Why Walk When You Can Fly?
Soar Beyond Your Fears and Love Yourself and Others Unconditionally
By Isha Judd
New World Library Copyright © 2008 Isha
All rights reserved.
The First Facet
* * *
Embracing the Present Moment
A newlywed couple moved to an apartment in a very busy neighborhood. On the first morning in their new home, after she had made coffee, the young bride looked through the window and watched her neighbor hanging sheets out to dry. "What dirty sheets!" she thought to herself. "Maybe she needs to buy a different kind of detergent. I should go and teach her how to wash them properly." Every few days, she muttered the same thing to her husband with disdain while watching her neighbor hanging out the dirty laundry in the early-morning light.
A month passed, and one day the young wife was surprised to see that her neighbor was hanging out perfectly clean sheets. She exclaimed to her husband, "Look! She finally learned to wash her clothes. I wonder who taught her how."
The husband replied, "Well, in reality, darling, the only difference is that I got up early this morning and cleaned the window."
Each of us has been looking through a window all our lives. Tainted by the beliefs and ideas we have adopted from the past, its distorted surface creates our world and governs our perception of the universe. In most cases, our windows are covered in the grime and dust of a lifetime, clouding our vision, blocking the light of the truth from view.
The window of the mind becomes dirty when the subconscious is full of self-criticism and fear-based opinions. Unfortunately, this is the case for many of us — erratic, incessant thoughts are our constant companions. Our adult minds are in perpetual chaos and contradiction. Our thoughts jostle endlessly for our attention, as we jump from one distraction to another. This incessant thinking affects our entire nervous system.
How does it do this? The answer lies in vibration. Our thoughts have a vibration, just as any sound has a vibration. Those vibrations resound within the nervous system, affecting our inner vibratory rate. When our thoughts are erratic and conflictive, they create a dissonant vibration in the body. When our thoughts are harmonious and creative, the vibration of union envelops us, and everything that is not vibrating in that frequency begins to fall away naturally.
The Restlessness of Humanity
We seldom feel complete in the present moment. In the modern world, people at all levels of society and in every walk of life struggle with a feeling of underlying dissatisfaction and unrest. We often find ourselves yearning for something more — no matter what we have achieved in our lives, the fulfillment we so desire remains elusive.
Many of us find that our attention constantly gravitates toward what is wrong with our lives. We hardly ever focus on appreciating all the wonderful things we have; instead we habitually criticize our surroundings, blaming the outside for our discontent. We are seldom in the present moment long enough to embrace the magic of the now.
I have always been an overachiever, putting all my heart into everything I do. But for much of my life, it was never enough. I felt dissatisfied with myself, always expecting more. Incapable of fully appreciating the things I had accomplished, I was incessantly focused on what was missing.
In fact, although I appeared to be a powerful, successful, and confident woman, deep down I always doubted myself. I criticized myself constantly, and although I was not aware of it, beneath my self-assured personality lay a great deal of fear.
To some extent, we all experience this disillusionment. No matter where we are on this planet, we can feel discontented, though we blame our inner torment on our location or circumstances. It can happen in our great cities; despite all the constant distractions of our push-button world and the pervasive presence of people in our metropolises, individuals die of deep depression and loneliness right in the heart of places like Manhattan and Buenos Aires. And it can happen in the country, to those surrounded only by the natural world and the people they love. Wherever we are, we feel intense regret, guilt, and pain as a result of things that have happened in our lives, and we yearn for things we wish would happen. This is the insanity of the human condition — our minds' tendency to always be dwelling on the past or projecting into the future, thereby making us miserable.
Most of us have an idea of how happiness should look. We tend to see happiness as a future moment — when we can afford a bigger house, when we can buy a new car, when we find the perfect partner, when the children grow up, when we retire.
Have you noticed that when you achieve your goals — the better job, the bigger house, the new partner — there is always something more for you to set your heart on? It seems that no matter what we achieve, fulfillment is always beyond our grasp. Why is nothing ever enough?
We are waiting for something to happen, anything that might bring us the satisfaction that has eluded us for so long. The future seems to hold our only hope for true fulfillment, while the present moment — where we are all along, without any effort — is where we least expect to find it.
What prevents us from discovering the beauty of life lived in the now? The cause is not external, as we may have often thought, but internal. It lies within our own minds.
The Matrix of the Mind
The intellect is one of the great treasures of the human experience. It provides the means for constant evolution. Scientific discoveries and recent advances in communication and technology pay homage to its brilliance, and on a more personal level, it provides essential abilities, such as discernment and comparison, to help us make decisions in our daily lives.
