If you want to be a published author, for example, spend a few minutes each day picturing your books already on the shelves and, most importantly, feel how it’ll feel when you achieve that goal. Yes, also put some pen to paper today (“do what you can with what you have”), but don’t spin your wheels wondering about how to get a publisher or whether your idea has already been “done before.”
If you want a romantic partner, don’t get hung up on a specific person, just picture the kinds of things you’ll do with your dream mate and how you’ll feel when you’re together. Yes, you can add specific details like what you’re wearing -and please do!- but if you decide it’s got to be Gary from accounting, you might wind up butting heads with the universe, who’s working overtime to get you stuck in an elevator with Pete from payroll, the perfect guy for you.
When I picture where I want to be in a year, I see an active, fit, social butterfly who’s swimming in creative projects and opportunities, brave enough to say “YES!” when it counts – and “NO!” too.
While I’m trying not to get hung up on too many hows, I know it’s important to work with what I’ve got at my disposal today. For starters, I signed up for a half marathon in May, despite it having been two years since my last run. I even recruited two of the most inspiring “accountability partners” I could dream up, spanning New Jersey to Oregon, to help me get in gear:
To show them how compliant I am, I joined a gym…
…made Google docs outlining every aspect of my ideal life, started logging daily exercise, water and caloric intake…
Often when time passes, feelings fade, memories go fuzzy, and lessons learned take a backseat to everyday demands. One of the many curious things about undergoing a “past life regression” hypnosis session last month (yup, that’s totally a thing!) was finding that the very opposite occurred. The thoughts, smells, sights and sounds that I experienced during hypnosis have become hyperreal, and I’ve spent many long walks trying to squeeze every ounce of insight that I can from them.
Wanna hear what I’ve got so far? Oh good. I knew I had a blog for a reason.
LESSON 1 (of 3): It’s Okay to Want Less
In many ways, the two past lives I witnessed couldn’t have been more different. In one life, I was a woman, the other, a man. In one I was wealthy, the other poor. I hated my job one time, enjoyed it the next.
None of this mattered.
As both a wealthy Victorian woman visiting her grandmother in the English countryside and a poor-as-dirt laborer in rural Maine in the mid-20th century, the only thing that mattered to me was this: Being with my family, surrounded by nature. I longed for nothing more than the sight of those rolling hills and the water – except maybe a cup of tea and some James Joyce! No part of me was vying for a 4.0 GPA or learning yoga or reading self-help books. And I felt zero guilt about it. The pursuit of peace and pleasure was enough.
This was a powerful lesson. All I truly desire today is exactly the same – except now it feels devilishly indulgent. A simple life with fewer responsibilities? How dare I! This experience was a much-needed reminder to take a breath and remember that all of the accomplishments in the world are meaningless if I can’t enjoy what matters most. I don’t need to adorn this life with the trappings of success to have a successful life.
LESSON 2 (of 3): Why I REALLY Struggle with My Weight
I thought, between decades of dieting and multiple therapists, that I’d covered every possible reason I struggled with weight.
It wasn’t until I heard my “Higher Self” speak during hypnosis that a new idea took form: My weight was the physical manifestation of carrying others’ burdens. I had never allowed this theory to surface because I thought it made me sound like a self-righteous martyr.
“She tries to be like a mussel. Clean the water. It doesn’t work,” my higher self had said, speaking in third person. “She just wants everyone to be happy. She doesn’t have to be responsible for anyone [else’s happiness].”
How might I approach my relationship with food if I looked at it through this new lens? Would I speak up, set boundaries, and share more of my authenticself? The short answer? YES. It’s already happening! But I’ll confess: I haven’t changed overnight. The road ahead still looks pretty curvy (pun soooo intended). Nevertheless, I’m more optimistic than ever before that I’m dissolving a toxic pattern.
LESSON 3 (of 3): “If You’re Happy, You Will Save the World”
This is something else my higher self relayed midway through the session, and it strikes me as almost heartbreaking in its innocence. Wasn’t there some wise old (wo)man somewhere who said we can recognize the truth by its simplicity?
