily) with or near me.
I allow the journey of the beloved to follow its own timeline, not the one I would draw up—as if I had such drafting skills!—and not the one my impatience or discomfort would demand. When I require others to make me comfortable or to pander to my fears or to fix what’s unhealed inside me, I have stepped out of love. I accept this. I must and I will step out of love; others must and they will, too. It’s madness to expect anything else. I aim to witness with no judgment when either of us slips off-track—or to witness the judgment of self or other, and start there, soothe that first. I aim to simply call myself back to love.
My ongoing intention is swift course-correction back to love. I am in love with this very intention!
Maybe I don’t instantly feel love in such course-correcting moments. I know there’s no problem. Sometimes simply reversing the direction of my focus is all that’s needed to get me back to love (and eventually the feelings always follow): I shift the focus away from changing, correcting, instructing the beloved (even with the innocent motive to help them get me!) and bring the focus inward instead, toward soothing and perhaps better understanding myself. (The conversations with the other can follow, from a more grounded and kinder place.)
If something in my interactions with the beloved pushes a button or rubs up against a raw, unhealed place inside me, I am not shocked or dismayed; I do not believe something has gone wrong. I do seek to soothe myself. I do deconstruct the old, wrong decisions I made about myself or about love or about the way life works. I will bring love to myself first. I will love the beloved so much that I will take care of myself first, so great is my clarity that my well-being is no one else’s job and that my purest love comes from a place of self-love, of wholeness within myself. (I also allow my self-love and wholeness to be works in progress, dynamic entities or energies that wax and wane.)
I understand that it happens, in love connections of all kinds, in both directions, that buttons are pushed, core wounds are triggered, pain arises. It is not the job of love to prevent this. It is not a failure of love when this occurs. In fact, it’s the opposite at play: the job of love is to expose what needs to heal, so the hand of love will brush against every available bruise without meaning to, without trying.
When it’s my button pushed or my pain prodded, I well know the tendency to make that about the wrongs of the other: what they do wrong, how they don’t show up for me, the maddening way they phrase it, the way they’ve done this before and have failed to hear what I said about the impact on me. I aim to make it about me instead, my greater self-understanding, my healing and evolution, my expansion into greater love.
I aim to hear in my own mind and speech anything that resembles: Correct yourself faster for me, see what you can’t yet see because I insist that you see it for me, do the impossible to please me and make me feel loved, be who you are not—so I can relax. I know how to course-correct. I can come back to I release you to your life; I release myself to mine. I can and will come back to love, even if all that means at first is feeling the pain, soothing myself, loving the beloved for a moment from afar, as best I can, coming close again with nothing understood or just a fragment of wavering light to tender.
I will sing with Iris Dement, Just because I’m hurting, that don’t mean that you’ve done something wrong. I am willing to apply that going in both directions. People hurt on planet Earth. People hurt in human relationships. Sometimes I hurt in mine; sometimes the beloved hurts in relationship to me. Still, I’m willing to love.
I love myself so much that I’m willing to let the beloved be mad at me or disappointed in me --and I won't use that as an excuse to believe there’s something wrong with me. In those moments, I go after my pain to soothe it--I do not go after the beloved to see who they want me to be now. I go after love to embody it. I don't go after the beloved when I’m unclear with myself. I will not abandon myself. I will not think I’m bad or wrong when their pain is called forth, when their buttons have been pushed (as they must be; as they will be).
I am willing to hear them talk when they’re ready and to listen carefully, to listen with love. This does not mean that I rush to fix their reactions—never mind seek to prevent them! I allow the beloved to be in their process. I invite them back to connection, to communication, and to love in right timing. I may get that timing wrong. I’m willing.
I am willing to listen to the beloved and I am willing to look at myself, but I am not willing to automatically think that I’m wrong just because another thinks I am. I will always feel compassion when my phrasing or timing—or whatever—came in the wrong package for them and brought up their pain. I am sincerely sorry when my reactivity or wrong interpretation or personality tendencies got played out in a way that was hurtful to the beloved, and I want to make it right however I may be able to do so.
But I will not grovel. I cannot be sorry that their stuff comes up with me: it must, it will, and I trust they’re equipped to meet it; I trust we’re both equipped to find love again together. I will not be sorry when my stuff comes up with them: it must, it will, and I trust I’m equipped to meet it; I trust we’re both equipped to find love again together.
Love & blessings, Jaya
Consider that you may have it backwards: solutions don't make you feel better; solutions come once you've made yourself feel better.
If you're a match to the problem, here's what it looks like: You're walking around feeling what it makes you feel—frustrated, scared, sad. You talk about what's happening as a problem to be solved (or as hard or impossible to solve), as urgent, as being terrible (or infuriating, or hopelessly unfair, or whatever the emotive flavor du jour). You think about it a lot (as a problem). You worry, strategize, agonize, obsess.
This keeps you in the problem.
