People admire someone with definite goals who succeeds in achieving them. But pursuing a concrete goal does not always result in personal, relational, or career success. And what about those free spirits who fall into the right job, the right relationship, or the right opportunity without having a plan in mind at all?
Goal Setting – a Necessity?
Many teachers emphasize the need to set clear intentions in order to manifest one's desires. This is not only the case in spiritual practice but also for business and careers. Towards this end, lists are made, priorities are set, vision boards are created, and affirmations are spoken. What could possibly be wrong with assuming that progress begins with goal setting?
Spiritual seekers commit themselves to visioning the desired outcomes and having faith that the Universe will manifest what they envision. Often, a clear focus and consistency in assuming the reality of the wish fulfilled yields the expected results. But not everyone who commits themselves to spiritual practice will experience unequivocal outcomes. Failure may lead to self-recrimination or blame placed on the teachers. It may result in giving up spiritual practice and resuming possibly harmful behaviors as compensation.
To know why goal setting and visioning are sometimes problematic, we must explore the complexity of the spiritual mind.
The Illusion of Control
Since the human mind is bound by physical reality and an individualized perspective, desires that arise in that mind are similarly limited. How can we truly know what is in our best interest? Our awareness doesn’t take into account the myriad possible connections we may have with people and events. We are burdened by thoughts of the past and hopes for the future. We may not be aware of the extent to which our thinking is linked to our emotions and past experiences. What our human self considers bad and unwanted—say, a cancer diagnosis—may be needed to create the right conditions for us to evolve or heal some deeper, emotional wound. Success may require us to surrender to the unknown, rather than seek to consciously use the Law to shape life according to our preferences.
What is needed is access to a higher consciousness – outside of time and space – to sense and tap into the flow of life.
A New Premise
Cultivate a relationship with the divine and learn how to use intuition to live a happier, more successful life. This starts by assuming that the power of intention and individual vision are activated in partnership with the divine. Mental discipline is used to create a receptive inner environment in which divine guidance can be received. Sometimes a goal may be unworthy of attention; an inner process is needed to understand when and if this may be true. This promotes the development of the spiritual mind.
Four Steps to Surrender
First, encourage a sustained awareness of your inner voice. There are many practices, like meditation, that help quiet the mind and bring one into stillness. By cultivating a state of calm within, it becomes possible to distinguish between the urgings of the ego and the whisperings of inner truth.
Second, learn to comprehend your spirit’s message. Some people hear a voice, others obtain access to the inner truth from interpreting images or feelings that arise when in the flow state. Each person has their own soul language.
Third, accept inner guidance when it is offered. Sometimes, the spiritual mind will indicate a path of action that conflicts with a person’s strongly held preferences. To acknowledge one’s own resistance and to release it – this is the path of surrender. It leads to true success.
Fourth, act in alignment with this high consciousness once you have brought your inner guidance into conscious understanding. To choose words and actions that are in harmony with the inner self is to act for the highest good.
All is Well
When divine guidance is used as a primary tool for personal growth, expect the unexpected. Deep desires –which may not have been voiced as intentions– can be spectacularly fulfilled. Acting from alignment with Source means going forward in a state of peace and equanimity. Everything is always working out for you.
Maryjane Osa, Ph.D., is a sociologist, speaker, and educator. She is writing a book about the “spiritual but not religious” cultural trend in American society.” Maryjane is a spiritual practitioner working in the New Thought tradition. Connect with Maryjane on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dr.maryjane.osa. Or check out her website and blog at www.maryjaneosa.com.