Yet the scope of the mind, although varied and fascinating, is limited. It cannot fully understand the complexities of love, for example. Instead, it tends to focus on the mundane and flits incessantly from thought to thought. Even in the midst of great beauty — watching the sun set over a golden hillside, for example — the mind wanders to other times, other places ...
"Wow! That sunset is amazing. They say a sunset like this means we'll have a clear day tomorrow. I sure hope so, because it's my only day off and I have so much to do. I should really go to the gym first thing in the morning — I've got to lose some weight! And then I have to go to the hardware store to buy paint, do laundry, get the house ready for the guests to arrive, and figure out what to cook for dinner. The last time we had people over, they really liked that pasta dish — maybe I should make that again. Too bad the birthday cake our friends brought over that time was terrible. Oh no! Mom's birthday is tomorrow, and I forgot to send a card. I'm a terrible daughter...."
By identifying so deeply with the constant chattering of the mind, we have lost sight of all that lies beyond its constraints: our true greatness, buried there beneath the mind's limiting thoughts and opinions. When this happens, the mind becomes a matrix.
We are ensnared in this mental matrix. It is like a net that we get trapped in, and we imagine that the net is all there is. We find ourselves stuck in the limited ways of thinking we learned in childhood.
Because of the limiting beliefs of this mental matrix, it's easier for us to listen to someone telling us that we are just average, ordinary, or nothing special than it is to hear that we are capable of greatness. Many of us believe that we aren't as good as other people. From early childhood, we were told that we were inadequate, not up to the task, or even stupid.
I certainly didn't escape the matrix when I was growing up. Living in Melbourne, Australia, in my school years I was much taller than most of the kids my age. My height made me an excellent runner, and I easily outran my competitors in any race. My teachers would say to me, "Don't win by so much. You make the other children feel bad." As a result of this, I began to hold back some of my ability. I put the brakes on myself. I started to believe that I was meant not to shine but only to be "normal."
A bit later, the teachers in my all-women's college frowned on my extroverted behavior. They felt that a young lady ought to be unassuming and demure, never standing out from the crowd, never in a starring role. I was so desperate for their approval that I became insecure. With time, I adopted their opinion as my own and figured there must be something wrong with me since I wasn't the quiet, passive young woman they thought I should be. I learned to doubt myself all the time. I began to act small.
Instead of soaring aloft, taking in the magnificence and beauty of life, most of us act small. We simply don't see our greatness, so we embody the poor sense of ourselves we internalized from our family, schooling, and society in general. As a consequence, we are all walking around in a haze, searching incessantly for peace, love, and happiness.
We yearn for absolute freedom. We want to fly like the falcon. We want to be all we can be, but instead we cling to the branch of mediocrity.
We have bought into the matrix of the mind, as if the way we think of ourselves is all we really are.
Duality and Its Contrasts
The matrix of the mind is always trying to intellectualize and understand. It is always focused on good versus bad, right versus wrong. In fact, good, bad, right, and wrong are the building blocks of the matrix. It sees everything from the point of view of duality, or separation. It boxes the world into categories, labeling everything and everyone around us. To some extent, these labels allow us to experience human life, but when they become our only means of perception and we consider them to be the absolute truth, we lose the innocence that delights in the wonder of existence.
Our perception of the physical universe is full of contrasts and separations. We see abundance and we see famine. We see the atrocities of war and the selfless giving of visionaries such as Gandhi or Mother Teresa. We see all sorts of different things, creating separation and disparity as well as both tragedy and joy. Full of contrast, the world forms an incredible landscape of diversity and wonder.
Yet when we perceive all this richness through the matrix of the intellect, all the divisions make us feel vulnerable, separate, small. We identify with the distinctions so strongly that we lose sight of the vibrant beauty of the big picture. The consequence is that we are superficial. We are stuck in the intellect, immersed in the constraints of the mind. Being mired in the matrix causes us to float on the surface of life instead of going deep — and so we fail to find the fulfillment we seek.
The Comfort of Limitation
Although the clouded perception that the matrix of the intellect has given us makes us numb to the fullness that exists in every moment, we have found a certain comfort within its boundaries. It is a space defined by all our fears and limitations, but within its constraints is everything we know, everything we believe, everything we have come to trust. There, our past experiences rule our every move.
