As we enter the New Year, few people would argue that we are living in an increasingly uncertain world. The “fluid” nature of uncertainty often breeds fear and insecurity – very little feels fixed, stable, or dependable. Yet the more “fluid” things are, the more easily we can work with them for change and transformation. What better time to clarify what is really important to us as well as what it is now time to leave behind?
Numerologically speaking, 2016 is the last year of the current nine-year cycle. The “number 9” year is about letting go, closure, and endings in preparation for the new beginnings of the “number 1” year to follow.
Of course, we can choose to leave things behind at any time and to consciously carry traditions, beliefs, and practices forward with clear intention. Yet 2016 offers a particularly strong energy for bringing things to closure and preparing the way for new beginnings. 2016 invites us to be very clear about how we live and the choices we make. The combination of these “fluid” times and the “number 9” energy offer a unique set of conditions for standing up for what we truly love and value and for carrying those things forward into the “number 1” energy of 2017.
At the same time, 2016 invites us to bring closure around those things that no longer serve us as a collective – beliefs, perspectives, attitudes, thoughts, practices, and approaches to relationships, business, government, education, healthcare, and the environment. We have the next twelve months to do whatever needs to be done so that we can enter into the “number 1” of 2017 with a clean slate and fertile ground.
So how do we do that?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer or approach. Yet Transformational Presence offers many tools and models for expanding awareness and becoming clear about choices and decisions. In particular, the “Learning Forward” exercise can be very helpful in releasing beliefs, practices, habits, and conditioning from the past, new learning in the present, and letting the future show you the way forward. The exercise often takes less than fifteen minutes to complete, yet it can bring insight, understanding, clarity, and confidence to your next steps.
To do this exercise by yourself, simply follow the instructions below. You may want to read through the exercise in its entirety first in order to grasp the overall flow of the process. Then return to the beginning. Read one paragraph at a time and do that part of the exercise. Then move on to the next paragraph, pausing at the end to take that next step in the process.
Although it may appear to be a long process on the page, it is actually simpler than it looks. Once you have taken yourself through the exercise a few times, you will be able to do it on your own without the guidance of the text below.
You may also choose to do the exercise with a friend, each of you taking turns “coaching” the other through the process.
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Begin by identifying an aspect of your life where it’s time to take significant steps forward. You may be aware that it’s now time to leave something behind, yet you may not be sure what that is or how to do it. It’s OK. Just go with whatever you know as we start.
When you have chosen what part of your life you wish to explore – your “topic” – give it a name, such as, “my work” or “my relationship with my family.” Or perhaps you have a vision, a dream, or a goal. Give it a name in just a few words. This will help you get very clear about what you are exploring. Take time to clarify your topic before continuing with the exercise.
Once you have your topic, imagine a timeline of your life that runs through your room or physical space. Choose which direction of the line will represent moving toward the future and which direction will represent moving toward the past.
Choose a spot somewhere close to the middle of the line that can represent today – the Present. Step onto that spot on the line and face in the direction of the Future. As you continue with the exercise, whether you are moving forward or backward in time, always remain facing in the direction of the Future.
As you stand in the spot representing today, consider the following questions:
- What is happening with your situation / circumstance / project / goal now?
- Who are you within this situation? Other ways of asking that question could be: What role are you currently playing? What parts of you (skills, talents, attributes, personality traits) are coming forward? What is your relationship to your topic at this time?
It’s important not to judge yourself or others for anything that comes up. In this process, you are just gathering information. Simply observe “what is” in the Present moment and acknowledge what is or is not happening at this time in your life or project. Take your time to see what you discover and/or what is reaffirmed.
Having acknowledged where you are in the Present, now step backwards in time (remembering to continue facing forward) to a space and time that feels particularly relevant to what is happening today. You don’t have to know what the time and space will be before you step backwards into it. Trust that you will step backwards in time to a moment or chapter in your life that is, in some way, related to where you are today with your topic.
Take your time to sense and feel the energy of this time and space. Then complete this sentence: I come from a past that said…
Again, you are just observing and gathering information. No judgments on anything that comes up. It’s just information.
When you are ready, then complete this sentence: From that past, I learned…
Having identified what you learned from your past, what part of that learning or conditioning is now important to leave behind?
Create a simple ritual that will serve you to leave that behind. You might symbolically “set it down,” or “take it off” as if you would remove a jacket or sweater.
Having completed that ritual, then consider: What part of my past learning or conditioning is important to carry forward into the future?
Breathe into that learning that you wish to carry forward – embody it – and when you are ready, take that learning with you as you step forward into the spot you chose to represent the Present.
Take a moment to sense or feel what is different now that you have brought your helpful learning from the past with you into the Present.
As you breathe into the Present moment with your topic, become aware of the new learning you are experiencing at this time in your life. How is what you are learning today different than what you learned in the past? Which learning or combination of learnings do you choose to focus on now? Take your time with these questions.
Standing in the Present, look forward on your timeline into your Future. What is calling out to you from your Future? Who do you feel called to be? What do you feel called to do?
Visualize yourself as that person in the future. Allow your “future self” to show herself or himself to you – who s/he is, how s/he engages with the world, what s/he believes, and the choices your future self makes.
When you are ready, walk forward into the Future and become that person. Sense who you are and what you are doing. What is the greater potential that is waiting for you here in the Future? Fully embody your future self.
As you embody your future self in this future time and place, what are you learning? Again, breathe into that learning and embody it. Memorize that feeling.
Then, when you are ready, take this new learning with you as you step back into the Present. When you arrive back in the Present, take a moment to ground yourself, recognizing perhaps that you are back in familiar surroundings, yet with new awareness.
Over the last few minutes, you have stepped backwards into the past, where you made conscious choices about what to leave behind as well as what to carry forward. Then you visited the future to gather learning and awareness from that time and space. Now it all comes together here in this Present moment.
What has shifted in your awareness and understanding? What is your next step? What do you take out of this exercise?
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Whether as individuals or as a collective, our past has a greater influence on us than we often recognize. This “Learning Forward” exercise can be a great support in peeling away the layers of our past conditioning and bringing closure to those things that we now choose to leave behind. I use it frequently, especially when I’m feeling stuck or when it’s time to take my next big steps. Each time you do the exercise, something else will be revealed or become clearer.
In the coming week, carve out some time to set clear intentions for yourself for 2016. What do you truly love and value? What are you willing to stand up for – to be a steward for in the world going forward? Who do you feel called to be and what do you feel called to do? And therefore, what is your commitment for 2016?
Conversely, what do you feel that we as a society must bring to a close in 2016? What is it time to leave behind? What is your role to play in that closure? And again, what is your commitment?
Then use the “Learning Forward” exercise to support your next steps. From time to time, come back to the “Learning Forward” exercise and let it help you both release what no longer serves you and step into the greatest potential that is waiting to unfold.
In 2016 and going forward, may we all be clear in our intentions as we walk in the world. May we be clear about who we are, who we are called to be, and what we are called to do. We can each play a significant role in creating a world that works. Thank you for the gifts you share and for all you will bring to the world in 2016!
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Related Blog Posts:
- Learning Forward
- One Man’s Extraordinary Story of “Learning Forward”
- Letting Go In Love – A Story of Living and Dying, Celebrating and Grieving, and Finding a Way Forward
- LIFE: Learning In Full-On Experience