A few weeks ago I published a post on my Men’s blog, “Can Guys Really Change?”. I want to revisit that question because the issue isn’t just with men.
Having been in the “transformation business” for more than 20 years now, I have noticed something. By-and-large, people don’t seem to change much. There are millions and millions of people who are going to yoga and meditation classes these days, AND THAT IS GREAT! The places where I teach like Yogaglo, Kripalu, and Omega have gazillions of people on their mailing lists and offer content to countless people every year. But being there on the ground in this world of evolutionary stuff, I’m not convinced that much of it really works.
I’m not a spiritual naysayer. No way! It’s just that I feel the need to call it like I see it. And I also have the privilege of working close enough with some of my people to see that there is massive change happening for some of the people some of the time.
So, naturally, I have to investigate this phenomenon: There are some people who manage to foster massive change – sometimes without doing that much effort. And there are others who meditate for hours, go to millions of classes, workshops, Burning Men, Wanderlusts, therapists, 12-Step programs, fire-walking-motivational seminars, gurus, healers, shamanic sweat lodges, re-birthings, ayahuasca ceremonies, oneness initiations, Vipassana Retreats, and 1000-hour-yoga-teacher-training jamborees and still seem to be basically neurotic and living from a place of smallness. How does this happen?
People don’t come to me because my events are cool. They don’t come because my teachings are fun. People come to me because they need to transform. When I am working with someone, often times they have massive stuff on the line: their marriage, their parenting, their livelihood, sometimes even their life. I like it this way, but it’s gnarly sometimes. It’s hurts to watch a marriage dissolve. It’s a shitty process to help an addict through the process of getting clean and sober, but so worth it to get people through to the other side and see them live their vision.
There are two crucial elements that make the difference for people: Vision and Tenacity.
People have to first have a super deep WHY behind what they’re trying to change. Their transformation has to fit into a wider vision for their life. And, assuming they have that, then they need MASSIVE TENACITY. They have to be totally committed to change. They have to be 1000% convinced that they need help, that they need to change course, that they need to be on their path and not waiver. Look – there are way too many distractions in our modern lives. There are always hurdles that we have to get over. There are always setbacks and shortcomings. There is rarely enough money and there are almost always dishes in the sink.
This picture is literally my sink right now. Not exactly inspiring, right? It doesn’t matter what we’re faced with. There will never be a better time to get our shit together and change than now. Right now. Sometimes this means doing the dishes. Sometimes this means doing whatever you need to do despite the dishes. If you can get into an unstoppable mode in your personal development work, then nothing will stop you. If you can keep your eyes on the prize and not lose your focus, you can do just about anything – especially when it comes to inner things like developing virtue or overcoming character defects. Stupidly simple? Maybe. But these two elements make the secret ingredient that makes people triumph or fail on the spiritual path.
How does meditation help with this? In meditation, we take a full pause. We step off the stage of our life-drama for a moment. While we’re off stage we can assess what the hell is going on and what we need to do and what we need to cease doing. And in the space of meditation, we reconnect with what is deeply true and really important.
You could say that in meditation we reconnect with God if we’re into that, or even that we reconnect with Death. A dear friend of mine died this week. She was a wonderful woman and a real seeker if there ever was one. He death has served as a powerful wake up for all who knew her. In India, there is a saying, “Three things every yogi should never forget: his guru’s teachings, his mantra, and his own death.” Death brings things back into perspective. Like Sylvester says, “You Only Happen Once”.
But there it is, folks. If you have vision and tenacity, almost anything you do will work. But you have to keep your “eyes on the prize”. If you’re a couple on the rocks and you have these qualities, any counselor will work, or you’ll find one that does. If the marriage can’t match your vision or you can’t both summon that tenacity, it’s probably time to let it go. If you’re in pain, or need to get sober, or want to lose weight, or quit smoking crack, or become more powerful, or attain inner freedom and you have that do-or-die attitude – you’ll make it work. It doesn’t even matter so much what you do or who you hire or where you go. If you have vision and tenacity you’ll make do with substandard resources. If you lack vision and/or tenacity, then no matter where you go or who you hire or how much you spend, you will make it fail.
I’ve seen it happen again and again. It doesn’t matter how much you practice, it matters how sincerely you want the goal. It doesn’t matter how many obstacles you have or how many dishes you have in the sink, if you are ready to not quit no matter what, you will prevail. Use meditation and prayer to get clear about what you really want. And then lock on and don’t let go.