About this episode
We're not trained to think of a spiritually led life as being hilarious or silly or goofy. But as Martha reminds us, laughter is the beginning of prayer. In this episode of The Gathering Pod: Letting the Force Steer Your Life, she talks about the difference between spiritual faith and religious faith, and how to connect with and trust spiritual energy (aka the Force) to guide you. When you do, you’ll be in for some truly delightful surprises!
Letting the Force Steer Your Life
Welcome to The Gathering Pod, the audio version of my weekly gathering room broadcast. I’m Martha Beck.
I’d love to get a whole group vibe going because I want to start out with our traditional meditation today. And I’ve been putting it in the middle toward the end, because I don’t want everybody to have to come in the middle of that thing. So let me just tell you what the topic will be today. It’s letting the forest steer your life.
And then I want to just, I’ll chat about it for a second and then we’ll do the meditation and go from there.
So I’ve been talking to more and more people that I’ve known, I have lived long now and I have traveled many places. And I’ve had many jobs, and I’ve met famous people and impoverished people and wonderful people everywhere.
And it just strikes me that because we come from a culture that denies spirituality, at least those … Well, you’re either going to go with religion or science, basically, in the way our culture is set up.
And from my childhood on, people kind of had to choose one of those two. And there wasn’t as big a group in the western world that would tick a box that goes, I am spiritual but not religious.
And I went, I had a wonderful experience a couple of weeks ago going to see Ani DiFranco, who is an amazing musician and poet, really. I mean, her songs are really both great music and great poetry.
And my partner, Roe, is a fan of hers. A crazy fan. Would drink her bath water level fan from way back. And she’s kind of a protest girl. So I was very excited to see her in New York City. And it was in a small venue, it was just standing room, and everybody was packed together.
And she’s not a large person, she’s like five two, Ani DiFranco. And I was behind some large people. So when she came on stage, there was the opening act, which is wonderful and fun. And then I did not see her come on stage, and a lot of people didn’t see her. But we felt something come into the room.
I think it’s safe to say we, even though I didn’t ask all the people there. But I was like, whoa. Something just came into the room. So then we listened to her songs, and I had such a blow away experience.
Because it’s very much like when we, in The Gathering Room, are all thinking the same thoughts, and I can feel you. It was like that plus the sound vibration of the music itself, which was very powerful. And which, I’ve always known why people chant and sing and do invocations and things in worship ceremonies. Because the actual vibration of sound affects our vagus, nerves and puts us into a calm state. And it’s very, very powerful.
Well, this one blew me away. Not because the music was loud, but, because I couldn’t believe where it was taking me. It was taking me right into what I consider to be a space of worship. And she actually sang this song called Atom, which I’m obsessed with, where she talks about the atom as being this incredible thing.
And she says, “Let us bow our heads in prayer to the magnificent consciousness incarnate there in the atom.” And I was like, oh, she feels the same spirituality that I do. No wonder I’m vibrating like nothing to her, because we’re kind of thinking in the same ways. And everyone in this room is on board.
So now before I go on with it, what I wanted to say is, more and more people that I know that are famous or that are scientists or whatever, are now coming forward and saying out loud that they’ve been nurturing a kind of non-religious spirituality, and it’s getting very strong. And people are just starting to talk about it, and write songs about it. And it’s different from traditional religion.
And it is not this fatuous opiate of the masses thing that makes everybody just, oh, God is there, and I’ll take my punishment. No, it’s something else. It’s something deep and vital and it’s awakening in a lot of us. And I think it’s awakening in you Gathering room folks.
And to give us all another taste of it, I am now going to assume we’re mostly here, and let’s go into the meditation. So first, if you’re looking at a screen, either your phone or your computer, change the focus of your attention so that you are looking at the space, the open space between your eyes and the device. Your eyes and the screen.
So don’t look at me, look at the space between that image and your eyes. And while listening to me, also tune for the silence underneath any sound you can hear.
So look at the space between us, and listen to the silence around us and under the sounds. And then ask the key question that puts your mind into that open focus state. Can I imagine the distance between my eyes?
