Do we live in the now – or work on manifesting a ‘dream’ future? Law of Attraction expert Michael James clears up any confusion.
This article first appeared in Watkins Mind Body Spirit, issue 29.
by Michael James
Creating your reality
Popular books like Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now and other ‘non-duality’ teachings (such as ‘The Work’ of Byron Katie) suggest that this moment is all there is – and to be present with it. In other words, fully embrace and enjoy it – because it’s all you’ve got.
The Law of Attraction teachings acknowledge the power of the present moment, but also tell us we create our own reality and what we focus on can become true for us. These teachings (which include The Teachings of Abraham and Louise Hay) tell of a law which gathers together like-minded thoughts, experiences, people and situations. When you are fully in the now, satisfied with the moment through accepting it or daydreaming about your future, the Law of Attraction says – you receive your dreams.
I used to think that these two ways of looking at life were incompatible. And some of the aforementioned authors agreed with me. Some years ago, when I talked with a well-known proponent of ‘the now’, she acknowledged that by living in the moment seemingly good things – or synchronicities happened – but stopped short of discussing how. Creating her reality wasn’t a point of interest for her and she didn’t see the two theories as reconcilable.
Since our conversation – and after facilitating hundreds of groups on the subject – I now understand that not only are both vantage points describing the same ineffable truth, but they are also a great help to one another. Both teachings are actually all about enjoying your ‘now’ moment.
True passion is found not in just ‘making do’ with the lives we have now – to feel fully alive requires a little excited anticipation. And yet, we don’t want to anticipate so much we fall into the feeling of longing or dissatisfaction with our current lives. It’s a fine line and requires practice.
‘I’ll be happy when…’
I spent years ‘on my way’ to being good enough in my life. Just one more yoga class or one more technique and I’ll be ‘healed’ or ‘enlightened’. When I initially discovered the Law of Attraction, I took this ‘on my way’ attitude with me. When I manifest more money or a soulmate relationship or a dream career, I said to myself – then I’ll be good enough.
And just like tomorrow never coming, neither did my ‘reward’ of being good enough. Because when I did get the relationship and the career, I still wasn’t happy.
I remember one woman telling me about her Vision board – which is a board you put on the wall with pictures of things you would like to experience in your life. She was lonely and wanting to be married and so she put up a picture of a married couple on it in order to ‘manifest’ her dream relationship. But her approach backfired. Every time she woke up, her vision board reminded her that she wasn’t married. And here she was, years later, still single and more lonely than ever – the now-tattered board still up on her wall. She was completely deflated about the Law of Attraction.
That’s not to say vision boards don’t work (they do) – but they need to be balanced with a healthy dose of loving the now.
A word about Desire
There’s something about desire and spiritual teachings. When you realise that being enlightened or finding peace is a desire too, you realise that we are all creatures of desire, whether we like it or not. It is attachment to desire which causes the problem, as Buddha said.
We are all living in the now. The question is, how are we doing that? You can be in the now in misery or be in the now in joy. The misery holds you away from your manifestations and the joy allows you to flow toward and with them.
The way to bring these teachings together is by realising that we are naturally and automatically sending out our desires – and then to fully engage with the moment. The perfect combination to live a joyful life is to excitedly anticipate a wonderful future whilst fully loving your current life.
Accepting where you are
Accepting where you are means confronting your frightening thoughts. As a child, I remember a book about a cat. In the story, the child was walking away from the cat and with every step it was growing bigger and bigger and bigger in her mind. Towards the end of the book, she turned to face this ‘monster’ and began confidently walking towards it. It got smaller and smaller until by the end it was a sweet little kitten.
I see a lot of people trying to push away their fearful thoughts – and the war begins. You have to allow them. Love them. We’re scared that if we allow something it will take over – but the opposite is true. ‘The meek shall inherit the earth’ speaks to this, as does ‘What you resist, persists’.
Meditation and breathing are ways to relax into the present moment. The silence – and the breath – connects you with the present moment.
Appreciation and gratitude
Another process I teach and highly recommend is making lists of things in your life you appreciate. But don’t just write one or two. Set some time aside and keep on writing until you run out of things to write about. Then you will be forced to start appreciating ‘unwanted’ situations. This does not increase them. It is the feeling that Life responds to, not the content. In other words, if you are feeling appreciation then good-feeling things are on their way.
When you are outside, feel your feet on the ground. Walk slowly. Feel your breath. Relax into the moment. When eating, eat slowly and taste your food. Appreciate the moment.
In my experience, appreciating the now alone can give you peace, calm and contentment – but it won’t give you the charisma, spark and excitement that ‘forward focusing’ brings. And that is why I teach visualisation.
Another reason I teach visualisation is for people to practice a pleasant, good feeling scene they can ‘switch to’ to replace their images of fear. To explain: if you have images of a fearful future about health, for example, by journeying in your mind to an image of you feeling healthy and beautiful running along the beach, you create a mental space that in time and with repetitive practice will replace the fearful one. The more you practice, the more the scene will become real – as if like a memory. It’s not so much to ‘make anything happen’ but rather to create a relaxing sanctuary to return to. Making something happen is hard work, where as visualising for the fun of it is a good-feeling experience. It sounds subtle but it’s a huge difference. Again, it’s about going to the relaxing image for the enjoyment of the image – not to try to change anything. It’s again about the power of the present moment.
Enjoying your life, now
Feel the pages of this magazine, feel your fingers and their incredible sensitivity. If reading this on a computer, admire the technology. Feel your breath going in and out. Look around you. Your life is now – so enjoy it.
Whether you are feeling good or feeling bad, there’s no choice but to be in the Now. The question is, are you enjoying it? You don’t attract what you want – you attract what you are. As you are reading this, who are you and how do you feel, now?
About the author: Michael James is a teacher and author who facilitates popular groups and workshops across the UK, based on applying spiritual principles. He is also the co-founder of The Law of Attraction Centre, the largest and most trusted community of its kind in Europe. For more information please see www.lawofattractioncentre.com and www.michaeljames.be.