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Friday, October 23, 2015

Extreme Attachment Can Push Away What We Desire

By Nancy Rynes, author of Awakenings from the Light

Have you ever noticed that sometimes, the harder you try to grab on to something you desperately want, the faster it slips away from you?

Locked gate, by Jessica Patterson (under Creative Commons)

As an author publishing my first book this past summer, it surprised me that I had a very light, flowing attitude about book sales. I didn't have a sense of emotional need for Awakenings from the Light to reach any kind of specific sales mark, critical acceptance, or whatever. I simply showed up to the computer, created the best, most honest book I could, and then emotionally let go of the rest of the process. I didn't feel any worry or angst about trying to force something to happen. Instead, I asked for help and allowed the Divine to take over. I pledged to continue to do the work as I was called to do it (in my case that meant personal appearances, book signings, classes, etc.), but I didn't strive to go all-out on marketing. I simply asked Spirit to handle it. Guess what? The book has taken on a life of its own and sales have been going well, all without stress, strain, or worry on my part.

Now contrast that with another area of my life: my art. Sales of my artwork have been "Ok" (steady but not spectacular), and I have been very stressed, anxious, and overly-involved in striving to increase sales. It seems that the more emotionally attached I am to my art needing to sell well, the more I seem to try to brute-force an outcome. And when I try to force something to happen, my goal slips right through my fingers. I run up against one roadblock after another and the result is inner turmoil.

So what gives? Why does this happen?

Let's leave out attachments to people for now and focus on attachments to things, ideas, goals, etc. Some very basic level of attachment to things may help us: we're pretty attached to eating every day so we do some kind of work in order to put food on the table. But that's not the kind of attachment I'm talking about. I'm talking about the kind of attachment that gets in the way of Divine grace working in our lives. The kind of attachment I have had about my art sales is a good example.

This unceasing need to have things work out "just right" (in other words, the way we imagine it should be in our own minds) is simply clingy and controlling. We are trying to cling to an idea that may actually not be the best end game for us. Or we are trying to control a situation in which we're out of our league. As humans, we sure love our sense of control even if it's simply an illusion.

And control is an illusion in many instances. When it comes right down to it, the only things we really can control are the words we speak, the actions we take, and to some extent our thoughts and feelings. That's it. We might be able to influence more around us, but we truly cannot control most of what happens in the wider world out there.

Extreme attachment to a specific outcome can prevent us from achieving what we want for a variety of reasons, but I'll keep it to the spiritual for now (for a more thorough treatment of this topic, I have one full chapter on it in Awakenings from the Light). Clinging to the need for a particular outcome actually pushes the Divine grace away faster than anything else.

Attachment leaves little room for God to work in our lives. It prevents Spirit from helping out and perhaps bringing us something even better than we could have imagined. Sometimes I picture God simply saying with a chuckle, "Ok if you think you're so smart, let's just see what happens when I step back and let you try it your way for a while..."*

Think about it: if you're hellbent on a specific outcome that absolutely must happen the way you think it should, you may very well ignore other opportunities that come along because they don't fit your preconceived ideas. In my case, with my art sales, I had it in my brain that the only way I would achieve my financial goals is to have X number of galleries representing my art. I had my mind focused exclusively on the idea that gallery representation was the only way to sell art. And while it can be a great way to sell artwork, it's certainly not the only way to do so.

My attachment to a specific outcome has, in essence, shut out God and Divine grace. When I realized this, I also realized that it was time to change my mindset.

In my next post, I'll talk about being grateful for what you have now, some ideas for letting go, and how you might change the way you view the concept of "manifesting."

*For a fun read on this subject, check out Deepak Chopra's book Why Is God Laughing?

Posted by Nancy Rynes, author of Awakenings from the Light ( )

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2015

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A "Wrong" Path?

By Nancy Rynes, author of Awakenings from the Light

Do you know of even one person whose path through life is straight, on-target, and  uninterrupted? I sure don't. Even if we look at the lives of people we think of as successes we will see twists, turns, and unexpected challenges. Sometimes circumstances will force us to take a detour from our planned route. Other times we don't pay attention to our internal compass and go off in a direction we didn't intend.

