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Living into Our Beliefs
Stop ... Look ... And listen!
— Mrs. Fisher, Kindergarten Teacher, Aurora, CO, 1956
"Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure."
— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Imagine that your own Book of Life Past lay before you, inexplicably appearing in carefully fashioned leather binding, your name painstakingly engraved in gold-leaf letters on its rubbed brown leather cover, a sweet image of a dancer delicately embossed beneath your name. Inscribed on each worn parchment page is a tender accounting of your years gone by. It may look like a sacred text, tantalizing to the touch and filled with carefully selected moments lifted from the many years of your life. Within the chronicled pages are your own cherished moments, whether they detail a secret recounting of your joys, your deepest wishes, or your most troubled times. All those precious "Notes to Self," each one carefully selected to remind you of the ups and downs of your life, your hard-earned lessons, your personally crafted life's philosophy, and perhaps even some suggestions for your future self.
Imagine that you randomly open to any page in your Book of Life Past. Even if a bit of trepidation or hesitation may cause you pause, you open the book with compassion, knowing your journey has been sometimes sweet or arduous at times, perhaps with periods of relative calm as your spirit drew respite from life's currents. As you breathe these moments that are uniquely yours into your heart, you can see they contain your life's Greatest Mysteries. On some pages they were recorded outright, and on others weighty messages lay hidden between the lines. Perhaps you chance upon a life-changing event, or a fresh and exhilarating experience. Maybe a heart-breaking drama is unfolding, or perhaps a question remains unresolved. This collection of experience is you.
Written within your mysterious chronicles are the moments that brought you forward into your life as it is today. Born of your life's exploration and gradual expansion, you can see your own Great Mysteries through the perspective of time. Breathe deeply: you have arrived at the very center of you; the Knower, the Wise Soul, the observer and source of your own yearning and inspiration that carries with it the power to create worlds. Life is the Grandest Mystery of all, and it begs us to wrestle with the Big Questions.
In this book, you will learn how to adventure into your own Great Mysteries, embrace the Big Questions that contain the sweet nectar of yearning, and master the Process of Inspiration. You will learn how to consciously access your native inspiration and free yourself to imagine into being the life that you yearn for. You will find ways to become more grounded that will help strengthen your esteem and resilience as you learn to hold the course and follow your dreams. It is my hope that this book will compel you to explore the Great Mysteries of your life, devour their intrigue, and chart your path forward through practical application. Jump into your own Mysteries with abandon, simmer with the Big Questions, and use the simple tools and exercises in this book as your guide.
Phone rings. Texts arrive, heralding the appointment you are already late for. Your reverie in the Book of Life Past is so easily interrupted. At the very moment you can almost touch the horizon of your inspired self, the buzz of your phone startles you out of your dream. With anxiety and a quick shot of adrenaline, your "hurry up" crawls across your skin as you jump into action. You are angry at yourself for your moment of self-absorption, because "real life" calls. You pause to take one last glimpse at your Book of Life Past, only to find that it has vanished as inexplicably as it materialized.
Perhaps you wonder, "What just happened?" It felt real at the moment, but in the flash of an interruption, the experience dissolved like a dream upon waking. And like a dream, the experience is difficult to recapture, as if it never happened. This experience leads to a Big Question: "How will I ever recover that sense of awareness and awe, of meaning, of deep yearning and electrified inspiration?"
You must become an "Alchemist" of your own experience – working to master the powerful currents alive within you. Alchemy, from medieval times, is described as a transformation of base metals into gold. It was considered an elemental practice and was believed to extend one's longevity. In this book we will revere Alchemy through a more philosophical lens as we consider it in the framework of being a deeply human process – one of self exploration, discovery, imagination, and mastery, with the conscious intention of transforming our hectic lives into golden quests. I believe that understanding the Alchemy of our own experience will extend one's well-being and longevity.