Because there is a certain comfort in the place we have claimed for ourselves, to embrace our greatness — to believe that we deserve to live to our full potential — is the hardest thing for us to do. Even when we have dreams that we would like to fulfill, it's difficult for us to move out of our comfort zones. We want results, we hope for good things, we even look for opportunities — but are we willing to let go of what we are accustomed to in order to achieve our heart's desire?
Those who seek change allow themselves to fly. Those who feel inadequate cling to the branch. Which are you?
If you are clinging to the branch, what are you holding on to that stops you from flying? What will you not let go of?
Cutting the Branch
We are about to learn the first Isha facet, the first of four extremely powerful tools that will help us cut the branch of the fear-based habits of the past, so that we can find our wings and the glory of flight.
In order to benefit from the full power of these facets, it is necessary to commit to regular practice. If we join a gym but never go, we do not get fitter. In the same way, if we do not practice the facets, they do not work. Ideally, practice for an hour a day with the eyes closed. You can divide this hour into two blocks of half an hour or three blocks of twenty minutes. The most important thing is that you do it. If on some days you can't do an hour, a shorter time is better than nothing.
This process works on a very profound level, and for most people the changes are immediate. They experience a peace and joy that grow deeper as they continue practicing. Yet for some people, it takes a few days or even weeks of regular practice to start seeing the changes. Some find that their friends notice the changes before they do. Even if they are a little skeptical as to what is happening within them, they find people coming up to them and saying, "You look different today," or, "You've changed. What have you been doing?"
I recommend that you continue practicing the facets regularly for a minimum of four weeks, no matter what happens while you are practicing. In my experience, four weeks of regular practice is enough for anyone to appreciate enormous benefits.
Another important thing to bear in mind when you are learning these facets is to be innocent, open, and nonjudgmental toward the practice. The experience of these facets will be unlike anything you have ever done before, and the more open you are, the easier it will be for you to adopt this new perspective and experience the benefits. At first, using the facets might appear to be like other spiritual or self-improvement practices, but give the facets an opportunity to work their magic in your life, and you'll discover that they are different from anything you've ever experienced.
The First Facet
In each moment, there is perfection to be found. When we are totally present, nothing is wrong; all the apparent imperfections appear when we stray off into the past or the future. The first facet will bring us into the perfection of this moment. By bringing our attention fully into the present, the first facet naturally draws our awareness into the experience of love-consciousness.
Being in the present does not mean that we will not continue to grow. Life is always evolving, always moving toward greater growth and expansion. Yet by embracing the inherent perfection of this moment, we naturally elevate our internal vibration, re-creating ourselves in ever-higher frequencies of love.
Bringing our attention fully into the present destroys one of humanity's most deep-seated negative beliefs. This belief is the origin of our discontent. It is a false mental idea that keeps us from experiencing fulfillment. It is the idea that there is something wrong with this moment. Deep down, although we may not be aware of it, almost all of us share this belief. Even if we love our lives, very few of us feel absolutely complete.
The first facet brings us to that completion by healing this belief at its source. When we make this profound change deep in our subconscious, our entire perception of life shifts dramatically. Through the use of this facet, you will be amazed that something so simple can have such an incredible impact on your life.
We are now going to create a perfectly harmonious thought, a profound truth that reaches beyond all the negative conditioning of the intellect, anchoring us in the beauty of the here and now. This thought is focused on the concept of love as an all-encompassing force of unity. It will use the emotion of praise, which simply means appreciation. When we shift our perception to appreciation, we begin to take the power away from our old fear-based beliefs and habits and move toward more love, toward love-consciousness. The more we choose the love, the more we clean our window, until the light of pure awareness shines through its crystal-clear surface. We move away from our perception of criticism and self-doubt, free to fly high in joyful celebration of the here and now. Here is that thought, the first facet:
Praise love for this moment in its perfection.
Here's how to practice the first facet:
1. Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Allow any thoughts that come to mind to gently pass. Don't seek to stop your thoughts; don't try to enter a state of no-mind. Instead, just allow whatever comes to happen naturally.
2. Say, in your mind, this thought: Praise love for this moment in its perfection. Think it without any effort, the same way you might think any other thought, without concentrating or even trying to understand its meaning.
3. At the same time that you think this facet, put your attention deep in the area of your heart.
4. After thinking the facet, leave a space, a pause. After a few moments, repeat the thought and again leave a space.
5. Continue in this way for about twenty minutes. You can glance at your watch or a clock to check the time. (Continues...)
Excerpted from Why Walk When You Can Fly? by Isha Judd. Copyright © 2008 Isha. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.