image courtesy of wikipedia.org
Let's get real here. What do you think of when you read the phrases "the Law of Attraction" or "you create your own reality"? Did you roll your eyes, even a little bit? Did you think, "I've tried that, it just doesn't work", like I did not long ago? Do you see it as part of an ancient philosophy about the inner workings of the universe, or a trend that sells lots of books and DVDs? Maybe you wish the Law of Attraction could help you with your problems, but The Secret sounds too good to be true.
The concept has been over-simplified to the point of nonsense. Even to the point of cruelty – some people believe that those who espouse the Law of Attraction have a "blame the victim" mentality and don't care about the suffering of others. Some treat it as another get-rich-quick scheme. Some scoff at the gullible folks who still believe in the power of positive thinking.
Yet these universal laws have worked well for many respected spiritual leaders, like Dr. Wayne Dyer, Christine Kane, and Mike Dooley, and for countless others we read about. Inspiring stories abound, but they can seem out of reach for you and me.
It's easy to dismiss the words of those who have become successful using the Law of Attraction – they seem to have it all together. What about those of us who are down here in the trenches? Which, in some ways, is everyone – people who have realized their biggest dreams can still get sick, or have a family member die, or get divorced. But those of us who really don't have it all together, or even seem to, what about us?
As part of a family of hippie artist self-employed types, I embraced the Law of Attraction several years ago as a great way to solve our financial woes. Or rather, I thought I embraced it. Looking back, I was working with the universal laws on a shallow level: think about what I want, do some visualizing, look around to see if it's there yet, get disappointed because it's not, berate myself for having negative thoughts, feel bad about not doing it right, read something inspiring, and start the cycle all over again.
Have you been there and done that? Often we get so frustrated with the whole Law of Attraction thing that we give up on it entirely, or dismiss it as New Age mumbo-jumbo. That's a shame.
Despite my disappointment, I never quite gave up on the notion that I create my own experience. Instead, I've been studying and practicing it in more depth, using my own life as an experimental lab. What I've discovered is a practice that's helped me become less stressed, kinder to myself, and more joyful.
Let me just say, lest I sound like one of the gurus you've heard so many times before, that right now I still struggle to pay the bills each month. I'm still working on getting my creations out to a wider audience. I have days where I'm not sure that the success I dream of as a writer is attainable. Yet I'm much happier.
What I've learned is that creating your own reality is not about getting rid of negative thoughts and becoming a bodhisattva. It's an ongoing spiritual practice, a way of being in the world. It means consistently returning to your center. The key is to focus more on what you love about life than on what you don't. Thought precedes form. When you dwell more on what you desire than on worries about what you don't want, your physical experience will begin to reflect those thoughts and feelings.
That sounds rather simple, but it's not easy. Creating your reality in a deliberate manner requires a lot of patience and perseverance. Our minds have been trained to focus on our problems, and that's the mindset that surrounds us at work, at home, and in the media. Moving away from that way of thinking can feel like swimming against the tide.
Choosing your thoughts involves retraining your mind. It means falling down over and over again, sometimes within the course of one day, but always getting up and dusting yourself off and trying again. Many of those who have overcome serious challenges, like an addiction to hard drugs, homelessness, or recovery from a nearly fatal accident, will tell you the same. How did they do it? They just kept trying – and not for any promise of reward, but because that's what we humans do.
The promise of wonderful future prizes – money, your true love, an ideal body – can actually distract you and throw you off the trail. When you're living for the future, you're not dwelling in the present moment, which is your point of power. The monkey chatter in your mind is all about past slights and future concerns. Your inner self is timeless, and already knows that right here, right now, all is well.
Life is creative, messy, and chaotic. You don't find that centered home base and then just move in, dwelling there happily ever after. Living the life of your dreams is not about perfection, no matter what images we've been sold in the mass media, but rather about nurturing your personal connection with source energy, with the stuff the universe is made of, with unconditional love. It's an ongoing journey.
Deliberate creation involves learning about what you find meaningful and joyful about life, and following your own lead. The practice, for me, takes a lot of inner work. It encompasses letting go of fears, embracing my shadow, being kind to myself, practicing gratitude, learning the delicate dance between desire and non-attachment, doing yoga, seeking ways to help others, breathing mindfully, and setting daily intentions.
Your path is your own, and the techniques you choose, like your joys and passions, will be individual. Working with universal laws and truths will help you create the life of your dreams. Sometimes it will be like feeling your way along in the dark, but don't panic. Open your heart and let your inner light lead the way.
Embrace love and kindness. Follow your joy. Live in the moment. Use these tools to slowly craft your ideal experience, without expectation, and watch how your life transforms.
Nikki Starcat Shields is a published author, Mom, Reiki healer, and licensed priestess.
She blogs at Starcat's Corner and shares her callings at Feline Dreamers.
Her book "Cultivating Self-Love: Your Path to Wholeness" is available on Amazon and Smashwords.