THE POWER INSIDE YOU
Episode 13: "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it." Join me to explore Goethe's words and how we can use them to tap the great power that lives dormant within us all; a power that can literally to change the trajectory of our lives and deliver us the joy and abundance and freedom we yearn for.
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“Whatever you can do or dream, you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”
Welcome to Real Yoga, a podcast dedicated to helping you use yoga's ancient wisdom to unlock your life of radical happiness, connection and meaning right here, right now. I'm your host Eric Walrabenstein, and I'm glad you're here.
If you're anything like me, there have been periods of your life during which doubt was your constant and maybe even closest friend.
Doubt about the path you're on.
Doubt about your competency.
Doubt about your intelligence or worthiness.
Doubt about whether it's ever going to get better.
Now, the good news is that this is normal. Doubt is natural, it's human. The bad news is that this kind of doubt and various other kinds of limiting beliefs and thought patterns can wall you off from the life you deserve.
And even worse, it's not ever going to get better unless you do something about it.
Our thoughts are powerful. So powerful that we can say that the most important things we've ever experienced all began with a thought, and this is not just some new aged mumbo jumbo. It's science. It's physics.
In the most obvious sense, what I'm thinking now prompts me to act in a particular way which creates a result which yields an experience. It's simple cause and effect.
The career that I have now is a creation of a train of thoughts that I had long ago.
The relationship I have now is a creation of a series of thoughts that I had back when I first met my partner and, in the years, since.
And the same can be said of my health, my financial picture, my house, my friends, my political affiliation, all of which are echoes from thoughts and the resulting actions of the past.
And this is why Lao Tzu the famous Taoist master said, 'Watch your thoughts; they become your words. Watch your words; they become your actions. Watch your actions; they become your habits. Watch your habits; they become your character. And watch your character; it becomes your destiny."
As a young boy, for a number of years, I belonged to a group called the Indian guides. If I remember correctly, it was an offshoot of the YMCA and it had activities that were not dissimilar to the boy Scouts.
In any event, whenever we had a new boy join, we had a little initiation ceremony. It started with us setting up a complex maze built out of folding chairs with twists and turns and tunnels that led from one side of a room to the other. Now the new boy was told that his job was to make it through the maze without touching any of the chairs, and oh yeah, he was going to be blindfolded.
Now we gave the poor kid a good 15 minutes to memorize every detail of the maze after which he would put on the blindfold and attempt to weave his way through, again without touching a single chair, or he would be out. And here's where it got fun.
Once the new boy had his 15 minutes to study the maze, he was led out of the room to get blindfolded. And while he was out, we would quietly remove all the chairs. The new boy would be ushered in blindfolded and we would watch and silently chuckle as he did all manner of gymnastics and moves to painstakingly avoid touching any of the chairs that now existed only in his mind.
So, why do I share this with you?
Well, it's because it's a brilliant demonstration of how our thoughts, the fictions that can live in our minds, can hold us apart from our heart's desire.
Now to be clear, the reality was that this new boy could have simply walked straight across the room in three seconds. But his mind told him that there was a vast array of obstacles blocking his path, and these thoughts turned a three second stroll into a five-minute stress and anxiety filled ordeal.
And in fact, on more than one occasion, the minds imagined obstacles caused such anxiety that the new boy simply gave up, gave up in the face of obstacles that didn't exist.
So, the question becomes this: how many imagined obstacles live in your mind?
Imagined obstacles that slow your progress, imagined obstacles that detour your happiness, imagined obstacles that cause you to give up, or worse, not to begin at all.
According to neuroscientists, on the average, each of us thinks a staggering 60,000 thoughts per day. That's a lot of thoughts! But as astonishing as that number is, here's a number that's even more disturbing: 95.
That is to say, 95% of those thoughts are the exact same thoughts we thought yesterday, last week and last month. Yes, our thoughts are playing on a loop.
Now, of course, this is no real surprise. When we stop to remember as we discussed back in episode nine that the mind is rather mechanistic in its functioning. That it is, in one manner of speaking, a programmed mechanism.
