Friday, January 21, 2011

Flashback Friday: Law of Attraction

A few days ago, I wrote a post about how one lady who is a member of the same church as my family and is a long time family friend, whose spiritual views have evolved similar to my own, yet she still feels the need to give me unsoliticited spiritual advice as though she knows more about spirituality than I do. It is a pet peeve of mine when people give unsolicited advice, because when I need advice, I know who to go to for certain advice. Truth be told, only my parents have the right to give unsolicited advice. I'm certainly NOT going to accept unsolicited advice from a person whose life is what I consider to be a big mess. Her life is her own and I have no idea if she is happy with it or not, but from my standpoint, I would not want that life for myself so of course her unsolicited advice is going to lack credibility and rub me the wrong way.

There are actually four people whose lives represent a kind of success I hope to find in my own in this next decade:

Nicholas -- A Lt. Colonel in the USAF whom I met in the 7th grade and has been my best friend in the years since.

Nathan -- A Chief Petty Officer in the USN, a fellow church member, and my other best friend since we met in 1994.

Matthew -- A Journalism Professor at a university in Kentucky, whom I met at BYU and became roommates with during our Washington Seminar experience in 2000.

Jenet -- A church member I met in D.C. in 2000 who lived her dream to work in Eastern Europe. She's now back in D.C. and hoping to become a Foreign Service Officer overseas. She was the one who told me not to leave D.C. a decade ago and I wonder just how differently my life might look had I listened to her advice.

All four of these friends live interesting lives, which includes foreign travel, pursuing their passions, finding the love of their lives, home ownership, and not being particularly religious. At least not in the preachy, "I know best" kind of way like some other people I know. I'm a smart boy. When in need of advice, I look towards people with credibility. Those offering unsolicited advice generally need to give themselves advice and follow it first before telling other people what to do. It may just actually work!

What is "Law of Attraction"? The way I described it to someone a few weeks ago (who majored in psychology and plans to get a master's in it so he can become a counselor / psychologist / life coach), its basically the belief that everything you have in your life is a reflection of your inner thought patterns. Or as Qui-Gon Ginn told Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace, "Your focus determines your reality."

I first learned about this spiritual principle in 2006 when I was new in Portland and attended a few lectures at the New Renaissance Bookshop (a New Age bookstore). Though I was exposed to the idea for a few years prior to this, it was the first time I actually heard a name or term attached to it. Its interesting that I only came across information regarding this principle back in 2006, but it was around the time that The Secret was gaining traction. The DVD and book exploded in public consciousness when Oprah Winfrey featured it on her show and gave one of the best endorsements ever when she said something along the lines of: "I didn't even know this was such a big 'secret' because this has been my life for as long as I can remember!" With that, sales exploded and people were talking about it. It became the fad du jour.

When I finally saw the documentary, I was alarmed. Though it offered some great ideas, I found it to be far too reductionist / simplistic, and most alarming of all: materialistic to its core as well as dangerous. For example, one part that offended me was that the someone in the documentary had said that if you don't want to get fat, don't look at fat people or talk to them! That seemed like cruel advice, but how would it work if the person was gouging themselves on food night and day and not exercising? No, if you don't want to get fat, eat moderate portions of food and get regular exercise. Not looking at fat people or not talking with them doesn't guarantee anything except that you're a shallow asshole and a snob.

I learned that there were two versions of The Secret. The original one included extensive interviews with Jerry and Esther Hicks while the one most people saw did not have those two individuals because there was some kind of falling out between the Australian lady who made the video and the couple who have talked about Law of Attraction through a non-physical entity named Abraham since the 1980s. I also learned that the Australian lady who made The Secret also tried to stiff the person who filmed the documentary out of some money she owed him. It sounded like the lady was greedy and the whole thing was a scheme to line her pockets (a New Age spiritualist version of Sarah Palin!). When I learned that Jerry and Esther Hicks were edited out of the newer and more mass produced version of The Secret, I became curious and started renting their DVDs from the New Renaissance Bookshop.

All I can say is WOW!!! I really love the way Esther Hicks speaks on the topic in DVD after DVD. I have failed to find anything wrong with what she is saying. She seems very sweet, kind, authentic, and has a great sense of humour. Her explanations for the Law of Attraction have nothing to do with the shallow materialism offered by The Secret. Instead, its more about experience. The way she puts it (she supposedly channels information from the non-physical entity known as Abraham), we are spiritual beings having a human experience. We came from "Source Energy" (the spiritual realm) where everything is perfect and our whole point of life on earth is to experience contrast. There is no true evil, though evil things happen. What we experience is to determine where we go from that point on. When we experience things we don't like, we get clarity about what we want. This process is continual and ongoing. It never ends until we return to Source Energy.