You don’t need to answer the question, you need to let it sit in you. Can I imagine the distance between my eyes? Can I imagine the empty space in the atoms, in the matter between my eyes? Can I imagine the openness in all of matter? Can I imagine the silence in the space of the atoms that make up my body?
Can I imagine the stillness in which all action takes place? Can I imagine the hundreds of people all over this planet, at this moment, who are listening to the same silence right now? Can we feel, can we imagine the distance between each other and the distance it holds us all connected?
So feel the vibe of that. I felt it really spike right at the beginning, went down a little. It’s actually gotten to the point where I can feel this energy all the time, if I feel for it. And right now I feel a little altered. I feel a bit like I’m levitating. I don’t feel as solid. And this is what happened at the Ani DiFranco concert, big time. All I’d have to do is close my eyes and my body was gone, gone, gone, gone.
And yet the presence of this beauty, the prayer to the magnificent consciousness incarnate in our atoms, that was there. And it was like the whole room was holding each other and sending out energy. And I can’t describe the feeling, but I know that that’s how I need to steer my life. By that sensation.
So I my first self-help book was called Finding Your Own North Star. At the time, it was more an emotional thing for me. Now My Own North Star is directly headed into the silence and the stillness. And I was talking to another writer today and she’s just, she’s got a book on the bestseller list, but now it’s time to write another one.
And it’s very weird when you’ve put all your energy into writing a book for multiple years, and then it’s out there and it will keep selling for a long time, but it’s over. As far as you’re concerned, it’s done, it’s being delivered. And then you have to decide to spend the next few years of your life doing something which may or may not work. It’s very, it’s the kind of life that does make you want to pray a lot.
And she was calling me to say, she was kicking around ideas for her next book. And I said, “I think you just have to, number one, you might want to just come out as a spiritual person.” Because she’s a scientist and a reporter. “And you might just want to admit that you’ve had this spiritual side the whole time. And it’s really how you’ve been making your choices the whole time.”
“But also, you need to let yourself dive into wherever that energy is strongest. You need to just go with it. You need to let it steer. Trust the force.”
And she said, “I was trying to, the whole manifesting things,” the whole new-age, you’re going to manifest things like The Secret. I’m going to think about something and that’ll it will happen. She and I have done some manifesting together that worked extremely well. Just hanging out and saying, wouldn’t it be cool if this happened? And then boom, it happened.
But she was saying she’d sort of lost faith in it. Because what I was telling her is, you have to go out on faith. And she’s like, I don’t have enough faith. And I’m like, no, no. We don’t have a strict, religious faith. But we have faith. We know the feeling of that silence, of that stillness, of that sweetness. And we know that it’s alive, and we know that it’s conscious, and we know that we’re all part of it and it wants to steer our lives. And when we let it, things go well.
And she told me this story. I hope she doesn’t mind my telling it. You don’t know who she is. But she said she had seen in a magazine or online these sandals, that she just really loved them. But they were a ridiculous amount of money. They were stupid expensive. And she was like, no, God, I’m not that materialistic. But she just couldn’t stop thinking about these sandals.
So then she went to a book signing, and they gave her a voucher for this other store, and she went to the store, and there was a single pair of these sandals that she’d seen in a magazine a month or two earlier. And they were her size, there was only one pair, and they were on super clear out sale. And the amount they were for was exactly the amount of the voucher she’d just been given.
And she said, and I thought this was really interesting, “You have to spend that voucher on the thing you manifested.” When you give your life to the force and something good happens, you need to not say, wow, what a coincidence. You could say, it might be a coincidence, scientifically, but you also need to say it could be magical manifestation energy.
It really doesn’t look like a coincidence at this point. And then you have to actually spend the money, the voucher on the thing you’ve manifested or you kill it. And the thing that’s so interesting is, I’m working on a book, she’s thinking of another book, and it’s easy to get very serious and get into the mindset of our culture.
Yeah, we’re going to do things that are good for the readership, and make it accessible and marketable and all that stuff. But when you get to the real magic, it’s actually a joyride. It’s almost silly. You’re given things you didn’t even really need, just to show you. She said, that happened almost more … I didn’t need the sandals, it happened to show me that I can manifest.
We have friends from South Africa staying here with us, and some of our other friends tell a story about being at a beach resort where they were desperate for flip-flops and matches. They just wanted flip-flops and matches. And they were sitting around in the rain in this place going, oh, we just had some flip-flops and some matches.
