By Dr. Abby Rosen
For those of you who want to know how to begin the transformational journey, it’s as natural as a caterpillar turning into a butterfly and as magical as a frog becoming a prince.
Michael Brown defines transformation in his article "Transformation in the Wilderness and Backcountry." The transformational journey begins when we turn our attention 180 degrees from looking outside ourselves for love, identity, and security to focusing on our inner world. Within each of us is the source of incredible love, wisdom, joy, and strength. This place is called by many names – the Inner Self, the Higher Self, the Soul Self, and Consciousness. We don’t learn about this place as we are growing up, and very little in society supports our discovering the Inner Self or nurturing and strengthening our connection to this source. Yet, it is there waiting for each of us to experience it.
Baba Muktananda, the teacher who guided much of my transformational journey, tells a wonderful story about the beginning of time. All the Gods were sitting around very concerned because they needed to figure out what to do with this very great power that existed in the world. They were afraid that unless a person was very developed and conscious of the importance of this power being used positively, it could fall into the wrong hands. One God said, "Why don’t, we put it at the very top of the highest mountain, so it will take great effort to reach it?" Another God said, "No, in the future humans will know how to build big birds and they will be able to fly to the top of the highest mountain." Another God said, "I’ve got it. Let’s put it down at the very bottom of the deepest ocean." Someone else said, "No, in the future they will also learn to build big fish that will take them to the depths of the ocean." Finally, after much discussion, another God said, "The one place that most people will never think to look will be within. Only the very dedicated, who will be willing to go in a different direction than the masses will be able to discover this powerful energy." So that’s what they did. They placed this precious power at the very center of each human being.
The journey inward to the Self can be exiting, scary, intense, joyful, heart-opening, and as Ram Das put it, "The Only Dance There Is." We are all on a transformational journey, each growing and unfolding at our own pace, being exactly where we are supposed to be in the process. Some are just more conscious than others that they are on an inner journey. At a natural and particular point in the process people seem to awaken to the fact that they are shedding their cocoons and beginning to unfold their wings.
This opening to the journey is different for each person. For some it occurs spontaneously in what Abraham Maslow, the founder of Humanistic psychology, called "peak-experiences." These can be moments of heightened and expanded awareness where we lose our limited sense of "self." This experience is one of finding our "Self." Maslow state that these peak-experiences were "far more common than I expected. As a matter of fact, I now suspect they occur in practically everybody although without being recognized or accepted for what they are."
For others, the awakening to the transformational journey may result from an urge to have a richer, more meaningful, more fulfilling life. Many people who are involved in the 12-stop programs like AA or Smokers Anonymous, have found that through their recover from addictions they are on a transformational journey.
As St. Francis of Assisi sang, "If you want your dream to grow, go slowly." Twenty years ago, on the wall of a broken down little outhouse behind a restaurant in the Spanish countryside, amongst the chickens and the garbage, hung a beautiful tiled plaque that read, "Poco a poco se va lejos" (Little by little one goes far). I still share that message with clients today.
Focus on a clear intention of what you want to create in your life. We move in the direction of our thoughts and images, so, what we focus on determines what we become. Read some of the books in the resource listing: Let people you admire be an inspiration to you. Miracles are events that our mind can’t explain. We are only limited by our imagination.
Don’t be afraid of taking risks and making mistakes. Change happens not by being self-critical, but through awareness, courage, and self-acceptance. Self-criticism and guilt are the two most common and unnecessary human emotions I hear from my clients. Making mistakes is how we know what to do differently next time.
In Emmanuel’s Book – A Manual for Living Comfortably in the Cosmos, Emmanuel states, "Life is for growth, there is no other purpose." Through mediation and other inner tools, "I’ve experienced the Inner Self as a bubbling fountain, the source of love, wisdom, peace, and strength. At this place, there is a joining with everyone else because it is the same Self that exists within us all. This gives a lasting feeling of self-love and security because we know our true identity. Once we have a glimpse of that unlimited source within us, our perspective on life transforms. This experience enables us to let go of feeling like a victim when we have difficulties or obstacles in our life. There develops a willingness to explore life as a schoolroom, giving us the experiences we need in order to grow. The sooner we learn the lessons, the negative patterns or obstacles on our path are removed and the easier and more joyful the Journey to the Inner Self Becomes. In Chinese the word for crisis is made up of two characters; opportunity and challenge.
So if life presents you with an opportunity to kiss a frog…take the challenge. Don’t worry about the warts. You and the frog just may be transformed in the process!