Finding Purpose and Meaning: Creating the Life We Want to Live

We wield, each one of us, much more power and influence than we realize. Every thought we think, every action we take, adds to the collective pool of harmony or chaos. We are constantly influencing that balance and most often without any idea of the power we bring to bear, or of how we effect the balance of our own well being-our bodies, minds and spirits.

The process of healing our wounds and finding our own unique path is a noble undertaking that enriches not only ourselves, but the world around us. We see many difficulties in the world-violence, inhumanity, greed-that can lead to apathy and inaction in a time that calls for action. What we see around us is a reflection of the collective inner situation. As we begin to heal on a personal level, as we take responsibility for our thoughts and actions, as we practice forgiveness and compassion, we are adding to the healing of the world. We have the ability to tap into incredible inner potential and strength that in any situation can help us rise above our fears, heal the past, and move in a meaningful and personally fulfilling direction or calling.

All healthy human beings have an inner drive to seek meaning and purpose. When we are able to let go of barriers and allow for the possibility that we have a calling, that we're here to fulfill some unique purpose, we begin to tap into our higher potential-a collective calling to add to the balance and harmony of life around us.

There are so many things that can be done to make a positive difference, little things that don't have to feel big or overwhelming. The smallest gesture of reaching out can have a big impact on the receiver and in return, although that isn't the motive, have a healing effect on one's immune systems and sense of well-being. The universe is designed to reward compassion and good deeds that are offered unconditionally, without a desire for something in return. Give freely, the universe beckons, and you cannot help but receive the real treasures in return-health, happiness, and inner peace.

Early in life (at age 41) I was given an opportunity to put my priorities into a more meaningful perspective when I received a diagnosis of advanced cancer, with perhaps only months left to live. I discovered that writing or journaling was a great tool for focusing and expanding my self-awareness and insight. The journaling process, along with meditation and self-hypnosis, though I wasn't calling it that at the time, taught me that by asking the right questions I was able to connect to my intuition and inner guidance-always, to me, the best possible guidance. The circumstances added an urgency to my sense of purpose. Why was I here and what could I do in whatever time remained? A good question for all of  us, no matter where we are on the journey, to help get us focused on creating the life we really want to be living. The question helped guide me back to a path that was authentically mine rather than reflecting expectations imposed from outside or from my own projections of what others might think.

Painful or catastrophic situations sometimes serve to break down barriers and open us to question the deeper verities and realities of life. A book called Thank God for My Heart Attack addresses how a life-threatening event can pose a challenge: how to redesign your life so that it fits you, rather than you attempting to fit into it. Supreme joy and happiness can do the same. However we come to it, when we are ready certain questions seem to bubble up from that deep place within and can be the catalyst that redirects us to an inner core of wisdom. They are spiritual questions having to do with why we are here and what unique gifts we might have to develop and share. When we begin to seek answers to these questions, we embark on a sacred journey-the finding of a sense of purpose and direction.

As I gained health and strength in the years following my diagnosis I seriously considered what I might do with my life. Illness had forced me into retirement, I had divested myself of material possessions, and I was living in a studio apartment. I was uncertain how much of a future I would have but I was aware of the preciousness of time and the gift of each day. In my meditations and in my journaling I began to ponder the question: If my life were ideal, what would it look like? What would I be doing for my livelihood? What kind of environment would I want to live in? What kind of relationships would I want to develop? How would I stay inspired and in balance?

In 1993 I wrote my first journaling on envisioning my ideal life. First I wrote out all of the areas that I could think of to explore. My first list included relationships, livelihood, finances, inspiration, family, recreation, home environment, physical health, emotional balance, mental stimulation, spiritual serenity, and a path of service.

After envisioning in self-hypnosis what my ideal would look like in each of those areas I got out my journal and wrote a vivid description. Then I released it and let it go. Early each year I meditate on and envision my ideals for the year to come-not looking back on previous years until I've meditated on and envisioned my ideals for the year to come. The direction and impact has been so powerful that the process has been an enriching ritual for 25 years.