So, if the lady who created The Secret was going to remove Jerry and Esther Hicks from her documentary for whatever reason (the Hicks have spoken about their involvement with the project and why they were removed, though I forget the reason), I have to say that if you want to learn more about Law of Attraction, skip The Secret and check out the DVDs or the video clips on YouTube of the Hicks (just search by "Abraham / Hicks" and you should get a whole bunch of listings on YouTube). Esther has spoken on a wide variety of topics and I have failed to find a single flaw in anything she has said (and believe me, I tend to scrutinize all new ideas I'm exposed to because I hate being conned more than anything).

Last December, the Borders bookstore was closing downtown so they had a sale on all their books and other products. I decided to help lighten their load by buying a book I had seen for a year or two but never bought: Beyond the Secret by Lisa Love. I have been reading it this month and I also recommend this book over The Secret. Apparently, Lisa Love had read The Secret and was also put off by the book. So much so that she wrote one of her own to kind of "set the record straight." In her view (which is similar to my view), The Secret promotes a materialistic, selfish way of living in the world. Its not about having things and acquiring things. Its about living in such a way that you are fulfilled at a deeper level of being. Your focus should be on attracting quality, with desires that emanate from the soul level of being, not the ego level of being. If you want a Jaguar, you have to ask yourself if you really want one because you like it or because you want to impress other people into thinking that you are rich and worth knowing. It requires a high degree of self honesty, as I know quite a few people who delude themselves into thinking that they really want a luxury sports car for themselves and not for sending messages to everyone who sees them in it.

To manifest what your heart truly desires, it does take a lot of work and self honesty. As I look back on my life, I can tell you what I have manifested for myself. It works even if you don't believe in the principle or read about it. It works because the Universe conspires to make your dreams into reality. It is true that your focus determines your reality. The following represents what I have managed to manifest into my life. First will be the date when I had the original thought and then what it is, followed by when it happened. Just to get an idea of what I have managed to attract for myself and how long it sometimes takes.

1978 -- Dreamed about living in Germany someday
1985-1988 -- Lived in Germany as a teenager

1986 -- Dreamed of being a foreign exchange student with a French family
1992 -- Met two different French families and got to stay with them for several days each, in a suburb of Paris and in Bretagne (I did this in 1992, 1994, and 1997).

Early 1980s -- Dreamed of seeing Paris
1985, 1988, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1997 -- Visited Paris

1984-1985 -- Dreamed of visiting Loch Ness, Scotland
1987 -- Visited Loch Ness, Scotland (saw no monster, and I stared and stared, hoping to see Nessie!)

1985-1989 -- Wanted to work for a boss like David Addison (played by Bruce Willis on Moonlighting)
2002-2005 -- Worked for a supervisor who had a similar personality to David Addison and really was a joy to work for. I wish I had a supervisor like that still!

1986 / 1988 -- Wanted to live on an aircraft carrier
1994-1996 -- Lived and worked on an aircraft carrier

1987 -- Dreamed about visiting the main islands in the Mediterranean: Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily
1991-1994 -- Stationed in Sardinia and was able to visit Corsica several times and Sicily once

1989 -- Dreamed of seeing Prague, Budapest, and Berlin
1992 -- Visited Budapest
1993 -- Visited Prague
1997 -- Visited Berlin

1990 -- Dreamed of visiting South Africa
1994 -- Visited South Africa

1990 -- Wanted to meet singer Johnny Clegg
1994, 1996, 2004 -- Met Johnny Clegg

1990 -- Hoped to get stationed in Hawaii with the Navy
1997 -- Spent the best Christmas ever in Hawaii

1990-1991 -- Dreamed about owning a Geo Metro hatchback
1994-1996 -- Owned a Geo Metro hatchback

1992-1993 -- Dreamed about working in a Gore Administration
2000 -- Interned for Vice President Gore for a semester

All My Life -- Wanted a friend who was like a real brother to me
1993 -- Wanted a true friend in the Navy who shared my values
1994 -- Met Nathan, a fellow church member who was in the Navy and we had met a decade earlier when my parents invited his parents over for dinner after church. He has been the brother I never had and always wanted and we share similar personal values

1996-1999 -- Dreamed of being a cast member of MTV's The Real World
2000 -- BYU's Washington Seminar replicated the experience I was looking for, without the intrusive cameras. My soul knew that I really wanted to live with a close knit group of people for a short time as we experienced Washington, D.C. and became friends / had conflicts / reached understanding. It was probably better than anything MTV might've given me.

