SGM August 2011 Insight of the Month: “Your Journey to Awakened Abundance”

SGM August 2011 Insight of the Month: “Your Journey to Awakened Abundance”

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Welcome to the August 2011 Edition of SGM.  I’m Kevin Schoeninger.   It’s good to have you with us.

This month at SGM, we’ll explore the book, “The Awakening Course,” by Joe Vitale.  You may know Vitale from his appearance in the movie “The Secret®or from his numerous bestselling books and programs, including “The Attractor Factor,” “The Key,” and “Zero Limits.”  He is also the creator of Miracles Coaching and an inspiring motivational speaker.

One of the most intriguing aspects of Vitale’s work is his own story of transformation from living homeless for over ten years to stepping into his true work and becoming financially free.  I’ve chosen his latest book for SGM this month because Joe has really grown and expanded beyond what he shared with us in “The Secret®.

I also love the honesty in his presentation as well as the joy in his style.  I looked forward to every day that I had the opportunity to sit down and read this book.  Vitale is truly an inspiring example of how spiritual growth can manifest success in life.

Though this book isn’t just about financial abundance, in this month’s messages, I am going to lean toward that focus.  While Vitale’s book is a more general guide to spiritual awakening, he shows us how this expresses in our relationship with money.  Money issues are prominent in our current global consciousness. 

Now more than ever we have an opportunity to overcome our dysfunctional relationship with money, transcend our limiting financial beliefs, and arrive at a truly integrated view of money in a spiritual context. 

We’ll get to more on that in the upcoming Weekly Messages this month.  For now, let’s lay some groundwork.

Let’s begin with a little of Vitale’s personal story of transformation. 

Vitale was born and raised in Ohio and worked on the railroad for much of his adult life until he was laid off and found himself unemployed.  Vitale had always wanted to be a writer and thought this was his chance to go for that dream.  He moved to Houston, Texas, to get away from Ohio and found himself unemployed and homeless as he focused on being an author.  Nevertheless, even while living on the streets, he wrote a successful play that won an award from the University of Houston—but it did nothing to improve his financial status.  For ten years, he scraped by without a job or a home.

Nevertheless, Vitale’s desire to be an author inspired him to hang out at libraries, where he read every book on success and marketing that he could get his hands on.  He taught himself copywriting, advertising, publicity, and marketing for writers.  He studied “The Magic of Believing” and “Think and Grow Rich.”

In the process of learning about being a successful writer, he realized that he had held a romantic belief about the “suffering writer.”  He had idolized the sufferings of Jack London and Ernest Hemingway and other literary greats.  Along with other beliefs born of low self-esteem, he realized that this identification of “writing genius with struggle and poverty” was a huge stumbling block.  Because of that, he became an ardent student and practitioner of clearing his subconscious limits.

With the advent of the internet, ebooks, and online marketing, Vitale saw the opportunity to turn his knowledge into a successful writing business while helping others to overcome their own limiting beliefs and fears related to money, abundance, and living with meaning and purpose.  Though he was somewhat embarrassed about his own living conditions and his “spiritual” approach to money and feared people would ridicule him, he released a book called “Spiritual Marketing.” This later morphed into “The Attractor Factor” and became an Amazon bestseller.  The success of that book got him an invitation onto the movie “The Secret®and from there his writing and speaking career took off.

So what was the key to his success?  Of course there were a number of factors, but the primary guiding force he describes as “the persistence of following a dream.” (p. 117, TAC)  Vitale’s apparent “overnight success” was a process of learning and transformation that happened over the course of 30 years.  As he says, “what looks like an overnight success often takes 20-plus years.  I’m a slow learner, so it took me a little longer.” (p.117, TAC)

Along that journey, Vitale discovered that the process happens in stages—he identifies four: Victimhood, Empowerment, Surrender, and Awakening.  He also identifies essential steps to guide the process at each stage of the journey.  In this Week’s Message, we’ll explore the essence of each stage, lessons to be learned, potential pitfalls, and 5 steps you can take to expand your own experience of “awakened abundance” right now.

STAGE ONE: Victimhood
Lessons: Humility, Compassion, Resolve
Potential Pitfalls: Powerlessness, Lethargy, Inaction

The defining factor of “being a victim” is giving your power away to someone else.  You know if you’re doing this by habits of blaming and complaining.  In the financial aspect of your life, you might blame and complain about “the economy,” “the government,” “corporations,” your boss, your spouse, or your parents.  You might blame yourself and complain that you aren’t lucky, talented, gifted, or capable. 