Maze photo by Flickr member Adam Heath (Creative Commons license)

In my book Awakenings from the Light, I wrote about the good things that can come to us when we listen to our inner wisdom. What that means is that we simply pay attention to our unique, internal compass that Spirit has given us, which will lead us to our best, most in-Spirit lives. I go through a quick, three-part check when making decisions: what do my "gut'" heart, and mind tell me?  When all three are in alignment, I know a particular choice is a good one for me. If there is disagreement, I do more soul-searching.  

But what does it feel like when we don't listen to our inner wisdom? What happens when we ignore our inner compass and go off in what we think is a wrong direction? And how can we recover if this happens? 

Recently, I was faced with a couple of decisions where my three-part check (gut, heart, mind) didn't agree. My mind spoke to me from a place of weakness or fear, asking me to make what seemed like a very logical and rational decision. This decision involved a particular opportunity that, at least on paper, seemed to made sense to pursue. But my intuition and my heart told me something different. My heart knew the decision to take this opportunity was coming from a negative place and it didn't feel right. My intuition and heart wanted me to pass it by, but I was channeling my old, responsible, pre-NDE self that day. I took the opportunity and began the project.  

Unfortunately, within a couple of days my mind realized that my heart and gut were right. This opportunity and I were not good fits for each other. My sleep became very sporadic, one of my personal red flags that something in my life is off. I went from 9 hours of sleep a night to 3 or 4. For those of you who need a solid 9 or 10 hours a night, you might be able to imagine the state I was in. I started each day with a sense of dread and became overly-emotional from the lack of sleep. I didn't want to face the day anymore and even became grumpy at times (not at all me). All of this  happened because I listened to my fear-filled mind at the expense of my heart and intuition. 

Many of us ignore our internal truth even if we think we have very good reasons for doing so. In fact, I would say that most, if not all, of the angst and drama we experience on a daily basis comes from ourselves – going against our own inner wisdom because of fear When we ignore our inner truth, though, parts of our lives can go haywire 

Sometimes it's good to stretch our comfort zones and try new things, but only if that desire comes from a place of strength. 

As I wrote in Awakenings from the Light, and as I apparently needed to see again in my own life, fear can lead us to make some very questionable decisions. These fear-based decisions can lead to anxiety, drama, and more fear. It's like running on a hamster's wheelSo how do we get make it stop? 

Hear, respect, and eventually follow the guidance of our inner wisdom. 

Sometimes we have to do things we don't necessarily want to do, like pay our taxes or go to the dentist. We have to make a living, eat, clothe ourselves, and have some kind of shelter. But ideally, Spirit wants us to get those needs met by being on a path that fits with our inner truth. The bonus is that the more we can live this way, the better our lives will flow and the happier we will be. 

This doesn't mean that if you're in a job or career you don't like you should quit right now. Please don't :-) Instead, give your intuition, heart, and mind time to weigh in. What are some things that you really want to do? Can you make a living at one or more of them? If not, can you make a living out of something related? *

But don't worry if you've made an unwise decision recently. Be gentle with yourself and take a second look 
  • Is it truly the "wrong" choice? 
  • Are there nuggets of good that you can find in the situation? 
  • If it's really a poor choice, can it be undone now or in the near future? 
  • Can you think about it differently and go along with it for a while? 
  • Can you take small steps to make things better with the choice you made? 
  • Can you take steps that will eventually lead you to a better path? One of love and strength rather than fear? 
  • How can you listen to your inner wisdom better next time you're in a similar situation? 
Being in the sciences for many years has given me a somewhat different take on decision making. In the sciences we're expected to dream up hypotheses, try to solve problems creatively, and experiment. A "failure" isn't the end of the's simply a result from which we can learn. Wrong turns are part of the deal. 
So don't be hard on yourself if you've made a decision that didn't work out. Making a course correction, taking a different path, or changing your mind isn't "failing." You've simply made a decision, taken action, and received a result. Is the result one that you want? If not, feel gratitude for what you do have and change things up in order to bring yourself to a path that better suits you. Just because you tried something and it didn't work the way you intended doesn't mean you're somehow an inferior person. 

