Thanks to this lovely soul on the left, Michael Bernard Beckwith, this has been my morning mantra for the past few months. And, I’ll admit it: I’m a little obsessed with his “Life Visioning Process,” which I’ve listened to three times through in my car while driving around town. (If you see me circling, that’s what’s going on.)
I’ve followed Beckwith’s play-work (his term) for years because I think he’s one of the most highly conscious individuals I’ve ever heard speak. I also feel connected to him because he started his spiritual center right down the street from where I used to live in Culver City. I often think about that. While I was lamenting with my 3 single mom friends about how to deal with challenging ex-husbands and best raise our children–mind you, over Chardonnay, cigarettes, and hot dogs (confessions of the dark days of a health coach)–Beckwith was visioning Agape as this:
When I founded the Agape International Spiritual Center and community in 1986, we “visioned” it as a movement that would take a stand for love, for peace, for being a beneficial presence on the planet. That’s why it was named “Agape,” which in Greek means unconditional love.
Aside from your views on spiritual centers, his accomplishment is impressive. He started with 9 people in his living room and $17. Agape now has something like 9,000 local members and 1,000,000 friends around the world. I don’t know about you, but I find that extremely telling. Within the walls of Agape, all major decisions go through the life visioning process.
I’ve written before about vision boards, visualization, life writes–all various tools to be a co-creator of your own life. What I like about Beckwith’s approach in this work is that he breaks down the process to four stages and asks you to look at where you are in those, and look in the direction of your own evolution. You can pick any area of your life and throw it into the stages. Let’s use the “getting your body healthy” area to see how this is done.
Stage 1 – The Victim: This is the stage where something is being done to you in your mind–by something outside yourself. In health, it might sound like this: “My mother raised me with all kinds of poor eating habits and gave me lame genetics to boot. I’d eat better, but my friends want to go to happy hour on the weekends, and I can’t just be a party pooper. Then, my husband brings home cupcakes and I can’t resist them. I have no time to exercise…” and so on.
Stage 2 – The Manifester: At this stage, you realize you are doing something to it. You say, “Hey. I am a co-creator in my reality. I have a say, and what I say creates my reality. Even though I learned certain habits, I have the choice now to relearn. I might need new friends that have similar goals as I do–or, I’m going to see if my friends are open to walking the track instead of slamming down Mojitos. I’m going to ask my husband to hide/not buy/be respectful of bringing tempting foods in…and I’m going to remember, there’s always someone busier than me out there who is making time for exercise.”
Stage 3 – In The Zone: Here, things happen through you. Have you ever felt like you were doing something, but really, there was something much greater than you working through you? For example, when I run on the treadmill (especially at hotels which is my favorite place to run on treadmills for some strange reason I don’t fully understand) about 15 minutes in, I’m in the zone. I’m listening to Kelly Clarkson and Keith Urban (sometimes over and over) or my exercise playlist, my legs are moving, my breath is going in and out, sweat is dripping off, but I’m no longer doing the work.
This also happens when I write. At some point, my fingers are banging away, but something far greater than me is downloading content. Artists, writers, athletes–they all talk about this place. In your health journey, this would be when your healthy habits are flowing, and you’re working your blueprint to a healthier you, mentally, physically, spiritually. And it just feels natural.
Stage 4 – You are the Zone: I reworded steps 3 & 4, but this is the concept. He makes the distinction between separation of “being in” and just being, a crucial distinction. In this stage, you are one with the world, metaphysically speaking. In your health journey, it’s not about “cheating” or “diets” or any of that. It’s about the place where you live. You respect your body, you treat it accordingly. Beckwith uses the phrase “body temple.” For me, this translates into priority. The choices I make, the habits I build, the way I spend my time and who I spend my time with–they all have to do with making me healthier on all levels. They are ”bliss-ciplines,” another coined Beckwith-ian phrase I love.
These stages are not linear. You may find yourself in different stages in different areas. In any given area, you can flip from 4, to 1, to 3. And, if you’re in Stage 4, it’s not like your work is done. This is just a blueprint to co-create your life, to evolve–to use your experiences to serve your world.
In the life visioning process, you see where you are going. You set a high intent, followed by a strength-based plan, and you give abundant gratitude knowing that all is underway and accomplished.
What would we choose to do if we believed anything was possible? How much could we do for ourselves, our communities–our world–if we spent less time in pity parties (like my Culver City mommy’s gripe club) and more time trying to figure out our unique purpose and mission–then set out a plan to make ourselves available?
I am available to more good than I have ever imagined, realized, experienced or thought possible…
Yeah, I am.