The Beautiful, Mysterious Path to Long Lake
Hello Mill Valley Book Club! Thanks for tuning in! Although I miss writing to you weekly, it also feels good to be setting aside time to pursue some other writing projects. I try to stay mindful that each day is a gift, so we need to constantly and consciously fine-tune the choices we make as to how to spend our time. In the words of Mary Oliver: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
Before I turn to this month’s blog topic on Pam Grout’s E Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality, I’d love to share some memories of mine with you.
When our kids were younger, we shared a beautiful, annual summer tradition with another family we adored (and still do) – just moms and kids. We’d block out two or three days and venture up to Gray Eagle Lodge, a rustic little wonderland with a river running through it, located about an hour north of Truckee.
As soon as we arrived, the kids would run up to the waterfall and swimming hole on the property, always finding some form of mischief and some new friends. That night, after dinner in the lodge dining hall, we’d roast marshmallows by the fire pit and meet some of the other guests (and their dogs). The place had its own special charm!
The next day, the kitchen staff would pack us some sandwiches, and we’d hike up to nearby Long Lake, a stunning, pristine, small body of water surrounded by mountains and forest. Although the trail was less than a mile up, every year as we hiked, I always wondered, “Are we going the right way?” The scenery looked uniform and unfamiliar, maybe because we only went there once a year.
But as we neared the top and turned to the right, the two big boulders sitting majestically in the water near the shoreline confirmed our arrival. Funny how we never thought about those huge rocks or that lake on any other day of the year, as if they disappeared from reality, but on this day they became our centerpiece. Forgetting about lunch, the kids would dive instantly into the arctic water, play Marco Polo, then sun themselves on those warm, granite boulders, squabbling over the small available real estate.
We always met very kind and friendly people up there at Long Lake, but if we were really lucky, we’d have the lake to ourselves. And that’s when the magic happened. We moms would lay back on the flat rocks at the lake’s shoreline. We’d stop chatting, just for a few moments, breathe in the mountain air, and soak in the sunlight.
I’d swear in those moments that time stood still. The sun transformed the lake’s silent, crystal-blue surface into diamonds. And just for a moment, I would close my eyes and disappear into the sky, feeling myself merge with the perfection of that setting, far from the quicker pace of life at home. Eckhart Tolle would call this “the Now,” and he says this is the very reason we are alive – to find “the Now,” the deep knowing that all is well, all is perfect, in as many present moments as possible.
More on this in my December blog post, but I share this story as a metaphor for our exploration of the path to wholeness. You could think of each book that we share together as a signpost on the path to Long Lake. Each one points us toward that one, universal truth, to which there are many, many paths. At times, we skip along happily; but just up around that bend, we’re no longer sure we’re going the right way. Sometimes we have to scramble over rocks or a fallen tree limb to stay on the path. Maybe we even have to leave the path in order to find our way back to it. But we always keep moving inexorably toward our destination – wholeness – toward that ultimate “Now.” Thank you for walking with me.
And speaking of gratitude, now Thanksgiving rapidly approaches. I can feel the race begin, hurtling us madly toward the end of 2013. Soon, we’ll see holiday decorations and hear Christmas music playing in stores. We’ll get together with family and friends to enjoy the season and one another, hopefully taking some moments to appreciate the abundance in our lives – whatever that may be – and to feel “the Now” together. It’s the fast track to joy!
For me, the experience of joy happens freely and spontaneously when I’m feeling peaceful inside. I find that when I don’t feel peaceful, I actually block my ability to experience joy. During these past few months, through my ongoing reading, I’ve been deeply absorbing the idea that our experience of life is very much within our control. I’m finally grasping how very much it is a matter of mindset. Not maybe. Not some of the time. Absolutely and always!
I’ve thought about all this before, but this time, my understanding feels deeper. We counsel each other, “stay positive.” Our intentions are good. We all know instinctively that finding the good in every situation leads to a happier life. But sometimes it’s just not easy to do. Until we decide that we simply must. When we finally reach that point where we become unwilling to experience negativity any longer, we make a very simple (not easy) choice.
It turns out that this is a leap to a higher state of consciousness, and it happens when the pain we experience within a particular situation becomes so great that we will do whatever it takes to remove the pain. The only truly effective escape route is to leap, to choose to see the situation differently. Tune in to my December blog post for more on that.
Do Our Thoughts Create Our Reality?
And now onto today’s blog topic: what exactly is the link between our thoughts and the reality we experience every day? Pam Grout (and others) suggest that our thoughts create our reality. That may feel a little far-fetched or unlikely to you. I’ll grant to Pam that no matter what events appear to be happening in our lives, we very much choose how we take in and respond to those events. Many of us do that subconsciously, but we do have the ability, with practice, to stay conscious and to decide how to experience the things that appear to be happening in our lives. The bigger question in my mind is, “Are we actually creating what happens?”
If you’re thinking in terms of a traditional world view, this is a hard one to swallow. And that’s how we’ve all been taught to think: the physical world is entirely out of our control and we’re not really sure what is causing things to happen – maybe it’s random – but things happen to us, not by us. Right?
Quantum physicists suggest that it is our thoughts that come first; and these thoughts seek vibrational match in the outside world of invisible energy, in fact creating form and our experience of reality. Said another way, our thoughts are the cause; the reality we experience is the effect.
