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Doubt: the last obstacle to freedom

Picture by Paolo Nicolello on Unsplash

In my previous blog I wrote about manifesting. It took me almost two weeks (on and off) to write this blog. It was not because I have difficulty writing. Normally I write a blog in a few hours and enjoy the creative process of putting my thoughts on paper and playing with words. But for some reason there was a lot of resistance to this topic.

I had set out to write about my own process regarding manifesting and had hoped that writing about it would give me clarity. Yet the post I ended up writing was not the spiritual process I had hoped it would be. It ended up being more of an educational piece than a soul bearing piece.

There is nothing wrong with shining a light on the pitfalls of manifesting and to shine a light on the healing that needs to occur on a subconscious level through understanding, forgiveness, and love. But it is a different process altogether to shine a light on my own subconscious patterns that stand between me and the person I say I want to be and the life I say I want to live. It is one thing to write about softening of the heart toward ourselves and others, yet another thing to embody it.

Even though I often write about the spiritual process and embodying love, does not mean that I am all loving, all forgiving, never judging and always present and aware. Far from it. I am human and a work in progress. I still have many things I am working on. I can still say things that are blunt and inconsiderate, I may do things that don't include other people's feelings and I act without thinking sometimes, to name a few. However, when I talk about softening toward yourself, when I talk about loving yourself unconditionally, when I talk about feeling interconnected with all of life and when I talk about feeling rooted and alive in the present moment, it serves as encouragement of what is possible for those who read it and a reminder to myself of what I know to be true.

Why? Because I have experienced what happens when I do those things. In those moments I would feel completely rooted in myself and completely open as well as in flow with life and my goal is to experience it on a permanent basis. It is why I am a craniosacral therapist. For when I am practicing this beautiful therapy, when I am in service to others, when I am not doing, but simply being, I am in the present moment and I embody love. When I am working with my clients, I am connected to something greater than myself and I feel my heart open, I feel unconditional love for my clients, and I feel a wisdom compassion working through me.

I instinctively knew that choosing to be a craniosacral therapist all those years ago and choosing to quit my part time job and focus solely on building my practice in 2022, were not random decisions. I feel that I chose this in order to challenge deep rooted core beliefs about myself, which stand in the way of stepping into my true purpose and my true self more permanently.

Moving my practice to a new location in Arnhem has forced me to look at my subconscious programs around money, fear of failure and self-doubt. I have felt the pressure of needing to generate more income and to start marketing myself and my business. And yet, there was such a resistance against being more visible and advertising on social media. It felt like buying into the old - and established - collective belief that if you work hard, you will succeed. To me it felt more natural to allow things to organically happen. I have always felt that if I were in alignment vibrationally, things would flow naturally to me. I felt that my only job was to become aware of that which was subconsciously dissonant to that flow. In other words, I need to become aware of the subconscious or unconscious belief(s) running in the background that somehow stand in the way of a successful practice.

I have been practicing self-awareness since 2007 through meditation, working with spiritual teachers, learning about spirituality and consciousness through reading books and doing workshops, and through witnessing and observing my thoughts and actions. As a result of doing this work I have identified a few root issues: 1) being hard on myself and others (judgment), 2) separation and hiding from myself and life (disconnect), 3) a fixed way of relating to self and others (a rigid mindset) and 4) doubt.

I am working through judgment by practicing empathy and forgiveness. I am learning to be more kind toward myself and others in my thoughts and actions. I am learning to accept myself and others for who we are and recognize that we all come from a wounded place and we are all healing at our own pace. We are all at a different place in our conscious evolution and that is okay. I feel this realization has softened me toward myself and others over the years. At times, when I am not present, it can rear its ugly head and I find myself saying something that is judgmental and not very kind, but I do notice it straight away and aim to take responsibility.

I am working through disconnect by practicing self-love and compassion. The more I learn to love myself, the more I feel actually okay with who I am and feel safe to be myself. There no longer is a need to disconnect from others out of fear that I won't fit in, won't be accepted, and won't be loved. The more I am connected with myself, the more I feel connected with everyone I come in contact with.

