I believe that within all of us lies dormant the potential for tremendous transformation that can lead to greater happiness. In my many years as a mind-body psychotherapist, educator, trainer, and consultant I've watched hundreds of patients let go of their false beliefs about who they are and what roads are open to them, and observed them as they found new paths to fulfillment and happiness that were previously hidden by their fears. I've helped them see their lives as a canvas for self-expression that could, and should, reflect their personal passions and values. You too can open yourself up to the possibility of creatively transforming any crisis, loss or change in your life by following this three-step process based upon my new book.
Step One: Letting Go of the Past and Resistance
The art of creative transformation begins with the willingness to be mindful of your hidden resistance to making a change, examining it, and breaking it down so that you can sweep it away like sand on a doorstep. If unwanted change has occurred, you're likely to become angry or upset, and struggle to regain what's been lost. You might find yourself closing your eyes to any other avenues available to you, obsessing about the past and trying to reclaim what was once yours. This resistance blocks you from recognizing that what lies ahead for you might actually make you happier than you've ever been.
If all signs point to the need for change, it's important not to deny them and cling to the status quo even as it's slipping away. Instead explore your own resistance to change and let go of all that's holding you back, so that you can be in open mind and accept, and even embrace, the impermanent nature of life. Then you can stop feeling like the victim of circumstances and begin to see that you, too, can transform yourself and your life in a positive and exciting way.
Step Two: Learn How to Tune into Your Creative Unconscious
The second step is tuning in and listening to the wisdom of your soul or unconscious, the state in which core creativity takes place, beyond the limitations of the mind's thought processes. Whenever you reconnect to this core, authentic self through open mind, the temporary circumstances of life stop distracting you. You're able to trust that the creative process will produce opportunities and possibilities in due time.
To access your core creativity and stop identifying with your ego or false self, which insists, "I can't," "I shouldn't," and "I'll never" start to develop a meditation practice that you do for five to twenty minutes a day. I particularly recommend a mindfulness or insight meditation practice, which allows you to see the true nature of your experiences. Other forms of meditation that help you access an open mind are prayer, contemplation, mindful movement such as martial arts, tai chi, and yoga, and just being in nature.
Step Three: Learn How to Move Forward with a Practical Plan
The final step is to create a practical plan to manifest your goals. Any plan or vision requires research if you want to make it a reality. We've all known people who made a major move too quickly, without thinking through the details, because they were so eager to meet their goals.
Quite often, my clients begin the process of envisioning a new life by insisting that they need more money. If you feel this way, explore this idea mindfully. Instead of assuming that money is your golden ticket to a fulfilling life, think about how you can increase the number and range of opportunities available to you. Learning about how people have overcome obstacles and achieved success can help you identify the elements in their winning formulas, but then you must apply their insights and advice to your own life. If you know what you need to do visual reminders, such as a vision board may help keep you on track. Figuring out how long it should take to reach your goals can be difficult and can generate anxiety or worry. When you look at your goals and your checklist for manifesting your vision, you may find that your progress isn't as steady or as spectacular as you'd hoped. Also gather and work with a wisdom council of support. Your friends, family, or neighbors can offer you practical or emotional support at times, but to come through a crisis and make the biggest breakthroughs in personal transformation, it's best to cast a wide net and draw in support from multiple sources.
Rebuilding after any great loss can be extremely difficult, but again and again, I've seen people use meditation and the art of creative transformation to pull themselves out of a valley of despair and even create successes they never would've dreamed of before their initial loss. A forward-thinking view can lead to reinvention and healing.
Ronald Alexander, Ph.D. is the author of the widely acclaimed book, Wise Mind, Open Mind: Finding Purpose and Meaning in Times of Crisis, Loss, and Change upon which this article is based. He is the Executive Director of the OpenMind Training® Institute, practices mindfulness-based mind-body psychotherapy and leadership coaching in Santa Monica, CA, for individuals and corporate clients. He has taught personal and clinical training groups for professionals in Integral Psychotherapy, Ericksonian mind-body healing therapies, mindfulness meditation, and positive psychology nationally and internationally since 1970. (www.openmindtraining.com)