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To risk, To release, To follow through, To trust

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A long while ago someone introduced me to four ideas to consider when starting a new  year.  They are to risk, to release, to follow through and to trust. I like to review these ideas at New Year to refresh my thinking and to check into my thinking.

1. To Risk:  am I risking or settling? 

I read a lot about online social networking and how non profit orgnaizatoins can take advantage of free social networking services to promote awareness of thier mission.  I recently stumbled upon John Haydon a consultant who works with nonprofits and helps them do what for
profit organizations are already doing with social neworking online.

He writes: "“Right now, millions of brands are competing for attention on Facebook. They are using (here he lists some of the strategies being used by corporations).. but what’s evermore powerful is
their willingness to fail.  They are not waiting for the perfect idea and neither should you.  View everything as a draft – a never ending beta (test).  When you do this, you get both a real education about what actually works and also real results.”

As I read that, I thought, in my humble opinion that is a good approach to developing a spiritual life also.  It's certainly something I could a little more of.  I can see how I have held back from stepping off boldly in the direction of my dreams and I'd like to do that more frequently.  Sometimes I have to step off boldly when the trend is around me is to do the opposite.  Sometimes family and friend may be contracting while my dream is calling me to expand.

I've asked friends why they don't step boldly in the direction of their dreams.  Some say that it is sometimes because they don't feel competent doing so, and sometimes that is because of a wounding, long past or recent.

For example:

  • Did somebody once tell you that you were no good, and you're still trying on that evaluation?
  • Did somebody desert you, and you're wondering whether that will be the standard for your relationships from now on?
  • Did somebody betray you in love, and you are feeling cautious with your heart?
  • Did a boss fire you and you're wondering about the future?
  • Did a parent, friend or loved one speak to you harshly to you and you still feel the sting of the words?

Or, did you experience something far worse than any of these?
Maybe you did something that you now regret, something that you were not able to set right - that you now wish you did?

To me, to risk is to take a chance on life, anyway.  Risk does not deny that any of these events took place - yet it steps out into life anyway, if not boldly at first, then timidly, but it steps out, anyway.

2. To release: am I holding on where I should be opening up

To me release means it might be time to let certain things be!  For my dreams to have full access to my creative juices It might be time to lift up my attention from what no longer serves and turn to the present moment so that I can access that which is already, and always, present.

I remember a teacher once reminding me that "all things have come to pass, and not to stay."  It was at a time when I was holding on to a good few things and people because I did not desire for them to change.  And as unsuccessful as clinging was so many years ago, it continues to be unsuccessful today - and at the start of a new year it's a good time for me to check in with any possible clinging that may be going on in my life.

I was taught that first I must risk beginning by taking a step in the direction of my dreams - as if planting a seed in the ground, and then I must pay attention to the growth that will naturally spring up when I make that start.  And to use that trusty and lovely metaphor of gardening, I may have to do some weeding, watching out for thoughts that pop up after my bold step.  For example, if I'm working with the thought "Today I choose to be happy" I may notice something like the following thoughts either rumbling below the surface or springing up strong and bold:

“I’ll be happy once I have the right relationship”
“I’ll be complete once he or she does such and such for me”
“I’ll be worthy once my boss gives me a raise”
“I’ll be perfect once there is a cure for this disease”
“If my parents had done this and such, I could have ....”
“If only I had done x then I would not be in this mess.”

That's where the weeding comes in.  However, I learned something about weeding that has been helpful in developing my spiritual life, and that is weeding cannot be done superficially.  It's not sufficient to simply say something positive when the weed continues to be there below the surface.  I learned that when I was given the task by a friend to weed a certain virulent grass.  Because weeding wasn't my favorite thing to do, I simply snipped off the growth at the head.  You know the rest of the story, it springs back stronger than before.

I have to get it at the root and the way that works best for me in inner work is to notice any thought that springs up and to take time with it.  I like to write them down when I spot them, so that I can really take time with each one and check to see if it is an accurate thought, if it is worthy of my creative nurturing.  I find that this kind of enquiry is what allows me to gently life up my attention and place it back in the are I wish to have rich, strong growth.

3. To follow through: am I responding to the guidance from my intuition?

It has become clear to me that inner work leads to out activity and when I ignore the prompting of my intuition and inner guidance I am not taking full advantage of what this beautiful life has to offer.

Often it is the case that I may have to start with small steps.  If you're carrying a seed idea around in your mental pocket for a week, such as "Today I choose to love my body" it will be natural for you to come up with associated thoughts about how to accomplish that.  It's just the way our minds work.  The more you think about something, the more angles you start to see about how the idea relates to your life.  I am not talking about obsessing and worrying kind of thinking, I'm talking about making putting the thought "Today I choose to love my body" in a prominent position in your life's activities and trusting that it will produce it's own creative responses in you.

To me "following through is the willingness to develop a exploratory attitude and to try new things when you can.  In other words, to go for it, safely and sanely of course, perhaps with little steps which over time will turn in to big strides.

To risk beginning is first, to release what no longer serves is second and then to follow through is next.  And all of this takes trust.

4. To trust.

There comes a point where you may have done all the inner work, all the letting be, all the affirming and weeding and you may have taken multiple little and large steps in the direction of your dreams and yet you find that there continues to be this chasm between where you stand and where your dream is - and the next step looks like it is right into nowhere.
Trust is the element that comes into play at this moment and this is the part of the journey that comes without any guarantees and without a user manual.  It is a deeply personal moment and each person has to make their own step on this part of the journey.

One of the guest speakers scheduled to speak at the Center for Spiritual Living, Santa Rosa in 2012 is Mike Robbins.  He writes about the important and complex nature of trust in our lives saying that it is one of the most critical elements in relationships, families and groups.  I concur and add that it is as important in living a spiritual life.  Mike writes that many of us have shaky relationships with trust because we may have been taught that trust is to be earned, when in reality, trust is granted.  He, like so many of us, learned early that it wasn't always safe to trust people: parents split up, childhood experiences challenge our safety, disappointments affect us.  He notes that while that served him to a certain degree as a child, as an adult the resistance to trust was causing issues in his life and in his relationships.  And even thought he put people through many "tests" to "earn" his trust, in the end it was ultimately up to him to give his trust or to not give his trust.

That is indeed the irony, that no matter how thick the walls are that we build around our hearts, and no matter how cautious the strategy we learn to keep us safe from disappointment, none of it works because life happens anyway.  And the tragedy is if we loose perspective and fall asleep to what is going on we can also loose our innocence and stop trusting where we used to.

Trust understands that the answer to the question Will I get let down, is "maybe."  Will I get hurt?  Maybe.  Will I get disappointed? Maybe. And trust understands that there is more to our lives than the hurts, disappointments and setbacks and invites us to be "consciously naive*." 

In summary, this new year I going to dream again, and take what small actions I can in the direction of my dream as prompted by my intuition, and I pledge to try to hold it all as lightly as I can so that I can make space for trusting the spiritual laws that govern the Universe.

* Michael Benard Beckwith as quoted by Mike Robbins


  1. Hello Edward: Thank you for sharing this blog post. I found this it because I want to see what is going on in New Orleans as you mentioned in the CSL ministers list. I join you in living more courageously this year and I too am taking risks and stretching as I go for mine. You loving light is most precious and appreciated.
    Love, Barb Walley
    Sacred Threads CSL; Toledo, OH

    1. Dear Barb, great to hear from you. I am very pleased my plan will help you feel connected to what is going on in New Orleans. Don't hesitate to email me with questions while I"m there if there is something in particular you want to know about. xo Edward


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