And then they went out on a boat the next day to see the dolphins, and instead they found the whole sea covered with boxes. Like, floating. So they stopped their boat and they pulled in a box and they opened it. And out of one half of it spilled flip-flops, and out of the other half spilled matches.
Then they saw a cart, a big container had fallen off a ship and had broken open, and just spilled untold thousands of flip-flops and matches, and all the people on the beach were coming to pick them up. And flip-flops and matches. What’s that about?
Our friend here said when they tell that story, they are not exaggerating. That is actually how it happened. It’s that silly sometimes. It’s fun, it’s light. And we do the meditation and it’s still and it’s solemn. But I’m telling you, when you start letting it steer your life, get prepared to have some good times.
And we are not trained to think of a spiritually-led life as being hilarious, or silly, or goofy. But I think we’re all those things. I think that’s the best of us. I think the laughter is the beginning of prayer. I think that the most spiritual people I know are the most funny as well. And I think that if you, today, decide you’re going to manifest something and make it silly but real, she could not stop thinking about these stupid sandals, right? My friends could not stop thinking about flip-flops and matches.
If you really, really focus on it, and then you really, really go into a joyful space where you’re just hanging with your friends, or reading a funny book, or doing something that feeds your spirit, that’s when you start to see you are being led, you are being steered. And sometimes the way you’re told those things is downright laughable.
Because the forest loves to laugh. We’re not just saving ourselves in dire circumstances. We’re here to thrive. We’re here to have fun. So I’m going to start doing some questions here.
Bootified says, “What if there’s one particular thing you can never manifest? Paris twice, Barbados, et cetera, but I can’t seem to get to Italy, for example.”
Well, one of the things is that, I’ve talked about this a lot of times. If you want something a lot, you tend to attach to the idea of it, and then you’re trying to force it into existence. That is not how the forest works.
It’s exactly like Luke Skywalker focused on his instruments and being told, now, relax, close your eyes. What is the Star Wars where the woman, the girl is the one with the force and she’s being held down over the edge of a cliff and she’s got her lightsaber and the villain is about to kill her, and then she just relaxes completely and then suddenly the force picks her up and throws her forward and she wins.
So it’s when you go slack, it’s when you surrender to, okay, maybe it’ll never happen. All right, I’ll be fine. That’s when it always comes to pass. But you have to have that intense burst of focus and then complete relaxation. It’s very hard. But that is the skill we need to master, to know what to do with the rest of our lives.
Because folks, nobody knows what we’ll be doing in 10 years. I mean, things are crazy. Fast changes everywhere. So might as well learn to live through fun and non-attachment. Okay?
Constellations In Her Bones says, “Is there brain science on the nature of play and stillness? I’m amazed by universe abundance and the joy that’s happening, thank the science of fun. Thank you Marty and Roe.”
You’re so welcome. There is brain science of play, and maybe silliness. I don’t know if it’s ever been studied in combination with spirituality, which has also been, there are good neurological studies on how spirituality lights up parts of the brain. I wonder if those parts are the same things that light up when we’re having fun and laughing.
I suspect they are. So the solemn, reverent thing, which is what I was told in religion as a child, I don’t think that lights up the same spaces because one of the things I notice is that when the energy rises, like it always does here, it always feels like play to me. Not sometimes, always. And that makes me think, huh, I bet there is an overlap, a very strong overlap between the nature of play in the brain and the nature of spirit. Great question. I’m going to go look it up and see if there’s science.
Okay, Samita Needleman says, “What are the differences between being steered by spirit versus our egos?”
Fabulous question. The ego feels forced. It feels anxious. I’m writing about anxiety now, and we live in an age of incredible anxiety. And anything you try to do that is flavored by fear is ego.
And more and more people are getting more and more scared of doing more and more things because we have this culture that pushes us into a way of thinking that is primarily happening on the left side of the brain, where also the wiring for anxiety lives.
So if there is any anxiety and a motivation for something, it’s like, oh, I really want my child to do well in school. Because he better get a job, oh my God. Or, I don’t want my friend to think her child is doing better than mine in school. If there’s any competing, comparing, measuring anxiety, clenched energy, that’s ego.
