Monday, 4 September 2017

Steps For Creating A Vision Board: Reshaping Your Life

When we are clear on what we really want out of life, the universe will suddenly align in new, unexpected and mysterious ways to make things happen that previously might have seemed unattainable, highly unlikely or simply impossible. Even before I created my first vision board, I have seen this principle (of the Determined Mind) work its magic in countless areas of my life (job opportunities, travels, dumpster finds, the entire journey to moneyless living, etc). Now I am also starting to see that a vision board can serve as a great (daily) reminder of our hopes, dreams and priorities in life. It can help us remain focused on what we truly want rather than what we don't want, and it can also help us catch any self-sabotage, subconscious resistance, or doubts that might crop up (as well as blind spots, double standards and hypocrisy) so that we can nip them in the bud.

As with most things in life, the actual process of creating a vision board is far more powerful than the final product, because it brings us clarity along the way. A clear, uncluttered, conscious and determined mind is what we need to create the life of our imagination. It works because when we are clear on what we truly want and focus on those aspects of our lives, we no longer resist whatever else happens. When all our focus is on what truly matters to us - what makes us feel truly alive - then everything else pales into insignificance. It doesn't matter anymore. It falls away. It literally disappears from our world. If you no longer give it any attention, it ceases to exist. That is how you rebuild your world. You can starve the parts of your life that no longer serve you by just refocusing your attention on what matters to you most.

Attention is always selective, so it's not a matter of either focusing your attention or not. We are always in the process of creating a new world, whether we do it consciously or not. Therefore it is important to focus with awareness, so that you can create consciously. And a vision board is a great way to get started.

Here are my personal guidelines for creating a vision board:

1. Think about what you really, really want. This is probably the hardest (and most important) part. Sometimes we think we want certain things, but upon closer inspection we just believe we want them. Maybe we really want something different. Also, sometimes we set the bar too low, due to limiting beliefs. What would you really want if there were no limitations? What makes your heart sing when you think about it? What would make you excited to be alive? How would you like to feel in this world? What kind of world would you like to live in?
Make sure you don't go for too much comfort. Remember that comfort kills growth. What would make all the pain worthwhile? What would make you forget about it altogether? If it's something you can find within your own heart, then that would be even better. No one can ever take that away.
2. Make a selection of your own favorite photos (and perhaps some from the Internet for things that haven't happened yet, or that you don't have suitable photos for); the ones that make you feel so enthusiastic and happy that you forget about everything else - even if just for a moment. Photos that make you laugh, or that remind you of good times or good qualities of yourself. Next, match those photos to the themes you selected for your vision board.
3. Write a detailed description of all the themes so that it is clear in your mind what you are going for. I kept adjusting the description until just reading the text made me feel enthusiastic and happy about the future. You can read the description I wrote for my themes in the second half of this post.
4. For each theme add affirmations, action steps and perhaps even powerful songs that make you feel happy, enthusiastic, empowered or peaceful - such as this one.
The most important steps to manifest your dreams are step 5 and 6:
5. Make sure your thoughts, words and actions are all in alignment with your goals. This helps you to stay mindful and alert of possible limiting beliefs that need to be worked through as well as self-sabotage (e.g. inaction).
6. Completely let go of any outcome and realize that your life is already wonderful as it is. Enjoy the process of becoming.
Whenever I look at my vision board - because of the happy pictures I have chosen - I am reminded how great my life has already been so far and I would not want to waste a moment of it by focusing on what *might* be missing. If you focus on what is missing in your life, you actually miss everything that is already right here, right now, making your life wonderful. Looking at my vision board I also feel excited about what's yet to come - on such a deep level that I know and feel that I would not want to settle for anything less than the highest vision (depicted on the board). If it were to require some time to materialize, it would be so worth the wait - no matter how long it would take. And even if my dreams would never materialize at all, it still wouldn't matter because I am living my truth authentically. This is what life is about for me. Time no longer matters when you have chosen your highest vision. When even time loses its significance, looking at the vision board makes you feel like you are already there, celebrating your life as what you envisioned. And when your mind is no longer in the way, that is the truth.
7. Review your board from time to time and change it as you change.

Creating a personal vision board is a fun, empowering and freeing experience. The mind is a powerful force. It is important to remember that. Therefore, take it seriously, and spend some contemplative time on the first step. Your focus can literally change the world. If we make our focus too narrow or focus on things that only benefit ourselves, we run the risk of becoming blind for others' experiences, and others' suffering. However, if we focus on creating values that benefit all beings, then we can transform the world together.

Friday, 1 September 2017

My 3-Year Moneyless Journey In Review

It has been almost three years since I started the Stop Shopping Challenge, and since I started this blog. Also, with my PhD almost coming to an end, I feel that this is a perfect time for review.