Authentic inspiration resides at our very core and is an unwilling participant in turbulent, restrictive, or oppressive environments – internal or external. Natural inspiration, especially in its early stages, feels fragile to the novice Alchemist. It needs supportive space within your own heart and mind, allowing it to flow forth safely. Drama is a deal breaker, at least temporarily, as torrential currents crash against sensitive desire. But if we learn how to navigate our inner lives, we can harness the power of inspiration and live into our dreams. This is the Alchemy of Inspiration!
The Alchemy of Inspiration
At a very general level we are all aware that we have some type of internal chemistry; we experience a variety of feelings, thoughts, and moods that are apt to change minute by minute or day to day. The flow of our lives is similar to the movement of the ocean, with currents, undertows, transient flotsam, waves that tickle the shore and play, and waves with deep undertows. The currents have unpredictable vortexes that swirl in ways that are mysterious to the casual observer, but are understood and predictable to seasoned oceanographers who are studied in the ways of the sea.
So, too, we are bristling oceans of physical and non-physical matter. Like the ocean, we have intellectual currents, emotional undertows, moods that tickle and invite us into play, and a deep potential for ruthless joy and inspiration.
Through becoming adept with the Alchemy of experience, we can tap into and harness our own experiences to better navigate our internal oceans – our internal dynamics and unique chemistry. Once trained, we can better understand our feelings, create moods, harness our intellect, and reach the pinnacle of inspiration – that place in all of us where we feel fully alive, where we ingest the world with ravenous curiosity and unapologetically imagine our dreams into being. Living into Inspiration is our journey!
We all have the ability to become masterful alchemists who are studied in the ways of our own internal chemistry. A novice oceanographer sees only a sea with powerful waves and cyclic ebb and flow of the tides; he or she knows of potential peril or pleasure only from reading nearby signposts. However, once studied, the oceanographer gains an intuitive mastery over the knowledge of the seas, above and below the surface, and can recognize minute changes in pressure, currents, topography, and temperature. Skilled sailors use the knowledge of the oceanographer to become artists at altering their course in the face of peril or quickly changing direction to explore new territory. They are alchemists of the seas, engaging experience, science, intuition, and knowledge to best steer their course.
As novice alchemists of experience, we know a little bit about our physical form and movement and are aware that there is an endless streaming cacophony of thoughts and feelings racing about in our minds. However, once we become studied in the currents of our experience and how our energies ebb and flow, we will understand much more about our physical, emotional, and intellectual makeup and become more attuned to small changes in our internal and external environments. As we become more knowledgeable about our own unique mechanics, we will be able to masterfully innovate and create both our experience and the lives that we deeply yearn for. We will be able to adventure into our Grand Mysteries with confidence and engage science, intuition, and knowledge to access our deepest inspiration. We will watch as the awesome power of inspiration flows forth – if, that is, we can find enough moments in the day to exit the frenetically paced quagmire of our daily lives to transform our reveries into realities.
Life in the Quagmire
We live in the twenty-first century ... life in the fast lane ... we have careers to build, relationships to maintain, we have rent to pay, food to prepare, places to be, and worries about how to get there. Many of us have kids to raise, parents to support, and seemingly never enough sleep. We have an overload of data and good advice we can access, but it takes so much effort to sort through and manage well. Exercise? Maybe, but never enough. Friendships? Spirituality? Community? Who has the time? Or the inspiration? The Big Question: "How about just surviving the day?" Our lives are like a Quagmire, and it is often difficult to see beyond our muddy path.
Our lives are hectic. Most of us live in the day-to-day Quagmire, from morning to evening, absorbed in our unending schedules, commitments, errands, and responsibilities. The demands of life come at us hurriedly, piling more responsibilities on our bulging "to do" lists. We often have to schedule "me time" just to catch our breath. Even if we do take "me time," we spend it worrying about the things we are not doing.