I've learned that every day we can do something-take one step-in one or more areas of our lives to move closer to our visions, and as we do so we grow confidence. What we focus on we tend to manifest, and as we resolve to move toward the things we love the universe begins to move with us-and may even add magical dimensions to our vision of what can be.


by Cheryl Canfield

Vernon Howard once said, "No action is more fascinating than the action of self-transformation. Nothing on earth can compare with its drama or value." In these often difficult and challenging times, reframing our perspective from a focus on the burdens weighing us down to a focus on empowering choices, can begin moving us forward in a positive direction.

Every situation that confronts us leaves us with a choice. We can be a victim (of circumstances, people, attitudes) which drains life energy and leads to illness, depression or apathy; or choose to take positive action, beginning with taking charge of thoughts. If you think you can't do something you can be fairly certain that you're right. If you think you can do something, even though challenging, you may also find that you're right.

Looking back, I can see that the greatest challenges I've encountered have proven to be the impetus that enabled me to discover my strength and connection to an empowering inner guidance. They have also given me the opportunity to clarify and act on my spiritual beliefs, moving them into a place of knowing.

A diagnosis of advanced cancer at the relatively young age of 41 is such an example. I fell into some fear-based (victim) beliefs that this condition symbolized some kind of failure, that healing (success) meant getting physically well, and that there was something wrong or bad about me that had to be found if I was to heal.

Meditation and self-hypnosis helped me to reach an expanded level of awareness. I learned that there are no failures, only lessons; that true death is living without an awareness of our spiritual nature and the beauty all around us; and that life is a school that enables us to move forward in our evolution, one grade at a time, toward an awareness of God or the divine and an awakening of our own higher nature.

Healing, I learned, isn't about living or dying. It isn't even necessarily about physical illness. The body, mind or spirit may be signaling distress. When one of these parts is out of balance it throws off the whole, much as a stool with one shortened leg is out of balance. Healing is about deepening our inner awareness so that we can reconnect to our wholeness and create a foundation that is based on compassion for ourselves and others. It's about facing our deepest fears and delving deep enough to find the unique gifts that were given to us to unfold in this life.

Inner exploration, the kind that reaches deep inside to the authentic self, the soul, leads to an expanded awareness. This state can be reached through processes of self or directed hypnosis and meditation. It can lead to a perception of one's life purpose, an intention that was brought in to learn and heal in certain areas, both personally and collectively. Veils between this denser plane of physical reality and the finer plane of spiritual reality can become more translucent. Catastrophic events have the potential to push us beyond the habits and patterns of our dimmed awareness so that we can begin to pierce some of the veils and get on with what we're here to do-grow into conscious, aware, compassionate, and spiritual beings.

When I was struggling with the challenge of an advanced cancer I had an opportunity to contemplate and write about what I call profound healing. Profound healing is not a cessation of physical symptoms, but an expanded awareness of our spiritual nature. It's a process of restoring integrity to all the areas of our lives and balancing our life energy so that we're not running on a deficit. We can call on this process whenever we're confronted with a challenge, whether the challenge is in the realm of mental, emotional, or physical dis-ease, relationships, finances, or anything else. Any difficulty can serve as a wake-up call that, if we choose to heed it, can lead to extraordinary inner resources and strength that we might otherwise never have found.

Cancer gave me an opportunity to confront my own mortality. There were certain steps that I was able to identify as transformational in the process of healing. There are many paths up the mountain, and we each need to discover our own. We can also guide others to help them find their path from that deep state of inner awareness. In keeping with that truth, the steps below are guidelines that can be modified in any way. They are resources to help stretch the boundaries of our consciousness and pierce the veils that limit our vision, enabling us to transform our awareness and embrace the sacred journey of life for however long that may be.

Focus on the Present
- Take charge
- Acquire an empowered attitude
- Simplify life
- Build a support system

Release the Past
- Explore attitudes and beliefs
- Practice forgiveness
- Transform negative feelings
- Do all you can and release the rest

Live Your Highest Ideal
- Establish personal integrity
- Trust inner wisdom
- Hold yourself in compassion
- Create a healing environment

These steps are for anyone who realizes that life is most fully lived when loose ends are tied up and we can be consciously whole in the present moment. They can be deeply explored in meditation and self or directed hypnosis for empowered direction and transformation.

