First of a two-part interview with spiritual teacher Lynn Woodland
Since 2006, with the publication and broadcast of The Secret, much attention has been paid to the universal Law of Attraction, which suggests that we can have our heart’s desires if we put our attention on them. But Lynn Woodland — award-winning author, international teacher, and human potential expert with a 35-year career in transpersonal psychology, human motivation, and mind-body psychology — says there is more to manifestation than affirmations or envisioning can ever bring forth. Much more.
In her new book, Holding a Butterfly: An Experiment in Miracle Making, which will be released in mid-January, she writes: “Popular movies like What the Bleep Do We Know?! and The Secret make ‘the Law of Attraction’ look like an easy way to have everything we want. And it really is that easy…except, of course, when it’s not, when no amount of affirmations or visualization techniques will budge life circumstances that feel hopelessly out of our control.”
In an interview I conducted with Lynn from her home in Minneapolis, she offered a glimpse into a process of miracle making that on the surface seemed downright complex — and paradoxically, as simple as letting go.
How do you define “miracle?”
Lynn Woodland: A miracle, as I define it, is an event born in unconditional love. It really is rooted in love. It has a win-win outcome. It is where things just unfold through serendipity rather than through effort, and they also have a way of just stretching our imagination open to what is possible.
A Course in Miracles defines miracles as a shift in perspective, from fear to love, and I totally buy into that. In my way of looking at miracles, they give rise to incredible events and outcomes, but they really are about that shift in consciousness. That’s what differentiates miracle making from simply practicing manifesting techniques that are about using intention and a focus in a specific way to call forth an outcome.
Manifesting techniques work some of the time for some of the people. They tend not to work consistently, and they often work with some kinks in them. A funny story: I knew a woman many years ago who started practicing an affirmation of, “My next boyfriend is rich, my next boyfriend is rich, my next boyfriend is rich!” She would just write it and say it, and it did really produce immediate results. She attracted a new relationship. The man was not wealthy, but he was named Rich. It worked like a charm.
Manifesting techniques often are just the product of the limitations of our personality and what we can imagine for ourselves, and they often draw from some of the subconscious doubts and limitations and hidden agendas that we might not be very conscious of.
Miracles are when we really let go of “I want what I want and I want it now!” and have this direct experience of love, of God energy, and then things just start to unfold in the way that is maybe what we wanted, but maybe just something really better.
Why do you call this an experiment?
LW: Because the whole book is set up to draw readers into a here-and-now immediate experiment. I base everything in the new science that explains some of the spiritual principles that have been taught in metaphysics 101 throughout the decades. These principles now are starting to be validated by science. I offer some of the science underlying the principles, and then I invite readers to imagine that we can bend time, we can bend space — and truly we can. A lot of research underlies that now. We actually can join in consciousness with every other reader, which has a very amplifying effect.
A lot of current teachings are out of date. I think they came out of the 1980s, which was an era that was very much about the “me consciousness.”
What are some of those teachings that are out of date?
LW: The idea of sitting down with your copy of The Secret and making your vision board and going into your own room and practicing your own techniques so you can get what you want. In the 1980s a lot of these techniques were introduced in a popularized way, and I think they were colored by the era, which was about, “If we’re clever enough, we can have anything.” It was very chic to have it all and to be a little cut above the herd.
Now, in these times, we are seeing a collapse of that way of looking at life, and we’re finding out that good has to come through “we consciousness.” During the day as I listen to news radio, I hear so many commentators use the phrase, “We’re all in the same boat.” There’s something very important about recognizing that in order to find prosperity now, we need to do it together. The experiment I set up in the book helps us to experience joined consciousness here and now, even with people we don’t even know.
There is a quote in your book to the effect that there is only one mind. Is that part of what you’re tapping into?
LW: Yes, because with it there’s such an amplified effect. I have been working with this amplification in my experiential group work during the past 35 years, and I have found that when people get together and join in this place of unconditional caring for one another, it takes them places that they couldn’t go alone. It is more effective than individual counseling, which I used to do way back when.
What I do in this book is a step beyond that, because I set out the premise that we can join not just in the here and now with a group of people, but we can join others across time and space. Someone who may be reading my book next year may have already sent love to you, just as we are sending love forward to others in time and space.
There’s something kind of mind-boggling in it all that makes us wonder, well, what are the limits? So, I set it up really as an experiment, because I’m not sure what the outcomes are going to be. I don’t think we’ve quite tapped into who we can be yet.
We hear about healing miracles and miracle recoveries from disasters, but would you say that we are all creating small miracles every day in our lives without being consciously aware of it?
LW: If you go to A Course in Miracles definition, that a miracle is a shift in perception from fear to love, I think anytime we forget anything but this instant and the experience of love, we are in a miracle. Maybe something just comes together easily for us that we expected to be difficult. Maybe something shows up that just seems just very serendipitous and coincidental in a wonderful way. Maybe we don’t even connect it to that instant of love.
I think the instant is the miracle — and we do experience those frequently. And when the miracle happens, it results in a ripple effect on the physical world around us, whether we recognize the connection or not.
What can our readers do to open them up to the miracle process?
LW: A lot of people are focused on prosperity: “I want it, I want it, I want it, I want my prosperity now. I don’t have it. I want it, I want it!” What I see as being the key to opening up not just our individual prosperity, but our collective prosperity, is to really look at our connections to other people.
When we go into scarcity, we tend to isolate ourselves and freeze up. We disconnect. We might feel ashamed. And yet, I feel that we have collectively manifested the experience of scarcity to learn how to be interdependent.
So my tip — to support your own prosperity and well-being and to help the whole collective experience of the world around you kind of rise out of it — is to look at how you personally may have contributed to the whole “me consciousness” thing that was our downfall. This is not as obvious as you might think, because sometimes it’s simply about being caught up in our own scarcity that we don’t reach out to our neighbor, or we’re not there to support somebody else, or we don’t reach out for help.
Give a lot of attention to questions like, “Who is there for you?” If there is not anyone, start cultivating those networks. “Who are you there for?” Who are you really there for if somebody came upon hard times? How can you give more energy and attention to your own personal support network?
Those aren’t just the things that are going to make us feel warm and fuzzy, they are literally like the fly turning around 180 degrees and finding the open door. They are going to open those kinds of doors for us.
Continued in Part 2….