"…I am prepared for wisdom and principles which will guide me out of the shadows into the sunlight of wealth, position and happiness far beyond my most extravagant dreams until even the golden apples of the Garden of Hesperides will seem no more than my just reward". -Greatest Salesman
I decided to delve into that garden to enhance the mental image accompanying Mandino's message as I read it. With the beautiful imagery comes the story that absolutely aligns the Garden of Hesperides with the garden that is my world within.
The mythological Garden of Hesperides is Hera's orchard in the west, from which golden apples grant immortality when eaten. The hesperides were nymphs tasked with tending the garden and were found to take of the apples for themselves. Hera placed a never-sleeping, hundred-headed dragon in the garden to further safeguard it.
The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan provides great descriptive imagery to the garden. The garden is described as the most beautiful place ever seen. The grass shimmers with early evening light, the flowers so brilliant with colors they nearly glow by night. There are stepping stones of polished black marble encircling a large tree with every branch glittering with the golden apples of immortality.
As I ponder this, why shouldn't my world within be this garden? I create the within, do I not? I should find within it the most brilliant colors, the richest textures, the warmest light emanating from there! Additionally, I do need my hundred-headed dragon, my conscious mindfulness, to safeguard it. For if it's left open to intrusions, perhaps the old thoughts, the old blueprint, external opinions or influences of others, then my garden will be the same old dusty patch of infertile soil I have known. As I renovate my inner garden there's no doubt the golden apples of a new abundance I've never experienced will be MY just reward! When this fruit comes to full harvest, then I am immortal in legacy, in the fulfillment of all that I'm purposed with here on this earth!
It was only a week before the beginning of MKMMA, and I was marveling at three distinct occasions that this Robert Frost poem appeared in my interactions. I have not come across this poem in nearly 30 years, so the sudden exposure to it grabbed my attention.
I have been known to mostly travel those roads, grassy and wanting wear. It has not always been the easiest road to choose, especially when there were external influences applying pressure to enter the well-traveled road. As I ponder this from the road I stand on now, however, I can't help but find myself at a newfound set of two roads.
The operations of the mind are produced by two parallel modes of activity, the one conscious and the other subconscious." -Haanel 2-1
As I picture the two roads now, they are the conscious and the subconscious. I have been leading my life nearly exclusively with the conscious mind, creating a map of decision for myself looking more reminiscent of this.
All of my decisions have been based on analytical bets: What is the most strategic path for my best life? What will make me independent? What will make the significant people in my life happy? What is best for myself and my child? What will make me have success? The trouble with this gambling rests with the repeated attempts to make the most of the external… with the external:
I always ignored passions and seemingly unrealistic interests and considered them as hobbies, things to enjoy in the spare time I might gain someday after I have "made it" and I can afford to do something lacking worth.
What backwards thinking! What a way to watch a life drift by, only to reminisce with regret at the end! As a consequence, I never "made it" but I have learned so much on my journey. All of those steps on the paths I've followed, graciously led me to the Master Key so that from this point forward I know what to do!
"The solar plexus has been likened to the sun of the body… and is thrown off in an atmosphere which envelopes the body. If this radiation is sufficiently strong enough the person is called magnetic… and may wield an immense power for good." -Haanel 3-5,6
YES!!! I'll follow the sun! And I will allow the experience and guardianship of my conscious mind to serve in its proper parameters. It is liberating to know that, "this center of energy is omnipotent because it is the point of contact with all life and all intelligence," (3-11). I only need to direct it to accomplish what I desire! Goodbye control-freak tendencies trying to figure out all the steps!
Once I learned of the Master Key Experience, I have yearned for the program with great expectations. Far be it from my CONSCIOUS assessment throughout that time, that by the second week I would already be reaping the benefits and realizing dynamic changes in the way I respond to the world without! In these mere two weeks, I have:
This is but a condensed list and barely at the midpoint of the second week! If this was all I reaped from MKE, it would be an enormous change! Yet I have 24 weeks to go, let alone the rest of a life with which to practice all I learn. WOW!