And you just felt if you were tuning into the meditation, the different sensation, the different vibe of spirit. It is, [inaudible 00:19:15], there’s this strange feeling of being lifted and permeated. And then what’s interesting then is that you make choices that seem to have made themselves.
You end up doing things that, like my friend that I was talking to today, and I, we once just went on a trip someplace just because we were like, we’re going there, aren’t we? And then we did. And some other friends, we just went there. And we had profoundly enlightening experiences there, but no one ever knew why we went.
When we used to do entrance polls for the life coach training that I run, Wayfinder Life Coaching, and we’d ask people, why did you sign up? This is before we did any marketing or anything. And 85% of the people we asked said they had no idea. And we were like, yes, that’s what we’re looking for. Complete.
Not that they didn’t know why they were doing it, it’s just that they didn’t know why with their minds. They knew why, at a deeper level. They felt the truth of it. It was just right for them. Which is the only reason I even created it. It’s not like I sat down and said, how am I going to make money? It just happened. That’s the best I can tell you.
So Fatima says, “I detested the book The Secret.” I totally agree with you. “It was mean, and manifesting has this icky connotation in my mind of forcing and using the universe as a butler. I’m sure you mean something different when you say manifest.” Yes. “Can you please elaborate?”
Yes, this is what I found out. Is that I found, with all due respect to the author, I did not like the book The Secret. When it said something like, “You cannot get an illness unless you believe.” I was just like, oh my. No, no.
At the same time, there was something about it that kind of was like, I have had a lot of experiences where I just think of something and then it happens. And I may have told you this story before.
I read it on a plane and it upset me so much, and I got off the plane and I was brooding about it. And I got a call from someone who said, “I just read The Secret and I got to the part where it mentions you.” And I just thought I’d give you a call and say, that was cool.
And I was like, I’m not in that book. I just, literally just read it. It was still burning my eyeballs.
And they said, “No, you’re in it.” It turned out that somebody had written a different book called The Secret. This guy is like a rabbi, and he wrote a book called The Secret, and he references me.
Now, the thing that bothered me about this was that I was saying, no, you cannot, things you think about don’t just pop into your life. And I was thinking intensely about the book The Secret. And a book called The Secret with me in it popped into my life. And I was so angry, I sat down on my luggage in the airport and just went, no, this can’t be right.
In the years since then I’ve calmed down a little, and here’s what I found. It only works if you’re in integrity. And that’s why I wrote the book, The Way of Integrity. Because if you are doing something, if you’re lying to yourself about things and you kind of know it, but you’re living that way anyway, if you know a certain thing is right for you and you’re not doing it, or something’s wrong for you and you’re doing it anyway, and anything that takes you out of integrity, that takes you away from your true self, cuts the magic. You can force things to happen from that place, but it’s way harder and it doesn’t feel magical at all.
But when I went on integrity cleanses just to live in my deepest truth, and with no other objective, I actually did that in reaction to the whole manifesting thing. I was like, no, spirituality is not about making Ferraris. Spirituality is about being true to what in your deepest heart.
So I meditated for many hours, and I adjusted my behavior, and I did all these things just to be true. And folks, things just manifested. It was like popcorn, pop, pop, pop. And it went nuts. The more honest I got, the more rapid and powerful the manifestations. And there were so many of them, I couldn’t deny it.
So that’s what I always tell people. You can do this, but first you have to put yourself into integrity. And the universe is not your butler. The universe is a continuous aspect of your consciousness that loves you to play with it by giving up your ego, which is the opposite of a lot of the clingy ways that people try to manifest stuff.
City Lotus says, “To manifest something, do we visualize it? How do we do this?”
Visualize it and be specific. Be really specific. One of the famous methods is, if you don’t have somebody like a special someone, you sit down, or a friend or whatever. You sit down and write 100 characteristics that you want in a friend, or in a partner or whatever, and you make sure it’s a hundred things you really care about.
And by getting that granular, that specific, you really do seem to be able, you’re starting to visualize it by writing down the list. And it is really helpful. I mean, the fact is, I think it’s kind of stupid too, but I also think that it works.