Often your beliefs about self are subconscious.  Beneath your awareness, you might not feel worthy or deserving of more than you have.  You might have subconscious beliefs that “thinking about money” or “wanting more” are not good—or worse.  You might identify money with selfishness, greed, deception, or oppression. 

The victimhood pattern is so ingrained in our culture that it can be hard to notice in yourself.  The Darwinian struggle for survival is etched into our consciousness as if this were a “factual account of the way things are.”  In that narrative, life is a competitive battle against harsh conditions in which only the strongest individuals survive.  You might not feel that strong or capable.

You may also have limiting spiritual beliefs that conflict with your desire for abundance.  If “the meek shall inherit the earth” what does this mean about being strong?  If “money is the root of all evil,” what does this mean about wanting more? If “desire is the source of suffering” what does this mean about desiring abundance?

The key to transcending these limiting ideas and beliefs and moving out of victimhood is to realize that these beliefs and stories are just that—beliefs and stories that describe strategies for relating to life.  As long as you subconsciously subscribe to limiting versions of these beliefs, you will continue to experience inner conflict.  You will continue to blame and complain and nothing will change. 

When you have had enough of this suffering, you may gain the resolve to take personal responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, actions, and beliefs.  You take the huge step into Stage Two.

STAGE TWO: Empowerment
Lessons: Personal Responsibility, Core Values, Healthy Boundaries
Potential Pitfalls: Arrogance, Self-Centeredness, Self-Righteousness

Empowerment is what “The Secret®” was all about.  It’s the first step out of victimhood into a better version of your personal story.  “The Secret®” tells us that what happens in our life is the result of what we are doing internally, what we are expecting, believing, and welcoming into our experience. 

Empowerment is about taking 100% personal responsibility for how you relate to what happens in your life.  Notice that I didn’t say “You are personally responsible for everything that happens.”  You do not control everything that happens, but you are in charge of how you relate to whatever happens.  No matter what happens, you can choose your relationship to it.  You can blame and complain or you can accept and appreciate.  You can live in victimhood or gratitude.

When you make the shift to empowerment, you notice that better things tend to happen.  You tend to become a positive attracting force.  When you shift your expectations, thoughts, feelings, and beliefs you end up taking different actions, others relate differently to you, and things tend to fall into place more easily.  That doesn’t mean that you won’t get sick or experience sadness, failure, or suffering, but when these challenges arise you can relate to them from a place of acceptance and appreciation for the unexpected gifts they might hold.

As you begin to see that what you are doing inside has a powerful effect on what happens around you and the way you experience whatever happens, you start to become more aware of your inner life.  You start to notice the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and intentions that precede your actions and experiences.  You may go through a period where you are actually afraid of your thoughts and feelings because they feel overwhelming, conflicting, and beyond your control. 

You may become very serious about maintaining the perfect thoughts, having the perfect feelings, and taking the perfect actions.  You may become judgmental toward others who you recognize as being stuck in victim mode.  At this stage, you’re ready and in need of the next stage.

STAGE THREE: Surrender
Lessons: Acceptance, Letting Go, Clearing Your Inner State
Potential Pitfalls: Lost Enthusiasm, Commitment, and Resolve

While Empowerment is a crucial stage, it is still “all about me.”  You are still strongly tied to egoic consciousness and its wants and needs.  This leads to seeing The Law of Attraction as a way to “get what I want.”  However, The Law of Attraction is not a personal growth technique, it is an energetic Law of how things work.  It says that “things that resonate with each other tend to attract each other.” 

For example, if I am feeling grateful, I tend to experience events that give me more feelings of gratitude.  If I am feeling afraid, I tend to experience events that make me feel more afraid.  What shows up around you and how you experience it is a reflection of your inner state.

Knowing that can make you afraid of your inner state.  You can become anxious about what’s going on inside.  You may become obsessed with being perfect and stressed about the fact that you’re not.

Fortunately, in Stage Three, Surrender, you discover that it’s not about being perfect.  Life is a co-creative process of engaging with Greater Forces than your own.  There’s a much Bigger Picture to what is actually going on behind the events of your life. 

Your life is Divinely guided and Gracefully given.  Rather than trying to do it all on your own, you realize that assistance and resources beyond your imagining are always already available to you.  In order to receive what you need, it’s more a matter of letting go, listening and feeling for deeper guidance, and surrendering to a deeper benevolence that is always working for the best interests of everyone.

As you do that, you may begin to realize that what you really want and need is right in front of you, available here and now.  It’s a matter of accepting what is, letting go of limiting beliefs, and being receptive to the resources and guidance Life is always providing.  It’s a matter of recognizing that you don’t know what’s going to happen and trusting that it’s all good. 