In the past few years, I learned much about my true state of being; that I truly lacked self-love, confidence or a healthy inner world. I learned that all those things I thought I possessed were only anchored to my achievements in physical fitness. I was relying on the cement for my strength as I now know it to be. Once that was all ripped from me, by way of my body beginning to fail to respond to my efforts, all the feelings I had for myself before returned, without hesitation and with a vengeance.
Nothing made sense. I eliminated possible irritants from my diet and I gained weight. I worked out more and I gained weight. I worked out less and I gained weight. The only absolute ever resulting was, ~say it with me~, I GAINED WEIGHT! This is all very current in my cement. I weigh more now than I have in fifteen years, never mind that I have militantly worked and monitored my diet closely. Heck, I even just ran a 5K, the first in a long time, and placed 6th in my age bracket. Believe me when I say there have been lots of tears throughout this time of trying to sort it all out, gaining weight all the way.
Thankfully my mind is changing and I know with all that I am, that the healing of my inner world will chisel all that needless cement away; first in my thought world, but quickly in my physical world as well. With the help of these truths with which we are saturating our world within, I don't "hope this will help me reverse these physical issues"; I WILL reverse these issues and, clearly, that will be but one benefit amongst many, MYRIAD and life-changing benefits of this journey! Onward and outward!
It’s finally here! I have eagerly anticipated Master Key ever since learning about it from a friend. Here we are!
It is pleasing to begin the disciplines that have proven to change the lives, outlooks and OUTPUTS of so many before me. Today I choose to shed my old skin, my blueprint, which has suffered the bruises of failure and wounds of mediocrity for way too long. It is amazing to find oneself automatically acting in the same way and worse, with the same lifelong internal messages, hoping for a new and different outcome, this time. Perhaps using the brain to do the work of the mind is the fault.
For far too long I’ve devoured the grape skins and pulp, hoping for fine wine results. I have been picking at the scraps while missing the life-giving source within, missing it due to the clogged filter of mediocrity that was all I once knew. No more! No longer will I accept mediocrity, nor will I leave outcomes to chance and wishes. Now I know a better blueprint must be crafted, and I will carefully sculpt it with surgical precision until it leaves no space for the messages and design of old to creep back in. That format has been in place far too long to allow it any crevice to sneak back through once the New Blueprint is complete.
This is my intention. This is my promise. And I always keep my promises!
Learning from an expert without having language as the prime communication method adds many impactful layers to the experience. Beginning Andean knitting in Peru was one of the greatest transformative experiences of my life. My teacher was a lovely Quechuan woman from the remote highlands. Her native local tongue was clearly not one that could deliver hints of meaning, as experienced with knowledge of the romance languages. Our communication was exclusively nonverbal.
Learning apart from the spoken word brings so many dimensions to taking on a new skill. Though I anticipated this before beginning this trip, nothing ever prepared me for this primal shift. I never expected the ways in which this special time affected me. Sitting with my newfound friend and watching her slowly demonstrate the steps then pausing and waiting for me to try to mimic her movements was immensely maternal. My subconscious memory must have traveled back to when I learned as an infant. Perhaps infancy is the only time when most have experienced nonverbal learning! I felt incredibly peaceful and not the slightest bit frustrated as I do sometimes when trying new things. I acquired an immediate and deep connection with this Quechuan woman. The atmosphere was thick with the sense of being in the midst of a life-changing event. I will never forget it and I can close my eyes and be back in the moment immediately!
Apart from learning a second language by immersion, most of us would likely reply that it was back before our most cognitive recollections. Imagine the implications of returning to learning a new skill without the luxury of spoken communication at this very moment in your life! Could your knowledge be absorbed in unexpected new ways by nonverbal learning means?
When you learn a new skill in a nonverbal way, perhaps it elicits a different perspective derived from other cognitive processes. As Cornell University explains, skill mastery is associated with increased activity in areas of the brain not engaged in skill performance, and this shift can be detected in large-scale networks of the brain. During Studies there, increased brain activity was found after training, in the default network that is involved in self-reflective activities, including future planning and even daydreaming.