A Positive Understanding of the Subconscious

The following chapter is from Randal Churchill and Cheryl Canfield's provocative forthcoming book, Churchill-Canfield's Law: What Can Go Right Will Go Right, which we are pleased to announce will be published in March.

The rational, intellectual part of the mind is amazing - constantly juggling external information and situations, sorting through facts, making choices and often on fast forward as we muscle our way through the day. It can be rich, stimulating and exhausting all at once. Then we might throw ourselves into some mind-numbing activity like television, social media or internet surfing as a way to relax and put on the breaks. What we may be short-circuiting is our connection to a deeper, inner awareness that links us to our greatest potential.

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Using Hypnosis With Health Issues

Hypnosis is not a magic wand - it's a tool to help us to get deeper in touch with all the parts of our mind and potential. It can connect us with our inner knowing and even the collective unconscious. A dear friend and mentor of mine used to say, "Don't look to me, look to your own inner teacher. That's your guide." We are all connected to that source of inner knowing and wisdom. Hypnosis is an amazing tool to help in this process.

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The Transformational Nature of Hypnotherapy

Excerpted from the updated and expanded 2nd Edition of Become the Dream by Randal Churchill

To get powerful, lasting and fairly rapid results in therapy, it is essential that the methods employed reach and affect the subconscious mind. The subconscious houses the emotions, imagination, memory, habits, intuition and instincts. It also regulates our autonomic body functions, is the part of the mind that dreams, and is the pathway to the superconscious. It is the very core or essence of how we experience ourselves and the world. Meaningful personal transformation, whether in or out of therapy, results from a shift in the subconscious mind ...

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Direct vs Indirect Suggestion

Understanding the Broad Context of Suggestion

The vast majority of writings comparing and contrasting the use of direct and indirect suggestions in hypnosis refer to the structure of language, and may sometimes reference the timing, tone and volume of the voice. But there is much beyond the way we word suggestions and how we use our voices that can have a major suggestive impact. These impacts are something we need to be keenly aware of in order to give maximum benefit to the influence of suggestions ...

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Experiencing Hypnotic Regression Therapy

A Journey Through Time and Space by Keith Thompson
This article initially appeared in the Pacific Sun.

A state of intensified attention and receptiveness, and an increased responsiveness to an idea or to a set of ideas."

"Primarily a special psychological state with certain physiological attributes, resembling sleep only superficially and marked by the functioning of the  individual at a level of awareness other than the ordinary conscious state."

These disparate definitions of hypnosis bear witness to an observation by psychology researcher Martin Orne: although there is no widely accepted definition of hypnosis, considerable consensus exists at a descriptive level. In other words, "Don't ask me to define it, but I'll tell you how it works and what it can do." ...

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Self-Reflection, Hypnosis and Gestalt

Tools for Healing and Releasing the Past 

The present is the only time we ever really have, and if we don't live in the present, we don't even scratch the surface of our potential. Two common negative feelings that keep us out of the present are guilt and worry. Guilt keeps us stuck in the past losing energy over something that already happened, and worry is a non-productive mulling over of some negative possibility in the future that may never happen. When we're working with a client who tends to get stuck in either of those states we can help that person switch their focus to self-reflection, hypnosis and possibly Gestalt to either heal the past or impact the future in a positive way. (More...)

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The Future of Hypnotherapy

Interview with Kevin Ryerson - internationally acclaimed Expert Intuitive
This interview is from our archives. It took place 19 years ago.

KR: I think that hypnotherapy has great value in the area of certain educational models, in reducing stress and helping people access information that has laid dormant. I think it will also re-empower people to work with their personal altered states, such as artists or people in business following their intuition or creativity.

    Biofeedback is a form of self-help that will probably continue to increase and will be one of the cutting edges where hypnosis will be applied. And as these things move into an even more slightly esoteric or leading edge, medicine itself will come to accept hypnotherapy as a standard method of practice in medicine. Hypnotherapy will probably become the real bridge between many of the wholistic art forms and alternative therapies--truly re-empowering people to retake command of their own sense of direction for both mental and physical well-being. (More...)

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