Granted, I have not lived 100% moneyless for the entire time (only for about 2.5 years with some breaks in between), and I have not lived solely off of nature (without any help from others) for more than a few days. For example, I have still used tap water for most of the time and (public) internet connections. This is why I prefer to define the journey as a 'rewilding' experience. But what's in the name, right? For me it is the experience that counts.

The experience was about letting go of the attachment to money. The way I chose to do this was to find ways to live 100% without bills and without spending money (with just a few exceptions).  Because living moneyless took the focus off of money, it allowed me to reconnect to everything that brings real, tangible value to my life: friendships (with humans and other animals), food, nature, meditation, etc.

We all grow up with and get used to the idea that money is what gives us access to everything we need. Over the years, we start to (unconsciously) desire money and we forget our true desires. In exchange for choosing money over everything else, we lose our connection with everything that has real, inherent value. Nature, love, friendships, time (being present). It becomes an unconscious fixation and obsession for most of us that gets connected to everything we do. We start living more in the future rather than in the now; always working for a better life somewhere down the track.

We don't realize how deep this (dis-)connection goes until we start letting go of it. We long for money because we think it buys us what we really need and desire, but in fact it is a sham. Money has no value and chasing empty goals can only bring misery in the end. When we let go of this illusion, we can see clearly once again.

Here are some of the things that my moneyless journey has helped me do.

Being mindful and observant
I see more because I was not part of the system for a while. This new way of life has given me a new perspective for looking at the world. It is easier to observe the forest when you are not walking through it. It is easier to see the water when you are not submerged in it. And similarly, it is easier to observe society when you step back and cease to participate in it for a while.

Living in the moment
Without the fear of losing a job or the pressure of having to make money to survive (knowing I can always count on nature), it is far easier to relax and enjoy the moment. Stress is a thing of the past when we can live the way nature intended: without worries about the future, in the abundance of what nature provides, flowing with the seasons. I have also learned to have more patience and to accept (or love) things as they are, which is easy to do once you see that nothing is static but rather in a constant state of change... no matter how slow. I have learned to trust life and to believe in miracles. I know everything that needs to happen will happen in due time. This doesn't mean I have become complacent. I have learned to step up to the plate when I am able to do something to help another being without causing harm. And when it is clearly not up to me, then I have learned to let go without losing sight of what part I could help with. When I feel a strong need for change, I won't assume it is beyond my control without trying first. Thinking outside the box encourages me find new ways to help.

Appreciating what I have
Gratitude is something that developed within me naturally on this journey. In my experience, money often brings a sense of entitlement, and it can result in people taking things (as well as each other) for granted. When you live in closer contact with nature and observe keenly, you realize that while everything is given freely, you are not entitled to anything and nature doesn't owe you anything. Neither do other people. Therefore everything is grace, and while I remain conscious of this I don't take anything for granted. Habit can make people unconscious, and that is when we stop appreciating things and other beings. When we get too comfortable, habit slips in. And habit destroys our consciousness. Don't let your comforts lull you to sleep.

Building character
One of the biggest benefits of this journey was that it helped me to be the best version of myself. It inspired me to look within constantly, and to look at the way I relate to other people. It inspired me to have high standards of myself in my relationships with other people, because this way of life connects me to people in a different way. This lifestyle clearly demonstrates our interdependence - with each other as well as with other species - and it motivates me to be at my best and to help others whenever I can. Also, working on myself, exploring the boundless depths of my being and uncovering all that I am is the best way I can contribute to a better world.

Currently, I am still living mostly moneyless, living mainly off of food from supermarket dumpsters, supplemented with foraged and homegrown foods. I still dive at least two times a week, and preferably daily. I still marvel at the waste of society and will never forget what I have come to understand about society and money. However, at the same time moneyless living is no longer a compulsive goal for me at this time. This doesn't mean I will give it up in the near future, even though perhaps I may become less rigid about it for a while.

Having said that, I am still aiming to set up a sustainable, self-sufficient home base somewhere. I have no desire to be part of a system that doesn't serve me (nor other people, other species or nature). I will not give up the consciousness and awareness I gained through this experience. I will stay present and remain aware and observant. I will keep my eyes open to the truth, and see what is happening around me, beyond how it is presented to us by the media or people in power who have a vested interest in certain perspectives being pushed onto the public. I will keep questioning everything so that I can keep living my own truth, and not anyone else's.

Thanks to Dörte Giebel for this picture :)

(You may also enjoy reading The Moneyless Mindset vs. the Exchange Mindset: What moneyless living has taught me)