If you don’t feel Life is trustworthy, that is a belief you can learn to surrender.   That leap of faith precedes a whole new way of being in the world.  In the surrender stage, your main task is getting out of the way, clearing your personal limits, and becoming a clear channel for Life to move through you.  Surrender is what opens you to the fourth stage, Awakening.

STAGE FOUR: Awakening
Lessons: Trust, Flow, Spontaneity
Potential Pitfalls: Complacency, Lack of Connection with Others

As you surrender your personal limits and come to trust in a Greater Power than your own, an interesting shift occurs.  You begin to realize that you are part of that Greater Power.  You are an expression of it.  You realize that, in essence, you are not the thoughts you think, the feelings you have, your body, or the actions you take in your body. 

You are a witnessing presence underneath it all.  You are an energetic presence who can inhabit anything.  The witnessing presence that “you are” is the Divine itself.  You are the Universal Life Force witnessing itself through your particular place and point of view in the whole.

At this stage, your life is characterized by inspired action.  You learn to discern inspirations that are straight from the Source and you take action energized by that inspiration—which is effortless.  It flows through you.  You are present in your body and centered in an internal sense of what is right, good, authentic, and true.  You live in a state of awakened presence, gratitude, and trust.  Your life is a series of Divine nudges leading you to what is best for you and those around you. 

You don’t have to have it all figured out because what you need to be, know, have, and do comes to you.  You are detached from needing things to be a certain way and receptive to what is ready to happen now.  You follow that—peacefully, joyfully, and gracefully.  You realize that whatever happens is what needed to happen and it’s all good.  Everything you need is available to you exactly when and how you need it.  That is awakened abundance. 

In the Chinese Daoist tradition expressed in qigong and other internal arts, this is called “wei wu wei”.  This means “doing without doing.” The Universal Life Force flows effortlessly through you accomplishing what needs to be done at the moment.

That may seem like some mythical state envisioned by someone out of touch with the realities of life.  However, it’s actually the most real and engaged state you can participate in.

It’s vitally important to realize that all of these stages exist as potential states within us at all times.  It’s not that we move distinctly from one to the next and never go back.  In fact, each stage has its gifts that are important for us to maintain.  Each succeeding level includes and expands upon the one before.  When we need to be reminded of the lessons of a previous stage, we will repeat aspects of that stage to remember. 

For example, in the empowerment stage it is easy to become arrogant about your own power, so it’s important to remember the lessons of humility and compassion from the victimhood stage.  In the surrender stage, it’s easy to lose enthusiasm and purpose, so it’s important to remember the core values of empowerment and the resolve to stop being a victim from the first stage.  In the awakening stage, it’s easy to be lulled into the feeling that you are fully realized and beyond it all, so it’s important to remember the need to continually clear your inner state which you learned in the surrender stage and your compassion for others from the victimhood stage.

Take a moment to review the headlines for each stage above, so you see how each stage has a purpose, lessons, and potential pitfalls.  Understanding this enables you to move gratefully forward through all stages and respect every different moment of your experience without judging any one of them, or yourself, or others harshly.

To facilitate the journey through the four stages into awakened abundance, Vitale suggests five simple steps:

1.  Know what you don’t want.  Take note of what doesn’t feel good. Write it down as a way to accurately identify what you truly do want.

2. Declare what you do want.  Make a clear statement of what you want to experience.  If you’re not clear on that, look at what you don’t want, what you complain about, and turn it into a positive affirmation that answers that.

3. Clear limiting beliefs. Recognize your counter beliefs, your limiting thoughts and feelings and learn how to let them go.  In next Week’s Message, we’ll explore a powerful technique to do just that.

4. Visualize what you desire with strong feeling. Form a clear picture of what your soul desires and imagine what it would be like to experience that right here and now.  Live from that feeling.

5. Let go of what you desire and take the actions you’re inspired to take.  Rather than obsessing on the picture of what you desire, rather than thinking about it all the time, or wishing you “really had it now,” listen and feel for your next step, the inspired action that you can do right now to live what you desire. 

Enjoy the process of living the steps along the way—because life is all just steps along the way.  You’re not going to be any happier when you get “there” than you are right here and now being fully engaged on your path.  So be grateful and happy for “what is” right now.

Finally, understand that this is a process, a progressive journey—and this journey is the purpose for your being here, now.  Make this journey your highest priority and you’ll discover that everything begins to fall into place.  You’ll start to see the beauty of the Divine plan.  It’s not about being perfect, it’s about the perfection in what is—and that includes you, too.

In next Week’s Message, we’ll hear a miraculous story of unexplainable transformation and use the same technique to clear resistance in your life.

Until next time,

Appreciate your journey,