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wants to emerge through me. I give my consent to it.” It is a recognition that we are cradled by Existence and are ultimately safe and secure, regardless of what enters our experience. Even during times of deep uncertainty, by not resisting the unique gifts it offers us we give ourselves the opportunity to realize that we are preparing to give birth to a deeper dimension of our- selves.

Surrender frees us from attachment because it is a declaration that we are willing to release from our experi- ence the mental, emotional, and behavioral habit pat- terns that no longer serve us. It is a wider opening that invites into our awareness

new insights, intuitive perceptions, goals. Whether it’s about surrendering to the God of your understanding, to the Higher Self within you, or simply to the integrity of existence, the willing- ness to surrender whatever safety net you have created opens the way for your acceptance of and trust in what is revealed in the Life Visioning Process.

The Freedom in Discipline

Discipline is greatly misunderstood; it’s been given a bad rap. Somehow self- discipline and self-control have become synonymous, which isn’t accurate. Control involves the fearful ego that doesn’t want its image tarnished so it outwardly expresses a particular set of protective behaviors; discipline applies discernment to the life choices we make and allows us to change direc- tion in mid-course if required. Control is a form of mental bondage whereas discipline is a form of freedom, which leads to another misunderstood word.

Many think that freedom is a license for doing anything they want to do, which can lead to destructive habits and ad- dictions.

A disciplined mind is open to the influx of inner guidance and puts it into action. When it comes to our spiritual practices, discipline is the willingness to do what it takes to wake up because enlightened living is our priority in life. Discipline may take us beyond our comfort zone and require us to, as Howard Thurman says, “Give over the vital nerve center of con- sent” to develop in ways we previously resisted or hadn’t considered. When applied to Visioning, discipline is what keeps us in our seat when we want to look away or even run away from what is being revealed to us about us. Discipline ultimately becomes a “blissipline.”

The Graciousness of Gratitude Gratitude begins as a practice and in its mature expression becomes a way of life that is filled with the spirit of thanksgiving.

Since childhood, most of us have been schooled in the mechanics of gratitude, that it’s good manners to say “thank you” even when we don’t mean it. But genuine, spontaneous gratitude is much deeper. It is a feeling that arises when we realize the immense gift, the preciousness, that is Life. Getting in the gratitude groove softens the heart, opens the mind, causing even seem- ingly ordinary things to become sacred. We see and experience Life’s magic. Gratitude is a prayer that acknowledges the gift of existence, that we can laugh, dance, sing, love, eat, create, celebrate, heal, transform, and that we have been fully equipped to become self-realized beings. Gratitude opens our inner sight to the fact that we already have been provided all the gifts of existence.

Embodying the five foundational

qualities that support your visioning practice is made easier by incorporating simple practices into your daily routine. 25

For example, when you awaken in the morning, instead of immediately running your day’s agenda through your mind, pause, take a breath, and offer gratitude that you are on the planet another day to enjoy those who love you and whom you love. Before leaving to your workplace, even if just for a short period of time, discipline yourself to meditate, bless your day and send out blessings to the world. On your way to taking the kids to school or perform- ing other errands, surrender to what you encounter throughout the day by realizing it is all part of your spiritual practice—things like being patient with traffic and irritating drivers who also wish to arrive at their destination on time, long lines at the grocery store and so on. Be willing to stop and assist someone by holding open a door, of- fering a smile. As you walk through the day’s activities, instead of taking things and people for granted, be receptive to the hand of the grace easing the way for you through them. Place reminders of these qualities on your bathroom mir- ror, refrigerator, calendar, in your car, on your desk. Get creative. Include your family members and make it fun. Every- one will benefit and you will realize how even the most mundane activities are rich material to work with and contain their own magic.

Michael Bernard Beckwith is the founder and spiritual director of the Agape International Spiritual Center, a transdenominational community in Los Angeles. He is a featured teacher in the film The Secret, and has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Live, Tavis Smiley, and his own PBS special. His books include Spiritual Lib- eration: Fulfilling Your Soul’s Potential. For more, visit

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