I’ve often heard people say that we’re on this earth to experience joy, and despite how things may appear on this blog, I often do a sh*tty job of it. Which links back perfectly to #1 on this list: It doesn’t take much to be happy (and THAT’S OKAY)!
Perhaps instead of living life like one giant checklist, I’d make a bigger, brighter impact on the planet I love so much by doing things daily that delight me (like using alliteration…check!).
Do these lessons resonate with you? Do you struggle with them like I do?
“I’ll have you lie down on the left side,” Dagny said as I followed her over to her bed. A shaman, she had explained, had told her that her own bedroom was the energy epicenter of her home. “I sleep on the other side.”
I gingerly sat on the quilted queen-sized bed. This isn’t weird at all.
“Do you want me to turn the fan off? Will it distract you?”
“Oh no, I sleep with a fan. I like it,” I assured her. Dear god, woman, are you trying to kill me? It was mid-morning at that point and, despite being in Maine, the temperature had already crept from unpleasant to swamp ass.
My heart and mind raced as Dagny took a seat in a small wooden chair beside the bed. As if reading my mind, she said, “Before you start recording [on your phone], I’m going to read you a passage I like to read to some of my more left-minded clients.” She flipped to a page in her binder and soon uttered words that put me at ease: “Just think of it like using your imagination…”
I can do that. I’ll just make it up. If nothing comes through, I’ll just make it up.
As she began to put me under hypnosis, speaking very softly, I pretended this was just like any other guided meditation I had tried in the last eight months. It was only later, upon listening to the recording, that I’d learn twenty minutes had passed by the time she said, ever so soothingly:
“Arriving here now is the most relevant time…arriving here now is the most necessary place. I want you to tell me the very first things that you see or the very first impressions that you have as you begin to understand where you are and what is happening around you.”
“It’s all white now,” I said. “But I saw a pick-up truck, on a road, with pine trees on both sides, and I was looking at it from up top. Like, floating above it. I feel like I was the dad. The father.” A lump rose in my throat and my lips and eyes twitched uncontrollably. “I was driving, and I, I…” I started to cry. “Didn’t come home.” I let out a heavy sigh.
I went on to describe a life in the 1950s-60s in a remote wooded area that looked a lot like Maine. I was in my 30s, I said, and “wasn’t healthy.” My lungs felt heavy. I had a wife and two kids, a 14-year-old boy and an 8-year old girl, and we lived in a small, rustic camp on the water.
I detailed my surroundings and it felt as though I was interpreting someone else’s dream, trying to filter the information. Why am I holding a spear in the water if it’s the 1960s? Why am I stacking these cinder blocks? Why is there such black smoke in the air? Why is the pick-up truck the first and last thing I remember?
“I’m driving to work,” I went on. In my mind’s eye the road just kept going and going, through the woods, over a concrete bridge, up a bumpy, unpaved hill. “It’s…it’s…FAR. I don’t want go. I don’t like what I do. I just want to be with my family. I don’t like anybody there. I don’t talk to anyone.” My eyes fluttered and filled with tears. “I’m not a man, like, these guys.”
“Mmm. What would you rather be doing?”
“Something quiet. Peaceful.”
“Reading. Stay home. See the water,” I took a deep breath. “Yeah. Be reading.”
“What kinds of things do you like to read?”
I paused for a long moment, and laughed. “I heard ‘James Joyce’…James Joyce, I like it. …I’ve never read James Joyce…me, Julie, I’ve never read James Joyce.”
I seemed to think I had left my family because I “didn’t take care of myself,” but couldn’t see how I died.
“Let’s move forward now,” Dagny said, and immediately I heard a very familiar sound.
“I feel like I’m riding backwards on a train. I feel, like, ch-ch-ch-ch-ch. I’m backwards,” I said.