Now how the heck can I possibly know whether quantum physics is more accurate than our traditional world view? I barely passed my high school physics class! But I’ve discovered a way: through the process of experimentation and observation. Anyone can do that! And that’s the genius of Pam Grout’s book.
So when I first considered the concept that my thoughts create my reality, I could only get as far as to recognize that my thoughts influenced the way that I experienced reality. I noticed that when I approached a person or situation with a light-hearted mood, good things happened; and vice versa. But now it’s time to go deeper.
Experiment and Observe, Then Conclude!
Whenever I encounter an idea that seems hard to believe, I conduct a few experiments for myself. And most importantly, I maintain a very open mind in noticing what happens. I act like a scientist, trying to observe the laws of the universe. I compile my results, then decide which belief or conclusion best matches all of my data. I suppose that’s one reason I enjoyed Pam Grout’s book so much: it is full of awesome, reason-filled experiments that allow us to test our own experience of reality.
This approach is important because the laws of the universe are invisible. Like the vibrations (good vibes/bad vibes) discussed in Bruce Lipton’s book The Honeymoon Effect, we are unable to perceive the laws of the universe with the usual five senses. Gary Zukav, a physicist who wrote The Seat of the Soul, suggested that all of humanity is right now in the process of evolving from being a five-sensory species to a multi-sensory species. Rather than perceiving reality only through our five senses, many people are now perceiving through faculties that allow us to access what we cannot touch, see, hear, taste, or feel (with our hands or other body parts).
These expanded and powerful faculties are grounded in intuition, a number of different kinds, and once we open ourselves to using intuition as an important way to gather data about our world, a new reality also opens up to us. It turns out that intuition can be developed, through practice. Some think of this as their “gut instinct.” Others listen to an inner voice or sense of inner knowing. Bruce Lipton’s description of the way in which we sense vibrations – good vibes and bad vibes – is an example of multi-sensory perception. So there! You’re already doing it!
An Example, If You Please!
A few weeks ago, I went for a quick doctor appointment in the midst of very busy, overscheduled day. As I approached the receptionist to check in, I was feeling stressed. This was subconscious – I was not aware that I was projecting bad vibes, but in retrospect, maybe my stress was palpable. I had barely opened my mouth to check in, and the receptionist barked rudely at me, cutting me off. I was taken by surprise. I followed her terse instruction to produce my insurance card and sat down in the waiting room (feeling a little trod upon, I might add).
As I sat there, I naturally assumed that whatever caused her to behave toward me as she did had nothing to do with me. “She must be having a bad day,” I said to myself, still thinking that her mood was totally unrelated to me. Come to think of it, I had allowed my day to become less than pleasant.
But suddenly something shifted within me. I reminded myself that I had some power of choice here. I could decide to perceive the situation differently and choose to act differently. I could acknowledge in my mind that she was having a hard day and show her tolerance, compassion, and kindness instead of responding to attack with attack. I decided to experiment. I reminded myself to relax. None of this was really very important. And as I settled down, so did she. Eventually she began to interact more courteously with me, even apologetically!
Once I communicated to the staff that I had a tight timeline (which I did calmly and politely) and perhaps should reschedule my appointment, they all collaborated to get me into the exam room and on my way in time for my next obligation! It was amazing!
So in this situation, I observed that my decision as to how to respond to a stressed-out person dictated the outcome of the interaction. My thoughts, feelings, and subsequent actions, in effect, created my experience of reality. Coincidence? I don’t know.
But let’s take this a step further. Did I actually create this situation in the first place? I’d spent part of the morning chiding myself for scheduling this doctor appointment poorly and realizing this when it was too late to change it. We all know that doctors frequently run late. I’d given myself exactly 30 minutes to be in and out. Most likely, not enough time. You see where my thoughts were.
So here’s the deeper question: Did I draw to me vibrationally (through the Law of Attraction) a stressed-out receptionist who served as a mirror to my own stressed mood, reflecting it to me and giving me the chance to recognize that I’d like to choose a different experience of reality? Hmmm.
I realize that some of you may find this view of reality preposterous. Not too long ago, I would have agreed with you. But lately, as I’ve performed more experiments, I find that while each one might feel inconclusive, taken together as a group, my observations are gently and perceptibly shifting my sense of what is. Right now, I’m really testing this hypothesis that our thoughts create our reality. So far, my data tells me it may be true. And if it’s true, that’s an extremely powerful concept!
Why? Because the better we understand our world and the more willing we are to learn about and ply the tools available to us, the more power we hold to create our experience of reality. And while it sounds esoteric and other-worldly, it has very practical applications. I’m reading more and more about people who know how to do this, and I want to do it too!
So if this sounds enticing to you, pick up a copy of Pam Grout’s E-Squared. This light-hearted, quick-read, humorous interpretation of our world will definitely get you thinking about other possibilities. And what if, just what if, you can learn to become the architect of your own life? Isn’t that something worth knowing?
Let me know what you think about the link between your thoughts and the reality that you experience every day. Share a comment down below or send me a private email at firstname.lastname@example.org !
In the meantime, pick up a copy of my December book selection, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. This one is a fiction classic, selling millions of copies, and December is the perfect time for a good story. And it’s right in line with what we’re talking about here. Check out a book summary now.
I wish you and yours a warm, festive, gratitude-filled Thanksgiving, and I’ll see you again in December!