OK, confession time: I have made a vision board in my life. You absolutely can not be a good student of the Oprah Show and not have made a vision board. And you know what? Sometimes they work. Of course… most times they don’t and that’s when you give up, tear the damn thing up in a million pieces, shove it to the bottom of the garbage can, cover it with coffee grinds and eggshells and decide vision boards are wishful thinking and cannot be trusted to deliver you what you really want in life – for that is just luck and/or hard work – neither of which you were prepared to get or do – hence the vision board.
I will admit to a lot of “magical thinking” in my life. The kind where you think you can imagine away a zit the night before prom or score a parking spot in front of the store you need to run into for 5 minutes. And like I said before, sometimes it works. Sometimes, life just lines up to help you out. I love when that happens! I have been reading a lot lately about affirmations or “Laws of Attraction” – attracting to your life what you desire and I guess I have some thoughts on the subject of what vision boards, prayer, or affirmations can and can not produce. (By the way, these types of teachings don’t usually appear in Buddhism which is usually more about letting life unfold and learning to accept and find peace with how it does.)
First and foremost, I don’t believe that everything can be explained away by the simplicity of “what you think about or focus on is what you receive.” Tragic events happen that no one could ever have imagined – 9/11 for example. None of those people in those buildings or planes thought that September 11, 2001 was going to be their last day on Earth – they all had plans in their heads about what their day and life would look like past that morning. They had meetings and lunch dates to attend, homes with loved ones to go home to that night and plans for their future life to dream about. But horrible things happen anyway, death happens anyway. No one on those top floors could have “wished” their way to safety. No one in those buildings or airplanes had some death wish deep in their hearts they were unaware of that was being fulfilled that day. Nor were they, in my opinion, repaying some karmic debt from a previous life and were paying for it now. Working with the “laws of attraction” and vison boards needs to be approached with balance because life is unpredictable and there is so much we do not know. There is so much mystery and mystical magic to it that we can not even fathom. Vision board or not, “life is what happens when you are busy making plans.”
The second thing vision boards can not control for you is other people. You absolutely can not wish or pray or affirm someone elses behavior to align with your needs or wants – even if that is for their good also. You can not make someone be honest with you, you cannot affirm someone into showing up for you, you cannot wish someone into recovery – you do not have that power. They have that power but not you. The only power you have is over yourself. This is good news though because all you need to lead a peaceful and joyful life is the power of how you think about what happens in it. The power to love, find forgiveness, and ultimately freedom from the pain other people cause you is the only power you have – and that power is nothing short of a miracle. And sometimes, that miracle reaches the other person but sometimes not – that is up to them.
With these two things in mind, first, that life is unpredictable and you need to be able to adjust as you go and change your direction or “vision” depending on what occurs and second, that you can not change other people – so trying to get Mr. Wrong to be Mr. Right just ain’t gonna work for you sista! – I do believe that vision boards and affirmations, positive thinking and the “laws of attraction” are valuable and can bring you much of what you desire in life. Here are some pointers if you decide to give it a try:
1. You have to believe that God or the universe or whatever you call the force that binds us to each other and everything in our world, has got your back. That it wants to support you here that, in fact, it sent you here with its full love and support behind you. You have to believe it not only wants to but is able to help you achieve anything you want or desire – it has that power. You have to believe in the power of the universe and you have to believe that you are important enough – as important as anyone – to it and that you deserve its attention and love and support just because you are here. That you are worthy because you are here. For many of us, we had to fight for this every step of the way but once you get there, you will “never settle for anything less than your birthright which is worthiness”. -Oprah (of course I had to throw one of hers in!)
2. You have to believe that your desires are good. That they are joyous expressions of love that expand outward to everyone because we are all connected. The universe operates on love and its expansion outwards – that is its nature, expansion. If your desire is based on love, then your desire is good and the universe wants to answer your desire because it serves its expansion. The problem here is people often don’t believe that their desire is good. Take wanting to be financially wealthy – many people have negative associations with money and their underlying beliefs about it are bad, ie. rich people are greedy, it is not spiritual or nice to want material possessions or to be a true artist, I must starve. If your belief about having money is not one of goodness and love, if say, you think it is selfish to want a Ferrari when there are starving people in India, then your underlying belief is negative and not based on love but fear and you will effectively disallow the universe from fulfilling your desire. But, if instead, you believe there is a greater good to your desires (in addition to your own joy which is what the universe wants for you) – that they serve everyone – that your joy and love expands outward- then it is the universes’ best interest to deliver you your desire because it serves itself. Spreading love and joy is your greatest gift, no one is served by your misery and unhappiness.
3. You have to stop focusing on what you don’t want and focus on what you do want. The universe is energy. You are energy. Both you and the universe are vibrating this energy all the time. The difference is that the universe only operates on a higher level vibration – a vibration of love. This is its power. It is also yours. With this power both the universe and by extension, you, have the ability to move mountains or whatever needs to happen to bring about your desires. However, unlike the universe, you can have also have lower energy vibrations. (High = love, Low = fear) This is called free will. But in order to create something good, you need to align yourself with the universes’ powerful energy (its higher level vibration) that is good – all pervasively good – so you can co-create your desires which serve you and benefit all. In essence, this is how the Law of Attraction works, you co-create your desires with the universe by aligning yourself with this higher vibrational energy. Again, the problem people have is that they focus on what they don’t want. They are vibrating at a lower level of energy that doesn’t align with the universes’ higher vibration. Say you want a new job because your boss is unfair and mean. Focusing on getting away from that negative energy or problem just keeps you stuck in the problem because you aren’t vibrating at a higher energy then the energy you are trying to escape. So in order to effectively get a better job where you have a mutually respectful and kind relationship with your boss, you have to focus on a higher energy level than the one you are currently stuck in- and this is where your imagination comes in. Remember when you were a kid and you could imagine anything? You were born with this skill for a reason. And you need to use it now. You need to imagine yourself in a better vibrational job. The more detail, the better. Your goal is to get to a better place and to do that, you need to get in touch with the better vibration that will lead you there. Focusing on lack, gets you more lack. This is hard for people to understand. But complaining, whining, feeling sorry for yourself, feeling stuck, feeling helpless, angry, resentful etc.. keeps you in a low vibrational holding pattern. “Face towards the light, and the shadows will fall behind you.” -Irish proverb. You were born to overcome all. The universe is waiting for you to join it. “You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”-Franz Kafka
4. Finally, you will never be done. Life is never static. It is a moving breathing flow of energy that is forever on a quest to fulfill itself. This is a good thing. You will never, until the day you die, and if we dare go there, even then, be done. Once you achieve one desire, its fulfillment by its very nature, will propel you towards a new one. This is life and this is how it was meant to be. You were meant to co create your life and be a unique expression of it. This you do by your preferences, by your desires.
In my minds’ eye or my “internal vision board”, I had a word that kept popping up – writing. I didn’t know how I would write or when I would write, I didn’t know what I would write about but I had a vision of it in my head and knew one day, I would write. Every desire doesn’t need to be grand. Writing my little pieces gives me such a creative outlet and is such a joy for me. It is written with love and the hope that is expands outwards.