I stood at a the head of a 30 foot path of glowing coals, my mother at my side, as we worked ourselves into a state of mind to march confidently across a burning carpet of fire. I was at a Tony Robbins seminar. I quickly and easily found myself at the other end, experiencing the high of conquering fear, mindset, and demons of insecurity. It was my first transformational moment in life.
I was 13.
I KNEW that from now on, I'd now feel more confident, stop eating in secret, and get along with my mom better.
That lasted about 2 weeks.
By age 14, I was in therapy, still binge eating, still arguing with my mom, still feeling out of place in school.
I've always loved personal development and psychology, likely born out of my own questions and challenges. Over the years, I've had a ton of training professionally and have also received therapy and taken transformational workshops personally. I've experienced and seen firsthand the incredible experience of healing and catharsis, that moment where someone realizes the possibility of changing their life.
When you see this happen, it's powerful. Seeing your own potential and the potential of others cracks open your heart. I've been in that place where I am flying so high I think there's no way I could ever feel anything but powerful and capable to do anything.
Transformation is real. It can happen in a yoga class. It can happen in therapy. It can happen in a workshop. It can happen talking to a stranger on the street or on the heels of an illness.
When your belief system about who you are, what you're capable of, and what really matters to you is shaken to the core, transformation occurs, in a split second like a bolt of lightning.
But here’s the secret - it takes mindful attention to sustain.
It is not one and done.
I can't tell you how many times I've seen a client leave a therapy session or I've seen people leave a workshop pumped and convinced that they will never feel *that* way again. We often operate under the illusion that we can be "fixed." And then we're significantly disappointed when life kicks in, the high is gone and we're still overeating, or yelling at our spouse, or feeling miserable in our job, or feeling hopeless about our dating future.
Why does this happen? Why do we get fooled or have trouble sustaining those moments of person transformation? Why do we backslide?
The answer is years of hardwiring. We've had years of repetitive thought patterns that have dug Grand Canyons of neural pathways. And a new Grand Canyon isn't built in a day.
So without vigilance, without really being able to recognize our thoughts in an objective way, it's easy to fall back into unconscious patterns that keep us safe. Or at least what we perceive as safe; familiar may be more accurate.
When we're suddenly confronted with the reality of what transformation might mean, fear kicks in, and old ways of being return. We may not be happy in our job, but at least we don't have to risk the fear of branching out on our own. We may not want to feel shut down and angry with our spouse, but at least then we don't have to give up being right. We want to take bold action, but are paralyzed with fear.
Fight. Flight. Freeze.
Binge. Shop. Drink. Numb. Shut down. Yell. Cry. Hide.
It can be extremely disappointing to realize your work is not done.
But take heart!
Once we've had that moment of pure insight, it still exists. And now comes the work of sustaining the insight.
OK surprise, I'm going to tie this back into meditation. One really great way to start to become aware of the repetitive patterns that trap you, is to start to witness them. One way to start to witness them is to sit in meditation. When you sit quietly observing your thoughts, you start to recognize that all of your thoughts are just impulses, that you can react to or not.
Meditation provides the training ground for choosing to respond to thoughts differently in a sustained way.
I can breathe into the moment and witness, simply witness, the stories that come and go.
My point here is that transformation is incredible. It opens our eyes to living a life aligned with the true nature of who we are, rather than via fears, stories, and avoidance of pain. But we still have to do the work.
You were built over years, not a moment. It's similar to weight-loss. You didn't put on the weight in a day and it takes some time for it to come off. That doesn't mean that it won't happen, but it takes sustained effort. It's the same thing with your thoughts.
So if you've had any of those moments in your life, or perhaps if you are still seeking them, consider that sitting down for a brief period daily to witness who you are and recognize that you are not your thoughts, but an ongoing creation, will have vast benefits.
Seek therapy, seek coaching, Feed your mind. Nurture your body. Don't stop seeking the life that you want. Your life is too valuable.
Transformation IS possible and it occurs in an instant.
But your life is an ongoing transformation.