If you're a match to the solution, you trust there's already a solution on the way—called in the moment you observed or named the problem. You know it's already okay and will resolve—all will come clear without your needing to know how right now. You're able to let go of the parts you can't control. You're watching for where you can step in gracefully; you're open to inspiration, which you can grasp and respond to quickly (catch the wave) because you're not weighed down with worry or even hopelessness. In short, you can hold the thing with curiosity and expectation, trusting that this problem is ultimately no problem, and simply move toward or open to the solutions as you see each next step or possibility.
This brings in solutions.
How do you get out of hard emotions that perpetuate the problem—or keep you as a match to the problem?
The short version is, Quit putting a story to the feelings, and just be with the feelings. Or, since the story will assert itself, notice what you're saying to yourself or others about it, and quit saying it.
Of course, you'll have thoughts. Thoughts happen. The trick is not to get involved with them. I have a client currently going through a break-up and she worked beautifully on simply witnessing thoughts moving through. They're so typical, those break-up thoughts, aren't they? I'm not lovable, No one will ever love me, There's something wrong with me, I'm no good at relationships. Later, in session, she and I were able to question and deconstruct those thoughts. On her own, she just put them aside and took care of her emotions. She let herself feel and cry without telling herself lies (or without focusing on and running with any lies that temporarily whispered to her).
Think of writing thoughts down as a great and crazy-simple tool for getting them put down and put away without your losing track of what they can reveal. (Ah, a break-up still shows me what's left of my illusion of unworthiness.) If you want to look at them later and pull them apart, call them for the lies they hold, or see what else is true besides what you were believing at your worst, do that.
A how-to note: Try making lists of short, simple sentences, one thought per line, instead of journaling—which can have the same negative effect as telling it all to a friend. You expand the problem and all the feelings around it as you tell detail after detail, and embroider without even noticing, and throw in a bunch of interpretations as if they were facts. (She undid everything I'd worked on since the project began. They threw me under the bus.)
Focus on soothing what feels bad—not understanding it, fixing it, or making it go away; not coming up with solutions so you can feel better.
Consider that you may have it backwards: solutions don't make you feel better; solutions come once you've made yourself feel better.
Thus, simply being with the feelings kindly becomes your first priority, and you can feel good (not irresponsible) about not thinking it through. Look away from the story, and make it your one and only job to soothe the feelings. Be your own mama to your own inner sick kid, and do anything to make things feel better. (If you're male, ungendered, gender-fluid—whatever—still be your own mama.) Maybe it won't look like reading aloud, bringing juice popsicles, making soup, stroking a forehead, or singing songs (though it could). It might initially look like simply witnessing the pain, allowing it, dropping into it, giving it breath (the only balm you can apply from within).
If you don't have my book, Scooch!, you can get it from Amazon as a real book or an e-book (you can also peek in and read a bunch with Look Inside feature). Chapter 3 walks you through separating out minding the pain body and tending the mind. Chapter 5, “Good Tears versus Bad Tears,” describes how to release emotion without getting sucked into story.
Quit figuring out the solution. Get out of ploblem solving.
When effort and striving characterize a search for solutions, you're still a match to the problem. Instead, scooch toward trust that you're fine and the solutions will come. Then you're in what Abraham-Hicks calls a space of allowing, and solutions can come in (more) effortlessly, perhaps in unexpected ways.
A how-to note: Speaking of Abraham, you can use their tactic (and easy-to-remember two-word admonition) GO GENERAL. Pan out and away from the details you've got under the microscope, and tell yourself general things you can believe: I don't have to figure this out right now. I've been in worse places and it worked out. I can think of one person right now who's had a similar experience and got through it. They may be able to provide support and resources. I'm doing fine. I can think of three things I've done right recently in this realm and whatever I've done wrong is probably fixable and certainly forgivable. Keep talking for as long as you need to to reset your mind toward the general, believable, and kind without needing to work out any particular kinks in the tubing.
By the way, I'm not categorically against problem-solving. Brainstorming and pushing around puzzle pieces have their place. Do them after the soothing, when you're in a space of allowing.
How fine and well (relaxed, trusting, joyful, present) can you be before the solutions come in?
Being a match to the solution does much more than bring in solutions. It allows you to be fine before solutions come: you're already okay; you don't need solutions to make you okay. It creates the openings for solutions to come. It allows you to see when radical solutions are needed or, conversely, when there's actually nothing to do whatsoever. It also releases you from urgency and the illusions around timing and time that we human beings so easily fall prey to.
The basic concept in this writing comes from Abraham-Hicks, and their language goes like this: “Be a vibrational match for the solution, not the problem.” I know that as soon as the word vibration gets in somewhere, it can sound airy-fairy. That's why I saved it for last. And have you read up to this point? This is so solid. If you're not sure it'll work, I invite you to experiment with it (and make it a grand experiment—what have you got to lose, except a furrowed brow and tense muscles?).
For myself, once I got past the languaging, I found that Abraham's teachings often come to me in an instant on a deep level, and then I tease them out to understand the application through various means: things they say and things I experiment with on my own and the seemingly magical ways, right when I'm working with a particular idea, that my clients seem to have stuff come up that obviously asks for just that concept. Now that this is part of my conceptual tool kit, I notice that people can have a releasing ah-ha when I simply point out that they're being a vibrational match for the problem.
So hey, what problem are you a vibrational match for right now? Wanna be a match for the solution?
