(me doing some heavy-duty tree hugging in Sequoia last week!)
OK, so did you do the homework from last week? Did you go and pull out that dream that you’ve been burying. The one you’d given up on or have been busily compensating for NOT living?
If you didn’t, take a moment to do it now.
Dig deep and pull out that dream that you’ve been avoiding.
I’m not talking the light-weight dreams like ‘getting 100 new followers on twitter this month‘. I’m not even talking the bigger bolder ones like ‘running a marathon this year’.
I’m talking the dream you avoid talking about because not having it in your life hurts too much so you avoid it altogether. In fact you’ve set your life up to distract you from the fact that you don’t live that dream. It’s the one that makes your heart ache when you think about it. It’s that thing that deep down you long for.
Here is my big dream, the one that lies deep at the core, that’s been there forever, that I have been leaving gathering dust for years.
It’s a simple one. It’s a classic one. It’s downright unoriginal but here it is: to have a loving relationship and a family.
There are a million reasons why I had started to give up on this dream, but ultimately, like with your deepest longing, it was the longing itself that made it so painful. The not having it hurt too much. Being resigned to it not happening felt safer and less painful than holding out in hope that it might still one day come true.
I just couldn’t bear having this dream that I longed for, that didn’t seem to be in my reach. So I spent my energy on dealing with it not having come true. The result was a quiet sadness underneath all the joy, fun and happiness I was experiencing in my life. Not because I didn’t have a partner and family to wake up to every morning, but because I was denying my dream. I wasn’t giving it the space or the chance to grow.
I thought I’d pretty much managed to erase the dream altogether.
And then I went to a workshop in Esalen, California – all about getting in touch with yourself on a core level. And before I knew it I’d plucked this dream out of the dark and there it was unmistakeably alive and kicking and in my hands. I groaned. Not this one still.
See here is the thing:
Your dreams are alive IN you.
They start out as longings.
Your job is to create the space to bring them to life.
Having thoroughly workshopped my own dream out of an anxiety-inducing ‘let’s not even think about it, it’s just not going to happen’ to a blissfully calm and content ‘of course it’s going to happen, why wouldn’t it’, I wanted to share with you the key steps that helped me take an old deeply buried dream and bring it back to life in a way that no longer causes me sadness and pain, but that makes me feel fuller, more complete and faithful to myself and my dreams again.
So take out your dream now. It’s time to breathe life and belief back into it:
Instructions for washing the disbelief out of your dreams and scrubbing them in sparkling reality:
1. You long for the thing that you are ready for
I’ve come to the conclusion of late that we’ve got it seriously wrong when it comes to longing. We’ve tangled it up with suffering and painful feelings of not having, not being complete, lacking in life in some big way. I think that we’re missing the whole point of longing and the critical part it plays in the whole ‘dream then make it happen’ cycle.
That feeling of longing is not a sign of something lacking, it’s the sign of a dream being ready to be brought to life. It signals the very startof a dream coming to life. It’s the seed.
2. Your dream fits you like a glove
Ask your friends what they long for, really really long for. I bet their answer will make sense to you. I bet you will be able to picture them at it because it’s just so them. It makes sense.
Well the same goes for you and what you long for. You’re longing for it because it’s an expression of who you are. That dream fits you like a glove.
You are THE person to make that particular dream come to life.
You are having that particular dream, you are longing for that thing in life, because you are meant to one day live it. Otherwise you wouldn’t be dreaming it.
3. The dream is already alive IN you. Start to feel that and your dream will start to come to life.
Now bear with me on this one if at first this all sounds a bit of a stretch. It’s just because we are, most of us, still operating from the DO-HAVE-BE rather than the BE-DO-HAVE principle of how things come about in life. But it really does work. Try this for starters:
– Take your dream
– What would it feel like to be living that dream?
That is the feeling of the dream already alive in you. It’s like the seed underground of what will one day be a tree in full bloom above ground.
The tree is your dream realized. Your longing is the seed. It’s the start.
– What is an activity you can do or a place you can go where you can connect with that way of feeling on a regular basis? Is there somewhere in your body where that feeling lives? Connect with it there. Every day.
Because you need to start cultivating that feeling in you. Because as you cultivate that feeling, the dream starts to come alive and starts creating a space for it to emerge into your outside life.
When I went through these stages during the weekend workshop in Esalen I started by not even mentioning the dream that I had come up with. Then at some point, as I listened on and tried on these new ways of looking at my longings, the penny finally dropped. It was as if I finally acknowledged this dream, gave myself permission to have it, gave it the stamp of approval and the go ahead to believe in it. As I did that I started to allow myself to feel what it would be like to be in a loving relationship and to have a family. I got comfortable in the feeling, got comfortable in the whole idea of it. Plenty of emotion came up in the process, but by the end of it I felt like a different woman. I still am feeling like a different woman. I connected with my dream, brought it to life again and now I am happily honouring it by simply allowing it to be without any fear or even thought of ‘what if it doesn’t happen?!’.
You know what? It feels totally possible and totally delicious.
I now feel confident that it will happen. No rush. But why wouldn’t it? I’m not attached to exactly how it will look, it has space to breathe and grow but I’ve noticed that my actions, my choices, my thoughts, my perspective around this whole area have shifted massively. Where there was pain and sadness, now there is ease and contentment. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s come as a huge shock! haha!
Living our dreams isn’t always the easy route. Far from it. Bringing your deepest desires to life requires being committed without being attached to a certain outcome. It requires you creating the experience you’re seeking through feeling and learnign to embody it before it ever exists in the world outside of you. It requires patience, self-discovery, it requires dealing with disappointment and grief.
It sounds hard, and sometimes it is, but it is worth the effort. In bringing your longings to life you grow into your own skin, slip back into your core in a way very few other pursuits will cause you to do.
For now, it’s your go. Take that dream of yours out into the open, clean out the disbelief and breathe life and possibility back into it and let me know how it goes.
Much love from California, next week I’ll be reporting from Sedona after the Dirty Footprints art retreat with the famous and fabulous Connie!