I am working through the rigid mindset by trying to be more flexible, by trying to see life from different angles and by realizing that life is a creative process and always in motion. I am working to be more fluid and in flow with life. I am trying to be more in the present moment and accept that which presents itself right here, right now, be it people who do or say things that are hurtful or disappointing, or situations and events that turn out differently than I expected/desired. This process is the most in my face, because not only do I have my own sense of righteousness to battle, but also my friends and family who want to convince me of their own feelings and opinions on those matters.

I am working through doubt, by learning to have absolute trust in a bigger picture taking place and knowing that at some level I must have agreed to the experience I am having in order to learn, grow and evolve. I am working to get to a level of absolute surrender. Ramana Maharshi describes self-doubt as "the last obstacle" to freedom and Gangaji refers to it as a form of fear of being open, of being still and of not knowing. In my opinion, to not know is to surrender and to surrender is to not know together with an absolutely trust that: 1) I am okay and 2) the present moment (with everything in it) is okay.

So somewhere in those core issues, I figured, there must be a deep-rooted core belief about myself as therapist and/or my practice, which is standing in the way of success. And to heal that core belief would reconnect me with the natural co-creative flow of cosmic intelligence and abundance.

At first I didn't want to go there. I did not want to do the hard work required to break old patterns, so I acted on top of whatever remained hidden and tried to control life from the ego. I resorted to consciously manifesting a full practice, which I could do from the comfort of my own meditation cushion - the easy way out for someone who is working through alienation and disconnect. Before going to sleep, I would imagine having a calendar filled with appointments, I would see myself meeting clients in the waiting room, I would imagine them on the table and I would feel the power of the therapy. I would feel emotions of joy, love and gratitude and believed in a future of success.

A few weeks later, I had four new clients: two through the website and two through referrals. HA, I thought, this is working!! I felt as though I had finally figured it out. I felt a sense of hidden pride. I suddenly felt good enough. Yet, it was a quick burst of activity and then it died down again. There was a temporary shift, but not a permanent one.

So, what happened to bring on this temporary shift? Was it simply the ego's wants, needs, and desires, in other words, did I simply will this with the mind? Was it a glimpse into a parallel universe? Was it believing my coach's clairvoyant prediction? Or was there a break in my patterns and did my perception of myself and/or the situation momentarily change?

Obviously, the core belief had not been permanently dismantled and doubt had crept back in there somehow, otherwise I would have noticed a different and lasting change in new clients coming in. A spiritual teacher had once said to me: doubt and you're out. Doubt is the kryptonite to lasting change. So, it is not that you have to simply believe that something will happen in order for it to happen, you have to also release doubt. And as Ramana Maharshi says: Doubt is the last obstacle to freedom.

Yet, there were pearls of wisdom in what happened a few weeks ago when those new clients came to me. I saw that it was not the manifesting itself that had brought new clients to me. It was not an act of will that changed my reality. It was much deeper than that. What changed was that at some point during the time I was manifesting:

  1. there was a moment of letting go; a moment of surrender;

  2. there was a glimpse into the unique gifts I had been given and what I was here to contribute;

  3. there was an epiphany that manifesting clients had nothing to do with what I do, and how many likes and followers I have on social media, but that everything is an alignment of consciousness (what some would call Grace). I remembered a talk given by Amma on time, effort and grace (click to read the full talk) "If we want our actions to bear the desired result, three factors are needed: a) doing them at the proper time, b) self-effort, and c) God’s Grace";

  4. there was a realization that manifesting is not so much about doing, but more about allowing and receiving.

I realized that, for me, manifesting clients had been an act of the ego and of the head, which is all about control, while grace is an act of surrender, which happens in the heart and is all about allowing, receiving and gratitude.

Changes in my practice happened when I moved from fear of not enough and doubt about the future to trusting in and surrendering to a greater consciousness that is carrying me.

Changes happened when I could FEEL how happy it makes me to be of service out of love without needing anything in return.

Changes happened when I let go of the fear and stepped into not knowing.

So writing this blog has brought me great clarity about what I am learning at this time. This can be summed up into three simple steps:

1) let go of control,

2) step into the unknown,

3) absolutely trust in the wisdom and perfection of the process.

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