In my case, I thought about all of these things. I spent time in quiet solitude in order to let my heart speak to me about the best path. Should I stay on this project for now, knowing it was not a good fit? Could I make it the 6 months of the contract term? Is there something I could do to make it better? And could I let go and allowSpirit to help me?  

Over the course of a couple of days, I realized that I was so poor a fit for the project that not only was it stressing me out to try to play the part, but I felt I was being deceptive to the folks who hired me to perform the work. And as much as I enjoyed the perceived sense of security the position gave me, it was the feeling of deceiving my employer that led me to have an honest talk with them and make a change. 

And guess what? My sleep immediately improved!

*Check out the awesome book Second Acts by Michael Pollan for inspiration and advice on making a career change.

Posted by Nancy Rynes, author of Awakenings from the Light ( )

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2015

Friday, October 9, 2015

A Twisting Path

The other day, my lunchtime walk led me to a part of town unfamiliar to me. Strolling along Left Hand Creek in Longmont, I passed a churchyard situated on the other side of the road. Since my mind was focused on the path directly in front of me, I didn't notice what the churchyard held until my return trip.  On my way back, though, I stopped and stared at the open lot: a full-sized labyrinth. 

Photo of Chartres-style Labyrinth by Nancy McClure (creative commons license)
I had never seen a walking-sized labyrinth in person before. Large stones defined the twisting path toward the center while crushed limestone gravel formed its surface. I was due back in the office soon but the pull of the labyrinth was too strong to resist. I crossed the street and stepped into the churchyard. 
A labyrinth isn't a maze. It holds no dead-ends to frustrate the walker and it's impossible to get lost. One very twisty path leads into the center and one path meanders back out. You simply walk, letting the path guide you back and forth. All you need to do is to place one foot in front of the other. 

I paused at the entrance. Should I go in? Was there time?  

The winding path called. I entered. 

My first steps were quick and sure but I soon changed the rhythm of my walking. My steps slowed, and with them, my mind quieted. At first it seemed the path led me directly to my destination in the center, but soon the way twisted and I found myself heading in a completely different direction.  
The labyrinth was a metaphor for my life. 

At one point, my mind wanted to take over and tried to scan several turns ahead to "figure it out." But I noticed that if I tried to anticipate where the path led my mind became confused and I started to feel a little dizzy. While I could see the center, my brain couldn't get a clear idea of how I would get there given the apparent confusion of the path ahead. Trying to anticipate the twists and turns got in the way of simply focusing on putting one foot in front of the other. I found that the best way for me to proceed was to simply focus on where I was right now and maybe a few steps just ahead of me, then I could let my mind relax and trust that the path would lead me to the center, my destination. 

Walking the labyrinth isn't exactly straightforward, at least from the point of view of our logical brains. My mind thought I would neatly finish one quadrant before moving on to the next, but that doesn't happen in a labyrinth. My steps led me into the first quadrant, then I found myself leaving before finishing it, proceeding to the next quadrant for a bit then back to the first. From there, I moved on to the third. 
In a way, walking this labyrinth reminded me of life on a spiritual path: twists and turns were normal. The path often led me five steps forward, two back, then three ahead again followed by four in a direction I didn't expect 

Finally, my feet stepped into the center and I stopped, realizing that what I thought was my destination was actually just a wide spot in the road. The center simply gave me time and space to pause and reflect before continuing on...back out. 

I've heard from others that they have different insights each time they walk the labyrinth, that it's often best to simply go in with a quiet mind and let the insights come. 

Have you walked a labyrinth? Did you experience anything spiritual or gain any insights? 

Posted by Nancy Rynes, author of Awakenings from the Light ( )

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2015

More information on the labyrinth in Longmont, Colorado: