So much is happening in our world right now. Can you feel the tension? It feels like every time I engage with the media I am reminded of the intensity of our time… as if all of life is groaning and aching for something not yet actualized.
If you are a justice-minded person or simply a compassionate human being, there is something deep within that asks, ‘How can I help actualize?’ ‘How can I bring about more peace, love and wholeness?’ Sometimes simply asking these questions brings about feelings of helplessness. The questions, ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What can I do?’ rise to the surface. Or a prevailing sense of being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the systemic complexity can paralyze me from allowing the questions to even take form intellectually or otherwise. And I do nothing.
Yet, what about the interconnectedness of all things? What about all of the ways that I am intertwined with my fellow humans, animals, plants and all of life? My ‘nothing’ only perpetuates and participates in the groaning and aching when my spirit longs to participate in the ‘actualized.’
What rises up for me in all of these ponderings is the remembrance of something I heard author Rob Bell say many years ago. He was talking about the nearness of heaven and hell and how we, as humans, play a part in bringing qualities of heaven and qualities of hell to earth. He said, “Because with every action, comment, conversation, we have the choice to invite Heaven or Hell to Earth.” For me, this concept has evolved into a mantra that I return to every time I start to feel a little lost, “Every thought, word, action, and deed has the opportunity to bring life or death, light or dark, heaven or hell.”
Life or death… light or dark… right here, right now, in this moment… accessible and grantable through my thoughts, my words, my actions. For me, this way of thinking sparks a power to impact… to do something to affect change. It opens in me a belief that what I think, say, and do matters. When I evoke this way of thinking and let it move through my life I show up as a woman with purpose and power. I think differently. I carry myself differently. I live differently. I move through my day and interactions with myself and others differently. I engage life with a heightened sense of curiosity about the opportunities presented to me.
Life or death… light or dark… right here, right now, in this moment… opportunity for me to actualize the peace, love and wholeness that is being groaned after. This life-changing way to bring balm to the world starts as a simple shift in consciousness but brings with it the awareness of our power to actualize life/death, light/dark. This power can show up in many different ways. A smile, hug, positive word or simple recognition of someone or something are all possible opportunities for you to bring light or life to others. A deep breath, an inward smile, a good night of sleep or a nourishing meal are all possible opportunities for you to bring light or life to yourself. The possibilities are endlessly creative and unfolding when you cultivate a belief in your own power and potential to extend light and life into the world at any moment.
When you carry with you the mindset that every opportunity offers you a chance to sow into the collective betterment of life, the feeling of helplessness diminishes, and you are empowered to actualize the longings of your spirit and participate in the great work of our planet’s evolution.
I have spent a lot of time running around the track at the YMCA. I have gone to the Y since my 11-year-old son was a baby, and it has been a life-giving place for me to work out both body and mind. I’ve carried my body and spirit around the track many times without any sense of connection to those around me. Then, one day, I remembered the power I carried in my thoughts, words, actions and deeds to bring light and life into the space around me.
As I ran, I let the reality of this belief soak into my thoughts and spirit and energy, and I lit up like a Christmas tree. I beamed love for all those around me. I looked at all of the weight-lifters and the men and women slugging it out on the machines and those racing past me on the track, and I felt nothing but love for them. In those moments I offered those sharing that space and time with me eye contact and smiles and my own energetic communication of, ‘Hey you! You are wonderful! You are doing so well in this life. Keep going!’ In doing so, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace, love and wellness as I tapped into the interconnectedness of all things and exerted my power to actualize life and light into the world.
Though I did not witness any profound change in the lives of the men and women at the Y that day, I truly believe that the peace, love and wellness that I exuded for them did touch their lives in some mysterious way. By tapping into the energy that connects us all, I contributed more life and more light not only to that gym, but to the world. Extending light and life through our thoughts and energy is one form of action, but when this belief wells up and trickles out into the many beautiful and powerful ways that words, actions and deeds can bring light and life – watch out! We become a force to be reckoned with.
By taking advantage of the opportunities to bring light and life with my thoughts, words, actions and deeds I am doing something. I’m moving into action and energetically and physically contributing to our evolution into light and life. Remember that within you, at any moment, is a wellspring of power… that you, too, have the ability to sow life and light into the tension, pain and confusion surrounding you. You also have the power to sow darkness and death. Remind yourself that with “every thought, word, action and deed you have the opportunity to bring life or death, light or dark, heaven or hell.”
The choice is yours. What will you choose?
Author: Erica McLaughlin is a mindbody therapist specializing in embodiment. She strongly believes in the healing power that comes when we provide ourselves a quiet space to connect the body and mind. In this space our true essence has a chance to emerge, offering the greatest gift of healing: self-acceptance.
Photo by Davide Gorla