To summarize, I’ve verbalized as effectively as possible my recent experiences in nonverbal learning. Quite appropriately, words merely deliver a fraction of all I gained from learning without the use of words. As a result, I challenge each of us to find opportunities for absolute nonverbal communications. Whether you seek an opportunity to learn a new skill, enhance a relationship or simply experiment with a friend over coffee, it will truly promote a unique experience. Perhaps it will even be a life-changing event as it was for me!
Having begun knitting eleven years ago, especially in the past five years, I can attest how fulfilling and rewarding it is. Knitting has become my best inanimate companion. It has been my aid in passing appointment waiting times, my comfort in times of unexpected hardship or emergency, my focus enhancer in lectures. It even helped me realize that I CAN meditate. If you’ve knit in the past but the needles have been set aside, I challenge you to pick them up! If knitting is new to you, grab your friend who knits (I KNOW you have at least one), some needles and yarn and enjoy the journey now! Here’s why:
Many of us believe that we simply are no good at meditating. In our hyper-paced, information-saturated world, we can’t seem to still the mind long enough for quiet focus. I remember the day I unexpectedly concluded that knitting WAS my meditation. Sitting down, I focused on the project at hand, and cleared my mind of noise, simply due to the need to pay attention to the project on my lap. Recalling all the past feeble and frustrating attempts at “clearing my mind”, I realized it was happening without my trying so hard. (Hello?! I’m a woman! I’m not sure if my mind will be clear after I die!) Knitting and other creative work like it grants the creator the space to narrow the focus and thus quiet the mind! Dr. Herbert Benson, a mind/body medicine expert and author of “The Relaxation Response,” says that the repetitive action of needlework can induce a relaxed state like that associated with meditation and yoga. I can personally attest to this!! And you produce something beautiful and useful as a result!
Carrie Barron, an assistant clinical professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University and co-author of the book, “The Creativity Cure: How to Build Happiness with Your Own Two Hands,” states that, “When we have a life-affirming project going on that grabs the self and gets it to work in a positive way, that is an anti-depressant.” I believe our intuitive nature as humans realizes this, albeit subconsciously. The next time you are at lunch downtown, on the subway or ferry during commute time or in a park, take a look around you. Now that you will be focusing on it my bet is that you will notice more people than ever before, knitting or perhaps crocheting. Once my husband spent time around me as my knitting habit developed, he began noticing men and women knitting everywhere!
In a 2007 review, Sharon Gutman and Victoria Schindler surveyed scientific literature that analyzes the neurological basis for how hobbies relate to health and well-being. They found that engaging in such activities reduce the effects of stress-related diseases and slows cognitive decline. Studies have shown activities like knitting and quilting, card-playing and book reading among those advanced in years granted 30-50% reduction in the likelihood of mild cognitive impairment as compared to those who did not participate in similar activities (Geda et al, Mayo Clinic).
Over the years, I have debated whether I am actually an introvert or extrovert. Perhaps I have shifted back and forth over time. I have leaned introvert lately, which has made it clearly evident that knitting (and spinning which I’m occasionally spotted doing in public) generates chat that may otherwise never occur. I’m grateful for this! It refreshes me when someone asks what I am making or relates of theirs or a loved ones needlework. In my humble opinion, we need all the positive community surrounding us possible! Whether it’s knitting or another activity, how can you generate light and pleasant connections around you?
In simplest terms, I take “balls of string” and shape them into scarves, sweaters, shawls, hats, baskets, blankets, gloves, you name it! Sometimes I even create the “balls of string” from fur! Think of your “super powers”! What do you do that fulfills you, creates, enlivens, quiets your mind and lifts your spirits? If these characteristics sound appealing to you and you need a creative outlet, pick up those needles!
Are you a knitter who has set aside the hobby and need a refresher? Comment below, check out Youtube, and START! Before you know it, you will always have a project (or three, like me) in progress! Are you an avid creator, be it with fiber, wood, clay, etc? Show off what you do by commenting and sharing!