Love & blessings, Jaya
My invitation to you here is to practice ongoing self-forgiveness so you can live free and clear!
Have you noticed how we human beings bind up our energies by getting stuck in small and large ways we can’t forgive ourselves? In other words, in not forgiving ourselves, we're not free. It doesn’t much matter whether it’s some seemingly huge, shaming event—the affair, the ugly breakup, the fiasco at work—or something minor that’s been blown up in our minds—the rampant p.m.s. the other day, the rude moment with a customer service person on the phone: either way, we get all tied up with some past vision of ourselves that we allow to define us. We give it the power to limit how we can show up here and now and who we can become next.
Simply put, we can’t be present when we’ve got feelers out to some old story we think we have to keep checking in with and referring to. If that past story involves something unforgiven toward ourselves, we walk around feeling like a bad person, like there’s some wrong in our lives that colors everything else, like we're not worthy of better than this. We can't dance with our potential. We can’t even be at ease!
At the School for The Work, I heard Byron Katie talk about moving without a trace from one moment to the next. Her words struck such a chord inside me. I felt like I never did that—like it wasn’t in my repertoire! It was as if some Velcro or another always kept me stuck to something or many things that should be bygone. I saw for the first time how this kept me from being fully present—or fully free, fully me, fully anything!
Just try to get through a human life without having done some(sizable)thing, that could bring on shame when put under a microscope. Just try to get through a month—sometimes a day or an hour—without some little moments that just aren’t the most sterling examples of the levels of lovingkindness and serenity you’re capable of. What if you gave yourself full permission to be human? Can you let yourself witness your bad moments without judging or attacking or shaming yourself? You might learn from your observations if you just allow those moments and get curious about them. You might also simply course-correct into the next moment and be fully there (with no sticky finger pointing back to what went before).
I had one of those, um, not-so-shiny evenings with my children recently. I growled at one kid (really, I felt so frustrated that I just let out this warped, oversized feline growl), and I railed at the other, overriding the look on his face and the knowing in my gut that I'd completely departed the realm of clean communication. I'm sure I said what I needed to say three times over, instead of the once that would have done or, better, instead of waiting for a calm moment another day—like most space-sharing issues, it was nothing that wouldn't keep. And I'm sure I didn't speak sweetly. Okay, you know that harsh-Mama off-key strident tone that you just don’t want to hear coming out of you? When I went to bed, I felt all disturbed. I felt mean. Mean and rotten.
Lying in bed, I said my forgiveness prayer, which is a reconstruction of something I heard Marianne Williamson teach some time ago. Let me be clear: I have no idea what her words were, but I learned the concept from her. Also, because she elucidates A Course in Miracles, her language is full of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. My version drops all that. I have people send it out to whatever God or Higher Power they connect to, the Universe, the Force—whatever: God or current resident.
Here's the prayer applied to the self: “I forgive myself. And where I can't or don't know how, Universe, you forgive me for me, and hold that while I catch up to it. I acknowledge that it is done. Somewhere beyond time and space, the forgiveness is complete.”
After I said the forgiveness prayer that night, I witnessed my behavior in my head retroactively. I saw very clearly that I had simply exhausted myself that day by walking far more than my body was ready to walk in the wake of hip surgery. That failure in self-care cost me my patience with my children. (It's very good to notice what your lapses in self-care cost you and others.) I looked at the good reasons I had walked so much (the innocent motive* for the lapse: my son and I were on a joyful mission to find him some boots) and I told myself I would be more careful henceforth to figure in my limitations—because that works better and is kinder for all involved. What follows is important: in the name of not telling myself lies, I put specific application to this broad concept. I decided to check in with myself on school nights (this could mean lying down!) at least half an hour before time to cook dinner. After that, I felt as caught up to the forgiveness as I was going to get that night, and I slept well. The next morning, when I woke one beautiful son, he was just my son: he wasn't the boy I'd been mean to the night before.
Thanks to The Work of Byron Katie and the School for The Work, I no longer tolerate holding on to grievances against myself. It's too painful, and I don't like unnecessary pain. And it disrupts the peace that I love to cultivate on an ongoing basis. I'm stunned at the self-loathing people allow to take hold in them, to take up the air waves in their heads, to fill them, body and soul. Actually, I recognize it quite well, and for years never imagined it was possible to be without it.
It's possible. It's even imperative. Do whatever you need to do to question your thoughts about any punishment you deserve, anything that's proof you're not worthy, anything that you must hold on to—perhaps to make sure you never do it again. Find (or at least notice that it's possible to find) a way to manage what you do or don't do again without the stress of never forgiving yourself. Forgive yourself daily for everything large or small you or anyone accuses you of. Because when you can move without a trace from one moment to the next, you can feel free and clear; you can spend a whole lot more time in peace and love; and you can do a whole lot more good both to yourself and to others on the planet. Practice it! Make it something to experiment with.
Love & blessings, Jaya
*Note that my friend Jude Spacks, a talented personal-growth coach, especially for creative types, is the one who taught me to think in terms of innocent motive. Whenever I use this term I think of her, and I'd like for you to think of her as well.