If anyone can be called a self-help, self-actualization pioneer, it is Shakti Gawain. Years before “manifestation,” “the law of attraction,” and “the secret” entered the lexicon, Shakti was sharing daily affirmations, meditations, and mental imagery practices that millions found could help them achieve goals, change habits, relax deeply, and significantly improve their overall health and well-being. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the 40th Anniversary Edition of her international bestseller Creative Visualization.
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The only effective way to use creative visualization is in the spirit of the way of the Tao — “going with the flow.” That means that you don’t have to exert effort to get where you want to go; you simply keep clearly in mind where you would like to go, and then patiently and harmoniously follow the flow of the river of life until it takes you there. The river of life sometimes takes a winding course toward your goal. It may even seem temporarily to be going in a different direction entirely, yet in the long run it is a more effortless and harmonious way to get there than through struggling and striving.
Going with the flow means holding onto your goals lightly (even though they may seem very important) and being willing to change them if something more appropriate and satisfying comes along. It is that balance between keeping your destination clearly in mind and yet enjoying all the beautiful scenes you encounter along the way, and even being willing to change your destination if life starts taking you in a different direction. In short, it means being firm, yet flexible.
If you have a lot of heavy emotions riding on whether you attain your goal (that is, if you will be very upset if you don’t get what you want), you will tend to work against yourself. In your fear of not getting what you want, you may actually be energizing the idea of not getting it as much as or more than you are energizing the goal itself.
If you do find yourself very emotionally attached to a goal, it may be most effective and appropriate to work first on your feelings about the matter. You may have to take a good look at what you fear about not achieving the goal, and do affirmations to help you feel more confident and secure, or to help you face your fears.
The universe is unfolding perfectly.
I don’t have to hang on.
I can relax and let go.
I can go with the flow.
I trust my own process.
I always have everything I need.
I have all the love I need within my own heart.
I am a lovable and loving person.
I am whole in myself.
Divine love is guiding me and I am always taken care of.
The universe always provides.
Of course it’s perfectly okay to creatively visualize something to which you have a lot of emotional attachment — and it will sometimes work quite well. But if it doesn’t, realize that you may be attempting to visualize something out of fear of what may happen if you don’t get it. In this case, it’s important to relax and accept your feelings, accept the idea that you may not immediately realize your goal, look more deeply into your fears, and understand that resolving the conflict is probably an important area of growth for you and a wonderful opportunity to get to know yourself on a deeper level.
At any time while doing creative visualization, if you get a feeling that you are trying to force or push something that doesn’t want to happen, back off a little and ask your higher self whether or not this is really the best thing for you or whether or not you truly desire it. You may not yet be truly ready for it, or the universe may be trying to show you something better that you haven’t even considered.
A man recently told me this story: A few years ago he was trying to make it as a stand-up comedian. He bought this book, and tried to visualize himself as a successful comedian. Try as he might, he simply couldn’t get a clear picture or feeling of this happening. He took this as a message to re-examine his goals. After much soul-searching, he returned to school and became a minister and psychotherapist, which he loves. Now he is also a talk-show host on a popular national television show that focuses on metaphysical and paranormal phenomena. This unusual combination of careers suits him perfectly! In this case, not being able to visualize what he thought he wanted helped him find a whole new direction in his life. This story is also a good example of how we may not know exactly what we want; we have to keep allowing the process to unfold.
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Shakti Gawain (1948–2018) was a bestselling author and a pioneer in the field of personal growth and consciousness. The 40th Anniversary Edition of her classic work Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life was published by New World Library in 2016. Find out more about her life and work online at www.shaktigawain.com.
Excerpted from Creative Visualization. Copyright © 2002, 1995, 1978 by Shakti Gawain.