It's okay to stop, we all need to pause and breathe along the journey. However, if you're planning to stay put for awhile, make sure you like the view. This applies to metaphorical and emotional places as much as literal ones. I really like this quote because, for me, it applies to a lot of choices I've made over the last few years. I had a dream, a vision in mind, and although I wasn't always sure of myself in the moment, I'm glad I stood firm and never gave up on that inner desire.
There's a phrase that's going around the spiritual and motivational world right now. It's something to the effect of, "I'm no longer willing to play small," or "I'm not going to dim my light in order to make others feel more comfortable," or some combination of those two.
I always liked these phrases, but it wasn't until I had an experience of being in a truly expanded, big and bright state that I understood them. From my experience, I realized that first of all, we're not grasping the meaning of these correctly, and secondly, breaking free and through the fear is more challenging than I expected.
What most of us take this to mean is that we're not going to hold ourselves back from living our dreams. We're not going to be afraid to stand out and share ourselves and our truth through various means. For many people, this phrase is also associated with money. It can mean something like not being afraid to know your worth and work with high end clients, or to sell a lot of what you have, and then going forward BIG and BRIGHT and having a huge client and fan base.
The thing is, however, is that these concepts of big are coming from a small place. They are what we perceive to be big before we get big. And when I say big I mean really big, the kind that scared me after I experienced it.
For me, the experience happened spontaneously... sort of. Looking back, I can see I've been taking steps all along to prepare me to go into this. My first step into this was telling myself I don't need fear. I released the fear of living without fear.
Here's the thing - we learn we need fear. The main reason we hold onto it is because everyone else does, it's what "normal" people do. For many of us, the biggest fear is to be so different, so weird, so profoundly grounded in our otherness that no one will relate to us, no one will like us, and we will be alone. Totally alone, emotionally and physically, and then life will suck because even the biggest introvert needs people.
Let me reassure you that you can release fear and still have friends and people who love you.
Now let me go further and tell you that you can release fear and live a beautiful life, a passionate life, because fear inhibits passion, and I promise you, you will still be you. Believing you NEED fear in order to be a rational and intelligent person undercuts your faith in yourself.
I have faith that when I look off of a high building my mind and my body will communicate to tell me that jumping will kill me. I trust in my mind to analyze a situation and make rational decisions. I also trust in my intuition, in my gut feelings, to tell me when something is wrong. I have zero belief that losing fear will make me stupid, reckless or disconnected from people.
Essentially, I trust in myself. I trust in the guidance that is always with me. I trust love is a bigger connector than fear, and without fear I will not be alone because I'm different, but surrounded by love because I will then be love.
Trust is crucial to shifting into the big place. Trust is the key. Without trust, we are forever trying to control.
To go there, to the place we're all dancing around but not quiet grasping, you must be in a state of love. To be in a state of love... you must release the fear.
Trust and let go and you will experience what I did, the thing that, despite my best attempts here, is beyond words. The place where you no longer play small, but instead play with the whole Universe.
At this point I know I can't go any further without at least trying telling to you what I felt. What is this thing I'm talking about? Let me share it, and I want you to keep in mind that no matter what anyone tells you, this is available to everyone. When it comes to expanding and reaching higher states of consciousness, we are all equal. You do not have to do anything to reach this state, only be open to it, because this is already inside of you.
It began with me feeling something was trying to happen, I felt strange all day. I could feel this inner struggle, and a part of me just charged in and commanded I stop holding up the whole process.
Which "I" was holding up the process? And what process?
I didn't know what would happen, only that the "I" was the small me, what's sometimes called the ego, and that it was so desperate to resist change and that it was refusing what was trying to happen. So I finally surrendered, but not by bullying my ego, or telling it to shut up and let this happen. I simply reassured it, let it know all parts of me are in this together, nothing is ever left behind, and what exists now exists eternally.
Even if my ego dies, it will forever exist because everything exists at once.
This, somehow, allowed the pins to click into place and things moved forward. And it happened.
It came upon me suddenly. In a moment I went from how I normally feel, which if you can attempt to tune into your energy, feel what it is. Is it sitting within your body? Does it feel as if it extends beyond it? For me, sitting here writing this, the answer is no, I do not extend beyond my body. I'm here, compressed into me, and this feels normal. So normal I would have never even noticed it before.
But when I shifted, I expanded out beyond my body, until I felt twice as big. I had never before felt or even imagined I could be within and beyond my body at the same time.
My energy literally became BIG.
And this is why I say we've misunderstood that phrase about no longer playing small. It's not about doing something, it's about BEING something.
You literally become bigger than you are now. You become so big that you begin to play with higher dimensions. With All That Is. With every particle of the Universe. You are connected to everything.
And once you expand like this, your light then automatically radiates out bigger and brighter. There is no other way. Because this expansion, it comes from the heart level. The only way to get there is through the heart.