So the fact that day in and day out, it continues to operate on that programming, well, it makes a lot of sense. But even though it may make sense, it can also be a very, very big problem for us. Because if my mind is caught in a programmed loop of limiting thoughts like doubt or negativity or fear, the programmed nature of the mind is going to continue on that path of negativity on autopilot forever, unless there's some sort of intervening force. One that bumps your train of thoughts onto another track.
From the track of doubt to the track of confidence.
From the track of worry to the track of optimism.
From the track of I can't to the track of I can.
Now, the fact is that sometimes life provides us that intervening force, but for many, many people, that intervening force never comes and its why millions upon millions of us toil away in barely good enough lives waiting for something better.
But here's what you need to know. You don't need to wait for an intervening force because you can be that intervening force.
So how does one muster the immense strength to alter the course of 60,000 thoughts per day, thoughts that have the power of years of momentum behind them?
In yoga, we have a term: sankalpa. Sankalpa might best to be translated as resolve or intention. And it is the intelligent use of intention that is what can turn you into that intervening force with the superhuman strength needed to bump your train of thoughts onto another track. A track serves you rather than a track that depletes you.
But to do this we have to recognize that an intention, if it is to have such power, the power literally to alter the course of our lives works not because of something inherent in the intention itself, but because of what we bring to it.
That's why we want to be clear. If you want to change the course of things, your intention must be a consciously selected, deliberately supported decision to think, be or do differently. And yes, because we are likely working against the tide of 60,000 thoughts per day, thoughts that have immense momentum behind them, focused and dedicated effort is the thing that changes everything.
We began today with a quote, one taken from Goethe's Faust "Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!".
Now, boldness we can think of as that decision, the intention to follow a new course and it does have genius in it. It possesses the wisdom to know that the conscious and deliberate application of our will is needed if we're ever to bump our train of thoughts onto a new track.
And it does have power to it, for when we channelize our energies around an intention, much like the nozzle at the end of the garden hose, we multiply the strength and effect of the stream of our own energies.
And while you may not be aware of it, yes, it also has magic in it. Wonderful magic.
Nearly 20 years ago, I moved to Phoenix, Arizona from the San Francisco Bay area. As you may imagine back then, as is still true today, Northern California was an area brimming with mature and insightful teachers and guides from the widest swath of spiritual traditions. So, in that move, I lost a lot.
I left behind my Zen master. I left behind my yoga teacher. I left behind the yoga and meditation communities that nourished me as a practitioner and as a teacher, and here in Arizona, well, let's just say I felt very alone.
When I first arrived, I spent immense amounts of time and effort searching for a teacher and sadly I could find no one who could help me beyond teaching me the mere mechanics of yoga and meditation--the postures, the breathing, the meditation techniques, but I could find no one who possessed anything that even came close to the real wisdom of yoga I was craving.
So I turned to books, I turned to recorded teachings, but all of it felt like a sad impersonation of what I really yearned for. I felt defeated, dejected, and I wondered if I had maybe made the biggest mistake of my life moving from California, and a good portion of my 60,000 thoughts each day began to support me in my misery.
It wasn't long after this that I came across a flyer about a yoga conference that was to be held down at Arizona State University. On the bottom of the flyer it listed the most prominent teachers that would be featured at the conference and I saw that a famous Indian yoga master was going to be in attendance. He was someone I was familiar with. I'd read many of his books, listened to his teachings and found that he seemed to have something that fed my under-nourished soul.
So as you can imagine, my spirits were lifted when I saw he was coming to town and I can still remember to this day the feeling I had standing in front of that bulletin board, looking at the flyer and making my bold decision--my sankalpa, my intention: I will study with this man.
So, I went home and straight away registered for the conference. I was laser focused, as is my habit, and signed up for every workshop and seminar offered by this particular master.
The morning of the conference I had met up with a group of eight or nine of my friends for coffee and we attended the opening session. Afterwards, we were milling about with a couple of hundred other people in the large concourse at the event center. It's then that one of my friends, Margie peered through the crowd and said, "isn't that your guy?" giving a nod across the concourse.
I looked up and sure enough, it was 'my guy' dressed in the traditional Indian Kurta, a shawl around his shoulders and his long wavy hair bouncing behind him. He and his attendant were making their way bobbing and weaving through the crowd.