1994 -- Dreamed about owning a Saturn sedan
1996-2002 -- Owned a Saturn SL1 sedan (which fit all my requirements when I was looking: sunroof, stick shift, cassette/stereo, air conditioned, under $8,000)

1995 -- Dreamed of living and working in Washington, D.C.
1998 -- Dreamed about living in a studio apartment in D.C.
2000 -- Lived in D.C. for seven months
2006-2010 -- Lived in a studio apartment in Portland OR

1999 -- Dreamed of living in Portland OR
2006 -- Moved to Portland OR

1998-1999 -- Wanted just one Mormon friend at BYU who would not make issue of my being a non-Mormon
2000 -- Roommate Matt defended me from criticisms of his fellow Mormons about my not joining their religion and in a memory book I had put together, he wrote that I was the person he admired the most because I managed to keep my faith at BYU. He was the first person I had met who did not seek to convert me at BYU and for that, he will always be one of my favourite people I've ever met in life.

1998-1999 -- Dreamed of having my own apartment, with no roommates to deal with
2001-2010 -- Lived in my own apartments (two in Atlanta, one in Portland). Loved it!

2000 -- Dreamed about living in a townhouse
2010-current -- Moved into a townhouse, though its a housemate scenario and in a neighbourhood I don't particularly care for. I'd love to find a Loft condo to live in next. That's my other dream dwelling place.

2002 -- Dreamed of being part of a Young Adult group with the church
2006-current -- Part of a Young Adult group in the Pacific Northwest that has exceeded my expectations on what a group could be.

2007-2010 -- Dreamed of a job where I had some degree of independence, no micromanager hovering around me, few phone calls, independent work, an office with gender balance / racial diversity / more people my age, a place that matched my skills and experience with the actual work that needs to be done.
2010 -- Was hired by a company offering exactly what I have been looking for, with the added bonus that I get exposed to great music I will likely never hear on the radio or elsewhere.

Those are just some of the things I can think of off the top of my head that I have been able to see come into reality in my own life. Its not a complete picture, though and there are several things that have not come true yet that I still want to see happen soon. Namely: in 1983, I had two big dreams that year: to visit Australia someday and to become a published novelist. Those are still among the biggest dreams that have yet to appear in my life.

Another big thing I'm working on this year is that I also want to attract into my life the woman I want to marry by the end of 2012. I have a vague sense of what I hope she will be, which is not good enough. I have to be specific and allow the universe to bring us together. Basically, I like a lady who is well traveled, educated / intelligent, fascinated by ideas, spiritually open minded, lean or average (not overweight/obese), interesting life experiences, mature about what love is (not the clingy aspect of needing attention all the time or drama that feeds an emotional imbalance), and has a great personal style (she can look good in anything from a sari to a traditional Chinese dress to a European style to a casual jeans and sweatshirt). Since I find a wide range of ladies to be attractive, it does not matter what race she is, though I do find racial mixtures to be very attractive (particularly the ones where you can't tell if she's African American or Hispanic or Middle Eastern or Mediterranean or Polynesian or Asian or white). I know that she exists somewhere and is looking for a guy like me. May we find each other early in this year (if we have not already met).

The above picture represents my view of "heaven." Some books recommend that when you meditate, you should have a mental image of your ideal paradise so that you can go there and be transported into your soul much quicker. The scene above represents the ideal I hope to inhabit someday in the spiritual realm. I love the idea of the over the water bungalows in a coral reef on a tropical island, with my own pod of dolphins swimming around the cove. I'm free of mosquitos and other insects, as I lay on a hammock and ponder the life I had just lived on earth and the successes and failures that I managed to experience.

Here's to greater success with the Law of Attraction this year. Remember...don't tell other people how to live their lives. Focus on what YOU want to attract into your life and trust that others are doing the same with theirs. Only the person knows deep in his or her core what their dream life looks like. We cannot be experts in someone else's life and if we focus on someone else's life too much, we are neglecting our own.

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