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April 6, 2019

The Process of Living the Dream: How I Recovered from a Stroke and Changed My Life

Recently, my soul partner and I were having a conversation about the life we want to live. Within those dreams and fantasies are many pearls of passion born of a desire to be happy, a state of being we all deserve and should strive for. Also within those dreams and fantasies lies the pitfalls to failure that often keep us from realizing our full potential and discovering the happiness we seek.

This process is ageless, even if the focus necessary to realizing our ambitions becomes more direct with age and wisdom. Here I am, at 51, still dreaming about living my passions and being happy. It’s not that I’m not a happy man, generally I am, however the journey continues as happiness is an ever-evolving state. A seed may be happy, but it wants to be a sprout. The sprout may be happy, but it wants to be a flower. A flower may be happy, but it wants to be a seed again. Such is the natural cycle of life, the ongoing process of personal evolution.

I sat with our discussion overnight and meditated with it the following morning. The beautiful thing about open and intimate discussions with someone you love, and trust is that it can remove the layers build up between you and your goal. I was happy to witness, and participate in, that delayering.

The next morning, a long-time friend blessed me with a keen reminder of something after I had told him of my plans. I expressed some doubt that, as a 51-year old man, I could change my life to suit my desire to live life my way, on my terms. He corrected me. I’ll describe his reply as best I can.

“Dude, when you put your mind to something, it gets done. Think about it. Your entire life has been transformed. Why? Because you wanted it to. You recovered from a stroke that left you blind and unable to walk. Why? Because you wanted to. You wanted to live in Colorado, and it happened because you wanted it to. You lost 80 pounds in 10 months. Why? Because you wanted to. Let’s be honest, if you really want something in life it happens because you don’t quit, you don’t stop until it happens. I’ve never seen anything like it. The best part is that you are never an asshole when getting it done. You do it, it happens, and you use it to benefit someone else.”

I needed that boost. Not because I have doubt, but because sometimes we all need a reminder of our power to choose our place in this life.

It was true, I had transformed my life. I rose from dysfunction and victimhood to live a functional life of honor and strength. I had a stroke that left me blind, unable to walk and near death. I had a “miraculous” recovery that was studied by my neurologist because of the process I used to achieve it. I had realized my decade-old dream to move to Colorado, not having a job and barely a place to live once I got here. I had decided one day to lose 50 pounds and ended up losing 80 pounds in 10 months, surviving through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years and losing 20 pounds during that stretch of traditional gluttony. He was right, when I made my mind up I could do anything, so why not this?

All of those achievements, which I share here not for praise but to possibly help someone, had one thing in common. The general process I used to get from point A (the intention) to point B (the objective). I’d like to share that here in the hopes that it rings true for someone reading this article, or for those who know someone who may benefit and shares it.

Step 1. Sit in stillness.

First, I sit in stillness and understand exactly what it is I want. It’s rarely material things I seek. Instead, it’s usually a state of living, of providing, of doing that I want. What makes me feel alive? What kind of life do I wish to live? Once I know the feeling, I exude the energy. That is the law of attraction. It’s the energy that does the attracting. I believe this stillness to be the best way for me to uncover what it is I truly want and discover the feeling of that truth.

In stillness (meditation) I sit with myself and gently guide the fear away, silence the voices of doubt (which are rarely my own), and finally get to the core of my truth. It’s a blissful experience, one that signifies to me that I’ve reached a place that I can work from.

Step 2. Just do it.

The next phase involves doing. Doing things in line with that bliss, that energy, magnifies it and allows it to radiate. In this phase, energy converts from a noun (that thing I’ve uncovered) in a verb. It transforms from the plow to the tilling. For example, if I want to be a writer I must write. I first uncovered the bliss that writing brings me, and then I put that bliss into practice, and I write. Then the action of writing ripples out and attracts what I want from the writing. Success is not about counting dollar bills alone, sometimes it is about just doing what makes you feel alive. The prayer alone does nothing, it has to be backed up by action.

Step 3. Act, and you shall receive.

Once you’ve uncovered the feeling of bliss doing what you love provides, and then do the thing that brings you bliss, the third phase begins. That phrase is called “receiving”.  I caution that these three things work together, and if one is missing you won’t get what you want. If you aren’t willing to state an intention, you won’t be willing to truly receive. If you aren’t willing to receive, no amount of doing will reap a maximum reward. I’ve found that I often do not get what I want if I am not willing to do all of these things openly and honestly.

It is vitally important that you receive with the same energy that got you to that point. Be grateful, but do not resist. Be humble but understand how deserving you are.

That’s been one of the hardest parts for me to practice. I wasn’t raised feeling worthy of receiving. In fact, quite the opposite. I’ve lived a life mostly doing for myself, dealing with things myself, and learning to be somewhat self-reliant. Each struggle, it seems, has been because of my reluctance to receive with the same energy with which I approach the challenges. Those things my friend mentioned? They are evidence of this. I never felt in those instances he mentioned that I had to receive something from someone else. That would put me in a place where I would have to feel worthy of receiving from them. However, I feel completely worthy of receiving from the Universe that which I’ve worked for. It seems I struggle when it is something it seems someone else must give me.

I’d bet that many of us suffer from that same affliction of not feeling worthy. I’d also bet that affliction is keeping us from not only reaching our full potential, but also realizing our wildest dreams.

Reversing decades of conditioning that began in the impressionable period of my youth has been a daunting task. Affirmations work. Meditation works. Mostly though, it’s the focusing on that feeling of bliss that started in Phase 1 and working in that bliss through Phase 2 that gets me to Phase 3 feeling worthy of the reward. If I work in line with my own happiness (which includes integrity, honor, and compassion) there is little for me to feel unworthy of. This is not, after all, a charity enterprise we are talking about. Instead, it is one where one’s effort meets one’s purest desire to achieve one’s own destiny. There are no gifts here. We are getting what it is we deserve.

I truly hope this helps someone as it has helped me. If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to post them in the comment section below and I will respond.

Peace.

 

Tom Grasso

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