But only if you’re in your truth. Try it, try it. Prove me wrong. Prove me wrong. I don’t care. Just try it.
So Donna says, “How can we calm anxiety so you can be playful with what you want?”
You have to start with little things that don’t matter as much to you. A pair of sandals. But you have to have a genuine pull toward them. And also if you do a lot of meditating like, can I imagine the distance between my eyes? Your anxiety will go down. It’ll train your brain away from it. And the more you train your brain away from anxiety, the more creative you become, and the more magical manifestation occurs.
I think it has something to do with living more in the whole brain and the right side of the brain than just the left side of the brain. We’ll see, as science goes along.
Jessica says, “Do you still feel like a vision board is useful, Martha, or do you think just sitting in our imaginations is really more powerful?”
Once again, vision boards, super tacky. They work. I don’t know, they just work. Try it, try it.
I don’t think I have a current vision board going, and by current, I mean that because every time I make one, it always manifests. Because I really, really love the thing. It’s there. And I’ve learned to cut around anything I don’t want in my life because the things on the vision board seem to come whether I want them or not. I can’t even believe I talk like this, and I’ve been doing it for years.
So yeah, vision boards. Awesome.
Angie says, “Is it possible that after doing manifestation, I get weak, even sick sometimes? How come?”
I believe that can happen when you’re not actually in a life that is conducive to your spirituality. And so you go deeply into a spiritual experience for you. Then you go back into, say, a job or a social environment that is wrong for that. And the contrast, in my experience, can make people feel sick. Or a sick feeling is your cue that you should move. That is one way of being steered by the forest. This doesn’t feel good. I’m going to go over here and see if that feels better.
I always tell people it’s like the game you’re getting warmer, you’re getting colder. That feeling of [inaudible 00:27:25], I just move toward it, no matter where it says I should go. And as long as I never leave it, I don’t get sick afterwards. I don’t feel sick in other places. Because I don’t go to the other places.
All right, Janet says, “For those who are compelled by the concept of manifesting, but don’t think The Secret is for you, try The Serendipity Mindset by Christian.” Oh, I love Christian Busch, PHD. “It’s a research-based and fascinating.”
Yeah, and don’t get it from Amazon. Get it from your local indie bookstore or library. Thank you, Janet. I’m going to read it, I haven’t read it. I love that idea.
Okay, so finally, Cleo says, “I’m trying to manifest work I love. How do I calm the really extreme anxiety about being able to pay the bills while it’s taking positive, adult steps in the right direction? Plus I also have ADD, which makes things a little extra challenging.”
I think it does, I have ADD too. But I also think it gives us more access to imagination, maybe, than somebody with a different neuro-type. And so use it. Use whatever your brain loves to do.
For you, I’d say get distracted from the things that worry you. You know what you want. What you don’t want to do is think, think, think about the bad stuff that will happen if you don’t get what you want. So set a goal, put it out there. Okay, I need this much income. I’d love to have a life with these things in it, that makes me feel happy.
And then distract yourself. That’s the thing about, if my friend had wanted something that she thought she could buy that she was thinking of earning for, she wouldn’t have done it. It wouldn’t have happened the way it did. If my South African friends had not been distracted by looking for the dolphins, if they hadn’t gone out looking for dolphins, which they didn’t see, they would never have seen this manifestation of the flip-flops and matches.
And then another thing I would love you all to do is go to the times in your life when something has manifested, whether you worked for it or didn’t work for it, you just go to the fulfillment of a dream and just dive into that energy. And then go to the meditation we use. Can I imagine the distance between my eyes? And remember what it was like to be given what you wanted while you do that meditation so you’re in that state and it brings them together.
And then, first of all, just enjoy that. And then see if you have a little pull towards something. Because part of the manifestation is that you are drawn towards something as it is drawn toward you.
So get in the vibe, feel the joy, think about what you want, and then let it go. And tell me what happens. Because it can be very, very cool. And I hope that the friend I was talking about today, that Ani DiFranco, that you and I and all of us really are creating more of this energy all the time so that it gets easier. All boats rise with the tide, right? And the tide is rising, people. It really is rising.
So manifest something this week. Have a great time doing it, and I will see you soon again here on The Gathering room. Bye.