You cannot think your way there.
It must come from within your inner world, the world that is and always has been connected to your higher self, higher dimensions, and All That Is. There is a part of you connected to all of this, right now.
When I expanded, this part of me came down through me, and we became one. I become One with my Higher Self, and the difference was palpable. I could feel I was complete love. Fear wasn't even a concept. It didn't exist in this state. I knew what fear was - but because I was entirely love, in every way, in every part of me, and because I was connected to the Love I am above, the love was so intense that it just was. There was no space for something other than love. Love was it. This was the best part.
I also felt in touch with my personal power in a way I've never known before.
I no longer doubted my creative projects. I no longer felt fear of putting myself and my work out there - this came naturally with this state. I could just feel that I am an integral part of the Universe, and the things I do are essential to the growth of the Universe.
As I create, share, exist and live the Universe expands. I felt, I didn't just believe, but I felt how important I am to the Universe. This stands true for everyone. You are Love. You are vital to the Universe. You are connected to an inner power that has no desire to over power others, but instead wants to experience how it dances with the Universe, with All That Is, with the infinite energy that exists above and is always available.
It's just a matter of allowing yourself to bring it forth. To emanate so big and bright you will undoubtedly be different. And people will notice, because your energy will not be pressed into right around your body, but will instead come out several feet around you in all directions. Will it make them uncomfortable? I don't know, because it made me uncomfortable.
The feeling, when I was in it, was both amazing, rich, bright, and powerful, but also a bit unsettling. It was just so completely foreign, and so unknown to me, that I couldn't stay in it. I never had a chance to see how others reacted. In a way, I wasn't ready, and I needed to do this for the first time somewhere private.
But after I came back down, I knew, I had to go back. I had to figure out how to get through my fears and concerns over embracing this expanded state.
For the most part, it's the fear of the unknown.
I have dabbled with this kind of feeling in meditation, but to actually live in this feeling, to have it be my natural state as I walk around in life, was something I hadn't even considered I might want.
Right now, I'm embracing the idea that I can and will go back. I'm putting my arms out, closing my eyes, falling backwards and trusting I will be caught. I want to go back, because I know this is the next natural step for me. I hope this isn't the last post I write on this. I didn't even say all I wanted to about what I felt, because there is much more to share on what happens when we shift into our biggest and brightest selves.
I want to remind you again that when it comes to expanding, to stepping into the biggest and brightest light possible, we are all equal, and we are all able to go there as soon as we feel ready.
Infuse your life with action.
Don't wait for it to happen.
Make it happen.
Make your own future.
Make your own hope.
Make your own love.
And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.
- Bradley Whitford
Every time you ask someone else what they think about something you are without clarity. FEEL the answer from within you. When you are still you will connect with spirit.
- Oprah, The Life You Want Tour
A few years ago, my friend saw the Oprah tour The Life You Want.
She heard the above quote from Oprah and shared it with me. In the past, when I sought guidance or insight, I would immediately turn to an outside source. I did not take the time to sit quietly, close my eyes and ask myself what I felt about it. And if I did, I usually ended up overriding what I felt with thoughts about what I believed was more "rationale".
After reflecting on that quote, I began doing things different. Now, when I have a question or I'm seeking an answer, I resist the urge to ask what other people think. It's been a challenging pattern to change, because this is something that is deeply ingrained in us - Do you think I'll get the job? Do you think he's the one? Do you think I should move? Do you think it'll rain today?
I used to have so many questions that I felt couldn't be answered. When will this be here? What should I do? The more I worried about them the more I sought outside counsel.
I looked everywhere except within my own heart.
The thing with this is, is that all answers that come from outside of you come from the perspective of the person giving you this answer. They can only tell you what they believe to be true, and this might be helpful, but more often than not, it can be misleading.
What's true for someone else might not be true for you.
And furthermore, they may not even be able to believe in what they can't see.
When you ask someone, "Do you think I'll get this job?" they might think about all the things that are stacked against you. They might try to rationalize it and answer you from the mind level. They don't take into account the magic of life, that magic of synchronicity, the magic that allows two perfect things to come together even though they don't look perfect on the surface.
So next time you have a question, resist the urge to ask the nearest person what they think (or Google). Put your hands on your heart, take a deep breath, and FEEL what's true.
What you feel is always the best compass in this life.
All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.
- William Shakespeare
I've heard the above Shakespeare quote many times throughout my life.
Each time I come across it, it has new meaning for me. Lately, I have begun to consider it in relation to the roles I play for other people.
Many times the thing that keeps us from feeling we can change (or that we have changed) is that other people have an idea of the role we should play. They see us in a certain role in relation to them, and for various reasons, they want us to circle round and round in that role forever.