If we barely have time for the basics of daily living, how then do we pay attention to our own well-being? Most of us don't, and significant parts of our lives begin to show signs of poor physical and emotional health through tight muscles, headaches, frequent colds, conflict in relationships, or problems on the job. Some people turn to alcohol or drugs; others experience anxiety or depression. In a spiraling fashion, signs of poor health aggravate the signs of distress. If we continue to lead our lives reactively in the fast-paced Quagmire of the twenty-first century, we will eventually find ourselves in crisis: a physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual breakdown.
Compounding this, the twenty-first century is considered a time for the proliferation of information that demands our attention. Our technological devices, computers, tablets, phones, television, and radios stream a blaring flow of data at us. We are bombarded daily with information about business, politics, and the world, about money, health, and sports, alongside hundreds of daily jokes and mottos for better living. News channels flood the airwaves with breaking news from around the world, opinions of "experts," points of view from complete strangers, and the thoughts of our friends on any topic that momentarily crosses their unique mindscape.
From the rampant flows of information and opinion, emotional sediment spreads across the consciousness of whole populations, countries and states, associations, groups of peers, and family members. We are constantly being influenced about what we should experience, think, and feel. Emotional influence drives much of our economy; it deeply affects our sense of global, national, and personal safety and motivates us into action.
With rapid two-way global interaction, information spreads within hours and minutes, public consciousness is influenced at will, and opinions spread across continents by the click of a cursor. Our own lives are impacted, our beliefs and values challenged by our time on the "net" informing us about who we should be and the world we live in. Our time in personal relationships is often interrupted by the constant chime of the cell phone or the call for electronic game-playing. Our personal oceans are roiling seas, with currents and undercurrents often in conflict and the threat of drowning always near.
Technology is a wonderful–terrible phenomenon. We can find and learn almost anything by searching the web and get it at the speed of light; we can talk to almost anyone about anything. But we can be constantly diverted away from our deeper selves. With the immediacy of our careers and our family responsibilities, we have scarce time for inner reflection, which means less time to really get to know ourselves and our families. Steady streams of news and world events constantly paint our inner environments dark as we are bombarded with a continuously fearful outlook on the world at large.
Further, we feel unsafe. On September 11, 2001, four airplanes were hijacked by terrorists: two were flown into the World Trade Center in New York City, one was flown into the Pentagon, and a fourth crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside. Thousands of lives were lost. It put a quick end to the sense of security in our country. Millions of people around the world watched the Twin Towers fall on television; news services ruthlessly streamed the incident at us and injected unprecedented fear and panic into our lives. Our relationship to safety for our families and communities changed in a single day, and we have never fully recovered. In fact, terrorist activities continue across the globe, changing the outlook of our lives, our political environment, and our personal safety within our own borders – and in our own hearts and minds.
What does life in the twenty-first century mean for our well-being, our physical health, and our sense of authentic spirituality? How do we firmly ground ourselves in the ever-changing Quagmire of our lives and live confidently into our finest inspirations? How does the Alchemist in us find the time to conduct our science?
Living into Our Core Beliefs
We spend every minute of every day living into our beliefs about who we are. That is how we maintain our grounding in the Quagmire. Like the waves of the sea, we trust in them, forming a consistent presence that will continue to brush the shores of our existence every day without exception. We know that our life experiences have ebb and flow, but we have confidence in the relative stability of those core beliefs about ourselves – they keep us grounded. If they ceased to exist for even a brief moment, we'd live in fear that our lives were in peril. That is how dearly we regard the core beliefs about ourselves and others.
So much do we trust our beliefs and the manner of the currents that ebb and flow in our lives, that every step we take, every action we conceive, is designed to prove their truth. This is what it is to "live into" a belief. It means that every step we take in life – and we take them only one at a time – is, moment by moment, designed to validate the truth of our beliefs. If we were to venture into another world of beliefs, we would feel adrift in unknown waters with no map to navigate, rudderless and without direction.
The majority of our core beliefs about ourselves are established in our first five years of life, those formative years when we form deep-seated conclusions about life and our own identity. Despite our deep-rooted feelings regarding our core beliefs, it is likely that only a fraction of them are true. Well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) adults and friends provide us, as we grow and mature, information about who we should be and what the experience of life is like. They inform us about who we are, how we should think and feel, and the type of people we should become.
