As someone who’s spent much of her adult life plowing into the future like a bull in a china shop, I used to rarely write or speak about my goals. There are so many reasons for this- fear of judgment, fear of failure, fear of “jinxing it,”- mainly, it’s just been a whole lot of fear. Looking more closely, I can see that I was running full steam ahead because, if I stopped, I would have had time to hope and plan and dream. And if I hoped and planned and dreamed, and the reality differed from what I had hoped for, ouch. Failure.
I know I’ve given hope a bad rap. As I mentioned in last week’s huddle, I don’t like to hold onto something that feels so outside of my control. Some spiritual teachers even warn us against hope because it can be a very ego-driven emotion. When our ego hopes, it hitches our wellbeing on things turning out a certain way. In a sense, by blindly hoping, we’re taking ourselves away from what’s right in front of us. Pema Chodron goes so far as to say that by hoping, we are only “Delaying the necessity to look truth squarely in the eye.”
Things changed for me this week when I listened to Tara Brach’s podcast episode about spiritual hope. She explained how spiritual hope goes beyond egoic hope because it comes from within. It’s about trusting our inner wisdom and being open to possibilities that could unfold. She describes it as the “Manifestation of our own potential.”
Okay. Did I really just type “Manifestation of our own potential?” Oof.
It sounds super woo-hoo, right? We crystal-buying, horoscope-reading yoga witches love manifesting, but practicing this sort of spiritual hope is totally accessible, and can be super powerful.
You know the law of attraction? Karma? You get what you give, and all that? Since ancient times, humans have played into the idea that what we put out into the universe, we get back. So, here’s my invitation: why not imagine that it actually works?
Manifesting, as a practice, is really just a fancy way of getting clear on what you want, envisioning it, and speaking (or writing) it into existence. For those of you who have yet to give it a whirl, it’s important to use concrete, matter-of-fact language because manifesting is all about training our mind to envision what we want as if it’s already in existence. No more, “It would be nice if…” or “ Someday, I’d like to…”. What would it sound like if you had a say in how your future unfolds? What about “In the next five years, I’m going to have…”In my next job, I’ll have opportunities to be creative… and a corner office.”
For example, let’s say, hypothetically, I wanted a long term romantic partnership. Hypothetically, I would have written down a list of all of the things I want in a partner. I would, hypothetically, have written down things like “My future S.O. laughs at my jokes, because I am funnier than him. He is also very funny.” Hypothetically.
The key here, though, is that you are manifesting based on your own potential, even if you’re hoping for something that feels outside of your control. When we say something like, “I will have a long term partnership,” What we’re saying underneath that is, “ I am worthy of love and belonging.” When we manifest a promotion at work, we’re cultivating self-trust and showing faith in our ability to get that promotion.
Okay, I’m not saying we’ll all get what we want- that would be feeding into the ego, and we would be back to gripping for control. What I am saying here is that, by practicing spiritual hope, we’re nurturing the faith we have in our own capabilities. Moreover, we’re giving it a voice.
How often do you get to write down what you want in your job, your relationships, your life? And on a smaller scale, how often do we wake up and manifest what we want our day to look like?
You don’t have to have a manifestation journal in order to manifest. You don’t even have to call it manifesting. In conversations with friends, in the bathroom mirror pep-talks, in our own inner dialogue, can we speak clearly and boldly, about what we envision for ourselves? And in moments of doubt, maybe we could practice this little mantra: It could happen.