The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Pay Yourself First

Taking another look at what we’re doing with the “Morning Ritual.”   A question: why the physical motion?  Isn’t it enough to sit quietly, meditate and visualize the results you want?   A few thoughts:

1) The “Secret Formula” idea (Goals X Faith X Action X Gratitude = Results) arose from studying one of the core source materials for “The Secret.”   I had friends who loved “The Secret” but I found that while it seemed to work for some of them, for most people it didn’t.  And what was missing was dynamism.   Action.  If you aren’t sufficiently emotionalized to get your own butt off the couch, what in the WORLD makes you think “the universe” is going to respond to you?  That seemed to violate basic laws and principles that control everything I’ve ever experienced.  On the other hand, people who are already dynamic, already taking MASSIVE action, can seem to just “want” something, and it is like someone driving a Mercedes down the freeway--a slight “twitch” of their finger and the magnificent vehicle responds, and you change lanes and destinations.  To an observer, you did almost nothing, because they didn’t notice the twitch of the finger.  DO SOMETHING. And for most people, the addition of 10-20 minutes of physical motion is a huge change over their usual patterns.   You are literally moving in the direction of your goal, even if only a finger twitch.  And once  initial inertia is overcome, things get easier.

2) There are a few things that affect obesity most: habit patterns, knowledge of efficient/effective movement/intake patterns, and emotional baggage/protection mechanisms.     There’s been no massive genetic shift in America in the last century. But the post-industrial world has severed the connection between input and output that has governed human behavior for 250k years.  This is  a MAJOR shift, and will take another generation or two to sort out.  It isn’t at all surprising that we’re having problems.  The Hawaiian Huna idea that our bodies are “black bags” where we store our unprocessed emotion applies here, as does the Sufic idea of “Nafs”, our emotional/spiritual issues putting “chinks” in our wiring.   Unkink the wiring and you release energy.  Balance the energy you’ve released, and it changes character and becomes potentially tranformative.    And that of course challenges the ego, which explains why it is so damned difficult to raise and channel such energies, and why anything that genuinely leads to this will be HELLA hard to first.   I could speak on this, and its implications, for a month, but the proof is in the pudding: do this practice for 30 days running.   If (or more likely WHEN!) you fall off the wagon, note the weapon your ego used to stop you.  Give it a label. Start again.  The next time, your ego will use a different technique (guilt, blame, and shame are GREAT for this!)  Usually, it will use a different technique each time.

3) Physical motion changes mood.  You can’t feel depressed while expressing a dynamic physiology.   Want to change your emotions? Change what you focus on, or change the way you use your body.  If you can consciously force yourself to move, you are stepping out of your “normal” state.  You’ve already started shifting the mind/body connection for the better.

4) Raising energy allows you the chance to ANCHOR that energy to the desired state.    Physical energy becomes emotional energy (fake it til you make it!)  ACT AS IF you feel positive as you chant “Every Day In Every Way I’m Getting Better And Better.”  FIND something you feel genuinely grateful for in your past and present.  I promise you that no matter what your circumstances there is something in your life that OTHER people have prayed for, have thanked God for, dreamed of, and cried with gratitude for...or cried with sorrow and grief when they lost.   Find that thing.    Move your body while you imagine it.  

5) Bringing body, mind, and emotions into alignment is like training your stagecoach horses to pull in the same direction.  Most of us have our physical hungers going in one direction, our emotional needs in another, our intellects in a third.  As they fight, you get friction, value conflicts, cross-wiring “burn outs” (nafs!  Engrams!), and fantastic amounts of wasted energy.  In fact, depression can result from major value conflicts: security versus freedom.    Self-expression versus financial abundance.   If the house is burning, and you can SEE the way out, and BELIEVE you CAN and SHOULD, you will move.  Period.  If you do not see a route out, many of us will simply crouch in the corner and hope for rescue.

But no matter what, you CAN take 10-20 minutes out of your daily life, move, visualize, and chant.  And that creates a moment, just a moment, when YOU are in control.  When your body, mind, and emotions are ALL working together just a little better.  Just a hair.  A single glowing moment when you become more aware of your process than you may ever have experienced previously.  For ten-twenty minutes you feel what it feels like to commit to balance, to coherence (as in “a laser is coherent light”).   You may not have the energy you had twenty years ago.  But most of us are like light bulps, throwing energy in all directions.   Some few of us are like magnifying glasses, able to focus the sunlight to burn a hole in paper.

But if you ALIGN your aspects instead of just “focus” your energy, that same energy can punch a hole in diamond.  I would guess that 99% of people want all of the following. And those who don’t will understand why I assume that they do, and grasp that I’m using a blunt instrument because I don’t have the individual experience of each reader’s life.

Body: have enough energy to work hard all week, and party on the weekend.  A body that would be attractive to YOU, in alignment with your values.  And no matter where you are in life, this is possible if you change either your habit patterns, knowledge base, emotional health, or value hierarchy.

Mind:  to find a career that is in alignment with your values and dreams, or supports them.  To do what you love, or love what you do.  The capacity to embrace every aspect of your existence is ultimately up to you (and by the way, anyone who says you should embrace your suffering as a way of avoiding responsibility to help others, or avoiding their responsibility to be humane and compassionate  is twisting this principle. There is no such thing as a simple statement that can’t be twisted by someone looking for a way to justify their fear and greed and ego).  To create goods and services of sufficient value to your community that they are willing to exchange their energy (in monetary form) for yours.  To have the self-respect and courage to demand to be paid what you are worth.  

Emotions: to love yourself such that you don’t need the attentions or approval of others...however much fun it can be to get them.  To banish fear enough to expand your ego-identity to include a Soul Mate...a family...your community...perhaps ultimately all of life and all of creation.  Expanding out from that center.  Get this wrong and co-dependence becomes a real threat.

Finances: Protect the money you have earned.  The “child” aspect of you can MAKE the money, but it takes a ruthless “adult” self to protect it.    The simplest, easiest “truth” connected with this that I’ve seen (and my own Achille’s Heel, one I’m now working on) is: Pay Yourself First.  Ten% of what you earn should go into a stable investment that you are saving for retirement, or to pass to the next generation.    Just learning to live on 90% of what you earn is PRECISELY the same as allowing yourself to be a little hungry when you get up from the table, or “paying yourself first” by meditating every morning rather than jumping into other people’s needs.

The “Morning Ritual” is “paying yourself first.” Body, Mind, Spirit, Finances: moving, visualizing, chanting, feeling.  My theory: you CANNOT do this for 30 days straight without experiencing at least one day when you experience a different quality of life.  And once you experience it, you have to use real energy to pretend it’s not true.  It will “crack” your ego shell in a way that opens the door to a more authentic self.

I would estimate that most people will experience it between 10-15 days in.   I look forward to hearing about your experiences. yourself first today, and for the next 30 days.  

Then...if I’m wrong, for God’s sake tell me!


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