The messages about our identities, the messages that form our core beliefs, rarely come to us in pure form. They can penetrate our consciousness directly, as in "You are such a loving child," or "Shame on you!" or they can come to us through the gesture of a smile or a scowl. A steady diet of simple inattention can signal abandonment and a sense of worthlessness to a child, and even the innocent (in)actions of perhaps well-meaning parents can inflict as much harm as physical abuse. Sometimes messages enter our consciousness two at time, as when a compliment is delivered through the eyes of jealousy. Psychologists call this a "double bind."
We, in our youthful innocence, take in all the messages and work out our own conclusions around conflicting evidence. We begin to form core beliefs about ourselves that allow us to survive; we mold our behaviors to please our parents or appease a punishment and conceive deep-seated theories about ourselves and the world. Those early formative experiences inform our core beliefs – our fundamental identities – and we spend most of our lives living into them, ensuring our survival.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Incredible Power of Inspiration"
Copyright © 2017 Jenifer Zetlan.
Excerpted by permission of Mango Media, Inc..
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.
Table of Contents
Note to the Reader 12
Part I The Alchemy of Experience 16
Chapter 1 Living into Our Beliefs 17
Chapter 2 Living into Wellness 47
Chapter 3 The Role of the Alchemist 75
Part II The Path of Inspiration 98
Chapter 4 The Trailhead of Inspiration 99
Chapter 5 The Meadow of Wholeness 123
Chapter 6 The Alchemist and the Golem 141
Part III Learning to Dance 166
Chapter 7 Learning the Steps 167
Chapter 8 The Alchemist's Garden 201
Chapter 9 Learning the Dance 215
Chapter 10 The Dance of Four Worlds 243
Chapter 11 Choreography 269
Chapter 12 And in the End 301
About the Author 318
What People are Saying About This
"Through The Incredible Power of Inspiration, Jenifer Zetlan has delivered one of the first truly honest books on the path to enlightenment. Ms. Zetlan presents a refreshing path to transformation and enlightenment that actually explains the struggle and how to complete your own personal journey . Thankfully, void of the traditional trappings so commonly found in the Woo Woo World of inspiration and meditation. With this book, Jenifer Zetlan has delivered a bible for transforming your life." This is a book you will constantly find yourself referring back to long after your first read."
Jeremy B. Smith Entrepreneur, Writer and founder of Launchpad
"A most unique system for approaching mystery as well as a practical formula for accomplishing one’s dreams."
-Lisa Herman, PhD., MFT, REAT,Faculty at JFK and Meridian University
“Jennifer Zetlan gently and lovingly guides us on a journey A Frontier Adventure, to create the life we yearn for, a life grounded in inspiration. She leads us from the Lake Of Reflection, along the Path of Wellness, up the Path of Inspiration, to the Meadow of Wholeness and the Alchemist's Garden, while encouraging us all to become the Alchemist of Our Own Experience. Coaching us with thought experiments, guided meditations, personal anecdotes, and equipping us with a toolbox of tricks, Zetlan has created an original framework for those who take seriously Joseph Campbell's invocation to ‘follow your bliss.’” -Sophia Stein, Cultural Weekly
"Finding meaningful inspiration is important to every human being on the planet and especially important for people with complex lives in the business world. Zetland's book is about dealing with Life in Quagmire, focusing on wellness (body, mind, environment & spirit), how to get rid of negative thinking (clearing debris) and how to channel your core beliefs to identify what truly inspires you so that you can live your spiritual adventure. This book explains what inspiration is, why its important to your daily life in the 21st century and how to get & maintain a high level of inspiration day in and day out. This is a non-denominational, humanistic book with insightful wisdom for everyone who is interested in taking action and getting inspired to get on the right path. "
Dan Tyre - Executive at HubSpot, Investor, Speaker, Mentor, Motivator