"So that's him, huh? ", Margie said. For weeks I had been talking about him as my sole reason for attending the conference, so everyone was a bit curious. It was then that she said, "he seems to be coming this way" and we all tried to pretend to be nonchalant, chatting with each other, but couldn't help but watching him out of the corner of our eyes.
"He's going to walk right by us", my friend Joel said.
I looked up and sure enough, he did look like he was going to walk awfully close by, but he didn't. He stepped right into our little group of people and stopped. We looked at him. He looked at us and then looking me directly in the eyes in his thick Indian accent he said, "do you have a car?"
"Um, me?", I asked, looking over my shoulder, sure that he had to be talking to someone else.
"Yes". He said.
"I do", I said.
"Wonderful. Can you give me a ride to my hotel?" he asked.
Now, as you can imagine, I was as confused as I was elated. To be clear, I had never met this man. He had never met me. I'm standing in a sea of literally hundreds of people and he walked right by untold numbers of other people, all with cars, all with driver's licenses directly to me to ask if I could give him a ride to his hotel.
But it gets crazier.
On the drive to the hotel, we're chatting, and he asks about my yoga practice and I share that I own a local yoga studio, Yoga Pura, and I invite him to come up to speak. He says how much he’d love to, but his time is completely booked on this trip. He's scheduled to speak at another yoga studio on the next night.
Now, I knew about this event because I'd seen a flyer for it, and in fact, I was signed up. So, as I dropped him off, I gave him my card. I told him I would see him later at the conference or the studio event. He smiled, closed the door and disappeared through the hotel lobby doors.
As I drove back to the conference, my head was spinning. What just happened? It was one of the strangest things I could ever remember happening to me. That is right up until his attendant called me the next morning.
Remember that talk he was supposed to give at the other yoga studio? Well, turns out it was canceled because only one person signed up: me. So, he had the evening off, and the attendant asked, would we like to host him? And of course, I said yes.
So, on that next evening, I found myself at Yoga Pura sitting in a packed classroom of excited students listening to a brilliant teaching on the inner dimension of yoga. This was the start of a long relationship with Yogi Sri Amrit Desai, one that would have me for years studying with him, traveling with him, teaching with him, and even helping him to create and refine his yoga teacher training program.
He is now someone who I genuinely consider family.
This improbable meeting is something that radically changed my life and, by extension, the lives of thousands upon thousands of my students. And it issued forth from that single decision.
The intention: I will study with this man.
Yes, boldness does have a genius, power, and magic to it!
I will be the first to admit that my meeting of my teacher may be an extreme example of the power of intention, and I'm in no way advocating a do nothing, hope, pray, and visualize approach to achieving your heart's desire. Because it's true--intention must be combined with action.
I will also readily acknowledge that for many listening right now, the fantastical nature of the story will make it more easily dismissed than others, but I implore you to consider the power that the deliberate and intelligent application of intention can usher into your life. Whether or not you embrace its magical qualities.
It's a fact that your mind is on a particular track with its 60,000 repetitive thoughts a day.
It's a fact that these thoughts are carrying you and your life in a particular direction.
And it's a fact that if that direction is not serving you, only some kind of intervening force can change the trajectory of the programmed mind.
Your intention, your sankalpa, your decision to carve a new path is that intervening force. It is the thing that can change everything for you starting today.
So, whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!
And as for that magic...well, if it made sense, it wouldn't be magic, would it?
Well, that's it for today. I hope our exploration has left you with what you need to begin to deliberately steer your life in the direction of more joy, wonder and success. As always, I'd love to hear from you and I welcome all comments and questions, so drop me a note from my website at ericwal.com.
Also, if you could do me the kindness of spreading the word about these amazing ancient teachings by sharing the podcast with friends and family, I'd be more grateful than you know. And don't forget to hit subscribe so you don't miss out on future episodes.
Thanks again and remember, I'm grateful for you! So, if there's anything I can do to be of service, please don't hesitate to get in touch.
I'm wishing you a wonderful week filled with clarity and resolve.
I'll see you next time.