“Enlightenment is inevitable, everything else is stalling.”
– Unknown Source

In order to change our lives we have to allow ourselves to change. That may seem like a challenge, but it is both easier and more nuanced than it sounds.

Change is actually the easy part. We do it every day, aware of it or not. The experiences of each day shape us, as the narrative of our lives grows to adapt to new information. Even just doing the same thing every day creates change, as we accustom to the routine and create neural processes that make it both familiar and unconscious.

In order to change in a desired direction we need only focus on what we want and do things in support of it every day. Everyone knows this, everyone tries this, not everyone succeeds at it. Here’s why:

In order for change to take hold we have to let go of the past. This means allowing how you think of and relate to yourself to become different.

I discovered this was true several years ago when I did a Mental Mastery Program faithfully for three months, meditating for 20 minutes every day and participating in two-hour classes every other week. The exercises were amazing, the teachings impeccable, and I didn’t change.

I was unwilling to shift my baseline of ennui, resisted being amazed by life, and mostly ignored that each moment was a product of my choice. I was committed to life being a struggle, and so it remained.

Fortunately, when I did one-on-one coaching with the teacher of the program, he called my bluff. He made me start over at the beginning with the point I hadn’t actually done the exercises. I’d thought about them without engaging them, keeping them at a surface level so my narrative of myself and what life is like could remain intact.

The lesson became not about what to do but how to do it. To engage a practice – any practice – as though you are succeeding at it, as though you are already the person you hope this activity helps you become, is the key.

Then you’ve already changed, and the practice merely helps you understand how to operate as this new person.

It feels scary, like falling. Suddenly there’s no problem, no solid narrative for life, there’s only today and the choices of today. There’s no past to fight against, no future to hope for, only the joy of this moment.

I recently started visualizing what I want for my life under the guidance of this same teacher, with a new feeling of responsibility. I must start behaving as the person I would like to be, using the imagery of what I want to guide how I behave. This is easy when I let go of my concepts about who I am first. Then there is no inertia to fight against, only a beautiful momentum as each day’s choices build on the day before’s.

When we let go and allow for the effect our conscious choices have on us, change is instantaneous. It requires no effort, only willingness.