“Okay, you’re backwards,” she replied, always softly encouraging me and repeating what I’d said. “Are you really riding on a train? Are you riding backwards on something? Could be a wagon?”
“Hmm. It was a train because I heard it. I’m not the guy anymore,” I said, feeling certain I was a woman now. I giggled. “He wouldn’t be on a train. He couldn’t afford it.
“It’s, like, 1920s,” I continued. “There’s a little dog. A little pug. I’m…going…to see my grandmother? Did you say 1912?” I’d asked, thinking I’d heard Dagny. “It’s 1912. I think.”
I described rolling English countryside and the grandmother I was going to visit. “She wears lace gloves. And a cameo.” I smiled broadly. “She looks very proper, but she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty. She has her own way of doing things.”
“Where are you now?” Dagny asked.
“A buggy?” I said, again doubting and filtering the information. Is a buggy the thing with a horse? And if we were so wealthy, why didn’t we have a model T?
“Is anyone with you?”
“Someone’s driving,” I replied. “He’s like…he’s like…” I laughed at the words that were coming to me. “The help. …He’s very nice. I like him.”
Once again I described the setting in detail, along with what I did for a living (“I make things beautiful…I design rich people’s houses; they don’t know I have lots of money, too”), but couldn’t tell how I might have died. A deep, slightly impatient voice spoke from within me, using third person:
“She doesn’t want to see, so we can’t show her.”
With more gentle prompting from Dagny, I had a vision of falling off rocks, my stomach dropping. A latent fear came to life which I relayed still using third person: “She didn’t live long. Both times. Thirties,” I began to weep. “That’s what she’s scared of. Because she’s [in her] 30s [now].”
“She’s in her thirties now, and she’s worried about that,” Dagny whispered. “Right. Let’s ask your higher self, what is your greatest strength that she’s here to leverage, because she’s still here and you have alllll these possibilities of soul family and soul connection and choices, so, there’s no reason that she is dying—”
“She’s the light. She already knows this,” I said brusquely, inhaling deeply. “She’s very bright on the inside.” I paused for a long moment. “She wants everyone to be happy. To see how good it is. They’re very lucky, and they don’t know it.”
“We are all very lucky and we don’t know it, absolutely. So as her higher self, you are allllways showing Julie how very lucky we all are.”
“She doesn’t have to carry it…she doesn’t have to take, take it on. Everybody’s problems. She tries to be like a mussel. Clean the water. It doesn’t work.”
“Is that what the weight struggles are about?”
“Mmm,” I nodded.
“And what IS her mission?” Dangy went on. “Why is she here, right now, right now with Dagny, and right now in this lifetime—”
To show people love. Just BE happy. Just be happy! It’s easy. You don’t have to save the world. You just have to be happy. If you’re happy, then you WILL save the world.”
During the latter half of the session, a friend popped into mind.
“What do you see? What is your connection?” Dagny asked.
“We are the same. The same. We were two fish,” I said, speaking more softly than ever. “Two fish. Two big, big fish. Swimming side by side. Like Pisces.”
“I’m glad you get to see each other,” Dagny smiled.
“Like big, like trout. Like trout. Spotted?” I tried to make sense of what I seeing, laughing at what seemed so absurd.
“That was the beginning,” I sighed. As the words left my mouth, I felt their significance. The beginning of time, and the beginning of me, whatever and whoever that was.
“That was the beginning. Yup. And there have been many other times,” Dagny replied with ease. “Would it be helpful, with your higher self, if I asked your higher self, to do a body scan, and work on her physical self?”
Dagny spent the next five minutes running through the chakras of my body, slowly sending light and healing from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. I felt waves of calm, blissful warmth course through my being, a concentrated spot of heat on my right hand, where I’d just experienced an eczema breakout. Over the course of the following 48 hours, my family watched in awe as my cracked and sore right middle finger healed on its own, without any of the bandages or medication I’d been using earlier that week.
Near the end of the session Dangy asked one more question:
“And so Julie really wants to know how she can love unconditionally?”