One of my favorite visualizing exercises is to imagine my life really is a play.
What would it mean if you suddenly realized you're actually an actor in a grand theatrical play? Would you keep playing the role you play? Or would you say HELL NO and demand a new role be rewritten? Or better still, maybe you're simply going to stop playing any role at all and awaken to a new experience.
As a fun way to change your perceptions, try to imagine what role you play in this world. Then try to imagine that you suddenly become a self-aware actor, and everyone around you is confused and trying to get you to "stick to your lines."
Imagine what you would say if you cast off this role completely and walked off the stage to something entirely new. What's outside of the stage you're playing on right now?
p.s. How amazing is the bookstore in the photo above? It's in Buenos Aires and called El Ateneo Grand Splendid.
I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.
- Michael Jordan
What would you try if you knew you couldn’t fail?
This question is often used as a way to motivate and inspire people to follow their dreams. However, I see this question as counter-effective. It only reinforces that failure is the absolute worst thing that can happen to you or to anyone.
It’s a reminder of how absolutely terrified we are of failure, and further, how unprepared we are for it when it happens. Being terrified of something and feeling unprepared for it tends to result in one thing: we feel overpowered and want to retreat and hide.
Here’s a question I would love to see asked instead:
What would you try if you knew failure was just a bump in the road?
I would love for us to encourage each other not to see failure as something so awful and massive it’s unbearable, but rather as something we can learn to navigate. The most successful people in this world are not successful because they never fail. Rather, they learn to move through pitfalls, process the feelings associated with them, and to remember that they are not endings.
There are times these feelings can seem like definitive, this is it! endings, such as when we lose our jobs or a marriage ends in divorce. What makes those moments so heavy, so final, is the emotional feelings that come with them that we believe define us and our lives. For example, when we lose our job it’s easy to fall into a deep pit of insecurity. We forget how accomplished and intelligent we are and instead focus on our shame and guilt.
When I first began writing, everything I wrote was rejected. I felt I had failed and was devastated. However, when I tried to talk to people about how I felt like a complete loser, how embarrassed I was, and how scared I was to go on they couldn’t understand me. They felt that put my writing out there was a huge achievement.
They didn’t see failure at all, but rather courage and determination. It took me a long time to realize they were right. Their perspective on my situation was both valid and helpful.
This is the thing with failure – it’s entirely perspective based. We give it any meaning it has, and when we give it meaning we give it power and grow it in our minds exponentially.
A small rock group might have a debut album that sells 50,000 albums, which far exceeds their wildest dreams and they celebrate their success. At the same time, an established popstar might have an album that sells 100,000 copies, and it’s deemed a failure. Which is true? Are they both successes? Are they both failures?
How about neither. How about it doesn’t mean anything, and what matters is that they feel they created from their heart and with passion.
Further still, things seen as failures in the moment sometimes just need time to pan out. “Sleeping Beauty” did not begin as a beloved Disney movie. It was a box office disappointment. Van Gogh was not a famous painter in his day but was instead supported by his brother. “The Great Gatsby” confused people when it debuted and was never expected to be a literary classic.
Failure terrifies and hurts us because we are so committed to the idea that it can and it should. Our need to outright deny it as the only way we can chase our dreams only reinforces its power over us.
These days, I motivate myself by telling myself that what matters is how much I'm growing.
Did I learn from that thing didn't work out? Did I grow as a person? Great! Then that means it was an enriching and expansive experience.
Learning not to let outside circumstances define me is an ongoing process. I am still learning to choose to feel worthy and capable no matter what.
I’ve learned that failure isn’t something I need to hide from like a monster under the bed. Each and every time it shows up, I have the power to look it in the face and remind myself that it's not important. My only goal in life is not to avoid failure. My goals are to create, to express myself, to grow my mind and heart.
Let us not chase our dreams trembling in fear of failure, but not expecting it either.
Let us go forward simply knowing if it does happen, it doesn’t define us. It’s not an ending. It's a chance to learn and grow, and isn't that what makes life enriching anyways?
Living only for success means we're living for approval. We, as humans, are alive for so much more than that. We're living to create technology that transforms lives. We're living to create art that dives into what it means to be alive. We're living to try things and feel what it means to soar high and tumble down and then rise back up again.
We're living for all of it, because all of it is life.
I am so in love with this song right now. This is actually a cover, the song was originally written and recorded by the band Suicide. I enjoy that version, but there is something about The Boss's deep voice that draws me in each time I play his version. This version is also much shorter, and the repeating of lines like "Come on, we gotta keep the light burning" and "Come on and open up your heart" feels like kirtan, which is mantras being sung as a form of meditation.
Also, knowing a bit about Bruce's story, his struggle with depression, and how much he has inspired millions of people really makes this song special to me. Please enjoy, and don't forget to dream on. Dream baby dream.