People approach me all the time – at airports; in restaurants; at the gym – to ask about examples in my practice to help them better understand their own approach to this work. It happens a lot at our retreats, too – which is where someone captured the above quote about investing in the unknown.
First things first. As I tell my students, again and again, we can’t create from a place of survival. If we’re operating from our first three energy centers … if we’re trying to meet our most basic needs … if we’re worried about food, shelter, or safety … if we’re constantly reacting in anger and frustration … then it’s not the time to create. We first need to be centered. We need to be operating from a place of order.
So, when someone asks me the question I hear many times each day: “What do you do?” I start from there – from balance. And then, beginning from that point of homeostasis, I ask myself these fundamental questions:
What is my next greatest potential to experience in life? What is the next unknown that would evolve my perception of myself, the way I see the world, and my future?
Over the decades I’ve been developing and practicing this work, I’ve always approached it with this thought: My life is the great experiment. And I am the scientist.
Developing the Image. Evolving the Experience.
Many years ago, when I had my first clinic in the Pacific Northwest, I used to develop patient X-rays myself. I’d enter the darkroom – and, in the 10 or so minutes it took to process the X-rays, in that place void of any light, I’d work on connecting with the unknown. As the image revealed itself on film after it exited the processor, I’d practice becoming no body; no one; no thing; no where; in no time.
My premise was this: If I’m truly investing my attention and energy into the unknown … if I really believe in it, really put my attention on it, and I do it with clear intention … then I’ll see the evidence of that effort – in the form of interesting, evolving experiences in my life.
And over time, as I practiced, I became more and more adept. As I went deeper into the experiment, those experiences would accumulate. Eventually, I had enough evidence in my life that I was able to detach from any attempt to direct or control the outcome.
Where We Place Our Attention … Is Where We Place Our Energy
And so, each time I entered the darkroom – or, once I began traveling frequently, any time I was on a runway; sometimes four times in a day – I did so with the same intention: I’m letting go of any expectation of what my next experience will be. I’m just going to trust that it will be.
I would simply make it be about my effort – not the outcome. I’d tell myself, “Since the present moment is where the unknown exists … and since where I place my attention is where I place my energy … the effort of staying truly present in the unknown should be what brings the novel event to me.”
I thought of it like investing in a bank account. Except what I was investing in … was the unknown.
I approached it, each time, with a calm sense of knowing. Not the energy of trying; not the energy of hoping. I just knew that if I kept tuning in; kept connecting; kept being open and curious … sooner or later, something unusual would happen in my life.
I’d pause and think: if my thoughts truly create my life … if I truly am a creator … if I just keep investing in the unknown … then my body will follow my mind to this unknown experience.
Often, when people approach me about my practice, it’s because they’re feeling stuck. They’re hung up on wanting an outcome – and their attachment to the thing they seek is exactly what’s preventing them from experiencing it in their lives. They’re preoccupied with wanting. And wanting implies separation.
But in the unknown, there’s no separation. That’s because there’s no thing in nothing to be separate from. And so, each time I connect – each time I become no body, no one, no thing, no where, in no time – I’m not wanting for … anything. There’s no want involved; this is purely about curiosity. I am the scientist. And my life is the great experiment. And I’m interested in seeing if I can evolve my truth to some degree.
What we’re talking about, essentially, is the delicate balance between intention and surrender – which I’ll talk more about in Part II.